Wisdom from the Man in Black

Nick Gillespie on Hitchens and pissy evangelical Atheists:

I'm a confirmed "apatheist" who can't really get riled up one way or another about issues of faith (issues of religiously or ideologically fueled violence and inhumanity are very different matters).

I think that religion can be a force for great good; if nothing else, the Baptist thinker Roger Williams is one of the great architects of the secular state, which is something really great. And there seems to me little question that while religious fanatics are clearly a serious global problem, most of the great state evils (at least in the 20th century) sprung from ideologies that were avowedly secular. So I think there might well be a root-level problem here--about all attempts to constrain individuals via coercive power--that's going unaddressed.

It's not the forms, it's the outcome, it's the fanaticism, it's the will to power that's driving the evils of the world, not whether or not someone is 'religious'.

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Ideas still matter

Nevertheless, certain ideas lend themselves to evil ends and encourage evil acts better than other ideas. Were that not the case, we should all abandon the idea of liberty today.

Yes, but Religion or

Yes, but Religion or Not!Religion are not ideas in that vein, but meta organizational types. The real idea problems are as mentioned above- the will to power among other things.

Evil comes down to one single lie

The source of all evil in mankind is what some call Satan's Lie, or the Curse of Greyface: that "Good must at some point be done by force".

Be it good for yourself only, good for your family, good for the planet, good for Jesus, good for the people, good for whatever or whomever, if it's done by coercion it cannot truly be good. That's how people with only good intentions can end up killing and destroying on massive scales: if this lie managed to sway YHWH's best angel, there's little wonder it is also infecting a large part of the population.

Try using this as a tag for evil, identify it in the stories and news you read and hear about, and you'll see for yourself how perfectly it matches for all evil deeds humans do.

is force okay when ...

If my neighbor has kidnapped people and is holding them in the basement until he kills them, is it okay to use force to free them?
If one country is planning to invade and exterminate a neighboring country is it ok to use force to stop them?

Necessary Evil

This is where the phrase comes from.
Killing the people trying to inflict harm on another person or people is bad, but to do nothing would be just as bad.

It's not coercion

... when the initial perpetrator of the agression has already shown, in acts, that using violence is okay as far as (s)he is concerned.

Spread the Word

Nah, if people believe in magic, they should be made fun of and informed -- regardless of any sophistic rationalization of their belief, and regardless of what fanaticism or evil their belief drives them to. The belief itself in some form of irrational mysticism is hilarious. Poking fun at religious belief is just as acceptable as mockery of New Age beliefs, numerology, alchemy, witchcraft, Marxist economics, or any other form of magic. If someone sincerely professed any of those, what do you think fits in the range of appropriate responses? (Obviously whether engaging in that sort of discourse is tactful depends also on circumstances.)

There's no reason whatsoever to accord any special protection or stature to religious beliefs.

Why Not?

"There's no reason whatsoever to accord any special protection or stature to religious beliefs."

If we don't accord special protection to religious beliefs, where do we draw the line in offering protection for ANY beliefs, religious or personal?

I believe my dog is a pain in my butt, who are you to silence that belief?

Mocking isn't silencing

You aren't even replying to his comment. Mocking isn't silencing.