Stalin Was a Mass Murderer, And I’m Not Too Sure About Myself

Stalin Was a Mass Murderer, And I’m Not Too Sure About Myself April 27, 2015

Stalin is a popular marionette for many Christian apologists. “Don’t tell me about Christian atrocities during the Crusades or the Inquisition,” they’ll say. “The atheist regimes in the twentieth century of Stalin, Mao, and others killed far more people!”

Fellow Patheos blogger John Mark Reynolds from the Evangelical channel recently put forth a new angle on that: “Hoping Atheists (Or at Least Anti-Theists) Do Not Kill Us This Time.” Apparently, you’ve got to keep an eye on those out-of-control atheists to make sure they don’t kill us all.

Stalin genocide atheists anti-theistsThe connection between atheism and genocide

Reynolds makes clear that he’s not fearful of all atheists. It’s only the anti-theists, which he defines as atheists who “actively dislike and work against religion.” That’s me. If you’re in the same boat (or know someone who is), come along as we find out why “these are the atheists that have proven dangerous in power and are worrisome to civil society.”

Reynolds gives three reasons for connecting anti-theists with genocide.

1. “The atheists of Russia, China, North Korea, Cambodia, [and] Albania came to their atheism and then picked a social and economic system compatible with their general worldview.”

Nope. These were dictatorships, and religion was a problem. You can’t have a proper dictatorship with the church as an alternate authority. Solution: eliminate religion. Atheism was merely a tool.

The only nations that have been officially atheistic have been uniformly horrible.

And they’ve all been dictatorships. Let’s put the blame where it belongs. This mistake is like pointing to Stalin and Hitler and saying, “It’s the mustaches! Men with mustaches have killed millions!

2. “Atheism was used as a reason for persecution in all of these nations.”

Control was the reason for persecution in dictatorships. Atheism was just a tool, like a scalpel used to murder.

Reynolds next goes on a poorly thought out rant about morality.

  • There is no check against genocide in atheism. And there is no check against genocide in chemistry, either. Neither has a moral rulebook. Atheism is the simple lack of god belief, not a worldview, and it neither advocates nor rejects genocide. Christianity, by contrast, does have a moral rulebook, and it sucks. Next, Reynolds claims that Christianity has a “built-in check on genocide,” which is completely false. God luvs him some genocide and demanded it often in the Old Testament.
  • “Christians are told to love their enemies.” If you go into the Bible looking for this, you can indeed find it, but Reynolds imagines that this is an unambiguous, unadulterated message in the Bible. It’s not. Did you hear about the American pastor who demanded that we be consistent with the Bible and stone gays a few weeks ago? Not so loving.
  • “An anti-theist creates his own values.” And Christians don’t? There is nothing in the Bible about transgender people, euthanasia, or chemically induced abortions, and Christians must improvise in response to new situations just like the rest of us.
  • Not all atheists are selfish, though they aren’t acting decently because of atheism. Atheists are decent for the same reason you are—how you are programmed as a Homo sapiens and the influence of your environment and society.

3. “There is a nearly perfect track record of officially atheist states killing large numbers of innocent people to this day. When atheists gain power and can impose an anti-theism, they have always started killing people.

You’ve convinced me: dictatorships are a problem. But you have yet to show atheism as a cause of anything.

Reynolds imagines the powerless atheists saying that they would rule more sensibly than the Christians if given the chance, but “large mass movements dedicated to selfishness or to ideology ([Ayn] Rand or Communism) have [no] external authority to allow the common member of society to rebuke the leaders.” But you do? Christians imagine an objective morality that isn’t there.

A bad bishop can be rebuked based on professed Christian beliefs.

A bad bishop’s actions can also be supported by Christian beliefs. “Love your neighbor” and rules for slavery are both in the Bible.

A bad atheist cannot [be rebuked] since atheism has no creed or necessary beliefs beyond not believing in God, a life force, or a higher power.

Bingo! And your argument is now in a heap at your feet. Atheism is a lack of god belief; that’s it. No one has ever been killed in the name of atheism.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Christianity.

My analysis of Reynolds’ argument is concluded in part 2.

God used floods and plagues to kill people.
Why command the Israelites to do the dirty work?
That’s not a god, it’s a Godfather.
— commenter Greg G.

Image credit: Wikimedia

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  • Roger

    You cannot kill because of a lack of belief in god but you can kill because you think religion should be eliminated from society. Your comparison to moustaches is ridiculous because none of these people killed because they had moustaches, but many did kill because they wanted to eliminate religion from society. Its true that there were other ideological things at play here but you cant absolve anti-theist sentiment because it is not an isolated cause without doing the same when condemning killing in the name of religion. When a muslim kills westerners, we still put the blame on his religion even though his actions might also be motivated by a reaction to the unjust killing of civilians on the middle east and the continued interference of the west in the region.

    Not all anti-theists or religious people kill, but these are both beliefs that can be used to justify killing. To say otherwise would be disingenuous.

    • Greg G.

      Your comparison to moustaches is ridiculous because none of these people killed because they had moustaches, but many did kill because they wanted to eliminate religion from society.

      But dictatorships which draw power by religion eliminate other religions. And many of those dictators had mustaches, too. Mustaches aren’t a motive to kill enemies and neither is atheism. Dictators kill opponents. If a religion opposes the dictator, the dictator will try to eliminate it.

      But religion can offer reasons to kill others who don’t accept it by saying God commands it and the followers will go along with it. Atheism can’t.

      • Roger

        I don’t know what you mean by atheism. If you mean a lack of belief in god, then of course it cant lead to kill, I made that very clear in my first sentence. If by atheism, you mean anti-theism, then it can absolutely lead people to kill.

        You are also putting the cart before the horse. Religion opposes the dictator in the same way that liberalism opposes the muslim extremist, it is the ideology of each group that help to vilify the opposing view point, not the other way around.

        It is also naive to claim that anti-theism cannot offer reasons to kill that follower will go along with when about 10 million people were killed as a result of this anti-theist sentiment in Russia just because they were Christians.

        • Greg G.

          A religion may oppose or favor a dictator, depending on whether the dictator is one of theirs. If a religion opposes the dictator, the dictator opposes that religion as a threat to his power whether or not he has anti-theistic tendencies. If the religion supports the dictator, he will use the religion to bolster his power whether or not he has anti-theistic tendencies.

          Stalin had 20 million people killed because he considered them a threat to his power. Some of them may have been Christians but it was not so much anti-theism but they were a possible organized threat to him.

        • XTheist

          To be fair, many Christians would contest that those who commit violence in the name of Christ are really doing so to increase their own power and control, and are not truly following Christ. How would you respond to that? Personally, I would begin by saying that the undue reverence which is afforded the Bible (which contains many atrocities painted as morally good) and the idea of having the creator of the universe on your side might be a worthwhile distinction to draw between secular power grabs and religious ones. I’m curious what your thoughts are though.

        • Roger

          The idea that since you have a creator on your side, you are capable of much more terrible attrocities just doesnt ring true if you study history. There are definetly many people who hold such unquestionable reverence for their religion, that they are able to do terrible things in the name of their religion. But this is something that can be exhibited in the name of many other ideologies.

          The number of attrocities in the last century brought about by religion pale in comparison to the number of attrocities brought about in the name of democracy, communism, conservatism, nationalism, freedom, fascism and many other ideologies and beliefs (some inherently good, some inherently bad) that people believe in and follow as much or more than they do their god.

          For example, only 2% of all terrorrist attacks in Europe have been religiously motivated: http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/01/08/3609796/islamist-terrorism-europe/

          So the idea that having a creator on your side might give more warrant for commiting violence is just not supported by the numbers.

        • Greg G.

          The number of attrocities in the last century brought about by religion pale in comparison to the number of attrocities…

          That is only because of the benefits of living in a post-Christian world. The populations have increased dramatically once humans became more scientific and less dependent on religion. The percentages of the populations killed in religious atrocities of the earlier times are greater than the percentages of 20th century populations.

        • Roger

          Let me connect the dots based on what you said:

          ¨ The populations have increased dramatically once humans became more scientific and less dependent on religion.¨

          And therefore:

          ¨The percentages of the populations killed in religious atrocities of the
          earlier times are greater than the percentages of 20th century
          populations.¨

          Yes, there are less religious wars now as opposed to the past because in general, people are less religious and populations have grown considerably which spreads the population and makes it a lot harder to kill as many people in one geographical area. It is very hard to use god to justify violence when you dont believe in god or you dont believe in god in the same way. Instead we justify violence with many other ideologies that can be as dangerous as religion.

          My point is that religion has no ideological benefit in bringin about violence. It makes no sense to say that religion gives people some sort of carte blance for comitting violence when the vast majority of people are religious but only a small minority terrorrism is done in the name of religion. The point here is that there are many ideologies that people use to bring about violence and religion does not have some inherent justifiable advantage in doing so.

        • adam

          “My point is that religion has no ideological benefit in bringin about violence.”

          Of course it does, that is one of the most effective ways to gain and use power as a political power.

          “It makes no sense to say that religion gives people some sort of carte blance for comitting violence when the vast majority of people are religious but only a small minority terrorrism is done in the name of religion.”

          It makes perfect sense that people are more moral than the gods they worship.

          The bible is VERY clear about what to do with gays:

          And yet MOST people will not put gays to death, because in reality they DON’T believe what the bible says, they believe what they WANT it so say.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          The quote forgets to mention that many Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the one speaking that quote.

        • adam

          Well of course.

          The problem is that if Jesus is not the monster god of the OT, then Jesus has no claim to divinity. And Jesus just becomes just another MAN mixing Jewish theology with a flair of Buddhism.

        • Greg G.

          My point is that religion has no ideological benefit in bringin about violence.

          Does it matter whether there is a benefit in bringing about violence. Religion can inspire violence with no benefit.

          You have the stories in the Old Testament of massacres for religious reasons as an example even if they are not true. You have the Thirty Years War. You have witch killings in Africa today by Christians for religious reasons. The Charlie Hebdo shootings were due to religion. This is a very short list. You can see anti-Catholic lists of violence in history. You can see anti-Protestant lists of violence in history. I’d rather not link them but don’t pretend such lists do not exist.

        • Roger

          You are attacking a strawman.

          Yes religion can inspire violence, I have never said anything to the contrary. If this is the point you wanted to make then you are wasting your time because I accepted this in my very first post. My point is that there is no intrinsic benefit in bringing about violence that religion has over most other ideologies and this is shown by the respective number of violent acts brought about by these ideologies. The Charlie Hebdo shootings killed 12 people. The number of ¨witches¨ killed in Africa is nothing compared to the number of people killed in the name of democracy or nationalism in the same span of time. The US by itself has killed more innocent people in recent times under the flag of freedom and democracy than ISIS could ever dream of.

        • I’m sure ISIS could dream of quite a lot.

          Who are these “innocent people” who are killed by the U.S.? Perhaps you’re thinking of people killed in wars (Iraq, etc.).

        • Roger

          ¨Who are these “innocent people” who are killed by the U.S.? Perhaps you’re thinking of people killed in wars (Iraq, etc.).¨

          Yes, among many other unwarranted and unjustified wars and military interventions enforced by citing positive ideologies.

        • adam

          “The idea that since you have a creator on your side, you are capable of much more terrible attrocities just doesnt ring true if you study history.”

          It certainly does when you believe your creator commands you to commit terrible atrocities:

          Kill Followers of Other Religions.

          1) If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do
          not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

          2) Suppose a man or woman among you, in one of your
          towns that the LORD your God is giving you, has done evil in the sight of the LORD your God and has violated the covenant by serving other gods or by worshiping the sun, the moon, or any of the forces of heaven, which I have strictly forbidden. When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then that man
          or woman must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. (Deuteronomy
          17:2-5 NLT)

        • adam

        • Greg G.

          To be fair, many Christians would contest that those who commit violence in the name of Christ are really doing so to increase their own power and control, and are not truly following Christ. How would you respond to that?

          Christians haven’t had that kind of great power in recent centuries but when the did have power, much blood was spilled. Inquisitions, Protestants and Catholics executing the other, Crusades, slavery in the South was based on OT principles at the beginning and continuously justified by the Bible by God-fearing Christians.

          Today, Christians in Africa are “not suffering witches to live.”

          I think all of those things were done by people who were convinced through religion that they were morally right.

        • Today, Christians in Africa are “not suffering witches to live.”

          Christians in Africa aren’t too keen on homosexuals, either.

        • adam

          “To be fair, many Christians would contest that those who commit violence in the name of Christ are really doing so to increase their own power and control, and are not truly following Christ.”

          If Christ is really the same god of the OT, how can you NOT follow him if you really ‘believe’?

          And Jesus as the OT god was very clear when you should kill people.

        • XTheist

          They would just say that that’s the Old Testament or something. I agree, it’s BS. I have a friend on Facebook who is constantly posting stuff about how the way of Jesus is inherently nonviolent. Sometimes I just wanna say “dude… you’re a heretic. If you worship a God who is nonviolent, you don’t worship the Trinity, end of story.”

        • adam

          Such are the problems with a ‘revealed’ religion, everyone HAS to create their own god in their own image. This explains the hypocrisy when you actually read their bible.

        • MNb

          Actually this proves that christianity does not necessarily lead to violence. We can hold this quote against them, of course, but not to argue that christians are morally inferior.

        • adam

          Well certainly not morally inferior to their ‘god’.

          But I will argue that christianity (because its god is the god of OT) does ‘lead’ to violence mearly by it’s divisive nature.
          The fundamental principle of this religion is to separate people, this along with the background of Leviticus et al, encourages the view that those who are culled from the herd are a threat.

        • MNb

          “But I will argue …..”
          You only can do that by ignoring a lot of historical facts – ie using the Ken Ham method. I’ll give you two examples.
          During the siege of Haarlem and Alkmaar in 1572 and 1573 the Dutch catholics fought side by side with the protestants against the catholic Spanish.
          During the religious wars of 1500-1650 catholic France fought consistently against catholic Habsburg and allied with protestant parties (like Sweden in the 30 Years War).
          Of course you can try to explain this away – ie use the Ken Ham method a bit more. Or you can accept the scientific method and accept that the facts refute your hypothesis.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          On one website called bad news for Christianity, I read about how both sides of one of these wars claimed to have had St. George miraculously appear to fight on their side. Disappointingly, there is no record that hilarity ensued.

        • Perhaps you’ve heard of the Angel of Mons in WWI.

          This fictional story was fictionalized at the end of Disney’s “Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Nope. I never heard of that, nor do I believe I have seen that Disney piece. I did find a compilation of Ghost stories at my Library once, which had an interesting story of its own. One of the stories was written by a journalist of some renown uring WWI. Basically, people began claiming this story that was published as fiction was actually true. When the author put out a rebuttal to the truther claims he lost his job… for printing libel. Who people won’t destroy just to believe (though as the compilation noted, after all the horrific death of WWI people were desperate for any indication that they might see their loved ones again). I’ll post about the author and that incident once I have more sleep and time to recover the info.

        • I wrote about the Angel of Mons story (quite interesting) here.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Holy shit, Bob! That’s the story and it’s author (I don’t specifically remember any angel of Mons mention from the compilation’s before the story history blurb, though). Holding history together even as one is writing it down is a crapshoot when people can just make it up.

        • adam

          You mean in the way you used “necessarily”?

          As their is even more evidence of when it has….

        • Roger

          ¨If Christ is really the same god of the OT, how can you NOT follow him if you really ‘believe’?

          And Jesus as the OT god was very clear when you should kill people.¨

          It will never cease to amaze me how the literal interpretation of the Bible by atheists is even more literal than that of most fundamentalists.

        • Steven Carr

          You , of course, don’t take ‘Love your enemies’ literally.

          And, unlike me, you regard people with different beliefs as ‘enemies’….

          Why did Jesus regard so many people as ‘enemies’, and expect Christians to also call so many many people ‘enemies’?

        • Roger

          ¨And, unlike me, you regard people with different beliefs as ‘enemies’ ¨

          This is wrong, pejorative, childish and just plain stupid. You dont have to agree with me and that is fine, but don´t show your hand with idiotic responses like this one.

        • Steven Carr

          Strange.

          Jesus said ‘Love your enemies’, but apparently it is idiotic to think that Jesus regarded people as ‘enemies’.

          Like to start again?

          Who did Jesus think were enemies? People who didn’t believe he was their Lord and Saviour and so he was going to send to Hell?

          If somebody says ‘Love your enemies’ , I know he is looking for people he can call ‘enemies’.

        • Roger

          Who said that it is idiotic to think that Jesus regarded people as enemies?

          Please quote me.

        • adam

          For me I am greatful that most christians are more moral than their ‘god’….

          But it does demonstrate hypocrisy and the fact that they all HAVE to create their own ‘god’ out of their own mind, rather than the monster in the book.

        • MNb

          “How would you respond to that?”
          That they’re right. It still stands that their christian belief did not prevent them from committing that violence. In a similar way, if we want to be consistent, we must argue that atheism neither prevents nor calls for violence. So here’s the deal: if the christian doesn’t hold Stalin etc. against me I won’t hold the Crusades, some popes, Hitler and cooperating clergy against them.

        • Roger

          ¨A religion may oppose or favor a dictator, depending on whether the
          dictator is one of theirs. If a religion opposes the dictator, the
          dictator opposes that religion as a threat to his power whether or not
          he has anti-theistic tendencies. If the religion supports the dictator,
          he will use the religion to bolster his power whether or not he has
          anti-theistic tendencies.¨

          I don´t understand what this has to do with what I am saying?

          ¨Stalin had 20 million people killed because he considered them a threat
          to his power. Some of them may have been Christians but it was not so
          much anti-theism but they were a possible organized threat to him.¨

          And he considered them a threat to his power because they believed in god, therefore, he was threatened by people believing in god, wanted to rid his people of the belief in god which makes him an anti-theist. Actually those 10 million were Christian, but he was an equal opportunity offender in that he also killed many other religions.

          You could equally say that muslim fuldamentalists kill because they are a threat to their power over the region in that they are trying to get people to denounce their oppresive ways. The problem here is that when it comes to religious violence you look at it simply as black and white, however, when looking at an example of violence against believers you like to weasle out of the problem by making it clear that it is not about anti-theist sentiment but a much more complex problem.

        • adam

          “And he considered them a threat to his power because they believed in
          god, therefore, he was threatened by people believing in god, wanted to
          rid his people of the belief in god which makes him an anti-theist.”

          No, he considered them a threat because of the political power of the church, nothing to do with imaginary ‘gods’.

        • MNb

          “he considered them a threat to his power because they believed in god”
          Nope, not for that reason – because he was paranoid. He persecuted all kind of ethnical groups as well, plus returning POW’s and army officers. For them it didn’t matter if they believed in god or not.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I don’t know what you mean by atheism.

          which is the main problem.

        • TheNuszAbides

          religion opposes the dictator

          unless you’re in Mel Gibson’s clique…

    • It’s not possible to kill “in the name of atheism” because that concept makes no sense. Atheism is a lack of god belief; that’s it. Christianity is way, way more than a belief in the supernatural, and therein lies the problem.

      • AliKat

        Christianity is many different things-some forms have been involved in violence and others would never kill. Each form seems influenced by the cultural factors that produced it and to be largely a vehicle for those ideas. I don’t know whether religion causes more harm than good, because it seems like people see what they want and have been trained to see in their religion. For many things that people promote on religious grounds, I wouldn’t be surprised if they would find other reasons if religion didn’t exist-I mean this for morally good, neutral, ambiguous and bad things. Religion might tell people what to think, but without it humans still tend to follow authority blindly, engage in hero worship, conform to group behavior and to accept claims uncritically.

      • Roger

        I would appreciate if you could read at least the first sentence of my post before inserting a canned response.

        The first sentence says:

        ¨You cannot kill because of a lack of belief in god but you can kill
        because you think religion should be eliminated from society.¨

        I am not talking about a lack of belief in god, I am talking about a belief that religion should be eliminated from society.

        I hope that is clear.

        • Steven Carr

          And do you think non-belief should be eliminated from society?

          Are there Christian organisations dedicated to reducing the number of non-believers in society?

          Why is your first thought about eliminating religion is that people have to be killed to do that?

        • Roger

          ¨And do you think non-belief should be eliminated from society?¨

          NO

          ¨Are there Christian organisations dedicated to reducing the number of non-believers in society?¨

          Yes

          ¨Why is your first thought about eliminating religion is that people have to be killed to do that?¨

          IT´S NOT

          Where do you get these questions?

        • Steven Carr

          Just incredible.

          Christians launch campaigns to convert as many non-believers as they can, and apparently they don’t want to eliminate non-belief.

          Well, stop trying to convert people!

          And think before you post.

          Roger is not worth talking to…..

        • Roger

          I thought so.

          I ask you for a quote and you cannot provide one.

          Now, I am apparently trying to convert people.

          It would be funny if it wasnt so sad.

          Good day.

        • Pofarmer

          I think you are being a twee bit dishonest Roger.

        • Roger

          You really think I am trying to convert people? So if someone disagrees with a pro-atheist stance, it means they are trying to convert people? How does that make any logical sense? I could care less if you or anyone else believes in god.

          I am afraid many here have been hit over the head with bibles way too often.

        • Pofarmer

          In General, yes, Christians believe it is their duty to convert people. If you could care less, why are you here?

        • adam

          “I am afraid many here have been hit over the head with bibles way too often.”

          Yeah, something like that

        • I am not talking about a lack of belief in god, I am talking about a belief that religion should be eliminated from society.

          Then you’re not talking about atheism.

        • Roger

          No shit Bob. I didnt use the word atheism once in the post you responded to, I used anti-theism and I defined what I meant by that. So yes, well done, I am not talking about atheism.

          Do you even read what people write or do you just insert canned internet comebacks without looking at the arguments at hand? Seriously man, how can someone proclaim themselves to be a rational freethinker when they can´t even take the time to read what other people write before responding to them and instead inserting blatant, ignorant strawmen? This comes down to either plain stupidity or intellectual dishonesty and I am fairly sure its not the former. I know you have an axe to grind, but don´t do so at the expense of your intellectual integrity.

        • I never read anything–that would just upset my delicately balanced prejudices or maybe make me sad.

        • Roger

          ¨My way of joking is to tell the truth. It is the funniest joke in the world.¨
          – George Bernard Shaw

    • Pofarmer

      How many atheists were tortured and burned at the stake over the millenia? The Church carried out a constant war of intimidation and torture for the entire time of it’s existance. The last war openly carried out by the Catholic Church was in the 20th Century, for Petes sake, and the last person Burned alive for Heresy was in the 1850’s.

      • Roger

        And this says what? I have never denied any of the things you are talking about. I wonder if you even read what I wrote since your response has nothing to do with what I am talking about.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, I’ve read what you wrote, I just don’t think you understand how tortured it sounds. For all of human history that we know of people have been killing each other, for resources, or power, or politics, and with the advent of monotheistic religions, ideology. The Church tortured and burnt people purely for ideological reasons. The Genocide of the Cathars, the Conversion if the Mayans and Aztecs, purely for ideological reasons. Even within an anti-theist stance, there is certainly no mandate to kill believers, and with the advent of the humanist movement, I would say that it os less likely than ever. What we have seen, however, is those seeking political power attempt to enforce atheism as a tool to deny power to their politicsl rivals, although their policies have killed religious and atheist alike. And, isn’t it interesting, that nothing like this has happened in, what, 50 years? While we have current examples of ongoing religious wars and many recent ones. I would hazard to say that there are people killed every day in the name of religion, from witch burnings in Africa to beheadings by IS in the Middle east to honor killings in many parts of the developing world, to the Gays killed in Iran and elsewhere, to women still, today, being stoned to death for adultery. How many killings in the name of anti-theism?

        • Heather

          It sickens me that there have been a number of children killed in the name of religion here in the US – by their very own parents who think praying cures diseases. And this is happening NOW! In 2015!!

  • Sven2547

    There is nothing in the Bible about … chemically induced abortions

    Interestingly enough, Numbers chapter 5 seems to promote chemically-induced abortions in certain circumstances.

    • XTheist

      But that was for specific people in a specific time! Context! You’re just misreading the text to promote your anti Christian agenda!

      • Rudy R

        Sounds about right. The first five books of the OT, that is, the Torah, was for specific people (Jews) in a specific time (Bronze Age). So we conclude that everything in the Pentateuch can be dismissed for anyone outside that group and during that time, to include the Creation story, Ten Commandments, etc. etc. etc.

  • Playonwords

    Ok at least John Mark Reynolds doesn’t trot out Hitler, therefore I will not (despite what that Catholic it would do to his case). On the other hand it might be instructive to look at other genocides, the ones he ignores.

    Leopold II of Belgium, a good Catholic, responsible for the deaths of up to 15 million in the Congo. This against up to 6 million deaths for Stalin.

    The Armenian genocide and the extermination of other non-Muslim or indigienous groups begun under the Ottomans, up to 2 million.

    The Japanese genocide against both Chinese and Korean civilians (the rape of Nanking for example), numbers are unknown but probably in excess of 1.5 million. This was carried out by devout Shintoists and Buddhists.

    The genocide against the Ethiopians carried out by the good Catholics of Fascist Italy.

    The genocide of the Rohingya in Myanmar, in excess of 0.5 million largely carried out by Buddhists.

    The Genocide of the Tutsi by the good Protestants and Catholics of the Hutu.

    Although it is not generally regarded as a genocide it is worth pointing out that the 19th Century Great Famine of Ireland killed over 1 million people, which famine relief would have largely averted. That was the Christian British for you.

    Given these statistics could atheists argue that in the genocide stakes the religious are far less trustworthy than the non-religious.

    Edit to add – it is notable that comments are closed on the source blog.

    • Sven2547

      it is notable that comments are closed on the source blog.

      While calling for “dialog”, no less.

    • That’s a nice list, thanks. The only other example that came to mind for me to add to the list was the independence movement in Sri Lanka by the Hindu Tamil Tigers (against Muslims). I doubt that that was a “genocide,” though.

      • Playonwords

        Thanks, the Sri Lanka conflict had slipped my mind. I’ll include that in the notes I keep for responding to such broad brush attacks.

    • Amy G.

      Don’t forget the extermination of Native Americans carried out by Catholic conquistadors and, later, by (mostly) Protestant colonists.

      • Playonwords

        I try to keep it as modern as possible but as Bob Seidensticker noted there was also the Sri Lankan conflict. Another one I’d forgotten is the Australian Aboriginal genocide.

        • Pofarmer

          You can keep going as far back as you like. Look at the genocide of the Cathars, for instance, over a million dead. Look at the 30 years war, which killed up to 3/4 of the population in parts of Europe.

        • Amy G.

          I had an excellent history teacher who reminded us that, as recently as the 1940s, native children were taken from their parents and sent to boarding schools where they were stripped of their language, their culture, and their hair (!), and converted to Christianity.

          Not the same as actual genocide, but pretty awful, and pretty recent.

          Good list of the others, by the way. I wish I could commit it to memory.

      • Wow–that’s a biggie. Good one.

    • 90Lew90

      The Great Famine in 19th Century Ireland was the second famine brought about by the British. “Famine relief” needn’t have been all that difficult. Blight only affected the potato, and Ireland was basically a big farm, as it remains. One of the great scandals of that famine was that the British exported huge amounts of unaffected produce — all the vegetables and livestock you can think of — grown on land which they expropriated from the people in the first place.

      The first famine, which was comparable in the devastation it caused, was even more tied up with religion, having been brought about by the war on Catholics waged by Oliver Cromwell, whose forces did a lot of the expropriating. That famine was worsened by an outbreak of bubonic plague.

      The British have a history of causing famines. There were a few in India which were greatly exacerbated by their presence there.

      • Playonwords

        They also supplied maize flour, which was cheap and no-one, not even the importers knew how to cook it

        • 90Lew90

          “Peel’s brimstone”.

    • Stalin is estimated by many historians to have killed far more than 6 million. The highest estimate is around 60 million (this includes death by famine). Only about 1.5 million were directly ordered. Mao is estimated to have killed even more, about 40-70 million (once again, mostly famine).

      • With this happening so recently, it’s surprising that historians can’t even agree on the first significant digit. Deliberate famine vs. bungling economic policies, deaths due to Stalin vs. deaths due to other Soviet leaders, and so on.

        Wikipedia discusses the various factors.

        • I think it was probably because the Soviet Union was very closed at the same, so little information got out, and the state had every incentive not to record the death toll (and denied a lot of it). There’s debate generally with them over how much was deliberate versus the result of his policies with disastrous outcomes or incompetence.

        • Their following Lysenkoism as their agricultural policy until officially rejected in 1964 was an example of unintentional disastrous outcome.

        • Yeah, and they plenty of other pseudoscientific theories that scientists were made to accept on pain of imprisonment or even death. That was just the most infamous and worst, particularly because it killed so many more people than just dissident scientists.

      • Playonwords

        A useful summation of the various numbers attributed to Stalin can be found on the “Necrometrics” page of the 20th Century Atlas pointing out that the high number estimates are so incompatible with the low number estimates that using an intermediate figure would be misleading.

        I will admit that I had only seen a very old low ball figure for the deaths attributable to Mao Zedong

        When checking the link above it is interesting to note that the high estimate for Leopold’s crime is actually about 22 million.

        • That’s interesting on King Leopold. If the Congo’s population estimate was true, then his regime killed more than half the Congolese-much more than both Stalin or Mao in terms of percentages, if not absolute numbers. Were you aware that Heart of Darkness was set in the Congo Free State (what an ironic misnaming) and recounts its atrocities?

  • colynb

    Atheism was just a tool to replace one religion (Christianity) with another religion (Statism). This is why a lot of atheists today are statists and usually believe in a strong central government. Still, it’s not Atheism that’s the problem, it’s religious belief in deities be it, supernatural or political.

    • XTheist

      Oh yay, a condescending libertarian and/or anarcho-capitalist here to inform us of our irrational faith in government, aptly dubbed “statheism.” Am I in the ballpark?

      • colynb

        Do you have a counter argument?

        • Guest

          I mean, the whole thesis of this article compliments my statement. Do you deny that?

        • XTheist

          Sure. Governments exist. They are organizations that we as human beings create and modify to suit our needs. They are not perfect or infallible, and thanks to things like philosophy and the scientific method, we can work to change the systems that are in place to better serve humanity. This does not mean we will eventually achieve utopia or that non-libertatian atheists have an irrational infatuation with big government. I mean heck, I just admitted that we humans create governments. Try getting a theist to admit that humans created gods.

        • colynb

          Your faith in Gov is strong.

        • XTheist

          Yes, everything government ever does is good, it holds the key to ultimate happiness and meaning, and we should never question government because all things which flow from government are morally right and we ought to repent when we rebel against governmental authorities. I totally believe all these things, because “faith” in government is completely comparable to religious faith.

        • colynb

          “Government” and “We” don’t exist, they are only concepts. It’s the belief that concepts have agency that I have a problem with. Only individuals have agency.

        • XTheist

          Right. And sometimes individuals have common goals, and each individual uses their agency to contribute to a goal shared by each other.

        • colynb

          If those goals don’t include putting peaceful people in cages for having a dissenting opinion, then welcome to libertarianism.

        • XTheist

          Sure, sure. And if *your* goals don’t include the genocide of African Americans, then welcome to liberalism. See? I can play empty rhetorical definition games as well.

          But let me ask you what is your definition of peaceful people with a dissenting opinion? Would that include parents who faith “heal” their children instead of giving them the necessary medical treatment? Would that include parents who want to stick bleach up their autistic child’s ass in the hopes that it will “cure” their autism?

          For myself, I don’t think those people are simply peaceful dissenters. I think that they have erroneous beliefs and that society should do what it can to protect children from them. Just one example of an opinion of mine that I think most libertarians would label “statist” or anti freedom.

        • colynb

          That’s a non sequitur. Those are social problems indeed. Let me start with something we can both agree on – I presume. I don’t believe I am morally obligated to financially support war overseas. I also don’t believe I am morally obligated to financially support the war on drugs. I am a peaceful person, it is against my conscience to kill innocent civilians overseas and it is against my conscience to put people in cages for smoking weed. As it is against my conscience, and if I want to live according to my conscience, I oppose taxes (theft) that go toward funding such activities. Yet, as a peaceful person living as my conscience tells me to, I will be punished by this deity you call “we as a society”. If I try to defend myself from being punished, I could be murdered.

        • XTheist

          Okay, that seems totally fair to me. Is abolishing taxes the solution, though? Wouldn’t the solution be to change where the funding is going? Decriminalize pot? Besides, for every libertarian that simply doesn’t want to support the war machine, there’s a libertarian that doesn’t want to pay taxes that actually go toward helping people in need. Oftentimes they’re one and the same. I can understand how tax reform might look like a futile attempt to change an inherently corrupt system, and therefore we should just oppose all taxation, but I think there would be enormous ramifications to getting rid of taxes, and libertarians seem a little overly optimistic as to how easily we could solve those problems in a libertarian society. Of course, you won’t hear me conflate a libertarian’s “faith” that individuals can work things out in a libertarian society with belief in a deity because that’s just plain daft and I think you ought to drop that rhetoric. It’s not a brilliant gotcha like so many seem to think.

        • colynb

          If you think “society” can make better decisions than what YOU would choose to do to help those in need without being forced to also fund those things you are opposed to, then that’s putting faith in society above and beyond your own conscience.

        • XTheist

          I think government is a double edged sword, sure. And I don’t necessarily think that we always get it right. But how does libertarianism solve this? It seems like there would be just as much opportunity for organizations to hold monopolies and act in objectionable ways, and I don’t see anything that would keep those organizations from being militaristic.

        • colynb

          Yet here you are, *defending* a militaristic violent monopoly. I don’t have the answers for you, but you can start by questioning your own beliefs. Peace.

        • XTheist

          Dude. Defending the idea of government =/= defending all the actions of the U.S. government. What I’m saying is that I think the solution is reform, and libertarian solutions (at least extreme ones such as anarcho-capitalism) seem to pose more problems than they solve. Either that or the libertarian solutions often seem very similar to the way things are already done, so it just seems pointless to me. I once heard Adam Kokesh say that mass shunning of a business is better than the government imposing fines on that business because it’s nonviolent but governmental fines are violent. I don’t see how. Whether it’s the big bad government coming to fine you or the mob collectively shunning you and thus starving you of vital income, the end result is a dead business.

        • colynb

          Would you let a Christian get away of defending the “idea” of god? What difference does it make? The reason we live in a violent monopoly is because millions of people just like you believe in the “idea” of government rather than look at it empirically. The moment, everyone stops believing in the idea, the state becomes irrelevant over night.

        • adam

          Corporations have already reformed our government, THAT is the source of this problem.

          Go ahead and shun the arms businesses that has us mass murdering people in other countries.

          Go ahead, and see the impact it has on that business that gets BILLIONS of DOLLARS from our own government….

        • colynb

          Seriously, as empiricists, we want the evidence that shows that politics and the voting process are effective at reforming “the system”

        • adam

          Particularly with those issues that are important and are not just fluff.

          But still you have to overcome the power of power to propagandize with their ownership of the media

        • colynb

          You’re going to have to work harder than “[anarcho-capitalism solutions] seem to pose more problems than they solve”.

          “Seem” is not an argument, it’s a feeling you have. Nice to have feelings, but what about freedom do you oppose, and why?

        • adam

          One of the principles of libertarianism is or at least use to be the whole concept of competition in the market place, early libertarians opposed monopolies for this reason.

          In this fashion, to have optimal competition would be to limit the size of organizations by anti-monopoly statutes.

          Smaller organizations have less political power to sway government towards militaristic goals for procurement of the natural resources of others – the primary motivation for wars.

          You need to look no further that Rumsfelds and Cheney’s Bechtels and Halliburtons to see how profitable war can be for companies powerful enough to sway governments and its people with propaganda to support such actions.

          Looking at our history, at least the recent history and it seems alot more like a single edge sword of the wealthy than it does the double edge sword of balance.

        • XTheist

          Fair enough. Perhaps I misunderstand libertarianism, or perhaps libertarianism takes as many forms as Christianity, but wouldn’t anti monopoly statutes be bad since it’s big bad government limiting freedom?

        • colynb

          Most monopolies can only be sustained through the use of government protection. Look at the taxi-cab industry, which is a cartel of cab companies who use government regulation to collude and price fix.

        • adam

          No, because you cant have freedom under monopolies who use the government to run their businesses.

          This is called Fascism.

          And in spite of what the court has apparently insinuated, corporations are not individuals, so they do not have the rights of individuals, corporations are contractual arrangements to benefit innovation and increase competition not stifle it.

        • adam

          I am glad you put ‘society’ in quotes, because that is not what we have, even though that is what we are told.

          Particularly true in an inverted totalitarianism.

          Where the corrupting power controls the primary media resources as the primary propaganda tool.

        • adam

          But the problem IS the tax ‘system’.

          Corporate interests WRITE the tax code.
          And they write them to reduce competition, entangle us in endless wars never meant to be won, and to give themselves tax breaks.

          You want to change the tax code, you are going to go up against the best tax lawyers that corporate money can buy, and they can buy more every day, because they construct the tax laws.

          Call the IRS and have them explain the tax code for you.
          They CAN’T, not that they wont, they can’t.

          The tax code should be simple and basic enough that everyone who pays taxes should be able to understand.

        • The billions that people pay to do their taxes, both in their time and money to accountants, highlights the brokenness of the current tax system. If only there were the political will to change it.

        • colynb

          “If only there were the Political Will to change it.”

          “Political Will” is as meaningless as the “Will of God”

          Don’t actually do anything to take charge of your own life and financial responsibilities… Let Go Let Gov

        • So you recommend a coup?

        • colynb

          That won’t change the fundamental problem, which is an irrational belief in authority. The belief that you can delegate moral rights to people in a blue costumes, rights you don’t have yourself as an individual. Take the rain forests. What’s the government solution there? Point guns at people and prevent them from earning a living? Do you as an individual have a moral right to point guns at people to stop them from doing something you disapprove of? If not, then how does a government agent acquire such rights? You can’t give someone authority you yourself don’t already have as an individual. But isn’t that what representative democracy is supposed to be? Just because the majority vote to delegate that authority begs the question.

          So what’s the solution? I’m sorry to say I don’t have an easy answer for you, only that if I can convince you that you shouldn’t look to violence to solve social problems, and that you understand that all government is and ever will be is a monopoly on violence, then you might also be able to convince others as well.

          If you’re truly interested, I’d be happy to continue discussing this with you.

        • I’m probably not interested enough for you to waste your time on. This is a worthwhile question, just not on my Top 5 list.

        • adam

          The founding fathers found no better solution.

          When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to
          dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…….

        • “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

          — Thomas Jefferson

        • adam

          “IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said in an interview that he does not prepare his own taxes because he finds the tax code “complex.” The commissioner’s admission came in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program, which aired Sunday night. ” http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/01/12/irs-commissioner-admits-he-does-not-do-his-own-taxes/

          Well at least the millions if not billions that corporation pay lawyers so they dont pay taxes is profitable for THEM…

        • colynb

          With respect to your problem with idiotic and psychopathic parents, you and I can up with a solution that doesn’t include the use of the same institution that is capable of murder and kidnapping.

        • adam

          “With respect to your problem with idiotic and psychopathic parents, ”

          With respect to your claim of idiotic and psychopathic parents, their bible actually tell them to act that way.

        • colynb

          So what’s the point?

        • XTheist

          They’re not idiotic and psychopathic. They’re just operating from very flawed premises that were likely inculcated into them at a time of great vulnerability.

        • colynb

          fine… I’ll change my comment to fit your definition:

          “With respect to your problem with parents operating from very flawed premises that were likely inculcated into them at a time of great vulnerability, you and I can up with a solution that doesn’t include the use of the same institution that is capable of murder and kidnapping.”

          Funny, this actually makes my point all the more stronger!

        • XTheist

          Actually, I take that back. In the case of ass bleachers, I don’t know what makes them do that shit. Desperation I guess. I just see people calling religious folks who do stupid religious things “idiotic” or “mentally ill” when the truth is usually more complicated and likely involves sincerely held, but deeply flawed and un demonstrated premises. Yeah yeah, I’m a pedant.

        • adam

          I dont disagree that they are idiotic and psychopathic, but they are poisoned by the propaganda of their own ‘faith’.

        • MNb

          My lack of faith in non-gov is stronger. And this is why:

          http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0W0EgZVmYf4/URKI2J8A52I/AAAAAAAAGVo/ZNiCoSWH1mk/s1600/Goudzoekers.jpg

          The interior of Suriname, where governmental authority is about zero. This is what happens right now with the last pristine rain forest in South America. Because non-gov.

        • What’s the goal here? Are they mining for gold?

        • MNb

          Yes.

        • colynb

          Putting aside the obvious economic incentives for valuing gold more than trees, I have to question why the only institution you can think of that can possibly protect trees is the one we use conduct mass murder overseas; the one we use to put innocent people in cages for smoking a plant; the one we use to brutalize black kids.

          What are YOU doing to protect the environment? You think you can go into a booth and put a little secret chicken scratch on a piece of paper, and the magic of politics with all its moneyed interests are going to save some trees?

          Keep the faith my friend.

        • Donalbain

          One day I would love to hear a libertarian answer to the problem of climate change.

        • Greg G.
    • adam

      In political science, Statism is the belief in the primacy of the State over the rights of the individual. Statism is effectively the opposite of anarchism[1][2][3][4] and minarchism. Statism can take many forms from the legislation of morality to theocracy in the social domain, and from state socialism through fascism in the economic domain, with totalitarianism
      being the intersection of the most extreme forms of Statism in both the
      social and economic domains. Minarchists prefer a minimal or night-watchman state to protect people from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud with military, police, and courts.[5][6][7][8] Some may also include fire departments, prisons, and other functions.[5][6][7][8] Welfare state adepts and other such options make up more statist territory of the scale of statism.[9][10] Totalitarians prefer a maximum or all-encompassing state.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statism

      Statism can be theocratic, so I dont think you have made your point yet.

      Atheistic theocracy is an oxymoron…

    • Rudy R

      Many Christians are statists as well. Their tool is to replace a strong government with a strong theocracy.

    • Cognissive Disco Dance

      Yeah I was just saying that the other day to my cat. Why are all these atheists Statists and usually believe in a strong central government? Is It because they are religious? He just looked at me weird.

  • James

    It’s cute how theists always fail to mention that the great majority of Stalin & Mao’s victims were atheists. It’s as if they want to blame atheism for genocide and then turn around and claim the actual victims for their own side.

    • Roger

      What does the victim have anything to do with anything? A bad rebuttal to a bad argument does not equal a good argument.

      Someone could equally say:

      It’s cute how atheist always fail to mention that the great majority of muslim extremists´ victims were muslim. It’s as if they want to blame
      islam for genocide and then turn around and claim the actual victims
      for their own side.

      Genocide is genocide, and genocide can be caused by something even if the victims believe in similar things.

      • XTheist

        Yeah, I’d have to agree with this Roger fellow on this one.

      • adam

        “What does the victim have anything to do with anything?”

        When the claim is something like

        “Atheism was used as a reason for persecution in all of these nations.” –

        When atheists are among those being persecuted.

        • Roger

          Even with those claims, the victim has nothing to do with anything.

          Even if atheists were killing atheists, atheism could still be used as a reason for persecution.

          Once again, I ask, does the fact that most muslim extremists kill fellow muslims mean that islam has nothing to do with those killings?

        • adam

          “Once again, I ask, does the fact that most muslim extremists kill fellow muslims mean that islam has nothing to do with those killings?”

          Islam is the reason they are killing muslims, because they violated tenets of Islam or they believe their ‘god’ tells them to?

          If you want to claim atheistic persecution of religion and you kill atheists, that has nothing to do with the persecution of religion.

        • Roger

          ¨If you want to claim atheistic persecution of religion and you kill
          atheists, that has nothing to do with the persecution of religion.¨

          This also doesnt follow. This is similar to saying that there was no persecution of Jews by the Nazis because they also killed Germans. It is an incredibly bad argument. A dictator could still kill Jews because they are Jews and also kill non-Jews for other reasons.

        • adam

          If you want to claim atheistic persecution of religion

        • Roger

          No adam, you are wrong. You can still claim an anti-theist persecution of religion even if there was also other types of persecution going on. Similarly, you can still claim an anti-Jewish persecution of Jews even if there were other types of persecution going on.

        • adam

          If you want to claim atheistic persecution of religion

        • NekoOnna

          The distinction is this- the blogger who was arguing that atheism somehow causes mass murder was trying to infer that it was the mass murder of believers who wouldn’t relinquish their beliefs. Since atheism by default has no dogmas, he couldn’t claim they were acting on dogma, and this was the only way to establish a causal link between atheism and genocide. As soon as it is made clear that many of the victims were atheists, this supposed link goes away.

          If we held religions or dogmas responsible for every time someone who believes them went to war, there would be no end to the blame, as humans are both prone to religious belief, and inherently warlike. The majority of atheists understand this, and don’t try to hang every conflict engaged in by a religious group on that religion (Was WWII a “Christian war” since many of the powers fighting it were majority Christian nations?). Instead, we just look to the conflicts actually CAUSED by religion. Religionists can’t do this, in part, because of the inconvenient fact that the dictatorships that claimed atheism as official dogma killed atheists as readily as theists.

        • Roger

          This doesn´t follow. A dictator could still kill believers because of what they believe and at the same time kill atheists for other reasons, without invalidating their anti-theistic stance. See Hitler. The fact that Hitler also killed Germans does not mean that he did not hate Jews so much that he also killed them.

        • NekoOnna

          Sure, they could. But at that point, they aren’t killing those people BECAUSE of atheism. Even with a murderer as horrific as Stalin, if you really get down to looking for people killed overtly because of their religious beliefs, that number becomes quite small, if it exists at all. If you want to claim he killed BECAUSE of atheism, you’ve got to prove that, and pointing out Stalin was killing atheists and believers alike (for reasons that had nothing to do with belief), makes that hard to do.

        • adam

          Is it me or is Roger TRYING to call atheism a religion?

        • Roger

          They are killing them because of anti-theism. They believed that not only should organized religion be abolished but also belief in god should be eliminated from the minds of the people. Stalin established the Society of Militant Atheists who, on his orders, implemented a five year plan between 1932 and 1937 so that, ¨“not a single house of prayer shall remain in the territory of the
          USSR, and the very concept of God must be banished from the Soviet
          Union as a survival of the Middle Ages and an instrument for the
          oppression of the working masses.¨

          Also, the idea that he couldn´t have been anti-theistic unless he only killed theists is absolutely ridiculous. For the third time, people can have more than one reason for bringing about violence.

        • NekoOnna

          “not a single house of prayer shall remain in the territory of the
          USSR, and the very concept of God must be banished from the Soviet
          Union as a survival of the Middle Ages and an instrument for the
          oppression of the working masses.”

          Well, yes. Stalin was an atheist, and did believe religion was a problem. He did shut down churches, and he did force people to recant their beliefs, and he did prosecute people found in violation of his edicts. What he did NOT do was go around and round up believers…and kill them because they were believers. He may have killed believers who he thought were political enemies, or believers who were Ukrainian peasants who he sought to collectivize, or believers who were generals in the Red Army (generals did not fare well under Stalin), but the fact that they were believers was incidental, and those same people would have been killed, even if they professed militant atheism.. Stalin killed to consolidate his power more fully over the Soviet Union. Period.

        • the idea that he couldn´t have been anti-theistic unless he only killed theists is absolutely ridiculous. For the third time, people can have more than one reason for bringing about violence.

          I can kill an atheist, but how can I do that to satisfy an anti-theistic agenda?

        • MNb

          Yeah yeah, a dictator could kill jews because he is an antisemite, send former POW’s to Siberia because he’s anti-POW, kill christians because he’s an anti-theist and kill atheists because he’s anti-everything or something. The problem is that this hardly makes sense anymore.

        • Let’s say that of all the people who died because of Stalin’s policies, 10% were Christian (this was decades into the life of the Soviet Union, and the church was long since suppressed).

          You could imagine Stalin rubbing his hands in anti-theistic glee at the thought of all those Christians dying, but the anti-theism explanation does nothing to explain the far larger fraction that were atheists.

  • deadweasel steve

    My response to the “Atheist Stalin killed millions, what do you think of that, INFIDEL ATHEIST AMORAL NON-BELIEVER?” accusation is two-fold:

    1) According to Scripture, the God of the Jews wiped out all life on the planet, except for one family and a breeding pair of each animal, in the Flood of Noah. Atheist Stalin killed only a mere fraction of humanity. Why do you worship the first, but condemn the second? Would you worship Atheist Stalin, at say, the 70% mark?

    2) Either the atrocities of Atheist-Stalin-Mao-Pol Pot-Ming the Merciless were part of God’s plan for humanity, or they were not. If they were, you worship a monster. If they weren’t, and God did not know they would happen, He’s an idiot. If he did know they would happen, but failed to prevent them, He’s a bungler. Which of these three do you worship?

  • There was that full nazi regime in Croatia in which the ruler was a Catholic bishop and enjoyed the full support of the Vatican during the IIWW, while deporting thousands of Jews and Roma to Germany and commiting atrocities against the people…

  • wtfwjtd

    “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others..”

    –W Churchill

  • Brian Westley

    John Mark Reynolds is an intellectual coward; about a day after publishing his one-man pogrom against atheists, his column no longer accepts comments (I’m pretty sure no comments on this particular bit of defamation ever made it out of moderation). What a vile person.

    • KarlUdy

      The last comment published was over 6 months ago, and he averaged 1-2 comments a year before that. And you react as if his blog not accepting comments was a devious trap to frustrate your ability to berate him?!

      It’s not as if you have no other options for letting him know what you think about what he wrote.

      • Brian Westley

        And you react as if his blog not accepting comments was a devious trap to frustrate your ability to berate him?!

        No, he’s an intellectual coward for totally removing comments after posting his inflammatory rant. He can dish it out but he can’t take it.

      • His most recent post seems to accept comments.

      • And I’ve emailed him to let him know about this post in case he’s interested in responding.

      • Mark Reynolds has gotten back to me by email, and we’re chatting back and forth. So far, we haven’t gotten past the “you don’t understand my argument; maybe you need philosophical training” stage.

        • MNb

          Are you kidding? Does he need philosophy to interpret stalinism?
          OK, let him chew on this one. If he takes his own argument seriously he should become a Jehovah Witness. That religion is even less responsible for violence.

        • KarlUdy

          MNb, if you engage with him you might find out why he focuses in particular on Stalinism, and why he thinks philosophical training is important. (Different reasons for each point.)

        • adam

          Maybe, maybe not.

          Care to let us in on the secret?

        • KarlUdy

          The secret is to engage with someone to find out who they are first.

        • adam

          Not without sufficient interest.

          He doesnt generate that interest with me, or others obviously, for further inspection.

          I thought he had with you based on your comment,

          But based on what I am reading here, his focus on Stalinism doesnt seem relevant or interesting.

        • MNb

          KU, I tried to engage with him a few days ago. I constructed a somewhat lengthy comment for his blog, did some research on internet, found a few relevant links. I posted that comment; it went in moderation mode. When I checked a few hours later he had disabled all comments; mine was poofed away. A shitty move, if you ask me.
          That totally confirms Brian’s point.

        • KarlUdy

          Which at least goes to show that Brian’s comments are unwarranted.

        • Huh? How does this address his concern that Reynolds avoids public discourse on his ideas by having no comments for this post?

        • KarlUdy

          It shows that he is willing to engage in two-way discourse. Whereas Brian makes it sound as though Reynolds is running his blog along the model of Pravda.

        • This doesn’t explain away the lack of comments.

          The guy can do whatever he wants. It’s his blog. But no comments (or no comments for controversial posts) doesn’t show much interest in a free-flowing discussion.

        • KarlUdy

          He has explained his rationale for not having comments in a comment on his most recent post. It fits the evidence (almost no comments for a period of years) and demonstrates the baselessness of Brian’s insinuations.

        • Share with us what he said.

        • KarlUdy

          You might want to read it for yourself. It is at the bottom of his article responding to your article here.

        • I asked him for more information there.

          But the comments are still moderated. Again, he can do that. I just wonder why he needs to.

        • MNb

          And I wonder how that rationale is consistent with his willingness to have a two-way discourse.

        • Reynolds says that he’ll have a new post out responding to some of his critics’ points today (4/28/15)

        • Brian Westley

          Yep, he’s just doubling down on fomenting hatred against atheists. I’ll keep telling him that sort of thing is responsible for starting pogroms.

  • Leyla1001nights

    I’m so glad you wrote this piece. I read the original article and wanted to throw up. The author conveniently forgot to mention that his religion is responsible for the deaths of nonbelievers or others (like the Jews) for not worshipping his “god”. Thank you for standing up for us!

  • Margaret Whitestone

    Ugh, the same old tired claims. Every Christian who regurgitates them thinks s/he is being so clever and original.

  • MNb

    Stalinism was quite religious. Read this poem written by a Nobel Price winner:

    To be men! That is the Stalinist law! . . .
    We must learn from Stalin
    his sincere intensity
    his concrete clarity. . . .
    Stalin is the noon,
    the maturity of man and the peoples.
    Stalinists, Let us bear this title with pride. . . .
    Stalinist workers, clerks, women take care of this day!
    The light has not vanished.
    The fire has not disappeared,
    There is only the growth of
    Light, bread, fire and hope
    In Stalin’s invincible time! . . .
    In recent years the dove,
    Peace, the wandering persecuted rose,
    Found herself on his shoulders
    And Stalin, the giant,
    Carried her at the heights of his forehead. . . .
    A wave beats against the stones of the shore.
    But Malenkov will continue his work.

    Pablo Neruda.

    https://mrkscoldwarc.wikispaces.com/file/view/stalin_parents.jpg/224042976/stalin_parents.jpg

    North Korea’s juche is highly religious as well.

    http://www.themonastery.org/guide-to-divinity/juche-north-korea
    http://www2.law.columbia.edu/course_00S_L9436_001/North%20Korea%20materials/10%20principles%20of%20juche.html

    I’m not saying that atheists would rule more sensibly than christians when given the chance. I do say that state-church (whether christian or some communist variety) seperation is a very healthy idea, supported by the majority of European christians.,

  • Steven Carr

    So if all atheists are mass-murderers how does that provide the slightest bit of evidence that there is a Christian god?

    I think the argument runs like this :-

    1) If there is no god, atheists could literally get away with murder.
    2) Atheists literally get away with murder.
    3) Therefore, there is a god.

    I can’t see any logical fallacy in there!

    • Roger

      Where did he say he was making an argument for the Christian god?

      Can a theist not make any other argument unless it ends with ¨therefore god exists¨ ?

      • Steven Carr

        So what was his point then? There is none.

        All he has done is provide evidence that there is no god.

        Christians in their millions prayed and prayed and prayed for an end to persecution,

        Their god passed by on the other side while his children were killed.

        • Roger

          ¨So what was his point then? There is none.¨

          You seem like a very angry person that is letting their anger get in the way of their intellectual abilities.

          You can´t possibly really thing that there is no point to a theist making an argument, unless that argument ends in ¨therefore, god exists¨. Come on man, you can do better.

        • adam

          REALLY?

          What makes him sound like a ‘very angry person’ when he is stating facts?

          Do you believe that he is ‘angry’ at an imaginary god that he doesnt believe in?

        • Roger

          Because angry people tend to respond with their emotions instead of their head and fail to focus on the topic at hand instead of inserting ridiculous non sequitors.

          For example, like posting a quote from John Stewart about how Christians are not persecuted when NO ONE in this conversation has made the claim that Christians are persecuted. Do you anyone like this?

        • Greg G.

          Aren’t you the coy one? You do nothing but substitute “anti-theism” into Christian persecution rhetoric and then say “I never said the P word.”

        • Roger

          Saying that an anti-theist sentiment led to the murder of believers 70 years ago, does not at all mean that there is a current persecution of Christians today, which is what the Jon Stewart quote was refereing to. Jon Stewart is talking about persecution ¨in America¨ and somehow you are trying to claim that this is on point when talking about persecution in Soviet Russia?

          Seriously?

        • Greg G.

          Christians today claim they are being persecuted because they have to do business with people without being able to sanctimoniously judge them. That’s what the Stewart quote is from, IIRC.

          That is an illustration of the Christian persecution complex. The Bible says Christians will be persecuted so even a mere slight is blown up into an example of persecution.

          You exhibit the same tendency by incessantly arguing that Stalin killed lots of people but he killed Christians only because of anti-theism.

        • Roger

          ¨Christians today claim they are being persecuted because they have to do
          business with people without being able to sanctimoniously judge them.
          That’s what the Stewart quote is from, IIRC.¨

          A very small majority of Christians think that today and that is what the Stewart quote was refering to, which is why it was completely off topic.

          ¨You exhibit the same tendency by incessantly arguing that Stalin killed
          lots of people but he killed Christians only because of anti-theism.¨

          Thank you for psychoanalysing me. First of all, I never said he killed Christians just because he was anti-theist. Nothing is every this black and white and I have mentioned this many times before. However, this also applies when many atheists blame the acts of muslim extremists purely on their belief in Islam without bringing into light cultural, military or socioeconomic factors. Like I said before, it is ignorant to take such a black and white perspective in one case and disregard this same logic in another case.

          Stalin´s anti-theism was definetly an important contributing factor in his persecution of believers in Soviet Russia. And this is not changed even if I did exhibit the same tendencies (which I do not because I do not believe Christians are persecuted). That would be an ad hominem.

        • adam
        • Roger

          Do you want something that just goes to show the extent of your stupidity?

          I am not even a Christian.

        • adam

          So?

          It IS the topic of the discussion.

          And it is STILL in response to your comment:

          “No adam, you are wrong. You can still claim an anti-theist persecution of religion even if there was also other types of persecution going on.”

          Because then it is NOT anti-theist persecution if you are persecuting NON THEISTS…

          And there is this delusion that Christians see not getting their way as persecution.

        • Roger

          ¨Because then it is NOT anti-theist persecution if you are persecuting NON THEISTS…¨

          So with the Nazis, there was no anti-jewish persecution because they were also persecuting non-jews?

        • adam

          Of course there was anti-jewish persecution, but you cant claim that it was an ANTI-RELIGIOUS persecution when the NON RELIGIOUS were persecuted, or that it was an anti-jewish persecution when NON-JEWS were also persecuted.

        • Roger

          When did I claim that it was anti-religious persecution when the non-religious were persecuted?

          If you are refering to what you quoted before: ¨No adam, you are wrong. You can still claim an anti-theist persecution of religion even if there was also other types of persecution going on.¨, then you misread what I wrote.

          I am saying that you can still claim there was anti-theist persecution of religion going on even if there were also other non-religious types of persecution. Of course the atheists that were being killed were not being killed because of anti-theist sentiment. However, this does not mean that there was no anti-theist persecution of theists.

          Similarly, you can say that there was anti-jewish persecution of of jews in Nazi Germany even though non-religious were also persecuted for other reasons.

          Nowhere did I say that it was anti-religious persecution when the non-religious were persecutes.

        • adam

          “Nowhere did I say that it was anti-religious persecution when the non-religious were persecutes.”

          “You can still claim an anti-theist persecution of religion even if there was also other types of persecution going on.” Roger

          “I am saying that you can still claim there was anti-theist persecution of religion going on even if there were also other non-religious types of persecution. ”

          Of course you can claim that, but then you cant call the movement an anti-theist persecution of religion.

        • Roger

          I can call the anti-theist movement that persecuted religion an anti-theist persecution of religion. I can´t call other movements that led to other types of persecution of other groups an anti-theist persecution of religion, but then again, I never did this. I was specifically refering to the anti-theist movement that led to the persecution of religion.

        • adam

          It was the SAME movement that persecuted BOTH the religious and the non religious, so it was NOT an anti-theist movement.

        • Roger

          So the anti-theistic movement that Stalin laid out in his Five Year Plan when he established the Society of Militant Atheists whose role was to make sure “not a single house of prayer shall remain in the territory of the
          USSR, and the very concept of God must be banished from the Soviet
          Union as a survival of the Middle Ages and an instrument for the
          oppression of the working masses.¨ was the same movement that also led to the killing of non-theists? This makes no sense. It also does not sound at all anti-theistic (sarcasm).

          If you want to get into a semantic argument about what you mean by ¨movement¨, I have no desire to get into it with you. The truth is that Stalin made it a point to targer the religious because of his anti-religious beliefs and his desire to bannish the very concept of god.

        • adam

          “The truth is that Stalin made it a point to targer the religious because of his anti-religious beliefs and his desire to bannish the very concept of god.”

          Please demonstrate this, as it certainly appears Stalins goals were POWER as he was paranoid about Soviet weaknesses and US exhibitions of their power.

          And demonstrate that Stalin established the Society of Militant Atheists,
          “The League was a “nominally independent organization established by the Communist Party to promote atheism.” It published newspapers, journals, and other materials that lampooned religion; it sponsored lectures and films; it organized demonstrations and parades; it set up antireligious museums; and it led a concerted effort telling Soviet citizens that religious beliefs and practices were “wrong” and “harmful”, and that “good” citizens ought to embrace a scientific, atheistic worldview.[8]”

          Everything I see is that the reasons were ECONOMIC.

          “Each five-year plan dealt with all aspects of development: capital goods (those used to produce other goods, like factories and machinery), consumer goods (e.g. chairs, carpets, and irons), agriculture,
          transportation, communications, health, education, and welfare. However, the emphasis varied from plan to plan, although generally the emphasis was on power (electricity), capital goods, and agriculture. There were
          base and optimum targets. Efforts were made, especially in the third plan, to move industry eastward to make it safer from attack during World War II.
          Because meeting the goals of the five-year plans had top priority as a measure of progress toward a communist utopia, official lying about productivity became part of the economic system. The attempt to turn an
          illiterate peasant society into an advanced industrial economy in a single decade brought intense suffering, but hardship was tolerated because, as one worker put it, Soviet workers believed in the need for “constant struggle, struggle, and struggle” to achieve a Communist
          society. These five-year plans outlined programs for huge increases in the output of industrial goods. Stalin warned that without an end to economic backwardness “the advanced countries…will crush us.”[1]”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five-year_plans_for_the_national_economy_of_the_Soviet_Union

        • MNb

          “So the anti-theistic movement that Stalin laid out in his Five Year Plan”
          Source? See, the FYP’s were about economics …..

          The truth is that Stalin made it a point to target all non-communists (and many deviating communists as well, like the fans of Trotzky) because of his desire to bannish every single concept but his interpretation of marxism-leninism. Nobody denies that Stalin persecuted christians. What we dispute is that he did so because of atheism. If that were the case he would have left many atheists with dissenting ideas alone. Which he didn’t.
          I have told it Karly Udy as well. If you state that atheists are capable of all kind of horrible things I’m with you. I don’t think, unlike some others, that the world will become a better placy if religion is suddenly poofed away. In this respect I’m not an anti-theist. But I do object you simply ignoring the key factor of stalinism: its intolerance towards and persecution of everything deviating from state ideology plus the personality cult around Stalin, which was so religious that you could argue that stalinism had become a religion.
          In other words, you’re cherry picking.

        • adam
        • quibble: Wikipedia calls it the “League of Militant Atheists”

        • adam

          ¨in America¨

          Seriously?

          Reynold’s point is that he is afraid of christian persecution.
          Is he writing for Soviet Russia IN THE PAST?

          Seriously?

        • Roger

          If that is Reynold´s point, and not my point, then why are you responding to me?

          Steve´s original point was that this argument was invalid because it did not prove that god existed. My reply was that it was not trying to prove that god existed, hell, Bob even agreed with my reply. I do not think Christians are persecuted, I never mentioned that Christians are persecuted and your reply to me was a complete non sequitor. If you were replying to Reynolds and not to what I as actually arguing in this thread, then your comment was a non sequitor, which is ok, we all make mistakes, but dont try to argue that it was not.

          I have made it as clear as possible, if you still can´t understand this, there is nothing esle I can do.

        • adam

          ¨in America¨

          Seriously?

          Reynold’s point is that he is afraid of christian persecution.
          Is he writing for Soviet Russia IN THE PAST?

          Seriously?

        • adam

          “So yes, you are completely off topic since no one was talking about Christian persecution in America.”

          Who cares if it is about ‘persecution’ in ‘America today’.

          this whole article is about ‘persecution’ and christian persecution complex.

        • adam

          Just more deception from the Liars for Christ….

        • adam

          “faith” is an emotion, so I can understand your point.

          But I am not angry, just making a point.

          “For example, like posting a quote from John Stewart about how Christians are not persecuted when NO ONE in this conversation has made the claim that Christians are persecuted.”

          “Christians in their millions prayed and prayed and prayed for an end to persecution,”

          Steven Carr a day ago

          And Greg G is correct, this whole article is about ‘persecution’ and christian persecution complex.

          Do you believe that he is ‘angry’ at an imaginary god that he doesnt believe in?

        • Roger

          Steve Carr dumb coment (because that is what it is) was not refering to persecution in America today and this should be clear because he said ¨Their god passed by on the other side while his children were killed.¨

          Jon Stewart is talking about Christian persecution today in America and this is painfully clear if you read the quote.

          So yes, you are completely off topic since no one was talking about Christian persecution in America.

          Is reading comprehension really that much of an obstacle for today´s youth?

        • adam

          How is it a dumb comment when it is demonstrably TRUE?

          “So yes, you are completely off topic since no one was talking about Christian persecution in America.”

          Who cares if it is about ‘persecution’ in ‘America today’.

          this whole article is about ‘persecution’ and christian persecution complex.

    • I tend to agree with Roger that Reynolds would acknowledge that his post was no argument for God. Rather, he’s saying that prudence demands that we not give anti-theists power.

      Don’t vote for me–I’m an atheist.

      • MNb

        Excellent advise – all those atheist politicians that have ruined many European countries since 1945 …..

    • Greg G.

      Should #3 be “Therefore, there is no god”?

  • 90Lew90

    I’ve been slugging it out a little bit lately at Vlad Chituc’s increasingly ridiculous nonprophetstatus blog. It’s really hard to dislike Chituc, so don’t dislike him. I think his heart is solidly in the right place. But editorially he’s really pushing this (false?) dichotomy between atheists and anti-theists and it is just such painfully effete college-boy stuff that every time I read his entries my blood gets up. For want of an actual message, this results in most of his content flagging up ‘things anti-theists do that I (an atheist) wouldn’t dream of because it’s beneath me’. Things got combative there when it was suggested the Charlie Hebdo staff might have provoked (and by extension deserved) the murderous attack on them and the symbolic attack on freedom of expression.

    This line of thinking has recently been continued in a ridiculously prissy go at Bill Maher for daring to crack a joke at the expense of Bruce Jenner (who I’m glad to say I’d never heard of). This kind of limp-wristed accomodationism plays straight into the hands of hysterical Christians like this guy Reynolds. For taking an anti-theist line I’ve been largely ignored by Chituc (to be honest I’m expecting a ban for being a bit hard on all manner of bleaters and mewlers there), and I’ve been accused of being a misogynist (an all-time first!), a sexist (also a first, I think), transphobic, having “misgendered” some man who became a woman but who still likes women and is therefore also queer, which makes me homophobic too, bizarrely; and a white male fake liberal cis-het bigot!

    Goodness preserve us from the precious PC brigade on our own side of the god question. I’m all for subtlety and nuance, but sometimes truths are unpalatable, whatever of our sensibilities, and it’s a bit difficult to articulate your objections to organised religion if you’re constantly minding yourself (self-censoring) because you might hurt the feelings of a religious person, which is pretty much every time you make the slightest objection. Grumble. I guess I’m just a ‘young fogey.’ I’ve discovered google ads thinks I’m aged somewhere between 45 and 54. Bastards.

    • Greg G.

      Bruce Jenner set an Olympic record while winning the gold medal for the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics.

    • MNb

      “It’s really hard to dislike Chituc”
      Then you’re a better person than me, because I do.

      “(false?) dichotomy between atheists and anti-theists”
      Interesting question. Reynolds gives the definition: anti-theists

      “actively dislike and work against religion.”
      I actively dislike several religions and especially several interpretations (all fundamentalistic ones, for instance) of religions plus of course many authorities of religions. Also you could say that I work against religion in my job my teaching critical thinking skills. I like it when pupils don’t take for granted what I teach. One of my favourite phrases in class is “Everybody agrees with me? How dull.”
      At the other hand, when a kid is in trouble, I’m not above calling the help of a religious authority to get the kid on the right track again. I rather have a kid going to church/ mosque/ temple and passing exam than a kid not going and failing that exam.
      So I guess that I’m a part time anti-theist.

      “Goodness preserve us from the precious PC brigade on our own side of the god question.”
      Yeah, I have witnessed you running into that brigade. Highly amusing. I rather have you PinC. That’s way more fun.

      • 90Lew90

        Thankfully the welfare of any children is not something I have to worry about. And yeah, the PC brigade are beginning to get the knives out…

    • Have you heard about the recent debate about the PEN awards? It’s about free speech, and Charlie Hebdo got an award. In response, 6 writers withdrew.

      I guess it’s helped stimulate debate, but it highlights the difference between what Charlie Hebdo said (I think it was great, but not all agree) and their right to say just about whatever offensive shit they want (everyone in the West, especially writers, should support this).

      I haven’t hung out at Vlad’s blog. I don’t think I want to.

      • 90Lew90

        Thanks for this. I hadn’t heard about it and I’m pretty surprised at John Carey’s withdrawal. He’s the only one of the six I know anything about and I’d have thought he’d be on board. I subscribe to English PEN by email and there hasn’t been a mention and I don’t read the papers any more. Think I overdosed. I fear for Europe at the moment. It’s fragmenting into nationalism again and the European Union was the best thing that came out of a terrible 20th Century. The Germans are providing spine but it’s begun to look a bit fragile and to have ISIS at the heel and Putin on the shoulders of an increasingly nationalistic Europe the whole thing begins to look quite precarious. Angel Merkel is the only major league politician in Europe I trust at the minute.

        And I agree, everyone in the West should support ideals that transcend nationalistic squabbles that can so quickly get out of hand. I couldn’t give a flying fuck if a muslim gets offended because someone drew Mohammad. There really are more important things at stake. “The War” is in the less-distant past to me than most my age because my father was in it, his brother was in it right the way through and his father lived through both of them, including surviving the Somme and Ypres. Misplaced political correctness is about the last thing anyone needs now and I can’t help but be infuriated by it.

        Vlad… Too well-meaning and too good looking to get angry with…

        [To self: Stop it Lew. This is neither the time nor the place.]

  • 1. “The atheists of Russia, China, North Korea, Cambodia, [and] Albania came to their atheism and then picked a social and economic system compatible with their general worldview.”

    Marxism itself had atheism as part of its worldview. We do not know whether each Marxist was an atheist already, or become so by then adopting Marxism. Anyway it’s kind of irrelevant, since there have been plenty of non-Marxist atheists, and indeed vehemently opposed to it.

    Nope. These were dictatorships, and religion was an[sic] problem. You can’t have a proper dictatorship with the church as an alternate authority. Solution: eliminate religion. Atheism was merely a tool.

    On the other hand, I still disagree that the Marxist attack on religion was simply about stamping out competition. I’m sure there was an element of that, but most Marxists also truly believed that religion had to be eliminated (by force if necessary) to usher in their utopia. You can research this for yourself-it’s not just my opinion. This is anti-theism, not atheism, another feature of most Marxist ideologies. Distinguishing these is necessary-many atheists are not anti-theists, and some anti-theists aren’t atheists. There is also the difference between being anti-religious and anti-theist, though in this case I’d say they were both. Further, there is a massive difference between an anti-theist who says “Belief in gods has harmful social effects, etc.” using criticism to combat this, and those that add “So we must eliminate it by force.” To conflate them is wrong.

    The only nations that have been officially atheistic have been uniformly horrible.

    You can’t decouple their atheism from Marxism, no matter how much it’s been attempted. In any case, “official atheism” by definition means imposing a belief on those who don’t share it. Most of the population, in these cases. That is always going to be repressive. To put the blame where it belongs, it say look at Marxism (at least their own version of it).

    2. “Atheism was used as a reason for persecution in all of these nations.”

    Again, you cannot decouple it from Marxism and anti-theism. So unless an atheist is also both of those things, I don’t think it can be used as a fair critique.

    Control was the reason for persecution in dictatorships. Atheism was just a tool, like a scalpel used to murder.

    Here too, however, it is not so simple. While control certainly was motive to persecute in Marxist dictatorships, as with others, anti-theism or promotion of atheism were specific motives within and without that too. Both these things can be true at the same time.

    I think way too many false dichotomies and generalizations have been made here.

    Though it wasn’t directly mentioned, “killing in the name of atheism” is a charge often made by theists, and denied by atheists. I don’t think it’s impossible, unlike many atheists, any more than you can kill in the name of other negative beliefs (related to the above, anti-communism is a good example). However, I’d say in most cases that is going to be one part of a package. Regardless, it’s wrong to lump in all atheists with this, as is done. It’s pure association fallacy.

    • wtfwjtd

      I’ve often wondered what the theist’s antidote for atheist totalitarian regimes would be. So often, they intimate that a theocratic totalitarian regime would be a wonderful utopia to live in, a perfect fix to all of our “government” problems. Of course, these are just as brutally oppressive, if not more so, than any so-called “atheist” regime. Why can’t they ever bring themselves to admit that, the United States (and other countries too) with its secular constitution, does a far better job of protecting its citizens from persecution due to religious (or non-religious) belief than their biblical model of theocracy ever would or could?

      • Dylan McInnis

        Because, while I agree with you, the United States is a terrible model for any type of utopia. The obvious sign though, is that the government of United States is a step in the right direction (self-governance), but it is nowhere near there yet. That doesn’t mean we should revert to old government like these people think we should.

      • You’re right, I’d say they don’t offer a very good antidote aside from that one. It bears mentioning that secularism protects religion too, and indeed early secularists were certainly not atheists. They had seen far too many religious wars in Europe which left millions dead, devastated entire countries and tore populations apart.

      • I could have sworn I’d replied here… No matter. I agree with you, and so do/did religious people who are secularist. Secularists like John Locke weren’t atheists (in fact sadly he opposed extending religious liberty to us) but religious. They had seen centuries of bloodshed in Europe over religion, and knew having secularism protected minority religions from established ones. For instance, even in American states like Virginia early on the Anglicans were the established church, and minorities such as Baptists were the champions of secularism since they were legally persecuted (people were prohibited from publicly preaching without a license, which the state allowed only to ministers of the official religion). How things change…

        • wtfwjtd

          Absolutely, most atheists, myself included, want government that’s religion-neutral. I see we have religious posters above here claiming that it’s impossible to for the religious to advocate for secular government. Not so; as you have clearly shown, this was a common line of thought in the early days of our nation, and is an idea that needs to be emphasized and revived today.

        • I wish the history were more known. It’s in any religion’s best interest to have secularism, since they can always d find themselves out of power and persecuted if one is established.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      I upvoted for balance. I’m not looking to defend my headspace over such issues as what worldviews caused people to kill each other. What matters is agreement that ‘myself being murdered is bad’ and working to decrease the chances of any of we people becoming murderers.

    • KarlUdy

      You can’t decouple their atheism from Marxism, no matter how much it’s been attempted.

      There has been at least one example of an official atheist regime that was not Marxist. It certainly deserves to be classified as “horrible”.

      • I’m referring to Marxist regimes here. Which regime do you mean? The only other partial example I can think of is the Jacobins who dechristianized France during the Reign of Terror and instituted the Cult of Reason (partial because others including Robespierre were deists, supporting the Cult of the Supreme Being).

        • KarlUdy

          That would be an example

        • Were you thinking about another?

        • KarlUdy

          That was the one I was thinking about

        • Ah, ok. Very few people mention or seem to know about it. Unsurprisingly, the Bolsheviks admired the Jacobins and saw themselves as something of their successors.

        • MNb

          Problem is that the Cult of Reason above was also quite religious in character …..

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_of_Reason

          Note “a replacement of christianity”. It can be shown that marxism and to some extent also nazism also were replacements. That quite weakens the claim that people were killed in the name of atheism.
          Look, as long as you state that atheists are capable of all kind of horrors I’m with you. The sensible approach though is to recognize that the best protection against such horrors is a secular political system. And nowadays in the USA (in stark contrast to any European country) it’s christians who try to undermine it. Reynolds doesn’t want to recognize it and rather draws the “fear atheism” card.
          What about you?

          Even the anti-theists he’s complaining about do not undermine the secular political system. Nowhere. In no single country. In fact in Europe christians generally (France might be an exception) get more governmental support than in the USA. For instance

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_school_(Netherlands)

          Though this arrangement can annoy me now and then it’s generally a non-problem. One of the funny consequences is that Dutch orthodox-protestant schools (and Dutch orthodox-protestants are as fundamentalistic as their American counterparts) are obliged to teach Evolution Theory.

        • KarlUdy

          Problem is that the Cult of Reason above was also quite religious in character …..

          It certainly was, which was why they appropriated Notre Dame for worship of reason. But if atheism is simply the lack of belief in a god, then … well, you can’t have it both ways!

          I would like to agree with your suggestion that a secular political system is the best protection, but … and this may simply be a case of wording … but wasn’t Soviet Russia a secular political system?

          What do you think about a non-parochial democratic system? Non-parochial, so there is no bias to belonging to a particular religion (or none), and democratic so that it represents the choices of the general population.

          Even so, democracy is not immune to corruption (the words, pork-barrel, gerrymandering, etc are peculiarly democratic problems) and as a system of government is relatively young and may yet prove to result in failures as catastrophic as other systems.

        • but wasn’t Soviet Russia a secular political system?

          Secular in that it wasn’t religious, but I would think that it being a dictatorship was the more important factor.

          How about a democratic secular political system?

        • MNb

          “wasn’t Soviet Russia a secular political system?”
          No – state ideology.

          “a non-parochial democratic system”
          If you prefer to call it this way.

          “democracy is not immune to corruption”
          Alas, yes.

        • RichardSRussell

          You know, Karl, you don’t have to be coy. You’re allowed to use simple declarative sentences.

    • I still disagree that the Marxist attack on religion was simply about stamping out competition. I’m sure there was an element of that, but most Marxists also truly believed that religion had to be eliminated (by force if necessary) to usher in their utopia.

      They wanted religion eliminated for some other reason than that religion held sway over people? Modern atheists will say that religion is a problem if for no other reason than that its claims are wrong. Are you saying that this was a factor as well?

      I could believe that, but I’m trying to figure out how this fits into the big picture. Was getting people to drop false beliefs an essential part of the Marxist agenda? My own understanding (could be wrong) is that the bigger issue is eliminating the competition.

      many atheists are not anti-theists, and some anti-theists aren’t atheists

      There are theists who are anti-theists?

      there is a massive difference between an anti-theist who says “Belief in gods has harmful social effects, etc.” using criticism to combat this, and those that add “So we must eliminate it by force.” To conflate them is wrong.

      Yes, and this is a key problem with Reynolds’ thinking IMO.

      I think way too many false dichotomies and generalizations have been made here.

      I’m quite aware of the oversimplification in Reynolds’ essay, but perhaps I’m guilty as well.

      “killing in the name of atheism” is a charge often made by theists, and denied by atheists. I don’t think it’s impossible, unlike many atheists, any more than you can kill in the name of other negative beliefs (related to the above, anti-communism is a good example).

      I suppose you’re right if we don’t critique the chain of logical steps that get from “I don’t have a god belief” to “you gotta die,” but I was saying that there is no such well-reasoned set of steps; therefore, my atheism can’t properly be used as the justification for my killing someone.

      The Bible can be used to justify just about everything. My 4/17 post was in response to a pastor who wants to stone gays, a la Leviticus.

      • My point was to say it wasn’t simply about eliminating competition (while that was part of too).

        I should have been more specific. I’m thinking of deists that were anti-theists here, but I admit it’s academic.

        I was actually criticizing Reynolds for generalizing and so on. Again, should be more specific, sorry.

        I don’t think killing in the name of atheism is reasonable, but nor is killing in the name of God necessarily. My point wasn’t to say that it’s reasonable, but (in my opinion) that it’s possible. Naturally any religion has more justifications to do things than atheism by itself, since they’re collections of beliefs by themselves.

        • adam

          “but nor is killing in the name of God necessarily. ”

          It has to be if you believe that the bible is it’s ‘Word’.

        • I was talking about if killing in the name of atheism or God was reasonable. Killing gays because you feel Leviticus is still binding doesn’t seem reasonable to me (and most Christians seem to agree).

        • adam

          That is only because you have better morals than the ‘god’ of the bible.

          The ‘god’ of the bible certainly commands killing.

        • I’d like to think so, and I’m not disputing that the God of the Bible ever commands killing (obviously he does) but whether it was reasonable.

        • adam

          What about believing in an imaginary ‘god’ is reasonable?

          And I still think it is GREAT that you have better morals than the ‘god’ you worship.

          But why call it ‘God’, then?

        • I don’t think it’s reasonable. That’s why I’m an atheist. You seem to be assuming something of my views that isn’t true.

        • adam

          My bad.
          My apologies

        • Not to worry.

  • Without Malice

    There is no question that the church, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, was historically aligned with the despots in power. This is why the Marxist wanted to be rid of religion. It’s the same reason the people of France – Christians nearly all – led one priest after another to the chopping block and why every enlightened society has seen fit to diminish the power of the church.

  • Greg G.

    Just as I always expected – today’s SMBC comic.

  • Carmen

    Mao used the tools of religion to promote himself as a god of sorts, so that his motives and actions would not be questioned. This was not difficult as Chinese emperors had divine authority. If you read Jung Chang’s Wild Swans, you can see exactly how this worked in a fear / worship sort of way. That’s why they call it the “Cult of Mao.”

    • Carmen

      And Mao also followed Stalin’s methods closely. He was a huge fan of Stalin.

    • Psycho Gecko

      Plus, there’s a long tradition of ancestor worship in China

  • RichardSRussell

    Hitler was a mass murderer, too, and he explicitly was motivated by religion, specifically by a long German tradition of anti-Semitism in both the Catholic and Lutheran faiths, which he capitalized on.

    Meanwhile, not that I’m standing up for Stalin or anything, but the millions of deaths under his regime were more due to neglect than abuse. He wasn’t actively out to kill people so much as ignore them until they starved to death or perished in plagues. If he’d really been motivated by his atheism (or even his Communism), he would’ve taken some pains to kill off only (or at least mainly) non-atheists or non-Communists, but he didn’t. His supposed compatriots and fellow travelers perished right along with all the rest. He just didn’t give a shit.

    • MNb

      No. Starving Ukraine in the 30’s was deliberate.

    • NekoOnna

      Stalin deserves no pass. The Purges of the 30’s were deliberate. The 14.5 million dead due to forced collectivisation were deliberate. The murder of Soviet citizens who lived in Nazi-occupied territories during the Great Patriotic War (WWII) because Stalin doubted their ideological purity- that was deliberate. Stalin was an unrepentant mass murderer. Be that as it may, he is NOT an example of “genocide in the name of atheism”.

      • adam

        ” Be that as it may, he is NOT an example of “genocide in the name of atheism”.”

        Exactly

        it was genocide in the name of Stalinism, and those who were killed were astalinists and anti-stalinists.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalinism

  • Sophia Sadek

    Communists are religious. They worship Marx, Engels and Lenin as much as Christians worship Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

    • Terry Gentry

      That is just plain ignorant…Christians worship only Jesus

      • Sophia Sadek

        I suppose it could be said that True Christians only worship Jesus and Untrue Christians worship Joseph and Mary as well.

      • Aren’t all persons® of the Trinity worthy of worship?

        I suspect that Sophia was using “worship” in a broader sense, though when you look at North Korea, I think the Kims may form a holy Trinity to which the average citizen gives as much praise and worship as an average Christian gives.

        • Andrea Fitzgerald

          Mary and Joseph aw not part of the trinity.

        • Greg G.

          It seems that the largest Christian cult venerates Mary above the Trinity in practice even if it is not acknowledged that way in their theology. They pray to Mary and even see her in stains.

  • Psycho Gecko

    So let’s see…Stalin and his Christian underlings worked to kill off people who weren’t loyal to Stalin’s political views. Pol Pot wanted to rewrite history to portray himself as a god, which is why his regime targeted intellectuals, atheists, and anyone who happened to wear glasses. The Chinese have been taught to worship Mao as a god and have a history of ancestor worship. The North Koreans attribute miracles to the Kim family, the members of which continue to hold high government positions such as President even after death.

    Doesn’t sound like a lot of atheism there.

    We already know about Hitler, the Crusades, and Pogroms, but let’s take a short trip to South America, like to Argentina’s Dirty War, where a military dictatorship did whatever they needed to protect the country from what they felt were attacks on their conservative Christian way of life. And that could practically be a quote. They really said that’s why they were doing it. To that end, they kidnapped and tortured people. They disappeared people, never to be found again. The possessions of the Disappeared were often divvied up to supporters of the regime, including the kids of the Disappeared. Yep, if loyal supporters didn’t seem to be fertile, they could just ask to keep the baby for their own next time a couple gets disappeared. One little trick they liked to do with prisoners, too, was put them onto a plane, drug them, strip them naked, and throw them into a big river while they still had their chains on. Sounds haunting to kill someone that way, right? Any soldiers who thought so were soothed by Catholic priests back at base who assured them they were doing the Lord’s work.

    You’ll find that the Catholic church was either complicit in or at least not critical of Latin American dictatorships, with a few notable exceptions (like Oscar Romero, who was chosen because they thought he wouldn’t be critical of the dictator).