Pope Blames Atheism for Concentration Camps

I’m going to quote, without commentary, what the Pope had to say on Thursday about atheism.

If one basic type of violence today is religiously motivated and thus confronts religions with the question as to their true nature and obliges all of us to undergo purification, a second complex type of violence is motivated in precisely the opposite way: as a result of God’s absence, his denial and the loss of humanity which goes hand in hand with it. The enemies of religion – as we said earlier – see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.


The absence of God leads to the decline of man and of humanity. But where is God? Do we know him, and can we show him anew to humanity, in order to build true peace? Let us first briefly summarize our considerations thus far. I said that there is a way of understanding and using religion so that it becomes a source of violence, while the rightly lived relationship of man to God is a force for peace. In this context I referred to the need for dialogue and I spoke of the constant need for purification of lived religion. On the other hand I said that the denial of God corrupts man, robs him of his criteria and leads him to violence.

LINK (HT: Godless in Italy)

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    'The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.'

    So the Pope proclaims the abscence of his God.

    Does that make the Pope a Holocaust-denier or a God denier or just a confused person who claims that if his god had been present, there would have been no concentration camps.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    Of course, it should be remembered that the Hitler Youth was by no means a wicked organisation, nor an organisation full to the brim with atheists.

    This news came to light seconds after Ratzinger became Pope.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00843758098631948181 Scout

    I find it very unfortunate that the Pope chose to link atheism, and by implication atheists, with the Nazis and the Holocaust in this way. He would have caused less offence if he had clarified what he meant by "the denial of God". If he had explained that what he means by God is similar to what an atheist means by "conscience", then it would make more sense (a denial of conscience might reasonably be assumed to be a precursor to commiting immoral deeds).

    The Vatican has talked a lot lately about dialogue with non-believers and the so-called "Courtyard of the Gentiles". They would make more progress if they showed a little more sensitivity to those who do not believe in God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15388641094600576251 Canadian Atheist

    Amazing that, even in this day and age, there is such a complete and utter misunderstanding of basic concepts such as atheism, humanity, and morality by someone who supposedly dedicates his whole life to understanding these sorts of issues.

    "[God's] denial and the loss of humanity which goes hand in hand with it."

    Isn't this a completely contradictory statemant? It is only through the loss of God that we recognize our humanity.

    "…when a man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself,…"

    Why does the lack of deities necessarily mean that people don't recognize any criterion (for morality) above themselves? Atheism is not the rejection of morality, but rather the notion that morality is inherently human. It is greater (above) oneself. It just doesn't come from a deity.

    Sheesh.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07119585338894781537 jdmagness

    This is astonishing given the well-documented historical complicity of the Catholic Church in Nazi-ism and fascism generally. This man's capacity for intellectual dishonesty and outright prevarication knows no bounds.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    There were no concentration camps for POWs when Joshua led the nation of Israel to conquer various cities and kingdoms, because of a command of the God of peace: "But when you capture cities in the land that the LORD your God is giving you, kill everyone. Completely destroy all the people…as the LORD ordered you to do." (Deuteronomy 20:16&17).

    Joshua made sure this command from God was carried out: "With swords they killed everyone in the city, men and women, young and old. They also killed the cattle, sheep, and donkeys." (Joshua 6:21)

    I think it is important to note that the man the Pope worships as God-the-Son was named "Jesus" which is the Greek version of the Aramaic name "Yeshua", which was, in turn, the Aramaic version of the Hebrew name that is translated "Joshua".

    The man worshipped by the Pope was named after the greatly admired bloodthirsty Hebrew warrior who, according to the Old Testament, led the soldiers of Israel to slaughter men, women, girls, boys, babies, and even cattle and sheep, by the tens of thousands.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Note that when Hitler sent his soldiers in to conquer a city, they were not ordered to kill every living person in the city.

    So, Hitler was less bloodthirsty than Joshua, and Hitler showed more concern for the value of human lives than Joshua did.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06707383740611116793 A is for Atheist

    What the pope seems to forget is that the Germans operating the concentration camps were Christians–not atheists. The Germans used the Jews as their scapegoats and blamed them not only for their poverty (which was really caused by the fact the Treaty of Versailles required them to pay restitution for causing WWI) but also for killing Jesus. The Jews were a perfect scapegoat–allowing the Germans to inflict all sorts of tortures–and they were Christians.

    Hitler and his minions had deep Christian roots. The pope should know this–Hitler had his photo taken with the pope many times.

    Now, the pope is looking for a scapegoat to blame the declining numbers of "sheeple" in educated nations. Christians are always looking for a good scapegoat, or someone else to take the blame. Jesus taught them that. After all, he takes the responsibility for their actions so they don't have to.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11429893396102819272 Graham Oppy

    In 2006, about 65% of Germans claimed to be Christians. This percentage is lower than the corresponding figures in the 1920s and 1930s.

    Many Nazis called themselves Christians. Many senior members of the Christian churches — especially the Catholic Church — were Nazis.

    In 2006, perhaps 25% of Germans claim to have no religion. This percentage is undeniably much higher than the corresponding percentage in the 1920s and 1930s.

    Whatever one might say about the religious beliefs of the Nazi leadership, it is clear that the majority of Nazis called themselves Christians. (Ditto for the majority of those who fought in the German armies, staffed the German death camps, and so forth.) Equally, whatever one might say about the religious beliefs of the Nazi leadership, it is clear that at most a small minority of Nazis declared themselves to have no religion.

    It is also clear that the percentage of Nazis who called themselves "atheists" would have been minuscule — ditto for German soldiers, and those who staffed the German death camps.

    It is not easy to see how to reconcile these facts with the statements made by the Pope.

    Of course, we can say that people can unintentionally mislabel themselves: you might call yourself — and sincerely believe yourself to be — a "Christian" / ("Atheist) even though you aren't really a Christian / Atheist.

    But, if that's how we play, then it seems that all claims about Christians and Atheists become vapid. Perhaps — despite his sincere avowals to the contrary — the Pope is not a Christian. How could you (or he) tell?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13609656346736636990 Luke Talley

    Canadian Atheist,

    I wanted to take up conversation with your comment, "Why does the lack of deities necessarily mean that people don't recognize any criterion (for morality) above themselves? Atheism is not the rejection of morality, but rather the notion that morality is inherently human. It is greater (above) oneself. It just doesn't come from a deity."

    First question, can you explain how morality is greater than oneself? Second, where does this sense of morality come from? Does it resemble a conscience or some innate feeling that cannot be explained? Is it immaterial? And finally, how do you know that it can be trusted?

    As you can see, I find it hard to understand where you are coming from. It seems that you would like to say things that are privy to what a theist would say in connection to morality, but you would just like to delete God out of the argument. It isn't really that simple, is it?

    Here are my main problems with your understanding of morality. First, who ultimately decides what is objectively right in regards to morality? Whose notion of morality is the most keen and accurate? Second, if we live in a materialistic universe, where did this immaterial notion of morality come from? Is it just a production of our purely natural evolutionary upbringing? If so, how can we trust it to tell us the truth about morality? If survival of the fittest is true, would this notion not merely direct us to choose morally whatever would advance us ahead in the world?

    I could go further, but these questions will suffice. I would be interested to hear how you would respond to such questions. Thanks.

    Sheesh.


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