Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Don't blame religion for world's ills’

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Published: Thursday, Oct. 25 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Unwieldy Toaster
Bluffdale, UT

Mr. Peterson, it seems that you set out to vindicate religion from any evil doing. What you actually accomplished is this one liner "Like many things, religion can play a positive or a negative role."

It's true that many things can be positive or negative. Cake for instance, or secularism, or mormonism, or bird watching.

In my mind this is another example of how religion is actually a contrivance of man. If religion is divinely inspired why does it only play a positive or negative role...like many things?

Bountiful, UT

Religion isn't responsible for all the worlds ills, in fact it has done substantial good. However it is also responsible for a lot of bad. Especially where and when it was allowed to have more power than it does here and now. It claims to be representative of a loving God, in too many instances it hasn't behaved this way.

Saint George, UT

Unweildy toaster: Regarding, "If religion is divinely inspired why does it only play a positive or negative role...like many things?" Because Jesus Christ believed in choice, something that can't be found in the philosophies of men as embodied in the current struggle to limit government, which is driven by compulsion, not choice!

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Like the Northern Ireland conflict, religion is often simply a mask for or a marker of a whole host of other, non-religious issues that drive the real conflict.

Idaho Falls, ID

If we were to return to the peaceful and nonconfrontational state of the cavemen, we'd have to get rid of politics, philosophy, scientific processes and all forms of educated thought. WE'd have to live like...cavemen.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

My personal experience with religion has had its unpleasant episodes but for the most part has been positive. It provides a community joined in trying to understand what life is about and what is the right and ethical thing to do. Religion often provides an inner reserve of strength to see us through the tough times of bereavement and despair.

But religion has its dark side as well, as we all know. We live in a world where people sometimes kill other people in the name of religion. It can make people closed-minded and foster feelings of exclusiveness and group superiority. Like anything else, religion doesn’t cause all the world’s problems so much as it mirrors them.


"And surely it requires little imagination to think of other things besides religion that lead to war. (Pride, greed and lust come to mind.)"

Some speculate that was Joseph Smith's reason for the Book of Mormon and building the church. Power, money, and lust (women). He certainly received it despite what outsiders saw.

Brigham City, UT

Mankind could not and would not invent the commandments on its own; the commandments came from above. What man would suggest fasting or keeping sabbath day holy or loving one's enemies or turning the other cheek, or giving a generous fast offering, if he wasn't commanded to do so? Religion and sacred books could not have originated from man.

Everett, WA

It is not so much about Religion that should be blamed for particular "evils" and human tragedies. Part of our humanity is that we tend to blame a particular movement because of the actions of particular individuals within that movement. This is not to say that some movements do deserve to be called out. However, in the case of religion, it is individuals that may hold to a particular belief system and then act out in nefarious actions. It is time that people stop using religion as the end-all-be-all scapegoat and actually condemn the actions of people, not what they claim to believe in and adhere to. I mean, if religion is responsible for all the evils in the world, then atheism is just as responsible for all human tragedies because of individual atheists.

Roanoke, VA

Country A wants country B's resources, or simply its space. It invokes God to justify its actions and to motivate its citizens. This isn't a war motivated by religion. Religion was just the innocent passerby who was grabbed and forced into the town hall meeting and used as justification for doing something they wanted to do to begin with.

Suppose we outlaw Religion tomorrow (much the same way Communism did only to regret later). Does anyone here want me to rely on the goodwill of Man for charity, hospitals, etc? Man is basically good? All wars will cease? History shows that Man is a selfless, caring creature who, without the evil influence of religion, would live in peace with everyone? Please.

Religion isn't the be-all end-all answer to everything; nor the cause of misery the world over.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO


"....Some speculate that was Joseph Smith's reason for the Book of Mormon and building the church. Power, money, and lust...."

A few years after publication of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith made the startling confession that he was warned by Moroni that “Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family), to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. “

That angel not only knew about Joseph’s poverty but had heard about his failed efforts as a money digger. Of course, Joseph could have made it all up to make a more credible story if he was really that unscrupulously cynical. Or maybe an endeavor that began as a get rich quick scheme brought out something better in him. The creative process doesn’t always follow a predetermined course.

I’m just speculating, as you are. But to millions of believers, Joseph really did translate an ancient record by the gift and power of God.

Orem, UT

Unwieldy Toaster, how did you manage to read Peterson's column and still come up with the idea that he "set out to vindicate religion from any evil doing"? He obviously set out to do nothing of the kind. In fact, he actually says that ""Like many things, religion can play a positive or a negative role."

Incredibly, you quote that sentence, and then you suggest that, despite his efforts to argue for a completely different conclusion, that's all he "actually accomplished."

You seem to have arrived at your view of Peterson's article without paying any serious attention to what it really says.

Salt Lake City, UT

What is good about religion is not unique to religion, and what is unique to religion is not good.

You can provide great humanitarian service in a multitude of ways without religion, but if you're going to kill, oppress or persecute people because they don't believe in the same system of magic that you do... that requires religion.

Religion by its very nature seeks to terminate rational, evidece-based inquiry of its foundational beliefs and its actions. Doubt me? Try opening a conversation on the real-world evidence pertaining to church history, fincances, prophecy, or "miracles."

Religion demands that it be exempt from critical examination, it makes willful ignorance into a virtue, and it does it proudly.

No thanks, that's not for me.

Salt Lake City, Utah

I would be more than happy to stop blaming all the ills of the world on religion if the religious would kindly stop claiming that there is no good in anything other than religion.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


I leave it to Pres. Hinckley: "I see so many good people everywhere—and there’s so much of good in them. And the world is good. Wonderful things are happening in this world. This is the greatest age in the history of the earth."


Please. The most faithful LDS I know are quite rational and are NOT willfully ignorant. Many are folks who employ critical examination daily in their professional lives. Whether you find that their answers are sufficient for you is one thing. But they clearly find them sufficient for themselves.

Surely you know at least one or two persons of faith who are worthy of your respect as being insightful and thoughtful folks? I know many such people of faith both LDS and not.

Phoenix, AZ

Mr. Peterson always loyal to his religious agenda regardless of facts or history, again proves the power of rationalization to promote a non- sustainable position.

layton, UT

To Red Corvette And religion should not be credited for morality either.?

I was in NKP Thailand and LAOS in 1969-70. There were Christian missionaries
(Protestant)feeding the starving mountain tribesmen.
I heard of Catholic nuns sharing Christs’ love in orphanages near and in combat
The Salvation army(evangelical Christians) feeding the hungry and preaching the
Gospel in Saigon.
There were Paid Military Chaplains (Christian and Jewish) praying and
serving communion in harms way. Some were killed and some received the Medal of
Our medic was SDA who could have received a deferment.
We had some Buddhist Monks not disclose our position which may have saved
I was not a Christian then but I believed in God, I don’t recall any atheists .


I have been active in religion all my life. 99% of what I have observed religion inspire people to do at the local level has been positive. Help your neighbors, including food bank, yard clean up for widows, give money and material things to the poor, and more. It encourages love and service to family. It softens hard edges and encourages us to repent and forgive. It promotes good choices.

However, having said that, I think religion has been used for evil historically and even currently with tremendous force and impact. Terrorism is a word that was created to describe and define the behavior of religious extremists. Religion is used as an excuse to mistreat women and deny them education, privileges like driving and voting, and even forcing them to completely hide themselves and never speak to men except their husbands. It has been used as an excuse to sponsor genocide and conquer countries. Once people start perceiving themselves as "righteous" or "chosen" or "appointed to speak for God", they can justify doing just about anything.

So, from a believer, religion is a great force for good, but it is also used as a great force for evil.

Salt Lake City, UT

"We live in a world where people sometimes kill other people in the name of religion."

True enough. However, we do many in things in the "name of (insert whatever you want here--religion, tolerance, equality, fairness, etc)".

That does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that religion teaches killing--quite the opposite. Because man perverts an idea does not mean that the idea was wrong.

Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Tamerlane, Mao Tse-tung, Idi Amin, etc. The list is endless. These men were the cause of the death of millions, and none were 'religious' men.

"Religion demands that it be exempt from critical examination, it makes willful ignorance into a virtue, and it does it proudly."

Really? Where does any religious teaching make this demand? Where does any religious teaching claim that ignorance is a virtue? And--where does it teach any of this 'proudly'? Your shibboleth sounds more like the definition of socialism to me.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

At one time, "the Sun never set on the British Empire". The British Crown essentially and literally dominated the world.

And with the power of the British Crown, which was explicitly and deliberately justified by "The Divine Right of Kings", religion - and specifically Christianity - was foisted upon the world.

When British/Christian Colonialism/Imperialism would "take over" an area of the world, it would immediately start preaching its Christianity and segregating the believers from the "others".

These religio-political lines continue to exist today, and one has only to look at the bloody, bloody revolutions of the past 300 years to see how that religious oppression, and the throwing off of it by peoples who should have never been subjected to such illegitimate "authority", accounts for almost all the bloodshed of the past three centuries, with very few exceptions!

So, I think we must conclude either that Daniel Peterson is disingenuous, or horribly uneducated about history.

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