A Response to Matthew Harris

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“Religion”, Mr. Harris writes, “is the worst thing ever to happen to mankind”. If I doubted for a moment that he took this claim seriously-I would probably scoff at it. Having grown up in the 1980’s I well remember a time when the threat of nuclear holocaust hung over the head of every adolescent American like the sword of Damocles. I remember the nightmares I had of world destruction, inculcated no doubt by the dire tones of the evening news and films like The Day After. If you had asked me then, I would have said that the atom bomb, or communism, or acid rain, or Chernobyl was the worst thing ever to happen to mankind. Religion wouldn’t even have made my top 10.

But that was the world I grew up in-pre 9/11. Nowadays our nightly news is chock full of horrors carried out in the name of God. Beheadings, kidnappings, bombings, and shootings, the list seems endless. Maybe religion really is to blame. But I think not. And let me tell you why.

You see, when we talk about an event such as, say, the Spanish Inquisition, we tend to think “how could Christians behave so barbarically? What we forget is that the Christians in question were also 15th century Spaniards. And Spain was a rough place. Little education, short life spans, few public works, and a fierce nationalist streak all went into the mix. And life was brutal, even in times of peace. I guess what I am arguing is that it is all too easy to blame the religion, to call it myopic or delusional, but when it comes down to it, horrors are committed by flesh and blood people. They are committed by people who know better, and yet succumb to their baser desires instead of heading the Lord’s command to “love one other and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Let me put it this way. After living only 29 years on this Earth, I have come to the conclusion that mankind is the worst thing ever to happen to mankind. The nuclear missile though, is still a close second.

A.P. TaylorSt. LouisMSSU Alumnus 2004