The Daily Gamecock

Letter to the Editor: Religion creates meaning, not necessarily violence

This letter is in response to a column written by Ben Crawford and published on Jan. 21 entitled "Column: response to the letter to the editor."

Mr. Crawford,

Your current argument in the Opinion section trying to separate religion from morality is a no-win scenario. You need to be pulled from the abyss before you end up further embroiled in a conflict that neither you, nor Mr. Burgess — who, I would add, you wrote of quite demandingly — can possibly win.

First off, you are correct. He resorted to tired arguments to combat your assertion that religion is not inherent in morality. His arguments do not fully represent the issue and, moreover, resort to the same finger-pointing game in which both you and he have engaged.

You, however, have taken the game to a dark place: you have named all religions inherently evil for the fact that they convey a claim to know "ultimate truth". This assertion is false, as not all religions claim to have said truth.

In fact, most do not. Religions are tools used to give life, nature and the universe itself meaning. They are a method of reasoning the inexplicable, and appeared quite early in human development. They are not necessarily moral, or amoral as you seem to believe, but simply tools that some use to place themselves in our universe.

Religion stems from the human necessity to ask "why?" — the very consciousness and that differentiates us from most other animals. That is not evil; that is beautiful. Morality stems from the need to ask "why not?"

It is a guiding compass and can exist without a religion, but religion can be the base on which one grounds their personal morality.

This may come as a shock to you, but not all cultures have the same morality. We differ, from one culture to another, and what you think of as "right" and "wrong" may look alien to another.

Therefore, in a way, both religion and morality are a product of culture. They're siblings who generally get along well but can lead separate lives.

Regardless, however, they are in some way related, as culture begets both religion and morality, and both religion and morality shape culture and each other.

Per your examples of religious crimes, you are misled. First, FGM is not a religious mandate. It is not part of Islam and has been practiced by virtually every culture in some form.

The reason many partake in such an appalling practice is the belief that it will make the child beautiful, healthier, desirable or will temper her libido.

The last is the most common, as women are unfairly seen as sexual creatures who cannot curtail passion. Regardless, it is not "for God", in many cases but more for cultural or quasi-medical reasons. It is deplorable, but until we understand the issue as more than religious fanaticism, we cannot find a way to convince people to stop crippling girls.

To "who would murder satirists", I would argue that there are many who would for nonreligious reasons. If a group feels wounded, they will retaliate. This is a fact of life. People have been murdered over sports, political satire or by simply offending a culture.

If these satirists had stripped all religion out and simply insulted the practices of an entire people, they may have garnered the same result. You are fixated on the religious aspect and therefore blinded by your, dare I say, divine fury against all that is holy and thereby cannot see that this could have occurred for a completely nonreligious reason

To finish your article, you cite certain Enlightenment philosophers, insinuating that they somehow supported atheistic views. That is simply false. Most Enlightenment philosophers, while not Christian, still held a firm belief in some supreme being.

One philosopher, Voltaire, found the very notion that a world could exist without a god absurd and reasoned personal evidence for a God.

You are correct; Stalinism is a poor example. Instead, let us examine the French Revolution, the immediate aftermath of the Enlightenment in its birthplace. In one year in Paris alone, 20,000 people were executed for counter-revolutionary thoughts, while civil wars and border conflicts also killed hundreds of thousands.

The ideals the government held were Enlightenment ideals, but they had been perverted (and had added mandatory atheism) to the point that they justified execution for using the honorific "Monsieur" instead of the enlightened "Citoyen".

Thousands of theists were bundled together in small boats and sunk, and even the calendar was changed to reflect a more 'reasoned' view, with a ten-day week, partially so that people wouldn't remember a Sabbath day.

It was absolute insanity and the worst came from the wish to purge themselves of all religion and nobility.

In the past, the Opinion section was a place where intellectual thought resided, where people could share opinions. This year, it seems more like your megaphone, used to vent and to decry things you hate to the entire student body.

The Opinion section has lost its purpose and now only exists to provide space for your personal vendettas. This year, you have offended or alienated large portions of the student body, from military and marketing students to every student who practices a religion.

You have lost the will to inspire reason that drove the Enlightenment philosophers and instead make unsubstantiated claims and mock those you offend.  


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