"The disengagement of moral self-sanctions from inhumane conduct is a growing human problem at both individual and collective levels" Albert Bandura, Stanford University,

A religion has to be an organisation to some degree to justify labelling people as its own.  Religions have overlaps.  Take warmongering politicians.  They may be of different religions but their hate that they may direct at a common religious or social can reflect on their religions.  If a religion can cause trouble, religions can come together to provoke it too.

It has been said that the only way to get good people to do terrible evils is to use religion to do it.  What the normal ordinary person will get up to when emboldened by faith and prayer and spells and the feeling that God protects is alarming.

Does it matter if religion makes bad people very good or good people very bad?

If religion can go either way and often does then it is nothing special.  It makes it a liar for saying it exists to raise us to our best selves. That is the best it can be in theory but the situation is much worse in the real world.

Back to the question.  The natural response is that as good as it is to see bad people convert and reform, anything that makes good people bad is inherently dangerous. Something dangerous making bad people good makes us suspicious and there is no other possible way to look at it. The good cannot be as strong as it looks or stay strong. The evil person might think they turn good for the right reasons but how can that be certain?

If the notion that evil happens for good needs it to happen and uses it to make good is underneath all that thinking then it is like saying, "There is no love without hate."  That is telling you to welcome the hate you find in your religion so that you can use it to be "good."  That may help you act good but you are corrupt inside.

A religion should be judged on whether or not if it makes good people do bad things.  That is the prime thing to check.  If you want to minimise judging and attacking the person you will want to blame the religion not just the person.

But some good people do even better things than just good things. What about that? We have to trust them to be as good if they didn't have a religious bone in their body.

So we are sure that if a religion gets good people to do bad things then it is a bad religion regardless of any good it seems to do.

Objections (or should we say gaslighter distractions?):

Religion will say, "It takes religion to make bad people good."

If that is correct, then religion is not the only thing that does that. Secular therapists help religious believers meaning you never know if the religion had much to do with it.

If that is correct, then we do not know if a religion is really that special or not.  If a religion makes bad people good, what about the good people it makes bad?

The good people are at risk by staying in the religion. So if it makes good people bad then the people allegedly who become good through the religion do not count much. And are they really to be trusted?

Another objection, "Religion has no inherent power to make good people do evil things or to open the door to them doing evil."

Most religions do believe that some religion if not all has this power. Catholicism does not regard paganism as a good thing.

The objection is only a dismissal of the argument. It is not dealing with it the argument. To dismiss in a matter so important means, “I don’t care if it is inherently dangerous. I don’t want to know.” What does that say about you then?

Violent humankind will leave their mark on the faiths or religions they invent. Christians who show you the nice bits of the Bible and who ignore the bad or give them insufficient attention are honouring violent man. They are covering up for him.

If religion has an inherent power to make good people bad, we will never see it with an argument like that.

Another objection, "It is religious faith not religion that is intrinsically evil."

To suggest that religious faith is the evil entity is an interesting proposition. Why can’t both be? If religious faith is evil so is religion for you cannot have a religion that doesn’t ask for religious faith.

Also, there are more religious faiths than religions. Within each religion people believe different things even if they are not supposed to. That is the reality and religion knows that within its fold there will be believers who decide that violence is part of God's will.

A little faith can be dangerous and sometimes even more dangerous for some rather than others. Even thinking you believe would be as bad as faith. Jesus Christ praised the mustard seed of faith as long as the person could not do any better. It has been noticed that believers with weak faith might resort to wars and hate and violence to compensate for their lack of faith. A Catholic for example who thinks everybody should be Catholic but who suspects God is not going to help much towards that end (lack of faith) will be tempted to condone violent programmes to force Catholicism on others.

Another objection, "The good people who do evil things are not really good."

Irrelevant. The question is if religion helped make them evil. If they are hypocrites who turn evil then religion could be blame for making them hypocrites who end up becoming so smug that they hurt people viciously.

The No True Scotsman fallacy is lurking.  "If people are good and join my religion and become bad and blame the religion then they are not true followers and never were."  That is just a trick and it is for ignoring and dismissing instead of looking at the thing fairly.  It is as insane as saying that a Scots who hates haggis is not a real Scots.

Another - "Religious people who do evil are making a mistake. It is not a reflection on their religion."

Calling people who do evil good if stupid or unthinking seems to mean they are not acting from a vindictive motive. Perhaps they are weak in some areas.

The argument is disgusting for it tries to trivialise evil when religious people do it. The implication is that the atheist doing similar things is automatically evil.

Good people may do evil by mistake for we live in a nasty world where disagreements about moral issues appear and sometimes we have to make the right choice and others cannot see that it is.

A lot of the time we ignore the argument. We class people who hit their children as evil and not as weak or mistaken. We use the argument only when it suits our prejudices and agenda.

Good people need to tell themselves that evil is somehow for the best. Both religious and non-religious people can do that.

You can be extremist in outlook all the time but rarely extremist in action.

The person who obeys too much without question enables evil more than any other.

Only religion can give a rationale for such obedience. Atheists may obey blindly too but they cannot give a plausible reason why they should. Religion can say that it has unusual or unnatural ways of knowing things - perhaps divine revelation or psychic powers. Once you say that you are asking people to take things on trust alone. You are asking for a leap of faith to be undertaken.

Few people classed as evil are really evil - very few do evil just to see others suffer. We need to realise that religious believers can rationalise evil better than any atheist can. They can believe that God wants them to do evil for its his plan.

If most evil is done out of misguided belief that it is going to result in great good then religion encourages it.

Consider how the lamb turns into a lion overnight

Some belief systems religious and secular get members and ruin them by osmosis.  It is like a bad apple spreads a toxin that is hardly detectable to every other one in the crate and even apples that think they are in the crate but are not and laying alongside it.

When religion can generate extreme good and/or extreme evil then it seems we are better off with a moderate religion that inspires neither. But in that case it is not religion for it is clear that religion makes at least some good people to turn them bad. So it makes them good to destroy it meaning it is evil. And some religions will inspire extreme good and extreme evil while others will be better at inspiring extreme evil.

You cannot count on extreme evil to be balanced by extreme good. Evil by definition can go out of control.

If anything has a dark side at all, there is a risk of it going off the rails.

Good people do not usually decide overnight to murder heretics or whatever. Some do and that is important as well. Religion or ideology can cause such a fast change. Religion does it best for if there is a God then it is unsurprising if that God asks you to do maybe scary things just because he says so for he cannot tell you the reasons. So good religious people can suddenly or gradually do evil things and faith is to blame. A religious system that leads to sudden transformations from good doing to evil doing is necessarily bad. It is as bad as poison in the water that does not kill all drinkers but one or two.

There are other ways in which religion is evil.

Religion sees sin as a crime against God. It states such a crime is more vile than any crime against man's law. So much for innocent until proven guilty!

Religious humility is fake.

Believers think God makes people suffer so that they can help them! How much God values their works!

They are judgemental: not to judge is to judge. When we decide not to take a position on an issue, we are in fact taking a position: if we don't disapprove, we are offering our tacit approval.

Some suggest a modification of the argument that it takes religion to make the good person do evil.

Here it is. “With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for SOME good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

This still tells us that religion has no justified existence. It tells us the risk is lower than it is with the original argument but the risk is still there and it is not an acceptable risk.

Religion in this view is inherently evil for some members. It is inherently risky for all.

What is said could be modified by many. They might say, “But for good people to be lazy and pray for others instead of helping them properly, that takes religion.” That is true.

We conclude that if you are a mix of bad and good as a secularist that is much better than being a religious person when that somehow can have you going to one extreme or the other.


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