Is Religion Harmful/Evil? Science from Theism?

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Welcome to Ep. 7 of the Apologetics Canada Podcast!

We have a Christmas Skeptics Café coming up on December 19th. It will be in the Centre Court at Northview Community Church: 32040 Downes Rd., Abbotsford, BC.

Breakout Speaker Highlight

Dr. Paul Chamberlain – Talking with Atheists and Agnostics: How Can I Do it Better? (Willingdon)
(Director of Institute for Christian Apologetics at ACTS Seminaries, Langley, BC)

Have you ever wondered how to carry on a good productive conversation with someone who believes differently than you do on some of life’s most important issues, like belief in God?  What do I have in common with someone like that?  Where do I start?  These are the questions we will address in this session as we chart the way forward toward respectful conversations that get to the point quickly.

For more breakout sessions, check out this link here.

Is Religion Harmful and/or Evil?

It’s important not to be simplistic in our outlook on such a vast topic as religion. Theo Hobson from The Spectator says:

The events of 9/11 were the main trigger for the explosion of this latent irritation. There was a desire to see Islamic terrorism as the symbolic synecdoche of all of religion. On one level this makes some sense: does not all religion place faith above reason? Isn’t this intrinsically dangerous? Don’t all religions jeopardise secular freedom, whether through holy wars or faith schools? On another level it is absurd: is the local vicar, struggling to build community and help smelly drunks stay alive, really a force for evil — even if she has some illiberal opinions? When such questions arise, a big bright ‘Complicated’ sign ought to flash in one’s brain. Instead, in the wake of 9/11, many otherwise thoughtful people opted for simplicity over complexity. They managed to convince themselves that religion is basically bad, and that the brave intellectual should talk against it. (This preference for seeming tough and clear over admitting difficult complexity is really cowardice, and believers are prone to it too.) 

The success of five or six atheist authors, on both sides of the Atlantic, seemed to herald a strong new movement. It seemed that non-believers were tired of all the nuance surrounding religion, hungry for a tidy narrative that put them neatly in the right.

For the full article, click here.

Let’s Digress For a Moment (though not completely)

Science vs. Religion?

  • Theism provides a conceptual framework for science
    • Validity of induction
    • Reliability of our senses
    • Morality (the need for academic honesty, etc.)

The 7 Points from Paul Chamberlain’s Book

(Credit goes to Steve Wilkinson from Tilled Soil for putting this together)

  • 1) Both religious and irreligious people commit many acts of violence.
  • 2) When they occur the vast majority of religious people around the world are outraged by them whether they are committed in the name of religion or not.
  • 3) These acts are often driven by deep political and cultural motivations which would remain whether or not religion played a part.
  • 4) Religion is sometimes turned into a tool to help recruit soldiers to fight these political and cultural battles.
  • 5) While this is a horrific abuse of religion, virtually any ideal, including secular ones such as liberty, equality, nationalism and patriotism can and have been abused.
  • 6) Humans will always divide into communities resulting in divisions and binary oppositions which lie at the heart of human conflict. Some of these divisions are religious in nature (e.g., Protestant vs. Catholic, Shiite vs. Sunni) but most are not (e.g., Tutsi vs. Hutu, Conservative vs. Liberal) and would remain even if religion were eradicated.
  • 7) Christianity, understood as following the teachings of Jesus, is not only free of the main allegations leveled against religion by its twenty-first century critics, but it is the source of great good in the world. If we demand it be eradicated, we may not know what we are asking for.

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