The ideas, they circulate

It’s uncredited, as always, but it’s always satisfying to see the memes I create spread throughout the intellectual community. This particular one has now gone from TIA to Wikipedia to Nature to the New York Times:

It’s not true that all wars are fought in the name of religion, as some atheists assert. Of 1,723 armed conflicts documented in the three-volume “Encyclopedia of Wars,” only 123, or less than 7 percent, involved a religious cause. Hitler’s genocide, Stalin’s bloody purges and Pol Pot’s mass murders certainly make the case that state-sanctioned killings do not need the invocation of a higher power to succeed.

It’s been very interesting to see over time how Approved Intellects are declared brilliant and influential and elevated in the media while disapproved badthinkers are swept under the carpet even as their thoughts are mined, cited, quoted, and otherwise utilized, most often in complete ignorance of the original source.

TIA hasn’t sold one percent as many copies as THE END OF FAITH. Everyone knows who Sam Harris is, I’m mostly known, to the extent that I am known at all, as a minor league blogger. And yet, the battle between Sam’s ideas concerning the causal connection between religion and war and my own disproof of his ideas based on military history has observably been a complete rout in my favor.

This doesn’t mean the war is completely over. Timothy Egan’s article is a Fighting Withdrawal, seeking to blame “faith-based fanatics” for the violence in 2014 despite his acknowledgment of the historical evidence. Never mind that the two big events in the headlines, the invasion of Gaza and the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner, obviously have nothing whatsoever to do with religion of any kind.