Blast from the Past: 10 Most Popular Posts from 2009

1. “Atheist Atrocities?”

2. “The Constitutional Rights, Privileges, and Immunities of the American People”

3. “Stupid Philosopher Tricks”

4. “Is It Possible to be a Muslim Atheist?”

5. “Russell vs. Copleston on the Moral Argument”

6. “Theism and the Genetic Fallacy”

7. “Atheism and the Meaning of Life”

8. “A Disproof of God”

9. “The Logic of the Trilemma”

10. “Are Climate-Change Deniers as Bad as Creationists?”

Critical Thinking is Bigotry
Evolution vs. The Argument from Providence
ISIS Violence IS Religious
Interview with Prof. Axgrind
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.

  • David B Marshall

    I think the first article here is better than most on that subject. It does not pretend that Stalin was inspired by his seminary professors, or anything silly like that. It also makes a useful distinction between atheism or theism, on the one hand, and developed ideologies — I would say religions — like Christianity and Marxism-Leninism. I agree that the latter, not the former, are what usually inspire people to both good and bad.

    But it should be remembered that the communist record is often introduced (by me, anyway) as a response to frequent mentions by skeptics of the Inquisition. Dawkins' whole argument sometimes seems to consist of pretending every modern American Presyberian hides a rack with an atheist on it in his basement. I was accused of wanting to murder atheists just a few days ago. McGrath may be responding to this tendency.

    Also, it is a simple fact that most modern atheists have been communists, or acquired their atheism by communist indoctrination. Secular humanists may be more common in the West, but they are a minority world-wide. (See my recent blogs on China, at

    Then the author tries a bit of counter-attack:

    "But belief systems that insisted upon doctrinal purity, and enjoined obedience in thought, word, and deed did not enter the world with the rise of naturalism and humanism. Such systems are the legacy of belief in One God, One Creed, One Church, and One Law."

    Actually, the most totalitarian and cruelest states in the ancient world were polytheistic. The emperor Qin in China, for example, helped to overthrow the more tolerant theism of the Zhou, with his cruel brand of superstition. Most human sacrifice came within a polytheistic context, though admittedly the Shang believed in one Supreme God. (Not the object of those sacrifices, though, I don't think.)

    Greece was better than most, not because it was "pagan," (a meaningless word — many Greeks were effective monotheists, or monolatrists), but because it was pluralistic, a network of city-states within an overweaning cultural nexis.

    But I'm glad I found this site. As seems usual here, this is a more thoughtful than usual atheist argument on the subject, one that requires thought to rebut, rather than just hitting the ping-pong ball back to the other side of the table.

  • Keith Parsons

    "Greece was better than most, not because it was "pagan,"…but because it was pluralistic, a network of city-states within an overweaning cultural nexis. [sic. "nexus"]."

    Rome at the time of Christ was not a hodgepodge of city states, but a unified, highly bureaucratized empire. Yet in Rome at that time there were temples dedicated to the worship of many foreign gods and goddesses, including Isis and Cybele. Devotees worshiped freely at these temples and with no fear of persecution. Such a situation would have been simply inconceivable in the Rome of 1500 years later. Why? Why was pagan Rome so much more tolerant and pluralistic than Christian Rome of 1500 A.D.? We all know the answer, so there is no need to belabor the point.

    Do monotheistic, or at least henotheistic, religions tend towards intolerance and anti-pluralism? Well, gee, I have it on the best possible authority that they do–the Bible. The unifying theme of the Old Testament is the repeated effort to impose the worship of Yahweh, and Yahweh alone, on the Hebrew people. Time and again the OT celebrates and strongly advocates the suppression and persecution of the worship of Baal, golden calves, etc., and elevates as heroes those who smash "idols" and kill idol-worshipers. Yahweh is consistently depicted as a jealous god who will have no other gods before him. Again, persecution of all other worship is not grudgingly admitted–it is praised and extolled as the highest virtue. The "holy prophets" were those who cried loudest for intolerance. If Mr. Marshall denies any of this, his argument is with Scripture, not with me.

    Well, maybe it was not monotheism per se that made the OT zealots so fiercely intolerant and murderous. Maybe it was some cultural or historical peculiarity of the time and place. However, to assert this is to admit that, for whatever reason, the Judaeo-Christian version of monotheism has deep roots in intolerance. I would be happy to accept that concession.

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