The ancient Zorastrians believed that a good god made all the good things in the universe (daytime, ants, men) and that a bad god made all the bad things (nighttime, wasps, women). Naturally, the two are locked in eternal conflict, but the good god will one day win.
A similar logic pervades Christianity (God vs. Satan) and classical Marxism (proletariat vs. bourgeoisie). Obviously, all three are hopelessly mythological oversimplifications of life on earth. There is no one source of all good or all evil--except for human nature itself.
This same mythologizing is less frequently met with in atheism--but it is by no means absent. Many atheists are no more able to avoid our innate mythologizing impulse than the typical Zoroastrian or Marxian.
To hear Sam Harris talk, for example, one could be excused for believing that he sees human nature as fundamentally peaceful and rational, with the ruination of these virtues coming exclusively from religion. If not for religion, Harris seems to think, "the lion will lay down with the lamb" and we will have a peaceful, rationalistic utopia.
But what about non-religious examples of mass murder and superstitious idiocy--Stalinism, Maoism, and the like? Why, those are just "political religions." And how, in his numerous books, lectures, and blog posts, does Sam Harris actually DEFINE religion, so we know that he is not just cherry-picking and question-begging? Here, have a look for yourself:
Religious fundamentalism causes mass murder and resistance to science. Similarly, the co-opting of scientific knowledge by the military-industrial complex leads to the slaughter of over 200,000 civilians in the space of a year, not to mention innumerable later deaths caused by napalm, chemical weapons, and biological weapons.
Short version: human nature is flawed, factious, and mythologizing. Eliminating religion entirely will not change that. To believe otherwise is to be in thrall to a Zoroastrian myth--and atheists should not also be Zoroastrians.
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