Beliefs, Religion and Where The Real Danger Lies

Abhishek Paul
2 min readMay 6, 2019

I’ve heard people on TV and in private conversations talk about how religions are actually very peaceful and not the reason for violence (not even a little). When you show how empirically ludicrous this is, they say that it is due to bad actors misinterpreting the text. The funny thing is that the people who make this claim do not believe or even belong to the religion(s) that they speak so confidently about — so you have people with little context / knowledge telling the others that they’ve got it fundamentally wrong.

One reason for this could be that they want to make religion and its associated beliefs toothless. Typically these people prefer labels such as secular, atheist or rationalists — with the implication that beliefs are fundamentally irrational and people who hold them should be tolerated (since they don’t know better).by the enlightened / evolved (ie, themselves). But I digress. I do not want to talk about whether a particular belief is true or not (I have started that here).The idea I’m proposing here is that any belief that is fundamental (reason for living) will be dangerous simply because it is about life (and death) and decides what is good / evil, not merely right and wrong or taste / preferences (diet, clothes, rituals).

So beliefs with potential for harm cannot be restricted to the religious alone — any person’s, groups, government’s belief on these matters can and have been proven to be dangerous (just look at the death toll of the atheistic regimes of USSR, China in the last century alone). It depends on the belief itself and not the category to which it is attached. We tend to lump beliefs into categories, get into unproductive debates and more importantly arrive at inaccurate conclusions / prescriptions for the individual and societies.

We shouldn’t underestimate the power and real world consequences that beliefs hold, but neither should we be lazy and conveniently bucket all problematic beliefs under the punching bag of religion.