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There is, unfortunately, a plague on humanity. That plague is stupid arguments.

Ben Stein is one phenomenal source of these, and you can easily find any number of derisive articles about his idiocy anywhere you look.

Now, I really try to be fair enough about people and their arguments, but this fellow just rips page after page out of the dumb arguments book. Because, honestly, (among other stupid arguments) if "science" (he means "Darwinism" or evolutionary theory, which isn't Darwinistic anymore, because Darwin messed up a lot of stuff and we've since moved on from that important but flawed early work) caused genocide, our ancient history would look a lot different.

Anyways. This stupid argument is no less poorly-fought from the other side of this particular issue...

"As we all know" ...

Countless scholars, journalists, and internet bafoons have preached on and on about how religion is the cause of the most wars and is a huge cause of genocide. Of course, they have no actual evidence to support this, and the reality is that most wars boil down to ordinary political tools like power and resources, though religion may be involved in many conflicts.

In fact, both of these sides quote off from the same people about whether religion does or does not cause these things. And the most cited? Hitler.

I hope that my brief tenure on this blog has shown you sufficient evidence to convince you that this idea that religion or atheism causes genocide. If not, I'll give you a comment I posted on just such a stupid argument on another blog.

Pharyngula on Ben Stein

As a genocide scholar, I'd like to throw a monkeywrench in the discussion on

"[Science|Religion] leads you to killing people," says [Stein|Dawkins].

Being human leads people to kill people, not being religious or being atheistic. War has, again and again, been demonstrated to be the result of a complex calculation of wants, availability of resources, differences of all sorts, and deterring forces of all sorts. In short, war is clearly realpolitik.

Genocide, on the other hand, is the ultimate in perception fogging, in which circumstances and historical myths create a perception of threat for which the only defense is annihilation. I cannot repeat this strongly enough: If you are capable of self-defense, you are capable of genocide. And, religion in no way precludes nor requires self-defense.

In other words, this is a stupid argument of name-calling in which either side attempts to suggest that the other is incapable of living "rightly." And, more to the point, if somehow you have watched Dawkins' specials or read his books and not come away with the conclusion that religion must be the source of all (or at least most) of humanity's evils, then you must have been watching something else.

Religion is unneccessary. It is incorrect. It is logically unsound. These are the arguments to make, not those that are the equivalent of "if your hand is bigger than your face, that means you have AIDS!"


Now, Dr. Myers is not responsible for this stupidity, and I apologize for having a hand in mucking up his comment thread. And, whatever your opinion on religion, I hope you can agree with me on what ought to be the only applicable critiques of it. I myself am beyond undecided on this matter, and I'd prefer to be left out of that discussion at present.

For the future, let us concentrate on fruitful and evidenced discussions, not blame-games. They really achieve nothing.


And, a note on my subject line. I am indeed in transition... to a new site address. I'll give you more details soon; I'll have loads of posts to share when I get there.