The quiet truth behind the inescapable headlines about man’s inhumanity to man is that the world is actually becoming a more peaceful place. Deaths from war and conflict have been declining for decades – and, if current trends continue, we can make them rarer still.
What mysterious force is sowing peace among humankind? One possible reason is that there are more atheists and nonbelievers than ever before.
In America, millennials are the largest and least religious generation in the country’s history. The trend toward secularization in the US mirrors the movement in Europe and throughout the developed world. And poll after poll have shown that the nonreligious also lean more progressive and more pacifist on a wide variety of issues relating to violence: torture, the death penalty, corporal punishment, military adventurism and more.
As long as humanity was in thrall to the violent morality of religious texts, our societies were warlike and cruel. As the American revolutionary Thomas Paine said, belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man. It’s only in the last few decades, as we’ve begun to cast these beliefs off, that we’re making real moral progress.
As an outspoken Atheist I of course want to think that the rise of non-deists is the reason for all kinds of positives in the world
And though I would agree that much of the warlike behavior we are witnessing in the world today is driven by religious ideologies, I am not entirely convinced that doing away with religion automatically translates into a more peaceful world.
We kill for a variety of reasons, religion is just a convenient method by which to excuse our hatred or demonization of a group that we deem less worthy than our own tribes.
So I am interested in your thoughts on the matter.