History is rife with leaders doing bad things in the name of God. Is this justification to say all religion is evil? This is an excellent question. This is often brought up by opponents of our faith who make a common mistake: They assume a causal agent without justification. Let’s consider something other than religion and see if this way of thinking sounds like something our critics would accept if we were to apply their standard to something else.
There have been a lot of bad things done in the name of science. There have been some pretty gruesome crimes committed in the name of advancing knowledge. If you Google Tuskegee Syphilis Study, you’ll see just one of the many kinds of torture men are willing to put other’s through in the name of science. Notice I said, “in the name of science.” I did not say science caused them to take malicious actions. The Tuskegee study is just one example of how flawed men will justify their evil actions by shrouding them in something noble like science or faith. In reality, it is their lack of morality and lust for success that causes their wrongdoing.
It’s important to note that it is very possible the men and women who do evil in the name of religion, science or anything else may not be aware of their own motivation. It’s human nature to deceive ourselves to justify our actions. Proverbs tells us, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” The secular world may call this rationalizations or self-serving justifications. Isn’t it interesting that the number of atrocities committed in the world have not dwindled as the number of theocracies have decreased in world governments? Atrocities remain, the justifications change. The Second World War was not fought over religious differences. Neither was the first.
The Bible tells us humans are flawed. Science tells us we tend to justify our actions and even deceive ourselves into believing that we are doing good when we are doing quite the opposite. The next time someone brings this up as “proof” that faith causes evil, ask them how they ruled out other causes (lust for power, success in a theocracy in spite of a lack of faith, etc.) and put their answer in the comments below. I’d like to see what they have to say.