How secularism puts the brakes on religion's escalation to violence

Tolerance according to most thinkers is not a moral demand or command or a moral absolute. It is about policy. It is a peace treaty. It is a social detail, a social norm for the sake of holding the community together in a reasonably peaceful way. As a treaty, it means the tolerance will be lifted if one side does not keep its end of the bargain.  For that reason, despite living with religion and respecting people's right to tolerate it even as you complain and expose it, secularism is not a friend to religion.  It plainly sees it as a threat to peace and that is only put up with for stopping it would lead to worse harm.


Religion needs an opponent to be strong. It demands an opponent to be a religion.

Religion is strongest when the members are united against an enemy - perhaps another religion or evil spirits. Religion is more itself then.

It takes two religions to hate each other before one of them can turn persecutor.

People in a religion are generally more malleable, united, compliant and devoted when they fear an enemy. Religion is more itself then. This enemy will have to be another religion or secularism or atheism. People are more religious and religion is more powerful when the religion is besieged. The hatred of the enemy becomes the glue that holds them together. Religion fuels this hatred by imagining that the denizens of Hell are using the enemy and empowering it. Now you understand how easily all that can lead to religion wreaking and enabling and even blessing extreme violence.

Religion says it loves sinners. What it means is that it puts a loving attitude towards sinners before the consequences it lets befall sinners. I mean the love is not going to protect the sinner from suffering for his sin. Nor is it intended to. The love for sinners does not stop Christians having you jailed even if you live in a country that punishes crime excessively. The Christian wants to feel smug and superior. It is like saying to a starving child, "I hope you are not hungry" and doing nothing about it. Religion is intrinsically hypocritical about its love for sinners so if trouble does not break out then it is a miracle.

Protestants and Catholics both have indulged in great violence over religion. One blames the other. But it takes two religions to have a religious war. The Protestant’s mess is still the Catholic’s mess for in essentials they have the same faith. And vice versa. The blaming is an ingredient for further outbreaks of violence.

Secularism helps keep religious extremism from getting worse

If religion gets too much power it will become dangerous.

Secularism helps keep it under control.

Secular influence has helped religion become less extremist and mad.

Secularism influences and sometimes forces many people who would become religious extremist terrorists to become civil people.

Secularism's attitude to religious faith as not something to be taken too seriously rubs off on society.

Religion is not intrinsically good when it needs secularism to manage it. Not all secularism is necessarily good but we seem to be getting modern secularism reasonably right.

Ken Gibson said, "Extremism is religion’s enemy. Secularism is its ally." This denies that many peaceful religions are extremist! But they are. Extremism is not just about actions but attitudes. Religious terrorism is just another form of religious extremism. Extremism will never be satisfied. Each Islamic terrorist started off with putting God and the Koran before all things and soon he ended up wanting to kill infidels. Muhammad put the violence into Islam that he learned from the God of the Bible.

Some religions teach that prayer is a treatment for mental illness and ill health on its own. Others say you need the doctor as well. But those who say that if you pray and God creates doctors then in reality it is still prayer alone that is treating you. If God wishes to treat you, he is still doing it through prayer alone. That is extremism.

At least Gibson admitted the problems caused by religious madness are "resolved with greater separation between church and state: between politics and religion." Modern secularism is seen to have a positive effect on religion which means that religion is regarded as needing to be put in its place and kept there. The positive effect is powerful but not completely so. It deals with religion sufficiently but sometimes religion resists the effect.


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