I have been reading a great book by one on my favorite authors, Dinesh D’Souza. The title of the book is ‘What’s So Great About Christianity’. One of the chapters is devoted to the topic of the exaggerated claims by militant atheists that religion is “The most potent source of human conflict, past and present.”
According to atheists religion has given us stonings, witch-burnings, crusades, inquisitions, jihads, fatwas, suicide bombers, and abortion clinic gunmen. Claims have even been made that “a toxic religious mania could end human civilization overnight.”
The problem is that these claims are greatly exaggerated while at the same time ignoring the vastly greater crimes committed by secular and atheist fanatics. Lets start with the example that is most frequently paraded about, the Crusades. The Crusades have been heralded as “a set of world historical crimes” whose “trail of violence scars the earth and human memory even to this day.”
This discounts the fact that the Crusades were in response to over two hundred years of Muslim invasion and conquest of Western Europe. Without the Crusades , Western civilization might have been completely overrun by the forces of Islam. Christians fought to defend themselves from foreign conquest, as any country or civilization has the right to do.
As for the Inquisition, historians have for the most part established that the horrific images of the Inquisition are largely a myth concocted by the political enemies of Spain-mainly English writers who shaped our American understanding of the event. Inquisition trials were fairer and more lenient than their secular counterparts. Conservative estimates of those actually executed for heresy during the Inquisition total from 1,500 to 4,000 over a span of 350 years.
The best example of religiously motivated violence in America is the Salem witch trials. How many people were killed in those trials? Fewer than 25.
How about the Thirty Years’ War? While religious motives were initially in play, most historians contend that it was primarily fought as a result of political clashes over power. Even in modern clashes like in the Balkans, Iraq, and Northern Ireland, the conflict was over ethnic rather than religious differences.
I will save for another day the story of Atheism and the mass murders of history.