One of Steven Weinberg’s most famous quotes is this:
“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
Many people have deemed that statement a gross exaggeration, but I don’t think it’s far off the mark. I’d define a “good person” as someone of good character, whose life is generally characterized by empathic acts. Save fulminating mental illness or religion, I can’t think of much that would make such a person do something dastardly. Religion, of course, is a powerful force—a meme, if you will—for evil, for it convinces you that God has ordered you to do good things which, in reality, are evil. It’s no coincidence that Dawkins calls it a “delusion.” Other things, like political ideologies, can also make good people do evil things, but religion is the most pervasive.
Now someone is going to chime in saying that someone who does something evil in the name of religion is not bu definition a good person, but then the whole thing becomes tautological, and misses Weinberg’s point.
Regardless, we have another example of Mulsims murdering someone in the name of faith: the New York Times reports today that an angry Pakistani mob killed someone for burning the Qur’an:
Police officials said on Saturday that a mob had tortured and killed a man accused of burning the Koran, the latest in a series of violent episodes in Pakistan stemming from allegations of blasphemy.
The killing occurred on Friday in Seeta, a remote village in Dadu district in southern Sindh Province. The village’s head cleric, Usman Memon, said charred remnants of the Koran had been found in the mosque that morning, and that the victim had been staying at the mosque alone. It is common for impoverished travelers and religious proselytizers to stay at mosques while traveling.
The man, whose name was not known, was handed over to the police and accused of violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, Mr. Memon said. But as news of the episode spread later Friday, an angry crowd gathered outside the police station and eventually forced its way in. The man was dragged out, tortured and killed, and his body was set on fire, according to the police.
. . . Cases of violence arising from blasphemy accusations appear to be on the rise in Pakistan. Human rights groups have said that most of those victimized are members of religious minorities, particularly Christians, but Muslims are sometimes accused. In a case similar to Friday’s, a mentally disabled man was beaten and burned to death in Punjab Province in July, also after an angry crowd broke into a police station.
It’s only one murder, of course, but a human being was snuffed out because he supposedly (there’s no proof here) torched a book of myths. That’s sick.