Human history is riddled with occurrences of terrorism, and what most of the occurrences share is a ‘purpose’. Even cases where mentally unstable people shoot up movie theaters and schools create their own perverse purposes. Religion gives people a system in which they can ignore reasonable moral attitudes, such as that murder is immoral, and provides them with a cause. That cause is the unsubstantiated idea of eternal happiness after life if, and only if, you believe in and follow the right God.
The issue with theism is that anything can be justified because there really is only one authoritative moral rule in theism. That is, ‘do what God tells you’. Terrorism reflects that truth clearly. We see otherwise normal people commit shocking violence under the belief that what they are doing is good. How are they able to justify such atrocities? The answer is almost too simple; God. If God orders you to do something then it is legitimate.
Take a look at how Boko Haram and ISIS have murdered in the name of Allah and the Quran. The truth is, I am not surprised that these particular groups think they are doing the right thing. I understand that if someone is brought up with the Quran, as well as other scripture like the Bible or Torah, they can rationalise violence. “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran, 9:5) Most reasonable interpretations of this conclude that killing for not believing in Allah is justified. What is worse, not only is it justified, it is ordered by Allah. Non-Muslims can be spared, if they submit to this filthy ultimatum. In fact, all of the Abrahamic religions threaten people with eternal pain in Hell if they don’t believe in God. So now if that was the supposed punishment for not following God, why wouldn’t someone kill if their scripture orders them too?
This problem is aggravated by the perceived support of every other believer of the same religion. ISIS and Boko Haram believe they have the backing of 1.6 billion Muslims. This, to us, is obviously wrong. Many Muslims disagree with the violence perpetrated by these evil denominations of Islam, but the issue is that large groups of the same religion reinforce each other’s beliefs. Widespread belief in something does not prove that belief to be true in any way. Unfortunately, crowd psychology inevitably gives people confirmation through numbers. It creates the illusion of safety within the flock, and therefore people feel assured that they will be protected irrespective of their actions.
Let’s stop pretending that religion is peaceful, as it inherently goes against the moral values we have set in society. Let’s condemn all violence, even if it is in the name of your religion. Let’s not base our morals on ancient myths, as they are clearly outdated and their factuality is objectionable. Let’s try to prevent religion from blackmailing us into belief.