Sunday, June 29, 2008

Religion or Ideology?

In a clip from a comic monologue shown in Ben Stein's film Expelled, Bill Maher [EDIT: Thanks, Kevin] quips that religion needs to be controlled just as badly as guns do. It is a sentiment gaining currency today: guns don't kill people, religion does. Religion, say more and more of its detractors, may or may not be all right when it's used in moderation, and kept compartmentalized on Sunday mornings or what have you, but once people start taking it too seriously it becomes dangerous!

What they mean by religion is belief in God, and/or adherence to one of the major world religions. What they are really suggesting is that the next necessary and inevitable step in human progress is to shed belief in God and move forward into an enlightened, atheistic future which will, naturally, bring peace, harmony, and happiness to all.

I think this is an interesting example of the shallow deception practiced, more and more brazenly, by our society's secular pundits. Now, if they said "ideology" instead of "religion" they might hit closer to the truth. And if they spoke out of anything like a historical perspective, they might also observe that no theistic religion has ever caused as much human misery, violence, horror, and death as one or two secular ideologies of the 20th century alone.

It stands to reason. Atheism lacks any source of moral accountability to check the atrocities that the pursuit of a controlling ideology may demand of its fanatical followers. And theistic religions do not have a monopoly on fanatics. Without a "controlling authority" curbing their behavior, a consistent, ideological atheist must embrace the view that "the end justifies the means." And without any acknowledged authority decreeing that human life is privileged and precious, secular ideology can unleash a reign of terror that would make every holy war ever planned or prosecuted look like a playground scuffle. This theory is borne out by history.

Ben Stein makes this case compellingly. Somehow, Yoko Ono was unable to muffle him. Wonders never cease.

1 comment:

KEVIN said...

It's not Dennis Miller; it's Bill Maher.