A lot of atheists (or at least one of the more vociferous ones) would argue that belief in God is the most dangerous of all beliefs. If God has sanctioned or commanded you to act then there can be no restraint on what you do.Since you are deluded by God's apparent instructions/revelations you will have no restraint in your holy cause. The promise of sufficiently attractive pie in the sky is the most powerful motivator to the evil and destructive. Bin Laden, now offered to the fish earlier today, is used as a prime example to support this argument.
If there really is a God, we are told, then he would not facilitate such deluded thinking. God is just a wondereful mechanism for justification of whatever it is one wishes to justify.
Many theists would argue the converse and say a belief that there is no ultimate sanction for ones actions and no ultimate good or evil, facilitates the approach that since there is no God, there is no real right or wrong and I can do whatever I like, whether that is murder, terrorism, alternative methods of sexual gratification or anything the human mind can envisage that can be brought to action. God is the ultimate symbol of control and limitation. Rejecting God is the ultimate license. The Nazis and the Communists of the past century, like Stalin and Mao are always cited as examples.
Denying God means I don't have to listen to Him and do what He requires of me. So if He wants me to wage Holy Wars or eat fish on Fridays I don't have to listen, because since He doesn't exist then neither do His instructions or His values have any validity. If He exists I am bound to be good. Atheism is just a wonderful mechanism for justification of whatever one wishes to justify.
One thing we can be sure of here is that the human mind has tremendous ability to justify the seemingly unjustifiable. No Nazi, Stalinist, Al Qaedaist or other perpretrator of mass murder, torture and terror will tell you that they are a sick, twisted power hungry sadist who wishes to subjugate others and enforce a sick, repressive and totalitarian nightmare on the world. All of these people are masters of rationalisation. They wish to do what they wish to do and will supply the philosophy to fit. All of these people become very comfortable with and ultimately proud of the atrocities they commit or promote. Ordinary people, non-terrorists among them, are really no different. We all do things that we should not do, or feel or know we should not, but convince ourselves, and others, through some logical argument, that it is okay or right or good, and live with it comfortably.
Why blame God? Or why blame lack of God. What both sides have in common is the commission of wrong and evil that they feel compelled to justify.
If there is a God then He is God irrespective of what people may claim about Him, or claim to do in His name. If there is no God then He is a fabrication of the human mind that facilitates rationalisation. It is the human mind that is the danger here and not the fantasies that it conjures. If God is an invention He is no worse than any other invention, it is human beings who do and justify evil.
If there is a God is He happy to meet Bin Laden? Is God busy shaking his hand right now and instructing the bellhop to unpack the order for the requisite number of virgins? Such devotion to the cause cannot go unnoticed. God is either doling out the virgins to the new arrival or pointing out a few differences of opinion between the new arrival and God as to the most productive way to have spent ones life. It is not that God cannot afford the virgins or is mean, but He is, if He is, the best arbiter of His expectations from the human race and those who claim to be His true devotees. He can sort out the market place of fanatics and believers without recourse to high technology and the advice of expert consultants.
If God approves of Bin Laden's actions then he is basking in glory. If He isn't then he is basking with the sharks. If He dissaproves then we can be sure that whatever happens to Bin Laden now Divine Justice will prevail. He may be toasting like a marshmallow in the fires of Hades or attending re-education in a Celestial Gulag. God will know what is best and just.
Of course Bin Laden, and numerous others, will claim to have received instructions and guidance from God. The inbox of the conscience, the received tradition, the private prophecy, or the immutably unbroken chain from that prophecy fill the mind with belief in the cause, whether that be Islamic fundamentalism or the Veneration of the Ultimate Smartie. How do we, who are not God, know who is telling the truth and who is misguided or charlatanic (if there is such a thing as beiong charlatanic?) Many of us would hope that Bin laden never had the truth, even if it means such a tragic waste of life, energy, money and other resources. Many of us would like to have that truth, or for our own truth to be that truth. Many of us don't necessarily want an absolute truth, except to declare and have accepted the notion that there is no absolute truth. If that is absolutely true then we are all equal and nobody's truth is any more or less true than anybody else's.
God may well have made His truth accessible to mankind but most people do not wish to accept that. They will substitute God's actual truth for their own imposed truth, whether that truth is theistic or atheistic. 'I believe in God and He wishes me to....' or 'There is no God and therefore I ...' Either way people can, if they wish, believe and do as they choose, but they run the risk of finally running in to God, who may not see things the way they do.
I suggest that Bin Laden is not having the best of possible times right now. God may even agree with that statement, even though He certainly doesn't need to agree with me.
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