by David Morris (AlterNet)
The central problem with organized, assertive religion, of course, is that it endows superstition with a moral and messianic fervor. God-directed superstition can be a lethal force. Indeed, one might argue that this type of force is behind much of the violence around the world. The conflicts in Palestine (Jews v. Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians v. Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants v. Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims v. Hindus), Indonesia (Muslims v. Timorese Christians) and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians v. Chechen Muslims) constitute only a few of the places where religion has been the explicit cause of million of deaths in the last ten years.
Sam Harris discusses “the burden of paradise.” Why are there suicide bombers? “Because they actually believe what they say they believe. They believe in the literal truth of the Koran … Why did 19 well-educated, middle class men trade their lives in this world for the privilege of killing thousands of our neighbors? Because they believed that they would go straight to paradise for doing so.”