"Religion is divisive, it’s the source of wars and wrongdoing!"
We agree. But that’s by no means the full picture.
Firstly, although it’s common to say that most wars and wrongdoing have been caused by religion, that’s a very selective use of facts. Stalin... Hitler... Pol Pot... Pinochet... These men collectively murdered millions - and none of them were motivated by religion. In fact they were looking to replace allegiance to God with allegiance to themselves.
Secondly we must define the word “religion” to mean people’s various interpretations of who God is and what He wants. These varied belief systems definitely have caused much division, hatred and bloodshed. The key would be to find out which - if any - of these belief systems is correct, and whether that one inspires hatred or love.
Thirdly we must acknowledge that if God exists, people could do all sorts of things in His name, things that have nothing at all to do with who He really is and what He stands for. Just like someone could go out and do horrible things in your name - saying they were representing you - without having your agreement in the slightest way! Dismissing the idea of God because of what people have done in his name is understandable but mistaken.
Fourthly, the Bible has specific things to say about what ‘true’ religion is, contrasting it with ‘false’ religion. For example, “If anyone thinks he’s religious and doesn’t bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, that person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undeflled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:26-27) This verse gives us a clue as to what the God of the Bible requires. Anything less isn’t true religion.
We live in a time of soundbites, where we’re often unwilling to really look at things and prefer to just repeat a worn out statement or phrase and move on; it’s more convenient and/or less painful.
But the stakes are too high to go about things that way. Rather than settling for a diet of junk food spirituality, we should seek with all our hearts to find out the truth: is there a God? If so who is He? What does He require of me? Then, maybe, we won’t add to the wrongdoing done because of religion - or because of the lack of religion.
02 August 2013