Who is more responsible for the mass murders of history? Christians or atheists?

This is presented as an exchange with one of my commenters in response to the story about the nurse in the UK who was suspended who offending a patient by asking to pray for the patient.

Here is the initial post, provocative, but regular atheist readers know that I am a lamb, and this is just a trick to get first-time atheists to comment so that I can engage them.


Here is the first rebuttal from the challenger:

1) I have never read so much rubbish as I just have. Are you seriously saying that Atheists are responsible for the deaths of millions of people and yet you include none of the religions whose wars have led to countless more deaths?

2) [Wintery Knight paraphrases]: What did Christians do to stop Hitler in WW2?

3) [Wintery Knight paraphrases]: But isn’t Christianity supportive of wars of aggression such as conducted by Germany in WW2?

4) There have been many good and bad, of faiths and of no faith yet so worried are you by the simple wish of some people to have church and state separated that you use half truths, leave out pertinent facts or omit them altogether. Some of you will even lie.

If that is the face of your christianity, then it is of little wonder that people turn away from it, either by finding another faith or by having no faith at all.

5) Your example of the nurse above, mentions nothing of the fact that she was asked by the patient to stop and or that she has a record of trying to impose her beliefs on those who wish to have none of it or are content with their own faith and have no need or desire for the zealotry displayed by this woman or indeed for others who feel they have a right to inflict their views on others.


And my first rebuttal:

Thanks for your comment. Sorry I had to edit your comment a bit, I hope I didn’t change the meaning of what you said. Now don’t be too unhappy, with me, let’s have a dialog, at least for a bit.

Here’s my response:

1) Here’s my source for the 100 million deaths due to communism, an atheist system that represses free expression of faith. I can provide you with citations of atheist leaders in communist countries explaining how war flowed from their atheist views that the universe is an accident and humans are just animals and morality is a sham. I am only interested in defending Christianity, so for this point I need you to give me the list of wars started for specifically Christian reasons, and then show me in the Bible where Jesus sanctions these wars. I also need a body count for each war in your list. You can include a body count for the Inquisitions and the witch trials, as well. Thanks.

2) On atheism, where is the moral standard that allows you criticize what the Nazis did? Let me help. Is it your personal opinion? Or is it the evolved standard in place in your culture at this time? Or is it an objective standard that governs any culture at any time in history? I need to know what you mean by right and wrong, on atheism, before I answer the charge. Next, please find for me the part in the Bible where Jesus urges his followers to engage in wars of aggression and genocide.

3) Again, I need an explanation, on atheism, for why wars of aggression are wrong, then the Bible verse that shows where Jesus supports wars of aggression and genocide. These things are not forbidden on atheism, (nothing is), but they are forbidden in Christianity.

4) Again, on atheism, what do you mean by good and bad? Also, we do not have an official church in the USA, so we do have separation of church and state. How do you think that separation of church and state should limit the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech and to freedom of religious expression? In short, why do your unhappy feelings justify the removal of fundamental human rights, rights that are grounded in God, and not grounded anywhere on atheism, I might add.

5) What do you mean when you say that the nurse was imposing her beliefs? Do you mean that speaking freely to people should be controlled by the state? If not, how do you propose to prevent people from speaking freely about whatever they wish?

Thanks. Take it easy, we’ve got time.


And her second rebuttal:

Well, I’m disappointed that you felt a need to rewrite my original email but I can’t say I’m too surprised.

I’m sorry, but when you said you had sources for the hundred million deaths caused by Atheism, I thought it would more than just a website sponsored by a discredited former U.S. President whose actions have led to the deaths of many of his fellow countrymen and women but also to thousands of Iraqis and who has postured on the world stage but done nothing for humanity.

You ask me for proof of wars started for specifically christian reasons. Well, I could start with the second Roman invasion of Britain, which also included most of Western Europe. Not a nice time to be an unbeliever of any sort, unlike during the first Romano invasion. We can then move on to the Crusades and the invasion of the Arab nations there with the subsequent savagery that attended them. Next? How about the Spanish Armada and the French/Spanish war with Britain based purely because one of our kings fell out with the catholic religion, and we should surely remember the Spanish Inquisition, that was a nasty little war all in itself.

Let’s see, we’ve got the British civil war, again, over religion. I’m ignoring wars in Europe that don’t directly affect the UK, by the way. But let’s not forget the Spanish invasion of South America and the mindless violence that erupted from that. Or indeed, the murder of thousands of North American Indians, all done with the blessing of the church. Two examples which could justly be called Holocausts.

We have various wars with Europe after that, but mostly over Empire (but yet again, an endeavour vigorously encouraged by the church) until we come to the Great War where it was your christian duty to fight the hun as much as it was your christian duty to fight the French/British/American troops, moving swiftly on to the second Great War, where Hitler’s troops invaded Europe, sent millions to the camps, all with the motto “Gott mitt uns” giving the delusion that their “work” would be approved by a higher authority and all the while, the church, either protestant or catholic did nothing. How many dead is that? Who knows but even Stalin’s excesses are reckoned to be around the 20 million mark, leaving 80 million others according to your figures. I very much doubt China lost eighty million during the Chinese Revolution.

There have been various smaller atrocities around the world, all in the name of religion. You ask me to show you in the bible where jesus specifically sanctions these wars. Why should I need to do that, it’s your religion, and others, that have caused these wars and it has been the interpretation of those biblical words which have caused so much harm in this world. I don’t need to specify anything, you need to defend your argument about the interpretations based on this book of your god. Mind you, what is your view on Gods instruction to Moses to go out and kill everything of the Amalekites? I believe that is in your bible.

As for asking me to provide specific casualty details, well, I think asking me to provide the casualty list for an invasion two thousand years ago is being a bit silly really, you know I can’t provide such a list any more than you can. There are, of course, estimates, such as those for the English Civil War in which it has been said the dead and injured equalled that of the Great War. But then, in the examples you quote, there aren’t specific casualty lists, only approximations.

As for Atheism, why shouldn’t atheists have as good a knowledge of right and right as any one else, such as Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus or even Christians. You don’t have to be a christian or be religious at all to be aware of a moral code which embraces right and wrong. Again, I fail to see why I should provide you with quotes in the bible where people are urged to wage war, if there are any, again, you know as well as I do that the interpretation of that book by its readers who use it as the sole authority on what’s right and wrong, go out and do harm. I doubt very much there are any parts of the bible where it says go out and torture to death all those who do not believe but that’s the very thing which was done in your gods name during the Spanish Inquisition and by others throughout history. You know this, yet you argue that it doesn’t happen. I find it quite odd.

As for the nurse, she was asked by the patient not to pray or proselytise yet she ignored that specific request. She had the right to speak freely, and still does, but when a person is asked not to do something and that person ignores that request, then you are not speaking freely, your are impinging on another persons rights and no matter what your belief, you don’t have that right.

Now, ‘m pretty sure, that you will alter this reply as you did my first post into something that fits your particular world view of atheism and Christianity but all it will show me, is that your faith in religion is so fragile, that you feel you have to shield it from any fully justified criticism. As others of your ilk do, the truth will be distorted, facts will be omitted or presented in a poor light and you will think you have done the will of your god. You will, of course, have done nothing of the kind, unless your god is a cruel vindictive being which you claim he isn’t.

For me, all this nonsense about militant atheism and religion under attack is puerile and arrant nonsense. The hierarchy of the various churches see their comfortable positions under threat from a congregation now doing a bit more than just turning up and kneeling and are trying to cloud the issue with a smokescreen about how their religion is under attack. Which it isn’t.


And my second rebuttal:

Atheism’s record

Here is R.J. Rummel, a professor of political science at University of Hawaii:

With this understood, the Soviet Union appears the greatest megamurderer of all, apparently killing near 61,000,000 people. Stalin himself is responsible for almost 43,000,000 of these. Most of the deaths, perhaps around 39,000,000 are due to lethal forced labor in gulag and transit thereto. Communist China up to 1987, but mainly from 1949 through the cultural revolution, which alone may have seen over 1,000,000 murdered, is the second worst megamurderer. Then there are the lesser megamurderers, such as North Korea and Tito’s Yugoslavia.

Obviously the population that is available to kill will make a big difference in the total democide, and thus the annual percentage rate of democide is revealing. By far, the most deadly of all communist countries and, indeed, in this century by far, has been Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot and his crew likely killed some 2,000,000 Cambodians from April 1975 through December 1978 out of a population of around 7,000,000. This is an annual rate of over 8 percent of the population murdered, or odds of an average Cambodian surviving Pol Pot’s rule of slightly over just over 2 to 1.

In sum the communist probably have murdered something like 110,000,000, or near two-thirds of all those killed by all governments, quasi-governments, and guerrillas from 1900 to 1987. Of course, the world total itself it shocking. It is several times the 38,000,000 battle-dead that have been killed in all this century’s international and domestic wars. Yet the probable number of murders by the Soviet Union alone–one communist country– well surpasses this cost of war. And those murders of communist China almost equal it.

Communism is a worldview that explicitly repudiates the truth of religion and the idea that man is created in the image of God. If God is dead, all things are permissible. Atheism, historically, has been the moral foundation for mass murder and genocide.

Christianity’s record

For all of your examples, no link to the Bible was even attempted. The assertions that wars were conducted for religious purposes was made, but not substantiated with a single piece of evidence.

I’ll help you again with a list. There are only a few areas where Christian doctrine appears to have been a factor:

– the Crusades (between 2 and 100 thousand according to Encarta, I say about 30 thousand)
– the Inquisition (about 2000 dead)
– the Salem witch trials (about 25 dead)

I won’t worry too much about the 25 dead from the witch trials. Let’s take a closer look at the others with the help of Dinesh D’Souza, who has sustained these points in debates against Hitchens and other prominent atheists:

The Crusades:

“The Crusades were a belated and necessary Christian enterprise to block Islamic invasion and conquest. Remember that before Islam, virtually the entire Middle East was Christian. Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Jordan—these areas were predominantly Christian. The Muslims conquered the region, and then Muslim armies invaded Europe, conquering parts of Italy and virtually all of Spain, which the Muslims ruled for nearly 700 years. The Muslims over-ran the Balkans and were at the gates of Vienna. Edward Gibbon, no friend of Christianity, says that if the Christians hadn’t fought back then, today at Oxford and Cambridge—and by extension Harvard and Duke—we’d all be studying the teachings of Muhammad in the Arabic language. Western civilization, then called Christendom, was mortally threatened. The Crusades, for all their excesses, helped to prevent this disastrous outcome.”

The Inquistions:

“Well, the best scholarship on the Inquisition shows that approximately 2,000 people were killed by the Spanish Inquisition over a period of 350 years. I would never apologize for the Inquisition, which I think represented a terrible strain in late-medieval Christianity. I am glad that Christianity is different now, and the closest thing you have to a religious inquisition today would be something like the regime of the ayatollahs in Iran. Still, how can you even compare the casualties of the Inquisition to those of the atheists’ regimes? Even a second-rate atheist despot like Pol Pot killed more people in a month than the Inquisition managed to do in three centuries.”

More on the Crusades here.

Do belt buckles on SS troops prove anything?

Here is a historical assessment by Dinesh of Hitler’s vicious hatred of Christianity. Also, I recently wrote a post where I contrasted the morality of an authentic Bible-believing Christian with an authentic Darwin-believing non-Christian. The morality you inherited today in the West is a morality left-over from the prominence of Christianity in the last few centuries. It is based on Christian ideas, and explicitly so, ideas that have NO GROUNDING on atheism.

Please explain to me how a 3-word inscription on belt buckles undergirded Hitler’s wars of aggression, and explain the real record of his hatred of Christianity in his own actual writings. On your view, you would have to argue that Barack Obama is a Christian, because he claimed to be one. Don’t we actually have do some scholarly study to link external activities directly back to specific Biblical teachings in order to claim that there was a meaningful link? If I taught my parrot to claim to be a Christian in his speeches, would he also be a Christian?

What is the ground for a moral standard on atheism?

Again, you had nothing to say here because there is no standard of morality on atheism. None. Atheists do what they please. Indeed, that is the whole point of it – to rebel against morality. If you would like to try again to tell me where is the content and being of the atheist moral standard, I would be delighted to hear.

Until then, the moral language you use in praising this and condemning that is literally meaningless gibberish. There is no standard that you can use, on atheism, in order to praise or denounce anything in the world, past present and future. I offered you 3 alternatives for the source of the moral standard, you declined to answer. Answer the question, please. Where is this moral code that atheists follow? What is the reason for following it when it goes against their own self-interest? What does it matter, on atheism, whether atheists follow the moral code, or not?

Are you familiar with the concept of “heat death of the universe”. Eventually, the usable energy in the universe will run down and no life will be possible. This occurs whether atheists act one way or another. What does it matter for atheists ultimately if they act this way or that way? Is it not the case that what is rational, on atheism, is for atheists to simply do what pleases them most at any given moment? What reason is there, given the meaningless of life on atheism, for putting selfishness second and morality (and you need to point me to the atheist moral standard) first?

The nurse

If you ask someone to shut up, and they don’t shut up, do you then remove their means of earning a living? Do you imprison them? Do you torture them? Do you murder them? Do you remove their fundamental rights by means of state coercion?

Or, do you grow up and realize that in life you are going to hear things you disagree with and that is not a justification for destroying the fundamental liberties of individuals by imposing fascism on individual values.

This is where the impulse in atheism that justifies mass murder and genocide comes from. You feel strongly in the removal of the fundamental rights of those who disagree with you. The idea of tolerating other views seems wrong to you. Instead, atheism seems to bring out the fascist impulse, and you use the very means that you condemn in others against those who have different beliefs than you do. Show me where this idea is in atheistic prescriptions of morality. (I.e. – where is “you ought to love your enemies” on atheism?)

Here’s an idea: how about going out right now and finding the first evangelical Christian you meet and buying them lunch in order to listen to why they are a Christian and what it means to them? I did that 3 times with atheists this week, and will be posting the results of my interviews in a highly-anticipated series about what atheists think. All of these atheists are my personal friends, they know my real identity and could blow my cover at any time. Do you have any Christian friends that you love with all your heart? I do. Love for enemies is explicitly taught by Jesus in the Bible.

Conclusion

Thanks for your comment. I enjoyed responding to it. Please comment again soon, I won’t mind to hear your ideas. Differences of opinions are welcome here!

UPDATE: I gave her the last word here.

20 thoughts on “Who is more responsible for the mass murders of history? Christians or atheists?”

  1. I find it amazing that atheists still trot out the Inquisition and the Crusades (only the former of which was a perversion of religion, as the latter was, as you noted, a fight for survival) as events on par with the murderous, atheist, regimes of the 20th century–it’s almost like these people just read what, say, Chris Hitchens says and take it as gospel truth without actually doing any verifying on their own…which is exactly how Dawkins, Hitchens, et al like it, of course.

    For anyone that would like a thumbnail sketch of the Crusades by an academic that has spent his entire career in the classics, I recommend A Concise History of the Crusades–it’s very short and information-packed, giving a very nice overview of the entire conflict. I’m fairly certain that if everyone read this book, we’d never hear the canard about blood-thirsty Christians murdering hapless Mulsims meme ever again.)

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    1. Yes, and the other point is to force the challenger to see how even elementary judgments about right and wrong are impossible without a moral standard that is independent of personal opinion and vulture. You can’t judge anything on atheism without that transcendent standard. And of course that standard must be made by God, for who else could prescribe the way that humans ought to be other than the ones who made the humans in the first place?

      Thanks for reading the exchange!

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  2. I take a great deal of issue with what has been said here. So much so that I will only comment on a few examples. First, the whole argument over who has the bigger body count is ridiculous to begin with. To distill causes to a single factor, either religion or atheism, is absurd. Every event in history is contingent on previous events, which results in there never being a single cause.

    That being said, you then go on to historical revision. Using Dinesh D’Souza as a source does not help your case one bit. Along with such people as William Lane Craig and Duane Gish (to name just a few), they represent some of the people [I disagree with most about facts]. D’Souza makes the claim that only about 2,000 were tortured and murdered in the Spanish Inquisition as if he is proud of the fact that a mere 2,000 is okay. Are we really okay with that? I’m not. But notice also what he has done: he has artificially reduced the Inquisition to the Spanish Inquisition, which was but a small part of the whole. He doesn’t even mention the Albigensian Crusades that started the whole thing, killing 200,000 to 1,000,000 over 20 years, no mean feat with the military technology available at the time. A rather glaring omission that [in my opinion] is a conscious one on D’Souza’s part.

    And this is only one example. Perhaps D’Souza could explain how the city of Judenberg got its name by rounding up every Jew they could find and burning them alive? To celebrate, the name of Berlitz was changed. Hitler was only acting on his Christian heritage embodied in the Fourth Council of the Lateran which prescribed exactly what was done in the Holocaust. Is that in his book? Nor does any of this answer the question of where all the Christians were during this terrible act of genocide. Sure, examples of resistance can be found, but Christians were taking part in the crime too.

    As for communism being an atheist doctrine, balderdash. I am an atheist. Do you think that makes me a communist? The whole argument that atheism leads to mass murder is similarly [wrong]. It is idealism, the adherence to the claim of an absolute knowledge or ideal without regard to the human condition, that is the source of these atrocities, whether they were religiously motivated or otherwise. This can include religious ideals espoused by de Torquemada, or non-religious ones fronted by Stalin and Hitler. Each was an ideologue pushing their brand of idealism no matter the cost, and the costs were great. Thus, the argument over which has a higher body count is silly and pointless.

    “You can’t judge anything on atheism without that transcendent standard.” Of course I can. It’s called empathy, based on the principle of reciprocity – I act towards others as I would like them to act towards myself. Empathy is the ability to place yourself in another’s shoes and imagine how they would feel if the action were happening to them. Pretty simple with no need for a fictitious absolute moral standard. In fact, so many counter examples to a moral absolute can be made as to reduce it to absurdity. Even something like the definition of ‘murder’ has changed over the centuries.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, it’s a great comment!

      See, the reason why body count matters is because atheist ideas lead naturally to mass murder, as I argued. The reason why you don’t see this as much in the West today is because Christian morality forms the basis of the “moral conventions” of atheists, so that atheists smuggle in Christian morality inconsistently grafted to a rotted out atheist metaphysical foundation. As Christianity is suppressed by secularism, you will see more and more violence, such as abortion, euthanasia and infanticide, as was the case in the pre-Christian Roman empire.

      Atheism means: no soul, no human rights, no human dignity, no purpose in life, no meaning in life, no objective morality, no free will, no moral responsibility, no moral accountability, no way humans ought to be, no moral duties, no moral values, no moral standard, etc. Nothing that is needed for meaningful morality is grounded on atheism. An accidental universe produces hedonism, selfishness, might-makes-right and survival of the fittest. Morality is not rationally grounded on atheism.

      That is why mass murders are committed by people who are the most thoughtful and consistent atheists. They write about the implications of atheism in their books, and then they proceed to act on their atheist beliefs. Mass murder follows from atheism, atheism is a necessary pre-condition to mass murder.

      The following questions must be answered by you in order for your future comments to appear.

      1) Where in the Bible does Jesus teach his followers to commit these atrocities? There needs to be a direct connection. There is a concept of just war in Christianity, (i.e. – World War 2, or the US Civil War), but it doesn’t even come close to providing justification for crusades, and it wouldn’t be ordered by the church, either. What does Paul say about imposing Christian morality on non-Christians?

      2) On what basis are these atrocities wrong on atheism? “Empathy” just means that you personally do not like it. I am asking you what is the mode of existence of the moral rule that applies to all people in all times such that humans are obliged not to engage in such activities? Be specific. Where is this moral prescription, on atheism? It seems to me that these actions are NOT forbidden on atheism in any objective way.

      3) Suppose you were alive during the Crusade. How would you rationally justify opposing the Crusade and then suffering the inevitable consequence for your opposition, on atheism? What rational sense would it make for you to take a stand then on something you denounce now? How can atheists expect to be taken seriously as moral authorities when their own worldview justifies keeping quiet about moral wrongs since there is no reason to do the right thing on atheism?

      4) What is the atheist explanation for free will, with is required for moral choices and moral responsibility?

      5) What is the atheist explanation for the ultimate significance of moral or immoral actions? What does it matter on atheism? Is it not like discussing ice cream flavors on atheism, since there is nothing objective to discuss? How does acting morally affect the destination of you or anyone else, on atheism?

      Be sure and read this post in which I contrast a famous authentic, consistent Christian and a famous authentic, consistent non-Christian from history.

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      1. i did, there was no evidence that Hitler was an evolutionist, if anything he hated evolution he supported the belief that aryans where created by God SEPERATELY from all the other races nor that he was non-Christian. Hitler and Himmler were clearly NOT athiests. Himmler was obssesed with occult nonsense hardly athiest

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        1. Here is a professor of history who wrote a book on it:
          http://www.csustan.edu/history/faculty/weikart/fromdarwintohitler.htm

          Lecture by the professor about the book here:


          Richard Weikart is professor of modern European history at California State University, Stanislaus. He has lived in Germany over five years, including one year on a Fulbright Fellowship. He has published two previous books, including Socialist Darwinism: Evolution in German Socialist Thought from Marx to Bernstein (1999), as well as articles in German Studies Review, Journal of the History of Ideas, Isis, European Legacy, and History of European Ideas.

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  3. So much so that I will only comment on a few examples.

    Naturally: since you likely have no answers for the vast, vast majority of the cases cited, you will attempt to hone in on one the one area where you might have read an article in a magazine or taken, once again, as gospel truth something from a historian with an axe to grind. (Hell, I’ll be the first one to admit there is a wide latitude on deaths during the Inquisition but, any way you slice it, even the most die-hard revisionisnt historian would not peg those deaths at any greater than about 10k over that time period.)

    Furthermore, laughing off the issue of body counts is sick and pretty much says a lot for how ‘moral’ you are as an individual (let’s forget that you’re an atheist for a moment and ask yourself a question: would most of the atheists you know discount the sheer, a-religious, slaughter of the 20th century as meaningless when it was more than 1000x (!!) the body count of a series of defensive wars launched over centuries while atheist regimes managed to rack up their obscene body counts over about a 60 year period.) You are basically implying that Hitler’s acts against Jews in WWII is on a moral par with the Columbine killings, simply because some people died in both instances.

    Listen: if you can’t muster a point-for-point refuation (which I see WK has called you out on in a subsequent post) why bother at all? It just betrays the weakness of your argument or your ability to make an argument as you probably aren’t intelltectually equipped to have this debate in any meaningful sense. More likely you are simply upset that he ‘dared’ call out a philosophy that has done more harm to the world than any other in recorded human history and by mountain-clearing leaps and bounds.

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  4. “the reason why body count matters is because atheist ideas lead naturally to mass murder, as I argued. ” No, they most definitely DO NOT! How does secular humanism lead to mass murder? It is in direct opposition to it! As an atheist, I have absolutely no wish to kill. Why do you think that might be?

    “1) Where in the Bible does Jesus teach his followers to commit these atrocities?” I’ve never said it does, of course. Remember, I do not subscribe to the idea that either religion nor atheism does. Atheism is simply the position that there are no gods. No moral philosophy here, though for some reason you seem to think there is. The problem is that being a Christian is no bar to committing atrocities. Neither is atheism. Where does that leave your argument? In shambles, actually. Religious and nonreligious alike commit crimes against humanity and always for some ideal.

    “What does Paul say about imposing Christian morality on non-Christians?” Would that all Christians thought so. There would be no such thing as the so-called New Atheism. I used to think that being an atheist and not speaking up was the right thing to do. The problem is that this view is predicated on the assumption that others would feel the same way. They don’t. Hence from a purely survival point of view we had no choice but to make sure that society recognized that a significant portion of its members do not believe and the creation of a theocracy out of secular government institutions is unacceptable, and is actually harmful to believers as well.

    “…but it doesn’t even come close to providing justification for crusades, and it wouldn’t be ordered by the church, either.” You have GOT to be kidding. The Albigensian Crusades were the result of a DIRECT order from Pope Innocent III (I love the names these guys take on for themselves – they bear little resemblance to the nature of their actions)!

    “2) On what basis are these atrocities wrong on atheism? ” As I’ve stated, you mistake the position of atheism for a philosophy. This is just not so. Similarly, atheism is not a moral position. It is simply the position that there are no gods. I know no atheist who would claim anything more than that. Fortunately, no one, not even atheists, needs morality supplied to them. Do you not feel bad when you do something bad? Similarly, do you not feel good when you do something good? As a result of our having evolved in a social setting, we have developed what we call morality in response to a need to interact co-operatively with other members within a group. For a much more thorough treatment of this, see Shermer’s The Science of Good & Evil and Hauser’s Moral Minds. Even had I had no answer to why atheists renounce atrocities, it is of no matter. The problem for you is that we do! That you do not understand it within a religious framework should be telling you something. (Along the lines that a religious framework is unnecessary for morality. But somehow I don’t think you will see that.)

    The concept of reciprocity predicts that I would not commit such atrocities because I would not want to undergo such treatment myself. Morals aren’t something we consciously calculate. We do not come up with them before hand, but rationalize them after-the-fact. This is why we feel good when we do good. We have no need to consciously come up with what is good and bad prior to acting. How we feel about it is how evolution gets us to do acts of good and try to avoid acting badly. This is not conjecture, but an active area of research. The framework is there. We’re just filling in the details.

    “How can atheists expect to be taken seriously as moral authorities when their own worldview justifies keeping quiet about moral wrongs since there is no reason to do the right thing on atheism?” Now this is just [very very wrong]. I am hardly quiet when it comes to being outraged at moral wrongs. Read my blogs. I am infuriated with religious nonsense killing people in Africa by interfering with sound public health policy. Millions will die as a result of a pope (completely lacking in credibility on the subject) denouncing condom use. You have no idea at the feeling of outrage that I have over this.

    The question is irrelevant – again, the problem is not whether atheists have or have not justification to speak out against moral wrongs, but that we indeed do so. If you can’t understand why, this is not my problem. Hint: There are a lot of clues in this response. If you can’t figure it out, try a change of viewpoint. Second hint: Invert the question.

    “4) What is the atheist explanation for free will, with is required for moral choices and moral responsibility?” I have yet to see a good definition of ‘free will’. As such, this question can not be answered as put. If by free will you mean choosing form an infinite number of possibilities, I reject the concept. We would be paralyzed into inaction if background processes of the brain didn’t make the decision for us. Decision making is a far, FAR more difficult process to understand than most apologists have any idea about and neuroscience is now addressing.

    “5) What is the atheist explanation for the ultimate significance of moral or immoral actions?” This just begs the question: is there ultimate significance of moral or immoral actions? No, I can’t see any reason for there being such a thing. What is there to suggest that there would be? It’s like the concept of ultimate justice – nice idea, but what makes anyone think there is such a thing? Why should there be just because you want it to be so?

    As to how acting morally affects my ‘destination’, it makes me what I think and I hope is a better person. This to me is the purpose of life – to better oneself. Unless you mean that it gives me a key into some nebulous and unsubstantiated afterlife, which I reject. I only get one shot at life and I had better make it count, so that when I get old I can look back and be satisfied and feel good about my run at it. If that’s a problem for others, well, screw them. I have yet to see a religious principle which is remotely necessary to this end.

    Here’s one for you: if I don’t subscribe to any religious framework, why is it that I do try to act in a manner which would be deemed good when (according to you) I have no reason to do so? (Here I am asking you to accept as stated that I do act morally, of course. I have never been imprisoned for a crime, I clear my neighbors’ sidewalk and driveway of snow in winter with no expectation of reward, I am kind to others, I am not a sociopath as many believers view atheists, I am empathetic to the plight of others, etc.) Certainly, I don’t feel the need to justify myself to anyone else. I am by far the harshest critic of my own actions. Why should that be so? This is a question that always confounds believers and the answer to which I haven’t the least bit interest in learning except is a purely intellectual exercise.

    Of course, this whole conversation is predicated on the idea that religion makes one a moral person. This is the logical fallacy we all know and love as ‘begging the question’. Does it?

    The truth of the matter is that believers need this to be so, else the perceived need for religion as a moral compass disappears in a puff of smoke. If you want to believe for belief’s sake, fine. I’m a secular humanist and as such believe everyone is entitled to that so long as it harms no one else or interferes with the beliefs of others. (I’m presuming you understand the difference between atheism and secularism – many do not.) But to call atheists pariahs is rather insulting and unsubstantiated. It is idealism to the extent where people are no longer considered is what we need to avoid. Whether it is based in religion or atheism is immaterial.

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    1. “As an atheist, I have absolutely no wish to kill. Why do you think that might be?”

      To you, murder might be a matter of wish. To Christians, it’s not just wishy washy, but it is immoral and sinful to murder, that’s why Christians don’t wish to commit murder.

      The mass murderers mentioned by Wintery were simply atheists who wish to kill as opposed to those who don’t wish to kill.

      “Here’s one for you: if I don’t subscribe to any religious framework, why is it that I do try to act in a manner which would be deemed good”

      If you could tell us, that would be great, because that is a great mystery.

      Nietzche would laugh at the so called ‘New Atheists’. The old atheists knew there is no morality in atheism. The new atheists just like to try to have their cake and eat it too.

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  5. Communism did not arise from atheism. In fact, some of the first communists were Christians, and there are even Christian communists today. Communism actually owes an intellectual debt to Christians and the Bible. You can read more in my article on atheism and communist atrocities found here. More articles debating Christian apologists Dinesh D’Souza and Dr. David Aikman can be found at my site too (yes, these guys actually responded to me).

    It’s interesting you quote Dr. Rummel as a source for your views. Do you know what else he wrote?

    Q: Is atheism the principal factor in democide, such as that committed by the “Big Three,” Stalin, Mao, and Hitler?

    A: No. I find that religion or its lack – atheism – have hardly anything to do in general with wide-scale democide. The most important factor is totalitarian power. Whether a church, atheists, or agnostics have that power is incidental – it is having the power that is a condition of democide. Incidentally, some ideologies, such as communism, function psychologically and sociologically as though a religion. The only distinction is whether the subject is a god or a man, such as Marx, Lenin, Hirohito, Hitler, Mohammed, Kim Ill sung, Mao, etc.

    Your view is explicitly debunked by the very scholar you use to support it.

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    1. I trust Rummel’s numbers, not his personal opinions about the numbers. All totalitarian systems that murdered massive numbers of people have been atheistic, because the content of the worldview (materialism) does not forbid it. Atheism does not have a ground for human rights, human dignity, etc. The content of the worldview makes the murders possible.

      Communism is a system of economics built upon materialist atheism. No Christian can believe in atheism, the two are mutually exclusive. Marx himself wrote about atheism and he was an aggressive atheist. His economic views emerged directly from his metaphysics. That is why Marx wrote that “religion is the opium of the people”, while the New Testament says that if a man does not work, neither shall he eat. The New Testament values private charity.

      Here is a citation from a communist web site:

      In the body of his study Marx pointed out that: “The proofs of the existence of God are either mere hollow tautologies… all proofs of the existence of God are proofs of his non-existence.” (Marx, The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature, 1841, MECW 1.)

      Others were publishing more strident arguments against religion and in favour of humanism at the time. For example Ludwig Feuerbach published The Essence of Christianity (1841), which argued that the root of religion was man (meaning humanity). Bauer wrote the pamphlet, The trumpet of the last judgment on Hegel (1841), denying that Jesus was an historical figure and defending atheism.

      In 1841 Marx and Bauer planned to publish a radical philosophical periodical, Archives of Atheism. The views of some contemporaries give some indication of the scope of their project.

      Arnold Ruge wrote: “Bruno Bauer, Karl Marx, Christiansen and Feuerbach are forming a new montagne and are making atheism their slogan. God, religion, immortality are cast down from their thrones and man is proclaimed God.”

      And Georg Jung wrote to Ruge: “If Marx, Bruno Bauer and Feuerbach associate to found a theological-philosophical review, God would do well to surround himself with all the angels and indulge in self-pity, for these three will certainly drive him out of his heaven… For Marx, at any rate, the Christian religion is one of the most immoral there is.” (David McLellan, Marx before Marxism, 1970)

      Flowing from his atheism, Marx opposed organised religion and the role of religion in politics. A flavour of Marx’s attitude can be gleaned from his journalism at the time.

      In his Comments on The Latest Prussian Censorship Instruction (1842) he wrote:

      “Hence either forbid religion to be introduced at all into politics — but you don’t want that, for you want to base the state not on free reason, but on faith, religion being for you the general sanction for what exists – or allow also the fanatical introduction of religion into politics. Let religion concern itself with politics in its own way, but you don’t want that either. Religion has to support the secular authority, without the latter subordinating itself to religion. Once you introduce religion into politics, it is intolerable, indeed irreligious, arrogance to want to determine secularly how religion has to act in political matters. He who wants to ally himself with religion owing to religious feelings must concede it the decisive voice in all questions, or do you perhaps understand by religion the cult of your own unlimited authority and governmental wisdom?” (MECW 1)

      And in “The Leading Article” in No. 179 of the Kölnische Zeitung (1842), Marx accused the Prussian state of disseminating Christian dogma, criticised the police and the censor for protecting religion and insisted that no distinction should be made between religion as belief and the religious establishment. (MECW 1)

      Religion is “the opium of the people”

      Bhattacharyya seeks to downplay the essential Marxist criticism of religion, summed up by Marx’s famous aphorism that it is “the opium of the people”, by emphasising religion as a protest against real suffering.

      It’s a good comment, because it gives me a chance to plug Jay Richards’ new book from HarperCollins. Now Jay Richards is a Princeton education theologian and philosopher, who writes books about the nature of God. Whatever he says about whether Christianity is more compatible with capitalism or communism should be considered authoritative for Christians. His specialty is explaining what is and is not compatible with orthodox Christianity, and he is the best.

      —-
      Money, Greed and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem

      Does capitalism promote greed? Can a person follow Jesus’s call to love others and also support capitalism? Was our recent economic crisis caused by flaws inherent to our free market system? Jay Richards presents a new approach to capitalism, revealing how it’s fully consistent with Jesus’s teachings and the Christian tradition, while also showing why this system is our best bet for renewed economic vigor.

      The church is bombarded with two competing messages about money and capitalism:

      * wealth is bad and causes much of the world’s suffering
      * wealth is good and God wants you to prosper and be rich

      Richards exposes these myths, and other common misconceptions about capitalism, and reveals the surprising ways that capitalism is, in fact, the best system to respond to the biblical mandates of alleviating poverty and protecting the environment. Money, Greed, and God equips readers to take practical steps in their own lives to conduct business, worship God, and serve others without falling into the “prosperity gospel” trap.

      —-
      You can listen to a good lecture featuring Jay Richards on the agreement between Christianity and capitalism here.

      —-
      And don’t forget agnostic historian/sociologist Rodney Stark’s book: “The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success“.

      So, I think you’re mistaken. What is that noise I hear? The theme from Jaws? Oh, my God! Run! It’s ECM! He’s coming for you!

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  6. Communism did not arise from atheism.

    I’d say he makes a more compelling argument than you do, unless we’re supposed to simply take you at your word.

    In fact, some of the first communists were Christians, and there are even Christian communists today.

    Wow, no kidding: you’re telling me that in a day and age when Christianity was as ubiquitous as the preening of religious atheists on the Internet that some of them might just be Christians? Wow, my mind is, like, totally blown.

    Of course there is the sticky points that WK makes and the simple fact that, based on the quotes below (and writings and beliefs) of the arch-priests of communism that the two are painfully and obviously mutually-exclusive but, hey, you’re making a point here…I think…so to hell with intellectual honesty.

    Communism actually owes an intellectual debt to Christians and the Bible. You can read more in my article on atheism and communist atrocities found here.

    Again, so what? Most of the philosophies in human history owe a debt, no matter how potentially perverse, to the ones that came before and is, generally, what one might call ‘progress.’ (Though i’ll be the first to admit that ‘progress’ isn’t a good unto itself.) As a key example, does it bother you that science, as we understand it, owes a tremendous debt to Christianity, i.e. it wouldn’t exist in the terms we comprehend without its influence.?

    More articles debating Christian apologists Dinesh D’Souza and Dr. David Aikman can be found at my site too (yes, these guys actually responded to me).

    And (again!) so what? What does that have to do with what you’re arguing here? I mean, other than self-promotion and/or auto-ego stroking.

    With all that said, though, I figured I’d pull some quotes from the leading lights on communism to show the depths of their tolerance and belief in religion and how that might make Christian communists (whatever they are) sorely confused at best and devious liars using Christianity as a foil to make converts at worst:

    Marx:


    The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is indeed the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man, state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

    Lenin:


    Religion is one of the forms of spiritual oppression which everywhere weighs down heavily upon the masses of the people, over burdened by their perpetual work for others, by want and isolation. Impotence of the exploited classes in their struggle against the exploiters just as inevitably gives rise to the belief in a better life after death as impotence of the savage in his battle with nature gives rise to belief in gods, devils, miracles, and the like. Those who toil and live in want all their lives are taught by religion to be submissive and patient while here on earth, and to take comfort in the hope of a heavenly reward. But those who live by the labor of others are taught by religion to practice charity while on earth, thus offering them a very cheap way of justifying their entire existence as exploiters and selling them at a moderate price tickets to well-being in heaven. Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.

    Mao Zedong:

    But, of course, religion is poison. It has two great defects. It undermines the race (and) retards the progress of the country. Tibet and Mongolia have been poisoned by it.

    (Note: having read several of your blog posts, I am fairly certain you would agree with the statement ‘religion is poison’, yes? Incidentally, this is why most blogs like this one require comment moderation: far too many religious atheists are unable to be civil and decent in debate, even when they are busily assuring the rest of us that they have lots of “empathy” for those with which they disagree.)

    Anyway, those are just a few of the big-time communists (you can, I’m sure, dig up more from, say, monsters like Pol Pot and Stalin) and how they view religion and not a one of them has a kind word for it. It’s also painfully clear that communism sees relgiion as an arch-rival that must be stomped out of existence with extreme prejudice, and that one of the pillars of communism is, obviously (yes, obviously), rabid, blood-thirsty, atheism–how anyone that’s read the Communist Manifesto or the writings and speeches of any number of communist leaders could believe otherwise calls into question the intellectual honesty of the individual in question.

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  7. 100 million? The Soviet Union had AT MOST a population of 160 million at any time during Stalin’s rule. The consensus today seems to be about 20 million

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    1. Yes, yes. That is the total for all communist regimes. Sorry if I was unclear. If you dispute the book blame Harvard University Press, not me!

      Excerpt:

      As the death toll mounts—as many as 25 million in the former Soviet Union, 65 million in China, 1.7 million in Cambodia, and on and on—the authors systematically show how and why, wherever the millenarian ideology of Communism was established, it quickly led to crime, terror, and repression. An extraordinary accounting, this book amply documents the unparalleled position and significance of Communism in the hierarchy of violence that is the history of the twentieth century.

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  8. Religion today is every bit as violent and dangerous as it was in the Dark and Middle-Ages.

    Within the last fifteen to twenty years we have:

    Palestine–Jews vs. Muslims

    Balkans-Orthodox Serbians vs. Catholic Croatians & Orthodox Serbians vs. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims

    Northern Ireland-Protestants vs. Catholic

    Kashmir-Muslims vs. Hindus

    Sudan-Muslims vs. Christians and Animists

    Nigeria-Muslims vs. Christians

    Ethiopia and Eritrea-Muslims vs. Christians

    Sri-Lanka-Sinhalese Buddhists vs. Tamil Hindus
    Indonesia-Muslims vs. Timorese Christians

    Caucuses-Russian Orthodox vs. Chechen Muslims and Muslim Azerbaijanis vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians

    India vs. Pakistan-Muslim vs. Hindu-they have already fought 3 wars against each other and now both of these countries have nuclear weapons.

    Of course there are the religious wars in Europe in the Dark and Middle Ages

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    1. You don’t get it: even if we grant you that everything you wrote in this post is accurate (and, good lord, it is not even close), the body count racked up during wars in the 20th century alone dwarf the religious ones. Period. Full stop. End of line. Hell, if we decide to go back and start including wars prior to the 20th century launched w/o an overtly religious motivation, it gets even worse by several more orders of magnitude.

      This site does a solid job of collecting the relevant body counts though it is a bit out of date and the numbers aren’t entirely accurate but it should give everyone here a general idea of how ridiculous your post really is:

      http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat0.htm

      I suggest everyone take a look at (Possibly) The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other at the beginning of that link and then, doing some quick math (and even being very generous with what you would describe as ‘religious’ warfare) and you tell me whether religiously-motivated warfare is remotely as bloody as that waged by avowed atheists.

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    2. Thanks for your comment. Keep in mind that I am a Protestant Christian, but I will defend all of Christianity from charges.

      Here’s what we need to see from you.

      1) Body counts for each of these wars and then compare them to the 100 million dead from atheism.
      2) Proof that these wars are motivated by religion not just territorial disputes. (HINT: Virtually all of the ones you name are territorial disputes)
      3) Citations from the Bible showing where Christians are taught to engage in wars with other religions.
      4) Citations from the Bible showing where Jesus engaged in wars with other religions.

      I await your reply. Right now the score is ZERO to 100 million for your team.

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      1. athiesm was not respoinbile for killing all those people as Athiesm is not a belief system in its self its only a part of one’s worldview just because a person has a worldview that causes mass murder doesnt mean that each indivudual part is equally responisble, a fallacy of division

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