"It's all economics" argument

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"It's all economics" argument

Postby anthonyvh » Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:20 am

I'm in a discussion with someone right now who's basically making the case that religious wars don't happen because of religion, but that religion is hijacked as an excuse to carry out what are essentially economic goals. That is, gains in territory, wealth, etc for its own sake.

It's very frustrating to get this person to understand that 1) I'm not making the case that religion is the only reason people go to war and 2) that religion has inherent dogmatic properties that ENCOURAGE conflict.

The apologist is essentially saying that religion is "blameless" because it's being used as an excuse rather than as a reason. Sounds BS to me.
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Postby eimerian » Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:21 am

Well you could point out that Osama bin Laden is filthy rich and that he has no "economic" reasons to kill infidels for starters.

But why bother? If the guy you are talking to is a theist you have won.

For the sake of the argument lets say that religion is blameless. Lets say that every religious war ever was actually fought for economic reasons.
That means that at some time in history someone "made things up" to justify a war. That means that you cant trust any religous text because even if some parts of it were inspired by a divine intelligence how could you tell the diffeence between the made up parts and the "real" parts.
If this guy acknowledges that religion can be used to fool people ask him why he is so sure that he is not fooled.

In a nutshell: If this person thinks that religion is used to justify wars and to control the masses, he can not at the same time believe that religion is a valid assumption of how this universe works.
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Postby donnyton » Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:42 pm

Well I think the first thing you should realize is that he's partially right. A lot of the middle eastern conflicts aren't necessarily between sects of religion but occur when different sects living in different regions segregate themselves into ethnically homogenous groups of people and as a result, fighting over the land and the oil ultimately becomes fighting between religious groups.

But what about terrorists in Britain who carried out the London Train Bombings? A lot of modern terrorists (post-2001) are not the traditional "born into indoctrination and poverty" militants that make the news. Many of them are wealthy surgeons, lawyers, businessmen, who are simply convinced by al Qaeda that the US and the western world is out to destroy their Muslim population.
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Postby anthonyvh » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:26 pm

Good points. Something else I brought up is a statement Sam Harris made in "Letter to a Christian Nation". People who think religion does no harm of its own accord don't understand what it's like to TRULY believe.

This of course was followed by an attack that as an atheist, I have no idea what that's like either, at which point I pretty much terminated the conversation...nevermind that I was a Christian for 15 years (although I suppose I CAN say I never really bought the whole thing :lol: ).
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:03 pm

religious wars don't happen because of religion, but that religion is hijacked as an excuse to carry out what are essentially economic goals.


Two things:
1) does this fundie suggest that reigion never does violence in the cause of religion? or just not wholesale wars?

Because the Inquisition(s) targeted not just the rich, but every "heretic", every Jew who had converted and who they thought was secretly practising Judaism, whether they had wealth or not. Similarly witch trials/execution in Europe and the US didn't target only wealthy people, but anyone that the religious fervor pointed toward. The horrors of torture and imprisonment extended to children as young as 7 years old.

The Church's genocide of the Cathars didn't spare the poor or landless. As that Archbishop said: "Kill them all, God will know his own."

2) Even if one wants to say the Pope's engineered the Crusades in order to gain property and wealth (which I will admit would be "part" of the impedus for war), the realty is they wouldn't have rallied armies of hundreds of thousands of people and march them across a continent without participation being enflamed by appeals to religious righteousness/ justification.

In other words, religion was a catalyst, and religious people thus killed for Christ, irrespective of what the Nobels, Kings, and Popes ultimate goals were. Without religion as a basis for action the call to war would not have prompted a large enough response to field such armies. If it had, they wouldn't have had to appeal to the religious side of people

So to suggest that religion didn't "cause" war, is to misunderstand or ignore the power that the appeal to supernaturalism, and dogma has to rally the theistically impaired. And that's all it takes for religion to bear the brunt of the cause of many wars.
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