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ATHEISTIC VIOLENCE

Update – July 28, 2008

In recent months, a spate of atheist books have argued that religion represents, as “End of Faith” author Sam Harris puts it, “the most potent source of human conflict, past and present.”

Columnist Robert Kuttner gives the familiar litany. “The Crusades slaughtered millions in the name of Jesus. The Inquisition brought the torture and murder of millions more. After Martin Luther, Christians did bloody battle with other Christians for another three centuries.”

 

In his bestseller “The God Delusion,” Richard Dawkins contends that most of the world’s recent conflicts – in the Middle East, in the Balkans, in Northern Ireland, in Kashmir, and in Sri Lanka – show the vitality of religion’s murderous impulse.

The problem with this critique is that it exaggerates the crimes attributed to religion, while ignoring the greater crimes of secular fanaticism. The…

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