Monday, September 17, 2001

 
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I find this article about the role of religion in the crash to be a bit disturbing and interesting. Personally, I think there's a big flaw here -- the problem is not religions in general, or the belief in an afterlife. The problem is the belief that by killing yourself and taking out thousands of people with you, that you'll somehow collect some heavenly bonus prize that is worth trading your life for.

But there are, as Dawkins says himself in his (good) book The Selfish Gene, reasons why beings interested in their own survival would be willing to lay down their life -- for the survival of their kin, if they then go on and reproduce. Religion provides the framework; because it can unfortunately be used as a way to seperate "us" and "them". But other philosophies could easily fit the same job description; including a completely materialistic one that says that there is no afterlife.

Religion and faith are responsible for good things too; for helping with charities, for comforting those when life is difficult, for providing some context for the insane world we live in, for giving people some reason to go on living as well.

I'm not saying that religion isn't dangerous at times -- it is -- just that to say that religion is bad generally is like blaming the airplane for being turned into a weapon, or having buildings that reach so high and concentrate so many people in one spot to be an attractive target. A tool can always be misused by evil and misguided people.

So I think that Richard Dawkins -- even if he has the intelligence and wisdom to marry Lalla Ward -- is perhaps quick to blame religion; if there wasn't religion to make bad men do evil things, they'd find something else; patriotism, misplaced social justice, or whatever...

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