Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter in response to Darren D’Altario’s “dialogue” piece on Sept. 17, 2008. I found this dialogue to be anything but, as it came out as nothing more than a one-sided shouting match against the person who was supposed to represent the religious view. The “College Kid” and the “Science Geek” might as well have been the same person, as they complemented each other so well in knocking down the straw man arguments the author put up for the “Jesus Freak” persona, and monopolizing the piece’s message totally to their side.

On the claim of these being straw men, I will point to a few.

Firstly, on the comment “Yet religion has been linked to each and every one of those things” in reference to sexual abuse, tyranny, prejudice, war, and genocide, the author makes the fatal mistake of thinking religion, and not human instinctual characteristics influencing those involved in religion, causes these. It should be noted some of the worst genocides and human-made famines were under Communist Governments, who subscribed to atheism. Furthermore, war and prejudice spring from humanity’s natural drive for self-survival, even at other’s expenses.

Secondly, the author fails at truly understanding the labels of religious “extremism,” and such similar concepts. When one thinks of religious extremism, they usually think of those who practice violence with regards to their claimed religion. This is because in most other cases of extremism/radicalism, whether liberal or conservative, it usually comes hand-in-hand with violence (Where in the other extremity of such issues, pacifism). Religions however, and here I will speak mainly of Abrahamic faiths, stress, peace, love, and living a good life with others. To therefore preach hate/violence in advocation of these religions is not extremism, but simply wrong. The “Jesus Freak” character is not merely wrong and the atheist students right, but D’Altario is simply ignorant of correct terminology. The peaceful parishioner who dedicates time and money to help others is far more extremist, and valiant in his faith, than the one who does nothing but still claims membership in a church.

On the point of morality not needing religion, I will actually agree with the statement. An atheist can be moral and a Christian immoral, but not because religion and morals are separate, but because secular society has, being imbued with religious people and institutions, been able to take the morals learned from religion, take off the religious parts, and present them as non-religious morals. Humanity, even in pre-history, has practiced religion, and therefore it is not coincidental that so many laws in most of the world are similar to religious ones.

Finally, I will point out that for the author speaking of morals being able to be separate of religion, his two atheist-leaning characters in the piece seem to have a poor sense of them. Barring the promiscuity, which only has religious connotations if one looks past the risks of pregnancy and the related problems of young motherhood without education in our society, along with STDs; cheating on tests, breaking into buildings, and smoking weed are all illegal. The “Science Geek’s” reasonings that these activities are okay simply because “they do not hurt anyone” are not resolute, as indeed they can hurt people. In the case of the smoking weed and drinking four days a week, the “College Kid” hurts himself, with scientific data showing that weed can damage long-term memory, whereas drinking can lead to various diseases, not to mention traffic incidents (Which again can hurt others).

If Darren D’Altorio wished to present an article that showed that people could be non-religious and still live a good, happy life, I would have not complained. However, if that was his goal here then he did not accomplish it at all, and merely attempted to smack religion around with false information and a misleading title.

Rants are not dialogues.

&mdash James Mark Hojnowski,freshman integrated social studies major