I follow the hashtag #atheism on twitter in order to keep abreast on what people are saying about religion and other controversial subjects. Often the content contains thoughtful discussion or bits of news that interests me, but much of it resembles typical “zinger” one-liner material: pithy 140-character messages that resemble confrontational bumper stickers instead of well-balanced arguments against religion. Yeah, I’ve done it too. I admit it! Twitter is the safe-haven of the verbal jab.
I spotted one such “zinger” today:
I’ve certainly heard this hyperbolic argument before, and as an atheist I do not agree. I realize you cannot easily present a reasoned argument for an enormous claim like this on twitter, but even if there were paragraphs of explanation behind it I’m not sure I would ever be convinced that the sole reason for racism, bigotry, and genocide is faith. To avoid an argument about vocabulary; “faith,” could easily be replaced by “religion.”
I am far from being an expert, but I think there are sociological, psychological, and economic causes unrelated to religion that cause these problems in the world. Religion is certainly used to justify many horrible actions such as genocide (e.g. Deuteronomy 20:16-18) and slavery (e.g. the Curse of Ham). However, I do not think all religions or faiths bring about these results, nor do I think ruling out other causes for the evil in the world is wise.
I’d really like to have a discussion about this claim. Is faith the cause of genocide, racism, and bigotry?
And as a side question: What do you think about these kinds of pithy statements on twitter? Do you think they help anything or perhaps give atheists a bad name?