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We often hear the argument that with or without religion, people will do good and bad. For over two thousand years, religion has played a significant role in our lives. It has decreed laws that tell us what is good and bad, and thus influenced different behaviors. But even though religion keeps on telling people to do good, people are bound to commit mistakes and do what is not right.
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Behaviorists like Skinner offer a simple explanation to this phenomenon. They believe that people behave based on the stimuli present in their environment. As Locke claims, people are born as tabula rasa or a clean slate. This means that at birth, a person does not have knowledge of good or bad but as one grows up, the person is exposed to the society, thus it is the society that influences a person to do either good or evil. In line with this thinking, a person will continually do evil because it is what the society feeds him. Religion might help in teaching one to do good, but since not all people have the same faith and principles, disparity will induce some to do exactly the opposite of what one’s faith advocates.
Considering the overall effect of religion, we can say that although it has prompted some Good Samaritan deeds, it has likewise provoked the worst events in our history due to disparity in beliefs. For instance, wars among nations have been caused by the division influenced by religion. The holocaust, for example, will not materialize if the Germans did not read about the Jews’ salvation. Also, the Gulf wars will not happen if we shared the same religious beliefs with the Iraqis. As such, we can likewise conclude that the presence of religion in the lives of men has influenced them to do bad more than good deeds.
The truth about the effects of religion suggests that the absence of religion may result in a more peaceful world. As Wharton (2008) believes, religion has many drawbacks, including women’s repression in the Middle East, the spread of AIDS due to the fear of using condoms, and wars and borders arising from cultural and religious differences.
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