Is religion the root of all evil?

This article is from Hank Hanegraaff, The Complete Bible Answer Book—Collector’s Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008)
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A common refrain sung in the twenty–first century is that religion is the root cause of the great atrocities of human history. In reality, more people died as a result of secularist ideologies in the last century alone than have died in all the religiously motivated conflicts of Western history.

First, the Nazi philosophy that Jews were subhuman and that Aryans were Supermen led to the extermination of six million Jews. In the words of Sir Arthur Keith, a militant anti–Christian physical anthropologist: “The German Fuhrer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consistently sought to make the practices of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.” Far from religiously motivated, Hitler’s “Final Solution to the Jewish problem” was grounded in the naturalistic philosophy of survival of the fittest. In fact, Hitler overtly distanced himself from Christianity, proclaiming, “I shall never come to terms with the Christian lie” and “Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.”

Furthermore, the inherently atheistic utopian philosophy of communism eclipsed even the carnage of Hitler’s Germany. Karl Marx saw in philosophical naturalism the scientific and sociological support for an economic experiment that led to the mass murder of multiplied millions worldwide. Mao Tse–tung’s communist dictatorship of China accounted for the deaths of an estimated sixty–five million people, while the U.S.S.R. under Stalin saw between twenty and thirty million murdered as a result of agrarian collectivization and the Great Purge. Add to that two million Cambodians––nearly a quarter of that nation’s population—massacred by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime, and the death toll resulting from the secular ideology of communism becomes a horror beyond comprehension.More people died as a result of secularist ideologies in the last century alone than have died in all the religiously motivated conflicts of Western history.

Finally, a third ideology of modern secularism has led to even more ghastly consequences. Though not formally organized under a deranged dictator, this invisible holocaust continues to claim the lives of untold millions around the globe. Four thousand helpless victims––more than the total casualties of 9/11––die each day in the United States alone. The secularist ideology to which I refer, of course, is abortionism. Indeed, the modern bioethical holocaust has eclipsed the carnage of Nazism and communism combined.

Even apart from the ongoing genocide of the unborn, over one hundred million people died at the hands of secularist regimes during the twentieth century. Coupled with recognition of the innumerable humanitarian aid efforts motivated by religious commitments, these statistics should motivate secularists toward humble introspection, rather than haughty inculpation of religion.

For further study, see Os Guinness, Unspeakable: Facing up to Evil in an Age of Genocide and Terror (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco,2005);see also,Hank Hanegraaff,“If Christianity is true, why are so many atrocities committed in the name of Christ?” The Bible Answer Book Volume 1 (Nashville: J Countryman, 2004).


“When justice is done, it brings joy
to the righteous but terror to evildoers.”

Proverbs 21:15

More Bible Answers with Hank

Will the Created Cosmos Be Resurrected or Annihilated?

How Can the Eternal Son of God Be the “Firstborn over All Creation”?

Will Adam and Eve Receive Brand-New Bodies in Eternity?

Do Naturalists Consider Chance the Singular Cause of Evolution?

Why Did Heliocentrism Triumph over Geocentrism?

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