Religion is but one factor in human ‘bad behaviour’

I haven’t had time to read the entire post, but I have just stumbled upon this blog post, ( and I have to say, I heartily agree with the following:

Professor A.C. Grayling is a very articulate man but a militant &, at times, rabid atheist who likes to drop the following statement into media soundbites:
“There good & evil people in the world, but only religion makes good people do & think evil things.”

Perhaps, but I can think of ten other things that make people commit evil acts:

1). Lust.
2). An abusive upbringing.
3). Anger.
4). Political beliefs.
5). Greed.
6). Envy.
7). Revenge.
8). Fear.
9). Metal Illness.
10). Group-think.( Religious beliefs often are reinforced by this.)

Apart from perhaps the use of the word ‘rabid’… but this illustrates a very important point. I am fed up with atheists who blame everything on religion… this doesn’t mean I think religion is a ‘good’ thing… but simply that it is only rational, logical and human to acknowledge that there are many, many other factors which make ‘good’ people do ‘bad’ things.

I look forward to perusing this blog more thoroughly in the future!


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About Chris

Scholar of religion/nonreligion... PhD Student (Lancaster University), blogger, singer, actor, thinker... Northern Irish living in Scotland. Co-founder of The Religious Studies Project. Director at the NSRN. Baritone masquerading as a tenor. Vegetarian for no particular reason.

3 responses to “Religion is but one factor in human ‘bad behaviour’”

  1. Michael Hampson says :

    Grayling’s statement is so completely lacking in logic (I have heard it repeated in many formats many times), coming from people who claim to stand for rationality against ‘superstition’, that you just want to huff and go home, really.

    How about the seven deadly sins as the things that make good people (what they?) do and think evil things:
    * anger
    * self-importance (classically ‘pride’, in the negative sense, not the positive sense that Jesus supported)
    * envy
    * greed (aka avarice = excess acquisition)
    * gluttony (excess consumption)
    * arrogance (classically ‘lust’)
    * idleness (classically ‘sloth’)
    (My meditation on these here.)

    Then again, just to complicate things, don’t forget that Jesus hated religion more than anything else. Quoted from here:
    Finally in chapter twenty-three [of Matthew’s gospel] there is open denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy: they make God inaccessible; they make converts worse than themselves; they are pedants in the detail of the law who neglect the greater issues of justice, mercy and faith. They strain out a gnat and swallow a camel; they polish the outside of the cup ignoring the filth inside; they are white-washed tombs, shining without, putrid within. There are thirty-nine verses of this, concluding more in sorrow than in anger, as Jesus mourns over the consequences for the Jerusalem he loves.

  2. Danny says :

    The statement may not be perfect. There are no good or evil people, everyone is somewhere in between. But anger, lust, fear, .. are all emotions we are all challenged to deal with and some do a better job then others. Like not punching someone in the face, just because you are angry, makes you a better person – I think
    But religion is able to make a average person, a caring person, a person who wouldn’t punch someone in the face, just because he is angry, hate other people just for who they are and support those who act out on that hatred.

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