For a long time, there was a meme going around atheist circles that showed the Twin Towers pre-9/11 that said something to the effect that if there was no religion, then the World Trade Center would still be standing. Like most memes, I think the “no religion, no 9/11” notion is rather facile, especially since being highly religious, even “fundamentalist,” in one’s thinking does not mean one is going to run off to join a religiously motivated terrorist group. ISIS is an excellent example of this, since many of their Western recruits know next to nothing about the religion they supposedly are going to fight for:
As I write this, Al Qaeda in Yemen has taken responsibility for the recent terrorist attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, as well as today’s attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris. While I only recently learned about the existence of Charlie Hebdo after Wednesday’s massacre, its “blasphemous” cartoons seem to be in the proud skeptical and anticlerical tradition that was forged more than three hundred years ago during the Enlightenment philosophes. In fact, I’d have to say that no one does anti-clericalism better than the French; I guess having the honor of being the denizens of “The Eldest Daughter of the Church” will inevitably lead to some major rebellion. From Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie to Notre Dame de Paris (AKA The Hunchback of Notre Dame) to the long tradition of convent pornography, the Catholic establishment hasn’t been sacred to many French for quite some time. This distain has also been extended to the two other Abrahamic religions (France has Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim populations).