Ravi Zacharias Summer School
Religion Poisons Everything
On a recent flight, a fellow passenger asked, “So, what do you do for a living?” I replied, “I answer people’s questions about Christianity.” He snapped, “I hate Christianity. Christians are anti-gay, anti-women, anti-progress, anti-science …”. He ended by quoting the late atheist Christopher Hitchens: “Religion poisons everything.” I looked at my watch—six hours until landing.
A truckload of guilt has been dumped on religion: war, intolerance, hatred, bigotry, sectarianism, violence, dissent, tribalism, probably even halitosis. Religion is bad. Religion poisons everything. John Lennon’s classic, Imagine, summoned people to imagine a world without heaven, hell, or religion. The implication is that it would be a peaceful, enlightened utopia.
Really? Do atheists seriously believe that by waggling their magic wands and making religion disappear, they would achieve universal peace and harmony? We already tried that experiment: the French Revolution, Communist Russia, Mao’s Cultural Revolution—for starters—all ended in bloody violence, brutal intolerance and millions dead. We don’t have to imagine “no religion,” we can just replay the historical tape.
“Okay,” our atheist friend replies, “maybe atheism has its own chequered history, but religion has caused more wars throughout history than anything else!”—a charge that stands up as well as a jelly skyscraper. A fascinating set of books called The Encyclopedia of Wars documents some 1,763 wars between 8000BC and AD2003 of which only 123 were classified as “religious”—less than 7% in over ten thousand years of history! If religion is out to poison everything, it has some catching up to do.
One could replace the word ‘religion’ with other words: Politics causes war, division and sectarianism. Money causes greed, crime and jealousy. Science causes environmental pollution and created nuclear bombs, etc. The problem is not science, money, politics or even religion. The Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn remarked: “The dividing line between good and evil passes right through the middle of every human heart and all human hearts”. Christianity’s answer to that dilemma is the transforming power of new life in Christ.
Atheists did not unveil religion gone wrong. Jesus Christ’s most frequently clashed with the religious leaders of the day, who were using religion for personal gain and to marginalize people. So if you’re going to criticise bad religion, you’re much closer to Jesus than you may realize.
Dr. Andy Bannister is the Canadian Director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Join Andy and other great speakers at the RZIM Canada Summer School in Langley BC. July 10-15, 2016. Register at www.rzimsummerschool.ca. To read a free chapter of Andy’s book, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist visit: www.theatheistwhodidntexist.com