Religious violence! Does religion lead to war? Is it the cause of most violence in the world? Why have there been so many religious wars and fighting over beliefs? You do not observe this kind of action among atheists.
At least this is what atheists claim. Non-believers are quick to point out how atheists are proponents of science which operates in the realm of fact, not superstition. Therefore, it’s about truth and not mere beliefs and holy books.
In science, it is acceptable to challenge another person’s point of view in order to arrive at the truth. Therefore, atheists claim that they are peaceful and non-violent. They do not have to go to war over differing beliefs and realize that believing in God creates chaos and controversy.
This is what atheists claim anyway. Even famous non-believers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens forward this narrative. For those who don’t know better, this may appear plausible.
However, this could not be further from the truth. For anyone who has studied actual history and does not specialize in bumper sticker slogans and sweeping generalizations, history itself paints a very different story.
Good That Religion Does!
It is true that there have been some religious wars and conquests in history. Religion can own up to the fact that there have been mistakes and atrocities committed by religious people in God’s name.
However, with that being said, there is a whole world of good that nobody can deny and atheists completely ignore (or are ignorant of). The truth is, some of the most barbaric and violent atrocities in history have derived from atheists, and most of the greatest good in history has come from religion. It is a whole world of good that atheism could never imagine or duplicate.
Let’s look at just the Catholic Church, for example. The Catholic Church has been the largest charitable organization in the world, feeding more people, clothing more people, educating more people, and helping more people than anyone else on the planet by far.
Over the last 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has built countless hospitals, orphanages, health clinics, soup kitchens, and runaway shelters; they run groups to combat human trafficking, defend the unborn, support the elderly, and are active in many other ministries that serve people in every sector of life.
Catholic missionaries are found in countries around the world and even throughout the most poor and remote countries. They live and work side by side with the poor, serving them and meeting their every need.
Remember reading about the dreaded “Dark Ages?” For hundreds of years wars were waged throughout the Roman Empire because of the conquests of the Vikings, Huns, Danes, Visigoths, and other barbarian tribes. That is why it was dark.
Atheists falsely claim that this was a time of technological standstill where science did not progress and both literacy and learning came to a standstill for almost a thousand years. Again, nothing could be further from the truth.
During this time of darkness and instability, the Catholic Church was the greatest light in the world. The Catholic Church started countless schools and expanded education for the common person, as opposed to just the rich and noble receiving education. The Catholic Church also invented the University system with full coarse loads in all major subjects including math and science.
Some historians assert that we would have not experienced the modern scientific revolution we had without the Catholic Church’s teaching and forwarding science for centuries.
In fact, the Catholic Church herself advanced science for over a thousand years. They developed the scientific method, invented economics, law, and some of the most beautiful art, music, and architecture that the world has ever known. The Church also preserved literacy when the barbarians were destroying libraries, and in time, it was the Church who civilized the Vikings and barbarian tribes that could not be conquered in war, and all without war or violence.
The Catholic Church is responsible for building Western Civilization. Whole books have been written about all the good religion has accomplished which cannot be denied.
Based on just a few of these things mentioned, it seems evident that religion has made civilization infinitely better and more prosperous for people across the globe.
Myth: Atheists are Peaceful and Religion Causes War!
Atheists will point to the bombings of 9/11, the Crusades, and some religious wars that have happened. (For the real truth about the Crusades, click here). While it is true that some bad things have happened in the name of religion, non-believers are not usually versed in actual history and so are ignorant of the Crusades and other historical events.
One might be surprised to find that the majority of all religious wars and atrocities come primarily from one religion: the religion of Islam. Since their founding, Islam lived by the sword and conquered by the sword. Whereas Jesus preached his message in love and died loving His enemies, Muhammad led with the sword and war. Nearly the entire history of Islam is one of committed warfare.
Muslims conquered the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire and two-thirds of the Byzantine Empire. While Muslims attacked Christian lands for centuries, the Church prayed for them but never retaliated.
However, when Muslims laid siege to the Byzantine Empire laying waste to most of it, Emperor Alexius I begged the pope for help.
The pope agreed to come to their aid, and the Crusades began. Thus, the Crusades began as wars of self-defense. Though abuses occurred (which you can learn about here), it is a gross misunderstanding to claim that they were wars of aggression and intolerance.
Even considering the extensive conquest of Islam and those in the Old Testament (most of which were in self-defense also), these wars are next to nothing compared to the atrocities and “high body counts” found among atheists and those with no religion.
Atheist Wars and Violence:
Recent atheist regimes have killed more people than all religions combined. Let us look at a few of these:
Joseph Stalin: an atheist responsible for murdering 20 million of his own people through forced starvation and other deaths. That is twice as many as Hitler ever killed who himself was unreligious for most of his life and persecuted and killed religious people.
Zedong Mao: an atheist who killed 70 million people. Like Hitler and Stalin, Mao also targeted Christians and murdered them.
Pol Pot: responsible for wiping out 1/5 of his own country’s population, nearly 2 million people. Pol Pot killed a larger percentage of his own countrymen than Stalin and Mao, and killed 10 times the amount of the Crusades and the Inquisition combined.
Mentioning just three atheist regimes, we have nearly 100,000 million deaths in just one century, and this does not include the many other atheists and dictators, such as Fidel Castro, Enver Hoxha, Nicolae Ceausescu, and others.
This is something atheists never discuss or are sadly ignorant of.
The Bottom Line:
The violence, wars, and atrocities of unbelievers far outweigh anything done by believers. The senseless killings and violence that occur in the absence of religion, or of some moral code, is shockingly higher than when religion is present.
This is to say nothing of the colossal amount of good that religion has done to change the world and make it a better place. In fact, the deaths caused by Christian rulers over a 500 year period amounts to only 1% of the total deaths caused by Stalin and Mao in merely a few decades, not to mention all of the other atheist regimes.
Does religion cause war? It can. Have bad things happened in the name of religion? Absolutely. However, the moral code of Christianity and of most religions have inspired people to become better, to live moral lives, and to make the world a better place.
The take away can be summed up perfectly by Dinesh D’Souza in his book, What’s So Great About Christianity?
“Whatever the cause for why religious regimes do what they do, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in three thousand years not managed to kill anywhere near the number of people killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades. It’s time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the main source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is responsible for the worst mass murders in history” (Pg. 221).