David Hume argues that “love of liberty” in some individuals often attracts the religious inquisitor to persecute them and thereby drive society into a state of “ignorance, corruption, and bondage” (1757)

David Hume

When faced with the problem of religious persecution and even death at the hands of the inquisitor Hume argues that “the illegal murder of one man by a tyrant is more pernicious than the death of a thousand by pestilence, famine, … calamity”:

[V]irtue, knowledge, love of liberty, are the qualities which call down the fatal vengeance of inquisitors; and when expelled, leave the society in the most shameful ignorance, corruption, and bondage. The illegal murder of one man by a tyrant is more pernicious than the death of a thousand by pestilence, famine, or any undistinguishing calamity.

In a world in which religious intolerance is on the increase it is useful to reflect on what some of the great philosophers, like John Locke and David Hume, have had to say on the topic. In this quotation David Hume discusses the different approaches to intolerance taken by monotheistic religious versus polytheistic one. In his view the monotheistic religious have shown greater hostility to other religions and have accordingly committed some outrageous crimes such as persecution and murder. He believes that some individuals, because of their “virtue, knowledge, love of liberty” have attracted the wrath of the religious inquisitors who have often persecuted or even murdered them. When these “lovers of liberty” have been expelled or eliminated it leaves society in a much worse state than it was before, “in the most shameful ignorance, corruption, and bondage”. Hume concludes that “the illegal murder of one man by a tyrant is more pernicious than the death of a thousand by pestilence, famine, or any undistinguishing calamity.”