A World Without Religion—An Improvement?
THE new atheists envision a world with no religion—no suicide bombers, no religious wars, and no televangelists fleecing their flocks. Does that vision appeal to you?
Before answering, ask yourself this, ‘Is there any evidence that universal atheism would lead to a better world?’ Consider: As many as 1.5 million Cambodians died in the Khmer Rouge effort to establish a godless Marxist state. And in the officially atheistic USSR, Joseph Stalin’s rule resulted in tens of millions of deaths. Granted, those evils cannot be directly attributed to atheism. But they do show that the rule of atheism does not ensure peace and harmony.
Few would deny that religion has caused much suffering. But is God at fault? No! He is no more at fault than a car manufacturer would be for an accident caused by a driver using a cell phone. Mankind’s suffering has many causes, one of which is more fundamental than beliefs. The Bible identifies it as inherent imperfection. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) This sinful inclination tends to foster selfishness, undue pride, a desire for moral independence, and violence. (Genesis 8:21) It also causes people to rationalize and to gravitate toward beliefs that excuse wrongdoing. (Romans 1:24-27) Jesus Christ rightly said: “Out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, false testimonies, blasphemies.”—Matthew 15:19.
A Vital Distinction
At this point, a distinction must be made between true worship—that is, worship that is acceptable in God’s eyes—and false worship. True worship would help people to fight against base inclinations. It would encourage self-sacrificing love, peace, kindness, goodness, mildness, self-control, marital loyalty and fidelity, and respect for others. (Galatians 5:22, 23) False religion, on the other hand, would tend to cater to popular trends—‘tickling people’s ears,’ as the Bible says—by condoning some of the bad things Jesus condemned.—2 Timothy 4:3.
Might atheism contribute to the same moral ambiguity or confusion? ‘No God’ means no accountability to a divine authority, as well as “no objective values which we are obligated to respect,” says law professor Phillip Johnson. Morality thus becomes relative, with each person determining his own standards—if he chooses to have any. No doubt such thinking makes atheism an appealing philosophy for some people.—Psalm 14:1.
The fact is, however, that God will not forever tolerate untruth—atheistic or religious—and those who promote it.* He promises: “The [morally and spiritually] upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.” (Proverbs 2:21, 22) The result will be something that no human, no human philosophy, and no human institution could ever bring about—universal peace and happiness.—Isaiah 11:9.
A sound Biblical explanation for God’s temporary toleration of wickedness and suffering can be found in chapter 11 of the study aid What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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GOD’S VIEW OF RELIGIOUS ATROCITIES
The land given to ancient Israel was inhabited by Canaanites, a depraved people who practiced sexual immorality—including incest, sodomy, and bestiality—as well as ritual child sacrifice. (Leviticus 18:2-27) The book Archaeology and the Old Testament states that excavations “have uncovered piles of ashes and remains of infant skeletons in cemeteries around heathen altars, pointing to the widespread practice of [child sacrifice].” The Canaanites would worship their gods through immoral indulgence and also sacrifice their firstborn to the same gods, says a Bible handbook. It adds: “Archaeologists who dig in the ruins of Canaanite cities wonder that God did not destroy them sooner than he did.”
God’s destruction of the Canaanites is a sober reminder for us today that he will not forever put up with evil perpetrated in his name. “[God] has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness,” says Acts 17:31.
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Both the religious and the irreligious have committed atrocities
Church support for Hitler
Skulls of Khmer Rouge victims, Cambodia