Yesterday I discovered this gem on the same topic on one of my favourite blogs of all time, Bill Vallicella’s Maverick Philosopher, (in fact the inspiration for MandM). I have reproduced a little below to whet your appetite and have furnished the necessary link to finish the meal. Enjoy.
One of the arguments against religion in the contemporary atheist arsenal is the argument that religious beliefs fuel war and terrorism. Rather than pull quotations from such well-known authors as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, I will quote a couple of passages from one of the contributors to Philosophers Without Gods, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. His piece is entitled “Overcoming Christianity.” After describing his movement from his evangelical Christian upbringing to a quietistic rejection of Christianity, Sinnott-Armstrong tells us how he became an evangelical atheist:
My quietism ended when current events taught me the dangers of religion. I had always known how religions, including Christianity, led to wars in the Middle East, Ireland, and so on. Many wars, of course, are not based on religion. Even religious wars result from non-religious forces as well. Nonetheless, it is hard to deny that many wars have been and continue to be fueled in large part by religious beliefs. It is no coincidence that terrorists are so often motivated by religion, since it is hard to get non-religious people to volunteer as suicide bombers. (76)
And then there is the case of Gandhi whose principle of ahimsa (no-harm) derives from his Hinduism. Hinduism as understood and practiced by him surely did not lead to war and terroism. Did he perhaps not understand the principles of his religion? So it cannot be religion as such that causes war and terrorism. The central teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity are anti-war and anti-terrorism.
So one of the mistakes that people like Sinnot-Armstrong make is that they confuse the doctrinal content of a religion with the behavior of some of the religion’s adherents.… read the rest here [the comments are worth looking at too]