Without religion, we’d have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
This is a great quote. It should be posted in public on the National Mall in DC so more people could see it and think about its implications.
The quote does a great job of illustrating the point that religion is a foundational belief structure. People who truly believe in a religion accept its metaphysics and its morality without serious question. This is a problem because the three big monotheistic religions teach that violence against others is acceptable for a wide variety of reasons, and while they claim to treat life as sacred, their scriptures and traditions show otherwise. So you have a person whose underlying worldview says that his (interpretation of his) religion trumps everything else. This leads to the evil that religion has done for millennia.
There are bad people in the world, who do bad things because of some innate deficiency. There are also many people who are basically good but whose underlying worldview requires them to do evil to certain classes of people and other life. From this comes the persecution and murder of “heretics”, infidels, gays, atheists, people of other “races”, …, the list goes on.
Two more great quotes are relevant here. MK Gandhi, no stranger to religion, said:
The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.
Fear is not a disease of the body; fear kills the soul.
Chief among the problems with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is that they are based on fear, not love. They claim otherwise, but their actions betray them. Whether these people feel fear beyond that created by their religion, I don’t know. But religion drives people to fear others, which leads to hatred (a will to destroy), which leads to violence (action based on that will). Fear is primal and corrupts, then destroys, the ability to reason and love. Other negative emotions such as greed arise from fear. It’s ironic that the Biblical Jesus, who sought to free people from fear, inadvertently founded a religion with fear as its basis.
I’ll leave you with an example: Consider the historical and continuing violence against those who have questioned a theist’s beliefs. The penalty for challenging (perhaps undermining) a theist’s beliefs, causing him uncertainty and heightened fear, is often violence.