Thursday, February 16, 2006

Violence and Peace

I recently encountered a few atheists that were rejoicing in the church burnings that have made the news recently they went so far as to celebrate violence itself. I was taken aback by the ignorance and aggressiveness that was on display and even encouraged.
One individual claimed that they have always wanted to burn down a church and now they see how easy it is, they claimed that the news was "fucking awesome" and that all churches should be burned down. In response I said:

While I am completely unimpresed by religious belief and find what goes on inside a church to be lame I completely denounce arson. Burning down Churches is a very destructive and negative thing to do. If it turns out to be atheists then we have all been tainted by the morose actions of one or a few individuals. Who ever is going around and burning down any building for any reason is a criminal and an idiot, I really hope that this cannot be linked to atheism.

There was then discussion about violence and there were individuals claiming that they enjoyed violence, that it was necessary and that they would not hesitate to be violent. I then said:

I have found no reason to resort to violence and I find no reason for anyone else to do so. The only situation that I could foresee myself using violence would be if I, or those in my company, came under violent attack and physical force was needed to counter the situation.
Violence is a manifestation of our primal instincts and animal urges that should be overcome. We are afforded a highly advanced conscious awareness that is unequaled within the animal kingdom, we would do well to actualize our potential and harness our characteristics to the fullest extent possible. Violence is a characteristic of our lesser evolved ancestors and those that embrace such depravity have not yet fully grown into the human race. Humans have the ability to abolish needless and senseless violence and when one does not do their best to rid themselves of such animal behavior they endanger everyone.
To me violence is a form of irrational ignorance and I deplore both irrationality and ignorance so it is natural that I oppose violence. Being a secular humanist I believe that violence is never the answer and that one should use the power of their mind to resolve conflicts. We cannot afford to accept mindless violence and aggressive animal behavior.
While we deplore the violent Muslim reaction to the Muhamad cartoons we must also deplore the burning of churches. We must oppose not only religious violence but violence against religion, both are unacceptable. We need to promote peace, acceptance, tolerance and intelligence; only then will we know anything of true freedom.

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” – Isaac Asimov

“You never need an argument against the use of violence, you need an argument for it.” – Noam Chomsky

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” – Albert Einstein

“Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“Peace is the virtue of civilization. War is its crime.” – Victor Hugo

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.” – John Lennon


Tom Atkins said...

Good comments and so true, whether you are a secular humanist or a Christian (as I am) - violence has no place in the dialog, in ANY dialog. Your quotes at the end are a great summary.

Stardust said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stardust said...

Sorry, the last comment I made needed had to delete it...wish this thing had an edit comment option!

Great post JD.

Violence permeates our society and our world. There are certain people in ALL groups with this kind of mentality. It is a HATE mentality and not to be accepted. Though I am atheist, I cannot condone nor be happy about the burning of those churches down south, or anywhere for that matter. Whoever did this is sick and has some sort of mental problems. A sane person does NOT commit these kinds of acts. I hope the authorities catch whoever it is.

7:11 AM

The Jewish Freak said...

JD: Good point. I think that atheists who rejoice at the burning down of a church are even more primitive than the churchgoers that they criticize.

JDHURF said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, there are issues that you and I may never be able to agree on (religion) but there are those that we can. Violence should never be tolerated.

Yeah, I wish you could edit your posts too, oh well. You are right a sane person does not commit such acts; these acts have been perpetrated by someone ill and disturbed. I also hope the authorities catch whoever is behind the burnings and I really hope that this is not linked to atheism.

I agree and I told the atheists that were doing this the same thing. Can you imagine someone religious coming across the thread and going away with the idea that all atheists are like that? Such people are ignorant and irrational and I cannot stand either characteristic.

melloncollie said...


As usual, a great post. I am forever impressed by your unwavering committment to fairness and justice. (I wish there were more like you in the media.)

I think I enjoy this blog so much because it never picks on just one group. Tolerance is either for all of us or for none of us. Those of us who find ourselves outside the Christian right establishment need to make damn sure we don't succomb to the same intolerant rhetoric that seems to be their lifeblood.

JDHURF said...

I agree tolerance and acceptance is either all inclusive or it is just not tolerance and acceptance. One of the most important aspects of secular humanism, to me, is that it promotes the realization that we are all members of the immense human race; that we all share a common humanity, this being enough reason to support and protect one another.
Obviously I oppose all forms of irrational religious belief but if one were to come under attack for holding these views I would support their right to hold the views and deplore those attacking them. I see religious belief (especially extremism) as something that needs to be rectified for humanity to come closer to a peaceful and tranquil world state, but violence and aggressiveness are never the solution. We need education, tolerance, acceptance and a promotion of genuine altruism. Education being needed the most; we need to start with our children.
Thanks for commenting.

Deedee said...

I had made a comment in a yahoo group I was part of to the effect that the recent church burnings in Alabama were tragic, but that I was curious as to whether the fact that they had been played up in the media and by law enforcement officers was becuase they were churches, as opposed to homes or businesses. Apparently, I must have mis stated myself because one individual even went so far as to tel me that I was cold hearted.

I certainly agree with JD and Tom and Stardust. Violence is unacceptable, no matter what the reason. I certainly was not advocating or approving or happy about the church burnings. I was merely upset at the apparent bigotry of the media and law enforcement.

JDHURF said...


I think that you are right, if these churches were merely civilian homes or businesses they certainly wouldn’t have gotten the air time and attention that the churches have. It really is a case of playing up a story because it has to do with religion. It’s like the fact that women go missing and are kidnapped virtually every day in America but the only stories we see on the new are the fairly wealthy white women that are missing, it really IS a case of bias and prejudiced in the media and you are correct.
If someone took your statements and extrapolated them to the point that said you advocated church burnings those individuals are unintelligent, dishonest and most likely have a religious motivation.
The church burnings are a terrible display of human nature and we can deplore them while at the same time taking a moment to reflect on the bias and prejudiced nature of the news media, there is nothing wrong with that and it certainly does not make one an arson advocate.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I enjoyed your views and I agree.

Rusko Elvenwood said...

Sometimes violence is all that people understand. I wonder if whoever burned the churches would consider themselves any better than the muslims that burn down embasies.
I hope they find out who did it. I'm just curious.

vjack said...

Burning churches is obviously not the answer. Our goal should be to help them become irrelevant. Buring them does nothing more than jeapordize life and bring sympathetic attention to the churches.

JDHURF said...


Who ever is burning churches down is either completely insane or so anti-social that they couldn’t care less if their actions were equated to that of the muslims, they may even enjoy the comparison. I am also very curious to see those that are responsible.

“Burning churches is obviously not the answer. Our goal should be to help them become irrelevant.” – vjack

I really like that, very nice take on the situation.

I agree with both of your posts, thank you both for contributing. Violence should never be seen as a solution to our goal of “helping churches become more irrelevant.”…..I really like that sentence.

freethoughtmom said...

Nice post, JD. To further vjack's comment, if a group feels persecuted for their beliefs, they will cling tenaciously to them. Obviously!

I'd bet money that the arsonist isn't someone who identifies themselves as an "atheist".

Anyway, love the quotes.

JustinOther said...

There are, unfortunately, some in each group that are extremists (Pat Robertson ring a bell?). It is up to the rest of us to educate the general public that they are not representative of atheists as a whole, but are extremists.


I put other, not anonymous on the other one. Oh well.

JDHURF said...


I agree the culprits are most likely not atheists, humanists, naturalists or any other philosophic world view. As I said they are most likely very anti-social and do not identify with any group at all and I doubt they are the sort of individuals that will ponder philosophic questions.


That is right there are extremists in any group and atheism is no different, although I don’t really see atheism as a group but an epithet used to describe ones disbelief or lack thereof regarding supernatural entities/forces.


Hey I’m glad you said that otherwise I wouldn’t have even noticed that you posted there at all.

Thank you all for stopping by and commenting, I appreciate it.

melloncollie said...

I liked your quotes, JDHURF. I never read the Victor Hugo quote before.

Speaking of John Lennon, Amnesty Int'l (of which I'm a member) had an "Imagine"-themed campaign a couple years ago. It was really cool, and they sold shirts with lyrics from that great song. Anyway, sorry to veer off-topic.