I always hear this constant phrase from atheists:
Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it 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.
– Steven Weinburg
I find it funny this is always parroted as some clever rhetorical proof and its no wonder its so often used given that the entire contemporary atheist movement is all sophistry and no substance. This is further exemplified in the large fanbase of individuals such as the late Christopher Hitchens, a man who often gave clever retorts to substantial arguments without actually providing any arguments of his own. His comments would receive loud applauses for their cleverness, but mistakingly were taken as actual responses.
In the same way, this quote is often hailed as some sort of “knock down” statement that never is justified by those who utilize it to cover for their own incompetencies in debate. If I may then, allow me to show why this is not only a stupid phrase made by a man who should not be speaking outside his field, but also leads us to a useful and irrefutable fact about religion and religious people.
First, let us admit, for the sake of argument that religion helps to cause the greatest evils on the planet through its misuse and manipulation. I’m willing to accept that. Let us, however, also point out the obvious: That religion has also caused some of the greatest good, in fact, beyond that. Muhammad (saws), Jesus (saws), Moses (saws), Ghandi, Martin Luther King, etc. etc. the list could go on forever, were and still are the archetypes of morality and humanity. Every individual you can think of that was ever an example of how to act, who was a leader in activism that eventually changed the world for the better, have typically been believers in God and religion. These people were not merely good, they defined what it meant to be good.
Now, let me asks the atheists who typically use this quote: How many archetypes do you have compared (by ratio) to the religious? How many can you claim? Im sure the answer will not be satisfactory.
And of course, atheists can be good people and many actually are, but to go beyond the good, to be a force for good you need a conviction beyond yourself and the natural world and this is something atheists (especially the anti-religious types) don’t have. Therefore, their chances of going beyond the mere “good” are slim to none.
So yes, for good people to do evil it takes religion…but for good people to do better, it also takes religion.