Thoughts On The “Religion Flies Planes Into Buildings” Bullshit

Terrorism, according to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) is ‘the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation’. According to the GTI, in 2014 alone 17,958 people were killed in terrorist attacks which is 61% more than the previous year. 82% of all deaths from terrorist attacks occur in just 5 countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria and 90% of these attacks occurred in countries that already have gross human rights violations. Four groups were the dominant contributors: the Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIL, and al Qa’ida.

science flies you to the moon

A friend of a friend today shared a photo of a t-shirt being sold by an atheist group on Facebook and it had the following slogan on it:

Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.

What a cheap way to score points at the expense of those whose only crime is to believe in the same god as people who commit acts of terror. Let’s face it, the ‘flies you into buildings‘ comment is aimed at Muslims because of the attacks of this nature on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. On a purely anecdotal level, I know a fair few people who are Muslim and none of them have ever been inspired to fly a plane into a building on purpose.

The t-shirt and the slogan upon it is just indicative of a bigger issue that I want to address. I’m atheist. I believe in no gods or goddesses but that doesn’t automatically make me a good person. I identify as a secular humanist and that’s why it makes me so sad to see other atheists turning their apparent anti-theism into anti-humanism. If you cannot attack/debate religion without attacking religious people then I don’t think that makes you a very rational person.

It’s true that some people use religion to justify their acts or regimes of hatred, intolerance and violence but such hateful and murderous acts have no place at the feet of others who peacefully practice the same religions. Their religious beliefs do not automatically make them bad people. So why does society feel so compelled to keep putting them there? Why do we hold religious people accountable for the actions of others whom they have no control over?

Maybe it’s because we need someone to blame and Mohammed next door is the most easily accessible target? I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist but I do know that it gets really tiring really fast to see some atheists acting this way.

Extremism flies you into buildings. Extremism leads to the kidnapping of girls who dare seek education. Extremism leads to the burning of hostages. Extremism harms everyone… but as shown in the statistics from the 2014 GTI report, the very people this stupid t-shirt targets as bad people are those most likely to be affected by acts of terrorism. Talk about kicking someone when they are down… 

Oh, and by the way, Muslims died in the 9/11 attacks, and some of people who flew humans to the moon were religious, including the astronauts.

About Hayley Stevens 420 Articles
Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

9 Comments on Thoughts On The “Religion Flies Planes Into Buildings” Bullshit

  1. Whether astronauts were or were not religious made no difference on man getting to the Moon, science done all by itself…no supreme deity needed 🙂

    As for the second phrase of the T-shirt, in the case of 9/11 it was religion that made those guys fly planes into the Towers, or rather their interpretation of the ambiguous scriptures of a cult…maybe without Islam they’d have found another excuse to kill people, but in their minds America was the Great Satan that must be destroyed, take away the Islamic cult, those guys would not have been using Islam as an excuse.

    Most religions have had extremists at one time or another, I think it is the way of things, people with non-critical thinking who adhere to some text some bloke dictated or wrote centuries ago, are by the very nature of their faith or belief not thinking critically and are to all extents and purposes sheep…we shouldn’t be surprised they can be led into atrocity, it is human nature…most bemusing is how so many of these people giving up their lives are doing so at the request of people so far removed from danger as to not be affected in any way…when will the Mullahs, Sheiks and Imans kill themselves in the cause? When will their disciples realize the leader is wrong or a coward?

    I see no error in the T-shirt, if Islam had never been invented by the psychotic paedophile in a cave, those Towers would still be pride of place in NY…

    I had a girlfriend some years ago, she Muslim, she told me how after a perfect romance, the love-of-her-life changed from the perfect man to a tyrant when they married, telling her that she had to give up university and her job, and that her ‘job’ now was to bear him 5 children, at least one of which must be a male heir, she left him, and she now travels around the UK, unable to settle because his and her parents have said she is dead if they find her.

    Sure, you can’t blame religion for human nature, but over the millennia it has given the excuse by millions to kill millions when it has become an ideology, often as bad as the National Socialists of Germany, but of course, the Nazis were only evil because the atrocities they caused were not in the name of a God…if Der Fuhrer had adhered to a religious base for his barn-pot ideology, then more people would be excusing him today 🙂

  2. This article is built on a false premise: The slogan doesn’t mention religious people – it mentions religion. It’s true that not all religious people are murderers but some are and some murder in the name of their religion. Does the author think a religious ideology was responsible for 9/11? Does the author think the scientific method was instrumental in the moon landings? If the answer to both these questions is “yes” then they must admit slogan is logically correct. If the tshirt said say “all religious people fly planes into buildings” then, admittedly, it would be wrong…

  3. I think this post deserves a positive comment, so it looks like I’ll be the first.

    It’s a stupid phrase. Religion does a lot of things. Flying people into buildings is a statistically negligible part of that. Even if we include all terrorist acts that are inspired by religious ideology, it’d still probably be a tiny proportion. Which is not to say those things don’t matter, or they shouldn’t be addressed…

    … and fuck it, I’m halfway through this comment and I think you said it better just by describing the slogan as anti-humanist.

    Also, I realise that putting smileys in a comment that disagrees with the post is probably meant to signify friendly disagreement, but to me it always reads as smug and patronising.

    • yet almost half of all the airplane terror incidents in the last 4 decades are by islamists.
      how many deaths does a religion need to perform before we should care about the deaths then?
      why is it stupid? religion cant come close to what science has done for mankind. what has religion really done bar make us more stupid, less logical, less tolerant and created divides? its set humanity back thousands of years.

  4. Great post — the “New Atheism” is a bloody disgrace, frankly, and as Michael Ruse put it “Makes me embarrassed to be an atheist”. Two of my favourite reads this summer have been David Stove’s “Darwinian Fairytales” — a brilliant takedown of Dawkins by the late, great Australian atheist. And then, from the religious side (I like to dabble), “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist” by Andy Bannister (—a very, very funny demolition of the Dawkins cabal. Why can’t skeptics and agnostics and doubters and believers simply have a friendly dialogue, without insulting each other—ideally over a beer!

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