Archive for Evil

No More War! No More War?

In an awesome feat of disproportionate response, the IDF responded to Hamas’ breaking the several-months’ long cease fire with Israel by bombing the fucking shit out of Gaza. We had one civilian dead and 6 wounded in a southern city called “Netivot” (I only learnt how to sign that in ISL last week) and a few hours later, the IAF took care of annihilating 60 different security targets in Gaza, killing more than 200 Palestinians and wounding about 700. The bodycount is kind of hard with most of the bodies not in one piece, but I’m sure they’ll manage.

Why am I writing this? I’m not writing this because I condemn military action as a legitimate means of national security, I am writing this because I think killing more than 200 people is a simply a fucking massacre. We’ve butchered these people. We’ve killed hundreds of security Hamas men, hurray for us, but why? Is every Hamas person responsible for the rockets fired at our southern cities? Is this how we behave? Exactly like the other side? If Hamas had an air force, they’d do the exact same thing to us. The only difference in response is a result of us having more sophisticated weaponry. We’re behaving like thugs with F-16s.

Killing Hamas-men by the hundreds is NOT the way a responsible nation behaves. By all means, go into Gaza, shoot everyone who tries to shoot at our soldiers, this is STILL a measure of self defense, as all military action should be, and by all means *arrest every single damn one of them*. If they try to resist arrest, shoot them in the legs, if they try to shoot you, shoot them back, trying not to kill them.

Yes, the price to pay for being civilized is having soldiers die in the name of freedom and civilization. It means you can’t just bomb the shit out of civilians simply so you could save up soldiers. If this is how we behave, then our soldiers fight for an empty cause anyway. If we’re anything other than terrorists with tanks, then this is a task worthy of the ultimate sacrifice.
I’ve been to a demonstration against the attacks tonight not because I’m against attacking Gaza, but because I’m against attacking Gaza in this stupid, bloodbathed, horrendous manner. We’re letting malign idiots play with jet fighters and people who are completely innocent fucking DIE.

Bah, I’m simply furious.

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Who’s The Culprit?

It is often said (mainly by apologetics, and in a way, that’s how they’re defined) that religion is not to blame for religious bigotry or for religiously-motivated violence. The garden variety argument is that even though evil people can be religious, it is not religion itself that is responsible for their crimes and evil deeds.

An interesting discussion has sprouted at Sisyphus Fragment, and most interestingly so, the line of defense was held not by religious apologetics, but simply by everyday rational, coherent, intelligent people. The crux of their argument is that religious people would be ignorant to simply use religion (or brainwashed, and the difference is tricky) as a means to do evil, and that religion is not the only thing that’s being used to promote evil causes. This is very much true, and since no one said that religion is the only cause for evil, quite irrelevant in the defense of religion as a culprit.

An interesting argument defending religion arose when someone said that religion itself is not evil, but can be manipulated by evil men, and those attacking religion is not only pointless, but can be counter-productive. I’m not going to say anything about it being counter-productive not because I can’t imagine it being productive, but because I much rather base such a claim on credible sources and not just scatter historical examples and thought experiments.

What I will say, however, is that it is an interesting reduction of human evil to say that no doctrine of its own is culprable, including religious doctrine, but that only human beings are. In that respect, Nazis aren’t culprable by their adherence to the party, but only by the fact that they gassed prisoners to death (well, it’s more complicated than that, but the example is clear enough).

Anyway, I can’t completely disagree with that, and in many respects, I sometimes get the feeling that religious people get too much heat merely by entitling themselves religious. Religious people, like everyone else, pick and choose what they think is right or wrong (and many of them will agree, even elusively, that their morals are not dictated by the bible. No surprise there). So, this definitely flies in the face of every graffitti that goes “Christians are shit”, and even though a lot of well-intending atheists might sympathize (especially former Christians) with that sentence, I don’t.

But is Christianity, itself, a culprit? Obviously, Judaism will share the same cell should Christianity gets thrown to the tanty, but is it guilty of the crimes people commit in its name?

My answer to that is “not exactly”. Evil people will find some other way of grinding their axes at other people’s expense even if the Abarahamic religions never existed. The flip-side of that is that good men or women, or good-intending ones, might wrong their fellow mortals simply because the bible tells them so. They might even feel a horrible pain while doing so, and will even hate themselves for not being committed enough. They will feel a two-layered guilt: sympathy to the oppressed and servile guilt to their Master, the one who decreed that they should do things they really don’t want to, and really think they shouldn’t.

So addressing religion as “guilty” is meaningful only in the respect of specific laws and decrees that plainly, in a non-open-to-interpretation-way (see Deuteronomy), state that evil should be done. This is not an indictment of all religious people and not even of all religious laws or canonized books. This is an indictment of very specific laws that were barbaric when they were written (by whoever) and they’re still barbaric today, and religious people and athiests who aren’t, well, insane, will agree on that.

Jeff, a charming soul who also happens to be a Christian, would probably never even dream of committing any crimes in the name of Christianity or Jesus Christ, and he would agree that killing homosexuals is an evil decree (he won’t agree that that’s what the bible says, but if he did, he would agree it’s an evil religious decree).

So the real culprit is between the lines, not on the cover of the bible. Religion does not go to prison, only the written text in its holy books that sends good men to do the work for evil ones.

Another Reason to Hate Judaism

I just remembered that last night, a woman from the Deaf club near campus (I had a small typing gig there after class) intervened during a legal lecture and said that the local Rabbinate refused to acknowledge her as witness for the writing of a will by one of her own family members.

The reason for said refusal: “You’re deaf, you cannot be a witness”.

Disgusting.

Freedom of Speech

Another pharyngulated blog, 2000 years of deception (hark at that), has brought to my attention a particularly obnoxious type of homeschooling, bigoted, hate-mongering, ignorant and odious individual. The bottom line is that miss God Hates Fags here says that homosexuality should be punishable by death and that with any luck some radical will blow up a “gay-friendly high-school”. She also said she doesn’t actually endorse this. Oh yeah, no sir!

Anyhow, since this is just another run-of-the-mill idiot with nothing to do but to spread tinfoil hat mouth-foaming belliigerence (and, tragically, inculcating it in her homeschooled children) – on itself it’s not big news and not particularly interesting. The only sympathizers clods like that have are other twerps with the same single-digit IQ.

However, being the comments prowler that I am, I sniffed the comments in 2000YOD (well, I’d obviously not look into the godbot’s blog for a balanced view, that despicable hag quickly deleted every comment from non-sycophants) and I ran into this jewel:

Anonymous said…
Flaging her blog is juvenile and close minded.

Hate Speech is still free speech. No matter how vulgar the message.

I’m sorry, all ye unfaithful – this anonymous chap is right. Freedom of speech logically entails freedom of dumb, hateful, poisonous speech. Freedom of speech enables Hitlers and Mussolinis, not just FDR’s and Churchills. If one accepts the right to free speech, one must also allow it for anyone with a dissenting and even disgusting view, and I fully endorse this woman’s right to display her revolting worldview to the world. At least that way more people can be made aware of this vile, sickening individual.

I’m using more expletives than usual precisely because I wish to make an example of my own free speech. See, I don’t think suppressing people’s view is a good long-term strategy for any purpose. It doesn’t even stand to reason even when we ignore the warm, fuzzy feelings liberal concepts like FOS give to us ( I’m not kidding, it’s given me warm fuzzy feelings ever since I heard of it in junior high. )

The thing is – if people have dissenting views, hushing them up won’t make them go away, and in any case, if there’s a personality or an upbringing that makes people susceptible to certain viewpoints, then shutting them up won’t make them change their minds, or change the fact that such viewpoints will survive. People always find a way, and writing about crap like said hag is just one of many methods of propagating disgusting ideas.

So my take on this is that freedom of speech does in fact and should cut both ways: it’s the right of useful, intelligent, modern human beings to express their views and to spread useful and egalitarian ideas and it’s also the right for bible-thumping yokels to dribble about how wonderful a world without people who are different than they are is going to be.

I also think that it’s solely the responsibility of sensible liberals to use that same right to vocalize their contempt, scorn, disdain, disapproval, disavowal and absolute flaming dejection at such putrid ideas.

In the end, it’s the winning ideas that win, not the most vocal ideas, though being overly vocal helps to propogate bullshit. But the end result is that people want power, and the way to power is in reason and in reason alone. If you convince enough people to use their heads and not the opinions of authoritative bigots, they will, in turn, use their heads to produce results better than they could before.

Then the tide will turn.

Speak out hard enough, and the truth will win: not because it’s warm and cuddly, but because it’s concordant with humanity’s biological reality: the truth is the best way to get to results, and only those who get to results get a say in anything.

Eventually, if enough people use their heads, the warm and fuzzy feelings (the truly important part of this whole “life” thing) will follow.

Simple Killings

This is the third “serious crime” proceeding I had to scribe, and the second “murder case”. In the previous instances, when I encountered serious crimes in my “line of work”, I was left shocked, amazed and pensive. This time, I must say that I am not too impressed or moved at all. Blah, blah, blah, can’t speak of what actually happened, fast forward.

This was a case of murder. The people killed were simple people, the people doing the killing were simple people, and most importantly (hence the perfection of this post’s title): the motive for the killing was simple.

The truth of the matter is that a person was killed, a real young man was killed, because of words he said, expletives he uttered. A simple man produced grade-school level profanity and as a result, was simply killed by a simple person.

Newspapers in Israel enjoy making fabulous headlines at their “pointless murder” column. I’m sure they won’t call it that, but there’s not a day that goes by without some “redundant violence article” published in the paper. I’m pretty sure it’s not a local phenomenon, too.

I find myself not only unimpressed by such stories, but also completely unsurprised. People who have nothing but their pathetic and miserable street credibility wouldn’t think twice before killing a man who destroys it or even merely undermines it. Honor, as “simple killers” refer to it, is probably all they have, and reckless violence the only tool for them to keep it. Without that, they reckon, they’re as good as dead anyway.

People who have been forged in a lawless fire where there’s nothing but the width of your shoulders and the peak decibels of your voice to show your prowess in are going to be violent and probably murderously so. It is only a big astonishment to self-righteous and arrogant bourgeosies who obviously have many other alternatives to violence when confronted who find hopeless ignorants to be murderously violent.

Anyone who thinks this is a patronizing argument has obviously not spent a day in his life with poor ignorant people. When I say “ignorant”, I do not mean morally inferior or even stupid – I simply mean that a lot of people who are of very limited means are also ignorant of the fact that there’s more than one way to screw a light bulb other than shooting the technician in the foot, getting him to screw the bulb, and then shooting him in the head. Um, figuratively speaking, of course.

There’s nothing I can learn here of human evil and very little I can study about human behavior: idiots with guns (yeah, idiots with guns, if anyone’s thought of me as patronizing so far, he can credit to himself the fact that he disagreed with me referring to murderous idiots with guns who kill for the dumbest reasons and chose to disagree with me when I refer to them as ignorant) – those idiots with guns use the only means possible for them to protect their well-being and their future, the same people who might have chosen to do otherwise were they aware of plausible, working alternatives. It’d certainly efface their “idiot” title, to begin with.

The only significant thing to learn from this incident is that it’s important to remember, no matter how fat, hedonistic, in excess of knowledge and means and secured we might get, a lot of people, not too far away, are living lives that are not too different than the lives animals in the wild: meaning that like animals in the wild, they have only two rules: what they can do, and what they can’t do. (Yep, I totally stole that from Pirates of the Caribbean)

A religious pleasent surprise

Those riots in Acre are all over the news, and a ynet-bird has told me that Acre-born parliament members, the Jewish one being a member of Shas, an ultra-orthodox Jewish party, and an Israeli Arab PM from the Taal-Raam party have joined forces to pray for…


Co-existence.

This just goes to show that religion has nothing to do with any of this. It’s malign idiots on both sides who happen to rationalize their actions with nationalism and religious bigotry. But the truth is – the streets are on fire because a bunch of self-righteous idiots are masquerading the streets.

This is something that’s rightfully left to the police, and if there’s any justice, the ethnicity of anyone wondering the streets and setting stuff on fire is of no consequence:

Let thugs and enemies of peace meet justice, and let no one, either Jewish or Arab (or atheist, for that matter!) hide behind ideology or religion.

Jewish mobs: yep, we suck ass too!

Well, since no one here probably reads Hebrew, reading the original article isn’t going to be that useful. I’ll be brief, though. This is not the first time shit like this happens and probably not the last.

An Israeli Arab dared to use his car on Yom Kippur (like he gives a flying fuck about Jewish Halacha, duh), so the crowd mobbed him and almost lynched him. By that, I mean that they tried stoning him to death and he managed to escape.

He did, by the way, try to be quiet and subtle… But you know, religious thugs don’t really use their brains before they delve into a self-rightous spree of violence.

Disgusting. If this is the way Jews behave on the day when they’re supposed to be atoning for their sins, I can only imagine what their worst is. Also, if this is the way Jews are supposed to behave to a foreigner who tries to respect their feelings but nevertheless, does not share their same convictions, then I am ashamed of being associated with Judaism for having been raised Jewish.

Despicable.

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Woohoo! This post was Pharyngulated!

Pockets of Order

With much consideration to the tormented religious mind, I often contemplate what it means to think of our species, or life in general, as a pocket of order.

A lot of atheists who are into the evolution-creation debate probably know about the ancient and tired creationist argument about the second law of thermodynamics.

Now, I really can’t feel too comfortable talking about thermodynamics after I’ve interpreted and scribed for a deaf student who actually went to a TD course. There, I got a good glimpse of what thermodynamics actually is about and I wasn’t surprised to find out it doesn’t offer any evidence of any gods or creators.

But, I still have some idea of what this law is about, and I’ll put it out before this gets too messy:

the second law of thermodynamics talks about a quality or a physical entity called “entropy”. The thing really only makes sense physically if you take it into consideration with mechanical qualities in gases (although I bet the quality has some parallel in other phases as well). In short, entropy is just another variable in equations designed to predict the behavior of gases (that’s as far as I went in one semester, at least!).

The interesting part about the second law of TD is that it can be, in a not-entirely-figurative-way, a term used to denote a sense of disorder. That’s quite interesting, because it is actually a fact that in certain systems (ain’t going there), the amount of entropy always increases unless there’s some work/external energy or in English, “external factors” operating on the system. To put it in an example, if you take a low-entropy  gas and suddenly let it loose inside a large space/container, the atoms of the gas will, without interruption, aspire to become all messed up and pretty much evened-out throughout the space they’re situated in. The god of physics forgive me for the extremely loose and inaccurate description here. This can be called “disorder” because of a somewhat subjective definition for the word “order”, and in that case, I specifically remember what the professor said about “order”:

if you have a lot of ways of arranging a certain collection of atoms and, for some improbable reason (the improbable element plays a really important part here) – they tend to all arrange themselves in the same unlikely position – then the arrangement is considered ordered.

That said, order is nothing more than statistical euphamism designed to express improbable arrangements of matter in space.

The reason such arrangements, in the case of gases, for example, are improbable is because when there’s a large space for a collection of atoms to spread itself in, the energetic factors of each an every atom will always lead the atoms to be as evened out as possible as to minimize the amount of energy every atom has in accord to other atoms. This is just following a basic chemical and physical law: that atoms aspire to be in the lowest-energy conformation.  This is not some strange devil in nature that has strange whims – this is simply and observed and yet unrefuted reality – to be quickly discarded once refuted.

That puts even more subectivity to the term “order” – it means that the order we’re talking about follows from a definition of improbability based on our ignorance of situations in which matter does not follow the laws of physics that we know of. Order is nothing more than a convenient way of expressing a phenomenon in reality as we know it. There’s nothing about this term that means “special characteristics in life”. The “order” we have has nothing to do with the “order and discipline” that exists in, say, armies, goverment, police forces, etc. Even that “order” is nothing more than an abstraction to explain away certain obsreved patterns.

The reason I’m going through this whole caveat is because I’m fascinated with what this whole “order” thing really means: it means that us living creatures are doing something that is physically unlikely in a closed system. It is, of course, 100% likely in a non-closed system, in which tiny pockets of order are formed in an ocean of disorder.

My mind really starts sailing off when I try putting it into a more poetic use:

I think about the course of human history and the fact that even today, when there’s regulation books in the amazon river, civilization is still a tiny pocket of “order” in a messy sea of chaos. The order that exists in civilization is, of course, nothing like the order that exists in gas atoms. Actually, even though I didn’t go that far in the material, the TD professor said that things get really wobbly when you get the liquid and solid phases and eventually even to describe simple conditions, you need statistical physics to reach convenient approximations.

So it’s really stupid to actually draw evidence from thermodynamics to anything us humans do. Which is not what I’m doing in this post.

What I am doing is trying to make a poetic comparison between the two:

The order in our lives, expressed in the comfort that today and tomorrow are not going to be too drastically different from each other, the knowledge that it is quite unlikely for us to get killed or to lose a family member or a loved one, and that if something bad does happen to us, then someone’s going to pay for it.
Of course, even in the western world, it’s not like that. I’ve lost loved ones, I’ve had todays extremely different than their respective tomorrows, and sometimes life is indeed turbulent and unpredictable.

However, in many places in the world, even right now, people are whimpering in fear just like their animal counterparts in the wild. Women who are constantly raped know that it can happen again and no one’s going to help them. Men and children will be attacked, their family members will not be expected to survive – they live in a chaotic world with no rules or even a slight attempt to enforce them.

And I consider the kind of world I live in, with blogs and police forces and lawyers and imaginary lines in the sand that people actually do not cross to be as unlikely as a pocket of order. I consider it a rather striking simile that it is unlikely to have this kind of law and order anywhere in the world and it is much more likely to be utter chaos.

For the better part of human history, people have been obeying the laws of the jungle to survive. Of course, this has become much more refined in the modern world: people are not killed, they’re bought. People are not tortured into faith, they’re brainwashed or even simply tricked into faith – all for the personal gain of the leaders who perpetuate these faiths.

So the course of human history eventually bubbled enough steam and on the mountains of corpses of the past grew a world of smiling, fat, self-serving average folk who think they got the world by the balls and that everything’s going to be okay.

But this “okayness” is, again, something very unlikely. Like in TD, to perpetuate such “order”, you have to put in a lot of “work” into it. I consider the order that I enjoy so much to be the product of a lot of hard labor for a lot of people who want the same thing. It’s a win-win deal. In Israel, every person serves in the army for 3 years and that way we don’t get thrown into the ocean. In America, people pay taxes, obey the law, or are forced to obey the law by the hard work of the government and law enforcement agencies. The order is perpetuated by the muscle of those who desire it.

But the idea that this is a permanent situation is an illusion -we will always have to work to live in such a sheltering environment and we will always have to deal with the challenges the future brings to keep this “order” alive. This order could slip off our fingers any moment, any minute, and throw us into the dark ages. Our women raped, our men murdered, our children enslaved – the easiest way and the stupidest way to get personal gain out of other human beings is simply to steal them or remove them – and without working hard for a rational and moral humanity, that’s exactly what we’ll end up getting.

A human tragedy

Lady Justice in bronze

Lady Justice in bronze

Last night I was working on a transcript of a another serious crime. The Israeli court of law, probably like most courts of law, deals with various types of crimes and usually handles them differently. This particular crime is the second severe crime that I was to “witness” as a scribe.

The first time I worked on a serious offense left me digusted and shocked at the evil that humans are capable of, and the ability of lawyers to defend even the most vile criminals.

This second case intrigued me because of a much more depressing reason.

Like I said, I could lose my job and be prosecuted if I actually write about what happened, but fortunately, the actual event is of no consequence to the conclusion I drew out of it.

Firstly, I want to note that this particular crime is so heinous that I wouldn’t be able to talk about it with the soft-hearted anyway, and I ain’t sure about the “hard-hearted” either. The really bowel-churning thing about this case, however, is really not the actual crime.

Let’s put it like this:

Human beings are amalgams of emotion. Sometimes we find ourselves incapable of controlling our emotions, sometimes we find ourselves incapable of thinking straight because our emotions cloud our judgment, make us hesitate too long or in some cases, push us to make rash decisions and act recklessly.

This is only human. I can easily forgive a word said in anger but I will never forgive a cold-hearted sin. Human emotions are often good enough an excuse for me, especially when they cannot be controlled and are the result of external factors. If someone has a shitty day and takes it out on me a bit, I recoil, and completely ignore the unwarranted personal attack. People sometimes need our help the most when they’re being nasty to everyone.

That said, the tragedy I wish to write about in this post is the fact that it doesn’t, in fact, require people to be evil in order of them to do evil things. I see “evil” people, disregarding the somewhat subjective and complicated definition of the word, as people who perform evil deeds without a hint of guilt. With malice, with an utterly greedy and self-centered motive and with unhindered intent.

These are people who have, for some reason, made the decision long ago to take what’s not theirs from people who can’t defend themselves or what they own. These people do not see themselves as evil. They see themselves as smart enough to know how to get richer on the expense of those who can’t keep their wealth.

The case I painstakingly transcribed yesterday was not about such people. In fact, it doesn’t even matter which side was “right” on the subject, because in any case, the assailant was this particular brand of “evil-doer” that I’m lamenting about here. There was a crime that was committed not because a person was evil. In fact, the person committing the crime was probably a good person, by any definition of the word.

The truly tragic element in this whole wretched story is the fact that powerful, innate, and incontrollable emotions held the people involved hostage, and twisted their minds and eventually, their actions, in such catastrophic measures as to motivate them towards doing horrible things to each other.

Love, for example, is an emotion that is sometimes so powerful, it can backfire on either side of a loving relationship when things go awry, as they sometimes do. In cases like this, perfectly normal people are perpetrators of a crime.  (in this case, I will disclose that a large number of character witnesses were shocked at what happened and testified in court that the people involved are not the kind of people who’d they ever thought will be)

The truly amazing thing is that it is even a fact that in this particular case, the aggressor had no prior criminal record. This is a case of something that erupted with volcanic fervor simply because of bottled up, incontrollable, and most importantly, human emotions.

The conclusion from this case is that no matter how good you are, no matter how loving, caring, gentle, thoughtful and peaceful you may be, you are subject to the same emotional constraints that every human being is subjected to. Because of that, every man is a potential criminal. Every man can be shaken up so bad as to do horrible deeds he will later live his entire life to regret. I should know.

I remember constantly reminding and reiterating to myself throughout the script that I am NOT like this. That I will never inflict such violence on anyone, no matter what provocations I will have to endure or what kind of emotional torture will motivate me towards acts of anger and violence.

But at the end of this horrible case, I figured that I truly don’t know. When mom died last year, I did some horrible things to everyone I cared about (and some people I didn’t care about) simply because I was bottling up emotions and was suffering so bad from PTSD that I was completely powerless to stop my journey of self-destruction. My escape of self-destruction, actually, is still somewhat of a miracle. I might write a post about that some day.

At the end of this case I figured that no one can really tell what’s his breaking point. No one can really tell what kind of pressure can be applied in order of which to make a person like him or herself become violent, become a thief, become evil. There might be a certain emotional volume in every person that will deluge his senses with grief and anger in a way as to transform a perfectly sensible, good person into a thief or a killer, and this is a fact that I found truly troubling about this entire case.

That there are evil people and evil deeds happening in the world is not particularly new to me, and even though this crime was heinous, I’ve heard, read and witnesses evil enough to swallow the information without much emotional contusions. The truly heartsinking element to this story is that yes, for some given value of emotional torment: It could have been me doing the crime, it could have been everyone.

So the moral of this tragedy is that perhaps it is best to prepare for times that test us and specifically, test our limits. We must constantly remind ourselves that regardless of a possible turmoil – whether it is the infliction, even of death, of someone we love, be it betrayel and acts of aggression, physical or not, by someone who hold most precious – we must never reduce ourselves to violent beasts. Traitors are to be scorned and neglected. Killers are to be subdued and are to receive due trial.

But we must never let the beast take over, because once that wall breaks down, it all breaks down, and eventually we’re going to look at the mirror after we’ve turned into the unimaginable and see a monster staring back at us.

The Atheist non-Utopia

Alright, alright, I’m sure that this post might aggravate any bullet-headed “let’s burn all religion” atheists. Luckily, this species of atheist is fairly rare, but I do see it from time to time. Fortunately, this blog has very little readership, so the chances of it being attacked are slim.

Here I want to write about a hypothetical, improbable aftermath of a world that is devoid of all religion, indeed, all supernatural faith. A world with absolutely no faith in the non-empirical. A world in which every individual bases his beliefs on facts and evidence. To some, this might seem like a rationalist’s wet dream and the very definition of Utopia.

I think it most obviously doesn’t.

First all, let me say this: I believe that a world without religion would be a better world. This world would exclude suicide bombings by rather amiable, if quite poor and ignorant, young palestinians. This would completely abolish the murdering of abortion doctors and would probably considerably reduce a select number of hate crimes.

That said, let me also say this of the irreligious earth: It will still contain evil, and LOTS.

First of all, religion is a set of beliefs, irrational as they may be. But I’m afraid to say that as belief systems go, religion is not the only set of beliefs that is irrational. Let’s say we forget what I wrote about everyone being entirely evidence-based and say that even if religion was totally eradicated – there’s still enough irrationality to go around to produce miles of muck.

As an example that for some reason (well, we all know the reason for that) – a lot of theists place on atheism itself simply because it’s not religious, just plain human – many non-religious ideologies are known to have been quite nasty, in extreme cases, national socialism, fascism, and soviet communism. At least in the case of national socialism, even when taken literally to the letter, its ideals have a lot more to do with human beings (be the false premises of this as they may) than with any posited supernatural beings. The Germans in WWII were probably influenced by christianity, and so was Hitler himself (much-quoted for his Christian beliefs) – but the bottom line is, and I strongly believe that – Hitler wasn’t responsible for the killing of tens of millions of people because he was a Christian, or for that matter, because he was an atheist (!), he was responsible for these things because he was a megalomaniac, homicidal, paranoid whackjob with a huge, depressed, extremely well-armed nation under him. He was simply charismatic enough to lead a country full of gullible war-losers into the eradication of Europe. He didn’t need God for it. He just needed to press the right buttons. The right human buttons. If religion can be indoctrinated, then national socialism could be brainwashed into people. That touches a lot more buttons in people than  religion ever could – simply because it uses much more sophisticated means of making people act irrational and cruel -to satisfy the power-lust of some deranged maniac.

Second, and this time, not forgetting that every one in this “planet rationality” is rational, let’s acknowledge yet another depressing fact:

Some people are just nasty.

Trivial? You bet. True? You bet.

Some people just act horribly because they’re psychotic, or mentally ill, or mistaken, or greedy, or jealous, or aggressive. People get hurt all the time, it doesn’t even take other people to get hurt. Life is sometimes cruel on its own.

Granted, a world without religion will allow for a much narrower scope of “evil” (in some subjective, vague, not-quite-defined meaning of the word, say, pointless killing) – but a bell curve containing rapists and murderers in one end and saints and heroes on the other will still exist.

So what’s the bottom line? The bottom line is that contra to what is easily drawn from the title of the wonderful documentary by Richard Dawkins, religion is NOT the root of all evil. People are the root of all evil. Religion just goes out of its way to make it a lot worse.

But we humans must humble down before a task as enormous as “making the world better”, and eliminating irrational thought when it leads to evil is just one gargantuan leap forward towards making the world that way.

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