Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Silent Majority

A friend of mine sent me this image last night. You'll have to pull up the full size image to read it, obviously. If for some reason that doesn't work, you can find the original here. If you can read it through to the end, I commend you. I only got about 2/3 of the way through before I became so dizzy that I had to stop. Please do follow the link out before reading any further.

I want to just go ahead and address this argument now:

"Now Hayden, you can't judge religion as a whole based on the behavior of a few extremists. There will always be extremists and vocal minorities that give religion a bad name, but most of us are fine with a 'live and let live' philosophy. Religious people are just as upset by these sorts of things as non-believers."

If that is the case, then why does it seem that the only people willing to put this stuff out there are the atheists, non-believers, and apostates? And why are they just dismissed as angry or misguided when they do? How much of this stuff would (and does) just get swept under the rug out of the fear of giving religion a bad name if the non-religious did not bring it up? If everybody is equally upset by this, then why do the religious usually choose just not to talk about it?

The behavior of the religiously moderate masses is irrelevant when the "vocal minorities" speak through murder and harmful influence on public policy, particularly when the behavior of the masses tends toward inaction. The fact that religious extremists who are willing to harm others in the name of their faith are in a minority does not make the fact that their religion gives them permission to kill any less pertinent.


  1. It's a sick world, man. People are evil, clearly. I don't believe religion gives anyone an excuse to do any of those terrible things. I hate that people would use that as an excuse to cover up their own evil agenda.

    The sad thing is that I believe in God and I hate that I feel like I have to cover that up or can't talk about it because people will think I'm a raging lunatic who kills babies.

  2. And you shouldn't have to feel that way, Kelli. Everybody has the right to believe what they want to believe. It is when the religious start to insist that others believe as they do, or use religion as a justification for violence as a tool to get their personal biases and prejudices reflected in public policy that it becomes a problem.

    I'm sorry that you feel like you have to cover it up. It shouldn't be that way. For what it's worth, I don't think that you're a raging lunatic who kills babies.

    I hope that you are having a wonderful day.

  3. Permission to kill? Let me stop you right there Hayden. I'm not certain that you were talking about a specific religion, or religion collectively, but I'm a Christian, and my religion simply does not allow this. In fact, it's specifically forbidden in the Bible, and I'm fairly sure the same is true for many other religions.
    I don't support or excuse what any extremist does in any way, but I find that when it comes down to things, the problem lies in people, not in the belief systems they follow.

  4. Right. But your religion is very different from their religion. Your religion is not the problem.

  5. Death gets headlines.

    There are leaders in every religious community encouraging their flock to take the moral high ground and let other be. But "Pastor encourages congregation to be kind to Muslims" is the kind of headline that is going to sell out newspapers.

    So what God is doing is going to get far less attention than whatever sick/outrageous/hateful thing humans are doing to one another in the name of religion.

  6. I read this last night and examined most of the headlines in the picture. I guess I forgot to comment. Dawn is very wise and essentially said what I wanted to write. Headlines tend to have a very negative slant. Most news reporters are fear-mongers. Conflict, controversy, struggles, injustice - these are the subjects that make headlines. They promote the culture of fear which is very prevalent around the world today. Us versus Them. They are different, so They must be ostracized. But never Us. Because We are always right. It's a shame. On the other hand, throughout history more people have died in the name of religion than anything else. Newton and Galileo didn't burn anyone at the stake, did they? So I can understand both sides.


  7. I find the "we only hear about the bad parts of religion" argument to be, in essence, a modified version of the one I brought up in the post.

    Now, don't get me wrong. I freely admit that there are religious people out there who do good in the world. I'm not one of THOSE atheists who insists against all argument that all religion is inherently bad no matter what. Keep in mind that I am a scientist above all else, and that my opinions must conform to evidence. There is plenty of evidence that religion does do good in the world. To argue against that would be tenacious. Whether or not we need religion to do that good is another issue altogether.

    I don't necessarily agree that the media depicts the negative aspects of religion exclusively, but I recognize that the spin is rarely in favor. The problem is that there is any spin in the first place, but I, too, wish that more stories such as Dawn's example were released to the public. People deserve to hear that sort of thing, too.

    However, pointing out that there are positive aspects of religion in addition to the bad only demonstrates that religion is capable of both charity and atrocity. And isn't it the atrocity that we should be most concerned about as a world society?