Article of the day: Religion does not poison everything

When it comes to Richard Dawkins and atheism, I live by the words of The Dude. “You’re not wrong, you’re just an asshole.” Being right and being good are very different things.

With that in mind, here is a review of the latest Karen Armstrong book. The book argues religion does not poison everything. Rather, religion is poisoned by power. Power corrupts, and successful religions convert those with power. Armstrong, a former nun, has a unique view of religion, and her thoughts are consistently interesting.

Excerpts: “‘Religion causes all the wars.’ It’s an odd thing to say. Among the many causes advanced for the Great War, I have never heard religion mentioned. Same with the second world war. The worst genocides of the last century — Hitler’s murder of the Jews and Atatürk’s massacre of the Armenians were perpetrated by secular nationalists.”

And: “All terrorism is now routinely attributed to religious intoxication. Richard Dawkins tells us that ‘only religious faith is a strong enough force to motivate such utter madness in otherwise sane and decent people’. But Armstrong points out that suicide bombing was more or less invented by the Tamil Tigers, ‘a nationalist separatist group with no time for religion’.”

And: “The sad truth is that religions are corrupted by success. The more popular they become, the closer they are drawn into the ambit of state power, the more their practice and doctrine have to be remodelled to suit their new overlords.”

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2 thoughts on “Article of the day: Religion does not poison everything

  1. “Hitler’s murder of the Jews . . . were perpetrated by secular nationalists.”–this comment is so silly.

    Fascism was simply another arm of the Catholic church. Joseph Tiso was head of the Nazi-puppet state of Slovakia and was a priest. The ties with the church were in European fascism and South American Fascism. Mussolini and Franco were intertwined with the Catholic church. The Old Reich was full of Germanic paganism, goddess worship, and Nordic myths of grandeur–that is still not secular. Heinrich Himmler believed himself to be a reincarnated Germanic King, no joke. He funded expeditions to find the Ark of the Covenant and evidence of a Nordic bloodline in Tibet. Rudolf Hess was a crazy occultist who used astrologers to chose the day for flying to Britain in ’41.

    The truth is, humans naturally possess the negative trait of doing evil–it doesn’t matter if you’re a Presbyterian, or Calvinist, or Hindu, or Zoroastrian, or Muslim, or simply a person that doesn’t categorize their-self under a religious title.

    • Hi John,

      Good point, occultism is hardly secular.
      Fascist occult stuff is fascinating. Have you heard of Julius Evola? He was aligned with with Mussolini, and use to go for strolls during bombing raids. He was eventually hit and paralysed. I think that’s an excellent metaphor for occultism.

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