http://www.atheistnexus.org/photo/albums/heretics-burned-at-the-stake
Heretics burned at the stake.

"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

~ Steven Weinberg "(born 3 May 1933) is an American physicist. He was awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics (with colleagues Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow) for combining electromagnetism and the weak force into the electroweak force. More recently, he has written some papers arguing that the smallness of the cosmological constant is due to the anthropic principle."

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for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

That isn't true, good people can do evil things in the name of any cause they believe in, like patriotism or loyalty to their family.

You are quite right to restate this quote. "patriotism or loyalty to their family" are noble values, but also easily used to rationalize evil things. I like your comment. 

Yes, how many people have gone off to wars and died nobly and heroically in their effort to kill others - not necessarily in any cause that could justify it?

I've often felt that adherence to a higher principle is necessary sometimes.  To counteract the human tendency to see things with prejudice for oneself or some group that one is allied with - family, nation. 

A long time ago I had a boyfriend who said with an air of high sacredness that dropping the atomic bomb on the Japanese (in Hiroshima and Nagasaki) was an act of goodness.  I was extremely distressed that anyone would call this sacred, and this was actually the proximate cause for the end of the relationship. 

Of course the Americans were absolutely overjoyed that no more Americans would be dying in this war. 

Yet the United States dropping atomic bombs on cities had devastating long-term consequences.  It certainly ignited the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union - which surely did a lot of damage, though I don't know exactly what.  It likely caused other countries to think less of the United States - we as a country like to claim the moral high ground, yet the U.S. is the only country that's ever actually used atomic bombs to kill people, and this has got to promote demonizing of the U.S., whether consciously or unconsciously.  I think the damage that can be caused by nuclear weapons is so terrible that it influences people's thinking unconsciously.   The nuclear bombings in Japan have caused a lot of fear of nuclear power, and a lot of this fear is quantitatively unjustified - the World Health Organization estimates that coal has caused about 1900 times more deaths per kWH than nuclear power - including Chernobyl and Fukushima! 

Of course there were many terrible massacres of civilians in World War II. 

If the U.S. had shown mercy by demonstrating the atomic bomb on an uninhabited area - we might have had a claim to a moral high ground that would be capable of making an impression for many decades, and perhaps prevented some of the demonizing of the U.S. that is so common now, and helped prevent nuclear proliferation. 

When people repay violence with violence, it has to be done with GREAT CAUTION.  Sometimes this has to be done.  Like what would have happened to the world if the Nazis had won?  And if someone physically attacked me, I would sure be trying to hurt them, to get it to stop.  But human aggression could end the human race or at least result in a new Dark Age. 

If my understanding of history is correct, the road USA travels, with our great power of weapons, wealth, and desire for control, we take the road that countless other great nations took: overreaching, taking on more than can be managed, expecting to get what we want, willing to do whatever it takes to stay on top, feeling entitled to all the resources of the Earth, and the systems problems cause empires to collapse from within. 

Are we at that point now? 

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