Originally Posted by tame_deuces
Nah, this is a gross oversimplification and a dangerous one at that.
We know people will kill for ideals and we know religion (in the sense of organized human activity) is a powerful mover of ideals. To think that religion (again in the sense of human activity) can't be the source of harmful ideals is naive. Perhaps some use religion (willfully or ignorantly) as an excuse, but I have no problem wagering that most who commit atrocities in the name of religion believe their claims.
The whole purpose of religion is to move ideals, that's my point. But what you are missing is that ideals transcend religion. Ideals exist outside of religion. And often, people pervert their religious texts to justify their ideals.
That doesn't mean all ideas are optimal. But they are created by old (seemingly) wise men, to teach future generations what to do to survive. Secular philosophers do similar.
If you look at any tenet of a given religion, there is a purpose behind it. Whether you agree with the purpose or not doesn't mean it isn't viable (albeit suboptimal) strategy to increase survival of the followers.
Most who commit atrocities believe their claims, religious or not. The nazis weren't really motivated by religion, they were motivated by their hatred of the jews because they felt they were responsible for their depression.
If you look at any major atrocity that ever occurred you will find some reason or justification that transcends religion.
Originally Posted by David Sklansky
That's wishful thinking but basically not true. Reform Jews agree with you. But those religious people who are in the category of thinking that the supernatural is an essential part, even if the ethics is admirable, is like 90%. And that usually includes their specific precise details of the supernatural.
I'm not sure if you're numbers are accurate, I'd say its closer to 80% if not even a little south of it. While the point might be true that the overwhelming majority of religious people believe in the supernatural, that doesn't mean the people who invented the religion (or govern it) didn't/don't do so for practical purposes. I mean the rules came from somewhere. And unless you believe God really "spoke" to people, you have to rationalize that it was men who created them, and there has to be some logical reason for it.
While the overwhelming majority of people may only comply because they believe in the supernatural, it doesn't mean they choose to hurt people because God says so, or that they wouldn't live a relatively moral life without the belief.