Don’t Vote for Atheists—They Like to Kill People! (2 of 2)

Don’t Vote for Atheists—They Like to Kill People! (2 of 2) May 30, 2019

I’ve written several posts in response to version 2 of the Stalin Argument. Version 1 is often stated this way: “Don’t talk to me about Christian excesses. Look at the deaths from atheist regimes in the twentieth century! Stalin alone is responsible for millions of deaths.”

John Mark Reynolds has given this a fun new V2.0 twist by looking forward to what atheists might do when society’s back is turned. Here’s my paraphrase: “While atheists as individuals might be nice enough, they’ve invariably created murderous regimes when given the chance. They can’t be trusted with power!”

Reynolds’ post has given me a chance to respond to the popular Stalin Argument. I’ll conclude my critique of his latest (read part 1).

Is religion ever part of the problem?

Reynolds assures us that anti-theists (atheists who “actively dislike and work against religion”) can’t be trusted with power, while Christians are no problem.

The universal problem has not been official state religion, but official state irreligion.

Nope. Official state religion has indeed been a problem.

In response to my previous post on Reynolds’ claims, some commenters were quick to point out incidents where religion has much to apologize for. Some of these examples are small and some are huge. In some, religion was the driving force, while others simply highlight atrocities done by religious people who should’ve known better.

  • Christian: Hutu genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda, up to 1 million dead
  • Catholic: Leopold of Belgium ran the Congo Free State as his personal plantation, killing up to 15 million
  • Muslim: Armenian genocide, up to 2 million
  • Christian: witch burning (mostly in the Holy Roman Empire), about 35,000
  • Shinto/Buddhist: Japanese atrocities against civilians in Korea and China
  • Christian: European settlers to Australia, South Africa, and the Americas killed indigenous people
  • Catholic: extermination of Cathars in France
  • Hindu: Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka
  • Christian: pogroms against Jews and the Holocaust, for which Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic writings must take some blame
  • The Taiping Rebellion in China killed 20+ million in the mid-1800s (the Taipings wanted to convert China to their version of Christianity)
  • Catholics vs. Protestants: French Wars of Religion in the late 1500s killed up to 4 million
  • Catholics vs. Protestants: the Thirty Years’ War in the early 1600s killed up to two percent of the world’s population. By contrast, if we say that Stalin was responsible for 10 million deaths, that would be just 0.4 percent of the world population of 1950.
  • Catholic vs. Muslim: the Crusades also killed up to two percent of the world’s population
  • The Nazi Holocaust of Jews was driven by German anti-Semitism encouraged by Luther
  • And more

Reynolds would respond to this list by saying that he never claimed that Christians were perfect. But if we agree that Christian moral principles can be subordinated by an unethical agenda (land grab, religious hysteria, racism or tribalism, or whatever), then acknowledge that atheism can also be hijacked in the same way.

Others respond with elaborate forms of the tu quoque fallacy: Christians have done it too. Well, so we have, but we have also not done it which puts us well ahead of anti-theists in the use of power.

Make it an apples-to-apples comparison. Bring out the atheist regimes that were not dictatorships.

Can’t do it? Then we’re back to dictatorship as the obvious cause of the problem.

Atheists today are simply living off morality taught by Christianity

As a tiny group in most nations, [atheism] tends to live off the cultural patrimony of the majority (or the historic majority). For example, Western Europe has a larger group of atheists [than in the United States], but the society they live in came of Christian social movements at the end of the Second World War.

Christianity has driven positive social change. A century ago, social change was everywhere in America, and Christians were leaders in women’s suffrage, the treatment of immigrants, prison and asylum reform, temperance and prohibition, racial inequality, child labor and compulsory elementary school education, women’s education, protection of women from workplace exploitation, equal pay for equal work, communism and utopian societies, unions and the labor movement, pure food laws, and more.

Today, Christians make more news by their resistance to social change, but we must give credit where it’s due. Christians have done a lot to improve society. But it’s not like they taught us information found only in their holy books. Each of these social improvements is a rejection of the complementary principle in an Old Testament theocracy. Most of this improvement wasn’t driven by Christianity but by people who simply happened to be Christian.

Atheism vs. secularism

Small, persecuted religious groups have often fled to form new groups. Small religious groups, like the Quakers, develop cohesive beliefs and establish communities. Some of these have been mostly good and some have been mostly bad. Atheism has not managed to do so.

How about the Puritans? They were a cohesive community, but they were also an intolerant Christian theocracy. Contrast them with American society today, which isn’t an atheist society but rather a secular one. One of the greatest gifts the United States has made to the world is the example of the first society governed by a secular constitution.

As for his imaginary atheistic society, what does that even mean? “I have no god belief” provides no guidance for how to build a healthy and fair society. It’s not supposed to. By contrast, Christianity has much to say about society and morality, and lots of that is crap.

Atheists and even anti-theists like me don’t want an atheist dictatorship. If there are Western anti-theists chafing at the prohibitions against killing Christians or imposing atheism, I’ve never heard of a single one. A secular government suits them just fine. We’re happy to simply point out the flaws of Christianity in the secular public square.

I am proud of the fact that despite its shortcomings, the United States which has always been overwhelmingly Christian has a decent track record of tolerating atheist dissent.

Thank the founding fathers. America has been tolerant despite Christianity, not because of it. Christians make news in this country when they want to exceed the bounds imposed by the Constitution—injecting religious messages in schools, teaching Creationism in the science classroom, putting up “In God We Trust” in government buildings and Christian displays on public property, praying before government meetings, and otherwise expecting special treatment for their religious beliefs in the state-supported public square.

And what’s “tolerating atheist dissent” supposed to mean? The assumption is that Christianity is the default, and everyone else is a dissenter? Nope—read the Constitution.

It would be comforting if my anti-theist friends would at least admit there is no happy human experience with anti-theist governance.

It would be comforting if my religious friends would at least admit that this dictatorial anti-theism bogeyman is unwanted by both Christians and atheists. No one is calling for a Stalinist dictatorship. The closest we get in America today are tiny voices calling for Dominionism (Christian theocracy) and Sharia law (Muslim theocracy). The status quo in the West, where a secular society rejects both religion and anti-theism in the public square, is the best thing for everyone.

Conclusion

I agree that anti-theism was important to Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. They were dictators! Dictators can’t have the population confused about whom to give allegiance to, so they eliminate Christianity as a competing source of power. Atheism in their hands was a tool, not a goal. Reynolds has claimed otherwise but given us no reason to reject this obvious cause-and-effect relationship.

I want the First Amendment guarantees of speech, religion, press, and assembly defended for you just as strongly as I want them defended for me. If you can’t speak freely, I can’t expect to, either.

The secular government we have in the West today is the best for all. We must govern with reason rather than faith. We have yet to see a society that suffered from an excess of reason. I’m an anti-theist in that I would like to see religion gone from the world and I’m outraged at Christian excesses, but prohibiting religion or persecuting believers isn’t the way to go.

I don’t want religion made illegal. Instead, I want to see society to grow out of its need for religion.

Religion recedes
whenever human security
and well-being rises.

Daniel Dennett

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 5/6/15.)

Image from WikiArt, CC license

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • skl

    We’ll never know for sure how Lenin, Stalin, Mao, etc. would
    have answered this survey –

    “Most atheists believe in the supernatural, despite trusting science”

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2204958-most-atheists-believe-in-the-supernatural-despite-trusting-science/

    (But we could know for sure how commenters here would answer.)

    • Michael Neville

      And your point is what?

      • RichardSRussell

        Hang out here for awhile and you’ll discover that skl’s point is ALWAYS that Christianity is true, and any criticism of it is unjustified. There’s usually some kind of excuse, no matter how lame. If no excuses are readily available, the fallback is an attempt to divert the discussion into some sidetrack where she/he/it (say it fast) feels more comfortable.

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        they lacks the sense and argumentative chops to actually have a point, he is simple a free floating non sequitur ending with ‘yay christianity’

      • epeeist

        And your point is what?

        This is skl we are talking about, the skl of “Lying weasels are us”…

      • 24CaratHooligan

        I think they may be heading down the “no atheists in foxholes” route. I wouldn’t know since I’m not strictly an atheist, more of a Pagan, but I still trust in science.

    • I will pray Mielikki, the Forest Queen, for you.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Are there any fertility goddesses out there with a soft spot for short old bald fat guys?

        😉

        • 24CaratHooligan

          All of them darling, all of them. 😉

    • Norman Parron

      Atheism is I don’t believe in a gawd! Especially yours! It does not mean an atheist is intelligent or a critical thinker!

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      Atheists can be credulous and lack critical thinking skills.

      Based on the same evidence all religious people do, so not sure this is an argument you want to advance.

    • They would answer “no” to it, and believing in something supernatural isn’t incompatible with atheism so long as it’s not gods.

      • skl

        I wish the article had identified the various non-god
        supernatural things the majority of the atheists believe in. I’d like to see
        the list.

        Maybe you and others here could show theirs.

    • Michael Murray

      Given that atheism means not holding a belief in gods I’m not sure what your point is ?

      The New Scientist is pretty rubbish IMHO. I say that as someone who used to read it a lot and wanted to like it. Also not much point in linking to it as we can’t get past the first paragraph without a subscription.

    • I don’t see that in the original report.
      https://research.kent.ac.uk/understandingunbelief/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2019/05/UUReportRome.pdf

      The report was a study of Nones, and most of those may well believe in the supernatural.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Yeah, but when has an unwelcome reality ever broken past skl’s rose-colored Joo Janta Peril-Sensitive glasses?

        😉

        https://hitchhikers.fandom.com/wiki/Joo_Janta_200_Super-Chromatic_Peril_Sensitive_Sunglasses

      • skl

        The report was a study of Nones

        Except that the actual report says it was a study of ‘Unbelievers’
        vis-à-vis the general population.

        And one of its Key Findings is

        5. Unbelief in God doesn’t necessarily
        entail unbelief in other supernatural phenomena. Atheists and (less so)
        agnostics exhibit lower levels of supernatural belief than do the wider
        populations. However, only minorities of atheists or agnostics in each
        of our countries appear to be thoroughgoing naturalists.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Except that the actual report says it was a study of ‘Unbelievers’ vis-à-vis the general population.

          Which if you read further into the report, includes the “nones”, but whatever.

          “Most atheists believe in the supernatural, despite trusting science”

          The title is a bit of disingenuous hyperbole. It would be better if it read…

          “Most atheists believe in at something that is supernatural, despite trusting science”

          So, what exactly is your point?

          5. Unbelief in God doesn’t necessarily entail unbelief in other supernatural phenomena.

          No shit Sherlock!

          Atheism is the answer to one question. After that, what atheists believe in, can range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

          Atheists and (less so) agnostics exhibit lower levels of supernatural belief than do the wider populations.

          Indeed. Because pound for pound, atheists are less gullible than theists, even those those atheists daft enough to believe in some things considered supernatural.

          However, only minorities of atheists or agnostics in each of our countries appear to be thoroughgoing naturalists.

          Apart from on the rare occasion in my experience, the atheist that generally go online to places like this, are from the minority category. Which is the 35% for the US.

          Having no belief in gods doesn’t exclude one from holding all sorts of woo-woo ideas. I’m surprised that this has come as some sort of epiphany moment to you and that you think it has some sort of overall relevance…well, nah, not really all that surprised I suppose.

        • OK, thanks for sharing. Is this just an interesting factoid, or is there something substantial here that I’m missing?

        • Ignorant Amos

          What you are missing is the bit that skl seems to be asserting in…

          “Hey all you thoroughgoing naturalist atheists on CE, there are a lot of other atheists that are just as dumb as me and believe a lot of supernatural woo woo too! So how do ya like them apples?”

          Stupid is, as stupid does.

        • skl

          Is this just an interesting factoid, or is
          there something substantial here that I’m missing?

          There must be something substantial, otherwise you wouldn’t
          have tried watering-down the report with the “Nones” nonsense.

        • Yeah? What is it then? I confess that I’ve missed it. Help me out, Dr. Freud.

        • Greg G.

          The report was a study of Nones

          Except that the actual report says it was a study of ‘Unbelievers’
          vis-à-vis the general population.

          What’s with the hair-splitting? From page 6 of the “l i n k” provided by Bob:

          This multi-year research programme is motivated by
          the growing public, scholarly, and media interest in
          atheism, nonreligion, and secularity, fueled by the growing
          proportions of religious ‘nones’ and ‘unbelievers’ in
          many countries, the flourishing of secularist activism and
          nonreligious cultures such as ‘New Atheism’, and urgent
          policy debates around the status and rights of atheists,
          agnostics, humanists, and related groups.

          The word “l i n k” is spelled that way to avoid the moderation trigger.

          Edit: Dammit! It still got moderated.

        • The bad word was “urgent.” No kidding.

          I found what may be the master list that controls this blog. I’ve tried removing ordinary words, so let’s see if I can use words like “link” or “urgent” without moderation.

        • Nope. Try again: link urgent.

        • OK. Link and urgent now don’t annoy the troll under the bridge.

          Editing this list does seem to work. This may be a temporary fix, but obvious words in the dictionary are largely OK now.

        • Kodie

          This does not seem good.

    • Ellabulldog

      not true at all. supernatural doesn’t exist.

  • Odd Exonerated Oranges

    “I agree that anti-theism was important to Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. They were dictators! Dictators can’t have the population confused about whom to give allegiance to, so they eliminate Christianity as a competing source of power.”

    The crackdown on churches and clergy in Russia did not last very long, and at the end of Stalins time, there were more churches than when he first started the crackdown. Of course, the church had learned its place by then, and posed no threat to the status quo.

    • He basically revived it as a puppet of the regime.

      • Greg G.

        Did Stalin do it himself, or did the churches fall in line as white evangelicals in the US have done more recently?

        • I think he did it in the 1940s, although obviously some of the Church officials went along with that.

  • Dennis Keane

    “I am proud of the fact that despite its shortcomings, the United States which has always been overwhelmingly Christian has a decent track record of tolerating atheist dissent.”

    While I agree with your note of “what is atheist dissent supposed to mean”, I should note that the track record isn’t all that decent.

    I would change atheist to “minority belief systems”, which I would include atheism. That gets us a long list:
    – 1844 anti-Catholic riots resulted in two churches burning and a number of deaths.
    – Christian terrorism that includes the Oklahoma City Bombing, abortion clinic attacks, etc (a long one too).
    – Numerous antisemitic attacks.
    – The Red Scare had a significant “godless” component.
    – The KKK was a Christian organization and their popularity (documented in photographs from the Washington DC march in 1926) was horrifying. These folks were actively trying to get the US government to formalize their beliefs that the US was strictly for white protestants.

    It was even necessary for US vs Seeger to show that a person could be a conscientious objector and not belong to some form of organized religion. For most of US history, being religious (and Christian) gave you several distinct advantages when dealing with the government, that atheists did not enjoy.

    I guess according to Mr. Reynolds, atheists and other minorities should be thankful that we weren’t rounded up and done away with – but it was the Constitution that protected us, not some noble Christian belief.

    • Pofarmer

      Uhm, yeah, and all the States, including my own State of MO, that still have laws in the books preventing Atheists from holding public office amid other things.

      • They are dead letters at least now, though some dearly would like to enforce them despite this.

  • epicurus

    Well put!

  • eric

    if we agree that Christian moral principles can be subordinated by an unethical agenda (land grab, religious hysteria, racism or tribalism, or whatever), then acknowledge that atheism can also be hijacked in the
    same way.

    Oh sure, it can be. But this is an argument for democratic/representative forms of government, where the people can remove leaders when they start to misbehave or pass repressive policies. Because all humans have flaws and sometimes those flaws are due to an individual’s ideology. But…this is not an argument against secular government.

    It would be comforting if my anti-theist friends would at least admit there is no happy human experience with anti-theist governance.

    I don’t know of any serious people who want or propose changing the US constitution to be anti-theist. Secular /= anti-theist, it just means no special treatment for religious ideologies.

    I guess one could argue that some French policies are anti-theist. But I don’t particularly defend them, and if one were to say that, then that would seem to provide a counter-example to his point because that would make France an anti-theist government with a relatively happy experience.

  • Norman Parron

    The religious BS is BS because THEY are the ones with a Big Book o’BS that tries to FORCE us into their idea, which many of them don’t even do themselves, but still claim the high moral ground. And their source of morality is pure crap. Where atheism is nothing but I don’t believe! Again Stalin was NOT an atheist regime, it was a totalitarian dogmatic system, not much different than isLame or the theocracy starting in AlaDAMNbama or Georgistan. Dogma in any form is evil!

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      See also “Mississippi God-DAMN!”

    • queenofmeanie

      He was catholic as well.

      • Michael Neville

        Russian Orthodox actually.

    • It was in fact state atheist.

  • Kodie

    I wish they would just get over the notion that all any atheist wants to do is force believers to stop believing, to renounce their gods, and aver that there is no god. That seems to be how many of them would like to run things, if they could, which is why you get presumption of Christianity in most places, and why you want to wage a war on Christmas or take this cross statue off public ground. Like, when they are forced to move that cross and plant it right in front of a church, as if they are taunting us that they’re allowed to put it there and didn’t have to destroy it instead. Like, when they take their kids out of public school because the school won’t stop teaching evolution, and home-school them, that’s their right. Nobody seems to be stopping them from raising brainwashed idiots, and some, as many of them as they can squeeze out in their window of fertility. Nobody is voting against those “anchor babies”. Nobody is calling them welfare queens for having too many children than they can afford, and living on donations, or maligning the perverts and molesters of the family, or forcing them to send their daughters to college so they can support themselves, rather than marry them off as teens.

    Not that all Christians are like that, but no Christians seem to be complaining about other Christians, by dismissing the extreme fundies as “low-hanging fruit”, not so much ridiculing them as ignoring how ridiculous they are and coming after plain old atheists by obstructing criticism against any Christians, because “we’re not all like that.” I know, goddammit. But these wishy-washy middle Christians believe some things, and sometimes not very forthcoming. They always want to know what god you don’t believe in, because they’re all pretty sure atheists are mad at the god who won’t give us a cookie whenever we ask, and never describe or explain what they really believe in, or how believing that generally affects their political and social views, i.e. what they support and who they’re against and what they’re not paying for. They’re hiding other potentially dangerous ideas by pretending their god is self-evident, and doesn’t need to be reasoned out. How many Christians have come here and explicitly stated that they would not argue their god, they would stick to their pile of questions, and then head off? Some try, but get into a jam, some wiggle out every angle they can find without every answering that one question, but so many have said before they start, they didn’t come here to argue for god or have any evidence.

    Another thing that drives me up a wall is people who think they are a generous person because they have Jesus in their heart, like buying a sandwich and a cup of coffee for a homeless person, because Jesus made them see that person needs a sandwich and a cup of coffee, and also to hear about how Jesus loves them. I kind of remember a while ago, some Christian on some blog (probably a different one), told us this story, pretty much how Christ made them be thoughtful and it made them feel so good to share Jesus with someone in need. I just loooove how satisfied they feel about themselves whenever they do one thing nice, that indwelling Jesus makes them so much kinder than an atheist could ever be.

    • eric

      I wish they would just get over the notion that all any atheist wants to do is force believers to stop believing, to renounce their gods, and aver that there is no god.

      I know. It’s like they completely forget about the baby roasts and compulsory gay orgies.

      • 24CaratHooligan

        Where?? Let me in!

    • Pofarmer

      You hit on something that I think is pretty important. The “moderate”, whatever that is, believers give cover for the fundamentalists. Well, yeah, they don’t beleive that stuff, but it’s ok them other guys do. What would work far better is correction from within the Christian community itself, but that ain’t happenin.

      • Phil Rimmer

        Honor among theists certainly was a thing.

        But Buttigieg?

        Just not sure.

        • Pofarmer

          Maybe he can change the conversation. The problem is though, when it comes to govt, we don’t want to be arguing which version of Christianity leads to the best best govt. It shouldn’t be involved, at all.

        • Greg G.

          But there are versions of Christianity that lead to bad government: Dominionism, Evangelicalism, anything that embraces creationism or ideas that humans can’t harm the environment, for starters.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m not sure there are any versions of Christianity that actually lead to good government.

        • epeeist

          I’m not sure that any ideologically driven system of ideas can lead to good government.

      • Ignorant Amos

        I’ve been sayin’ that for years. The liberal and moderates are giving succor to the wingnuts on the extremes.

        The RCC abuse scandal and the hand-wringers that play it down are a prime example.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, sometimes I think they envy the extremists. They wish they could have that kind of faith too.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There’s a thing now…closet fundies.

        • Kodie

          Is this like in-the-closet, or is this like terrorist cells?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Yes

        • Ignorant Amos

          Like “in-the-closet”…like the members of the clergy project who maintain the front of believing cleric, or the gay person who marries and has kids to hide their sexuality. Both groups likely envy the out-of-the-closet ones.

          Just me musing, pay no heed.

        • Kodie

          That’s closet atheists. I thought a closet fundie would be someone who was too embarrassed to be known by their extreme beliefs and pretended to be at least a moderate Christian, or you know, those moderate Christians always believe at least one really goofy thing they know they will get laughed at. Like, someone who has joined a cult in their mind, but prefers the community of their liberal church until they say something about LGBTQ rights, and this fundie knows they have to keep their prejudiced thoughts to themselves.

        • Greg G.

          I’m a closet Santaist. I secretly believe in Santa Closet. He hides the presents in the closets of each house beforehand so he doesn’t have to transport everything all at once.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The analogy was far from perfect.

          It’s like when the Muslims try to distance themselves from the extremist fundamentalists saying they are only a small minority. But when you see the data on research papers and polls such as Pew, the figures are a bit different.

          About one-third of respondents said they would tell the police if they knew someone who was getting involved with supporting terrorism in Syria. The same proportion refused to condemn people who take part in violence against those who mock the Prophet Muhammad. Almost one quarter said they favored replacing the British legal system with Islamic law.

          Clearly a third of British Muslims are not deemed extremists, but there seems to be some sympathy for them in the more mainstream believers.

      • Kodie

        I’m not sure what IA means by closet fundies, but it might be close to what I’m thinking. Liberal and moderate Christians and other theists definitely believe something. And who knows what it is. They aren’t protecting fundies and other extremists because they are afraid what they deeply believe to be true …. I mean, they always say “we’re not all like that”, and I think some of them are in denial. Most of them are at least partly a little bit like that. Maybe some farther off the path than others. They’re trying to deflect criticism by running right in to stand up for their “sensible” version of beliefs. And we’re supposed to say, oh sorry, I wasn’t talking about you, because if we don’t give this polite response, they feel like we’re persecuting them just for being a Christian, when every Christian thinks they’re not like that, and every Christian thinks their beliefs are sensible.

        We’re not talking about people, we’re talking about silly things they believe, and the offensive, oppressive, and sometimes really dangerous ways they manifest those beliefs in their behavior, and social interactions, and in their politics. We cannot really separate the beliefs from the people, per se, because that doesn’t make any sense. If it didn’t affect anything, we wouldn’t have to push against it, but it is fiction, and we live in reality, and the beliefs affect their behavior, social interactions, and their politics. Their fiction should not be allowed to inhabit our collective reality, that’s all. I would think liberal and moderate theists would be able to understand this. I think many think they are doing great because they are left-leaning, but still think atheists are trying to rip away their rights to believe in a god. And if going to church sometimes, and finding comfort in a bible passage (it’s still literature, after all that), and thinking you’re going to heaven when you die were all they thought, but I don’t see using the bible to hate someone, or vote against their rights…. I can’t even see the right-thinking of leveraging anything in the bible to propose any group of individual should have civil rights. To be inspired by the bible to do something right is fine, but to dictate a personal interpretation of a tiny sliver of the bible to others is the wrong way, as it insinuates that certain values originate from the bible.

        Come to think of it, nothing at all originated from the bible. No human behavior or value or moral or ethic or social action has ever originated from “god,” “Judeo-Christian values”, “Jesus”, nothing you or I think is good or bad, nothing new in that book. Anything anyone ever argues that we should do, if their reason is “god blah blah blah in the bible”, shove them off the stage. And just by taking this “what god thinks I said we should do” out, doesn’t mean people can’t believe in a god, it just means we can’t use that for a reason to get anything done. Put it in your own thoughts and stand up for the rationale that we should have whatever laws or rights.

    • Sample1

      That seems to be how many of them would like to run things, if they could,

      Bingo.

      They also frequently employ a style of attack upon atheism that other Christians use for Catholics (attack the authority claims) because that’s what they are used to. As if all other knowledge acquisition tools are just versions of their own template. I think it’s one of the harder things to tease apart when engaging them.

      Mike, excommunicated cum laude

  • Len

    I am proud of the fact that despite its shortcomings, the United States which has always been overwhelmingly Christian has a decent track record of tolerating atheist dissent.

    [emphasis mine]

    It’s a small step (or intentional sleight-of-hand / bait-and-switch) from getting people to accept that the US “has always been overwhelmingly Christian” (ie, the majority of its people have been Christians) to getting them to believe that it has always been a Christian country (ie, it was founded as such). Christian writers tend to use phrases like this to muddy the thinking of their audience, so the incorrect (non-constitutional) follow-up thought is easier to sell.

  • Brian Shanahan

    The bullshit about atheists depending on christan “morality” is especially galling. Because most morality doesn’t either have christian beginnings nor is it exclusively christian, and what is paleculiarly christian tends to be morally repugnant today (eg certain races are “natural slaves” is a wholly christian idea taken from the old testament).

    Take the most basic tenet of jurisprudence, the presumption of innocence, it has no relationship with christian ideas. The first mention of it was in Hammurabi’s law code and after the christian take over of Rome, it virtually disappears. There is no mention of the principle in the bible, and most law codes in European countries (which were based on christian principles) explicitly excluded presumption of innocence until the enlightenment.

    • Actually they revived it when the Roman laws were rediscovered, but not always in practice of course.

    • Michael Murray

      I guess “original sin” is more like “presumption of guilt”.

  • 24CaratHooligan

    I know for a fact that all those christians and muslims who perpetrated atrocities were not True Christians/MuslimsTM. I can’t speak for the Hindus or Buddhists because I don’t know any but I’m prepared to believe they also were not True. Maybe we should condemn Stalin as Not A True Atheist?

    • Greg G.

      Not A True Atheist

      I am adopting that!

      Not A True Atheist™

    • Greg G.

      BTW, Disqus doesn’t do some HTML, the “sup” tag, for example. But you can do this:

      ™ = ™

      • 24CaratHooligan

        Aha! I wondered why that came out wrong. CBA to edit… many thanks

        • wannabe

          I usually forget all that so I copy/paste™.

  • His own claims are a tu quoque and ad hominem in general. They conflate the most violent anti-theism to all others, and use this as a counterargument when Christian misdeeds are cited.

    You really need some evidence that to them atheism was simply a tool, not a goal. The works of various prominent Communists indicates otherwise, even prior to gaining power. Lenin for instance made this quite clear in books like “The Attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion”. They weren’t all so vicious, but antitheism and atheism were still definitely part of their overall ideology. However, to blame all atheists for this is nothing more than guilt by association.

    • Michael Neville

      The thing I find most annoying about Reynolds is his attitude: “Stalin was an atheist, therefore all atheists are Stalin”. But he rejects: “Torquemada was a Christian, therefore all Christians are Torquemada.”

      • Yep, more fallacies: association, then special pleading.

  • Damien Priestly

    Embarrassed Christians, no longer confident that religious dogma will be accepted by the public — instead turn to ad-hominem attacks. Atheists as 21st century Stalinists and Maoists…Why not go farther and say atheists are planet-destroying Darth-Vaders?

    It shows how weak religious arguments have become. Christians in the US have nothing to offer, they see society quickly turning into Europe-like secularism…so they panic and throw mud. Lame !!

    • Michael Neville

      I just posted a reply to this comment talking about Christians demonizing atheists and got “Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by Cross Examined.” Disqus is playing silly games again or else something I wrote hit a built-in censorship trigger (which is Patheos playing silly games).

      • epeeist

        I have one waiting on moderation too, on Brexit. I know this is a controversial subject but even so…

        EDIT: I must admit I did mention a certain incident involving a former prime minister and a pigs head…

        • Ignorant Amos

          The subject matter isn’t the problem. I’ve a couple “pending approval” on a few subjects and on different sites.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I had a comment flagged as spam a few days ago. I think it was my liberal use of caps that made disqus think it was a ranting Christian.

  • Ficino

    I think my comment below was held for moderation because, perhaps, I included the name of a certain leader of Italy in the 1920s-earlier 1940s. I gather this is a new filter added by Patheos?

    ETA: yes, I just tested with that same name and the name of a leader of Germany in the latter part of that period. And the test comment is waiting to be approved.

    This may make our commenting more difficult if we type things and don’t know what will trigger the filter.

  • Greg G.

    It is the “June 1, 2019” filter. We will have to figure out which words need to be misspelled.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Suzanne Titkemeyer at No Longer Quivering compiled a list:

      https://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/banned-words-in-comments/

      • Greg G.

        “J o b” is on the list? It’s a book in the Old Testament.

        • epeeist

          “J o b” is on the list?

          Yes, and strangely enough “incompetent” isn’t. Don’t the Patheos/Disqus developers actually consider the implications of a change like this?

          EDIT: I have tried posting my sentence “Hilter (properly spelled) became chancellor of Germany in 1933” on a couple of other sites that use Disqus. No moderation, so it looks like Patheos that is the problem.

        • Greg G.

          jack

          Edit: This was an experiment to see what word earned moderation. It was not this but “b l o w “.

        • Greg G.

          off

          Edit: This was an experiment to see what word earned moderation. It was not this but “b l o w “.

        • Greg G.

          jack off

          Edit: This was an experiment to see what word earned moderation. It was not this but “b l o w “.

        • Greg G.

          We are being forced to use Jack Off because we can’t use dirty four-syllable words like m*sturb*tion.

          My first attempt became moderated because I was wrong that we could use “b l o w”.

        • Can you say “bowdlerize”?

          We’ll adopt deliberate misspellings and then embarrass ourselves when we use them IRL.

      • Greg G.

        This is clearly a plot to sabotage pun cascades.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Resistance is feudal fentanyl fustian nubilefutile!

        • Greg G.

          Resistance is voltage divided by current.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Saucy!

        • Ignorant Amos

          An expression of Ohm’s Law, from my sparky days.

        • Greg G.

          It was my mantra but now that you mention it, it was supposed to be “OHM”. No wonder I am not one with the universe.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I remember taking my first Ohm…purple a think…mad trip. Though not as mad as the Red Dragon a had as my first experience.

          https://i.pinimg.com/originals/06/32/6a/06326af01383bcb992b1d66427f6f0eb.png

  • Michael Murray

    OK so I’ll go first. I’m an atheist and I don’t believe in any of the above.

    • epeeist

      Personally I don’t believe that Patheos/Disqus are capable of producing a properly working website.

      Yet another of my posts has gone into moderation.

      • Pofarmer

        Properly working means it brings them the maximum amount of ad revenue.

        • Greg G.

          Apparently, the word “l i n k” can send a post to moderation. The filter could be to screen s p a m to moderation. This puts a greater workload on the moderators. Moderators should demand a higher share of the profits since they must do more maintenance for Pathetiqus.

    • Greg G.

      That means you are a True Atheist™.

    • Michael Murray

      Come on everybody time to confess those guilty secrets. Epeeist surely believes in the Sword in the Stone and Ignorant Amos has to believe in Leprechauns.

      • Sample1

        My ex had a nickname for me ( a warlock) only in the sense that I seem to have a random but fairly frequent habit of saying obscure comments that come true. She’s an atheist so it was all tongue and cheek but it is a weird quirk that does happen. Never anything that could work w/stocks though. Which says everything. Ha

        And no, I’m not a “fantasy” genre kind of guy.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Ignorant Amos has to believe in Leprechauns.

        Leprechaunism is real alrite.

        https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/leprechaunism/

        Oh, you mean the mythical little folk?

        Damn right!…//s

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

        https://www.livescience.com/37626-leprechauns.html

        • Michael Murray

          I hadn’t heard leprechaunism. Another opportunity to share in the suffering of Christ 🙁

  • NS Alito

    There are some pretty vicious Buddhist leaders in Myanmar that are supporting Rohingya genocide. Tribalism uber alles, it seems.

  • Ellabulldog

    Theists lie when they conflate atheism with Stalin and Mao. The only reason Stalin attacked the Orthodox Church is because it had supported the Tsar. The Orthodox Church was a powerful institution that threatened him. Throughout history religion has been a device used to control people. The belief itself doesn’t matter and has never mattered as long as people did not contest the ruler’s power.

  • Greg G.

    Even words that nice children use are verboten. You can’t type “l i n k” or “J o b”, either, and the latter is a book in the Bible.

    • Update: this is a new thing, and it was imposed by Patheos. The motivation wasn’t that harsh words makes baby Jesus cry but to make pages are downgraded by Google’s search algorithm.

      My response: That’s fine–flag the words in blog posts themselves so that bloggers can reconsider, but what does that have to do with comments?

      Fun words that are on the list: incest, oral, Nazi, rape, and enlargement. Is it just me, or do those words have obvious reasonable meanings?

      I can imagine the meeting where they tossed out their favorite bad words. Curiously, a couple from George Carlin’s famous list don’t seem to be included: cocksucker and motherfucker.

      • Update: yes, it turns out that George Carlin’s 7 words you can’t say on television are all there.

      • I didn’t quite finish my thought: the Nonreligious channel manager is pushing to have things changed in some positive way.

        I’ll be trying to stay on top of the moderated comments, so say hopefully the delay of a post in moderation purgatory won’t be too long. Possible workaround: maybe you can run bad words like bangor shittogether with the next word to get it past the filter.

        EDITED

        • Greg G.

          Why can’t the notice of the need for moderation just identify the offending words, then allow the the comment to be edited, and then posted as normal? Why would any normal person suspect “urgent” to be a trigger word?

        • And why would “target” be a trigger word? (I just removed it.) The list seems quite clumsily created. Maybe they cobbled together various lists, threw the whole thing into a filtering mechanism, and hoped for the best.

          The worst examples IMO are the addition of “Islam” and 3 variant spellings of “Mohammed” in the list. It’s one thing to ban sexually explicit or clearly offensive words, but what does it mean that “Islam” is in there as well?? That is not good PR for Patheos. I’m hopeful that they will dial this back.

          Anyway, it seems that we’re doing better, now that I know how to prune the List.

          The only value in an appropriate list (one that contains internet slang words like “p0rn” or various synonyms for sex acts or body parts) is to flag spam comments. But I see these maybe once every 2 months, so this is a solution for a not-problem.

        • Kodie

          What was the problem in the first place? Can’t someone moderate their blog the way they want to?

        • The problem was Google’s new algorithm. How it ranks Patheos posts determines how often they’ll get clicked on, which determines the number of ads shown, which determines the revenue. All indications are that this was never intended to enforce some G-rated idea of a Christian discussion board.

        • Kodie

          Is it fixed now, or am I just lucky today?

        • Not really fixed. I’ve deleted all ordinary English words (target, bang, monster, sex, link, porn, rape, Muslim, gay, and many more) from the naughty list for this blog, so things are a lot better.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How does that logic work when audiences get pissed off with so much strict yet unintended moderation, that they demonstrate by walking.

          I mean, it ain’t too bad if it’s a one sentence flippant comment. But when it is a time invested fairly lengthy serious piece, there is only so much those contributing will take until they get really moked off with it and get fed up.

          There is a precedence. There are a number of us here that witnessed the great implosion of Richard Dawkins forum. It was never the same again and is now a mere shadow of its former self.

          https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/7322177/Richard-Dawkins-in-bitter-web-censorship-row-with-fellow-atheists.html

          More recently, Strange Notions did the something similar. It is nothing much more than an echo chamber these days for the Thomist self appreciation society.

        • And that’s especially true when an improved financial return is the supposed goal. Driving way commenters means fewer clicks, which means less ad revenue.

        • Greg G.

          I didn’t see your response before I made the same point less succinctly.

        • Greg G.

          I mean, it ain’t too bad if it’s a one sentence flippant comment. But when it is a time invested fairly lengthy serious piece, there is only so much those contributing will take until they get really moked off with it and get fed up.

          Each comment represents at least on hit for the advertising and usually many. Having comments go into moderation for words like “link”, “job”, and “urgent” discourage commenting which would reduce the number of hits for the ad revenue.

        • Sample1

          Forums come and go. That’s been my experience anyway since about day two of the web. 🙂 Now I’m just used to it.

          I only experienced the tail end of the original RDF site before the kerfuffle and stricter moderation so can’t say much about that. Glad to occasionally see the names from RDF pop up elsewhere from time to time such as here. I sometimes see Steve Zara pop up on Quora which is always a treat. It sure was an exciting time on RDF, I was just finding my way out of theism then. The whole Josh Timonen scandal seemed to put the final nail on it. It could have been handled better, the moderation, but those were early days. I’m guessing they were winging it too though didn’t they also blunder with a ton of deleted posts when they would update the software from time to time? That’s never good for morale or sustainability.

          Been venturing out more w/Disqus but reluctant to invest the time like in the past.

          The only group I never got involved with was the PZ site. I wonder what they’ve been up to!

          Mike

        • Ignorant Amos

          I only ever commented on the “Front Page” at RDFRS, but lurked in the forum topics. There were some lengthy and well argued debates which all got stuck in the bin and those that had invested much time and effort in those forums got irrate at not even getting an opportunity to rescue their work before the deletions occurred.

          I was just finding my way out of theism then.

          I was finding out that there was good reasons as to why I thought religion was a big parcel of pish.

          After the purge of contributor moderators, the site moderation got very stiff and I got the hammer for complaining.

          I’m guessing they were winging it too though didn’t they also blunder with a ton of deleted posts when they would update the software from time to time?

          It happened as part of a revamp and restructure of the website.

          That’s never good for morale or sustainability.

          Loads of members went boogaloo and boycotted the place.

          The only group I never got involved with was the PZ site.

          I lurked a bit, but never interacted.

          I wonder what they’ve been up to!

          It is more cliquey than most places and there are some very cliquey places.

      • MR

        Reading too much into this, of course, but as we enter into a time of great political debate that is sure push abortion into the forefront, it’s kind of convenient to take arguments like “ra-pe” and “in-cest” off the table with a little judicial censorship.

        • Kodie

          So are we allowed to curse, and just wait for Bob to approve the comment?

        • MR

          I think he’s in control now.

        • Things are better now that I’ve been able to manually remove actual words from the dictionary from the naughty list. There’s no argument for that. As for actual swear words, they’re still in for the time being. Let’s see how things shake out.

          I don’t get any breaks either. I have to approve my own comments that cross this line. It’s a pain in theass.

          And if you want, merge a bad word with its neighbor like I did just then.

        • Kodie

          Used to be you couldn’t say socialism because there’s a popular spam product planted in the middle of it, not because the drug is for boners…. so, they’re not looking for strings, but actual words? I do know if you want to get past censorship of actual words, everyone just usually misspells the words, which doesn’t stop the language and is also annoying and makes every post look more like spam, or actually don’t know how to spell, and the popular replacing a character with * or ( or $ or @. You get the idea. Was also a thing where we could say a swear word, and someone would come along and play these little tricks to get past imaginary censors, but it always sounded like they were the kind of person who would say H-E-double-hockey sticks.

        • Naughty, naughty–you used the b-word.

          In fact, the list is mostly made up of those bowdlerized words–b00bs, sh!t, and so on.

        • Kodie

          I can tell this will be fuckkin annoying.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not least for Bob who is having to run around trying to sort the craap out and clear comments in moderation…nightmare.

        • Greg G.

          I wonder what the nannybot thinks of FiretrUCK?

        • MR
        • epeeist

          so, they’re not looking for strings, but actual words?

          It used to be a problem in the UK registering if you included the name “Scunthorpe”…

        • Max Doubt

          “And if you want, merge a bad word with its neighbor like I did just then.”

          I figure Disqus will fix this fuxed up mess right after they fix the “show more replies” bug.

        • 1. Curiously, it has nothing to do with Disqus. This time, it’s a naughty word filter imposed by Patheos. Hopefully, I’ve removed the reasonable words from the list.

          2. What’s the Show more replies bug? I’ve clicked on those lots of times and haven’t noticed anything.

        • Max Doubt

          “What’s the Show more replies bug?”

          That’s the one where you have to click “Show more replies” a dozen or more times in order to effectively search a page for a particular term (… or to even see a reasonable number of replies). When clicking “Show more replies” shows only a single additional reply, it tells me some idiot programmer found that cool little trick in his tool kit and figured if it’s in there he must use it. A lot. Same kind of idiocy as when they discovered they could make shit happen with a mouse-over trigger, so they scattered them around the page everywhere they could.

        • TheNuszAbides

          2. My peeve with it is that any refresh/reload on a page with 1000+ comments (which is already a slow headache if one digs deep) won’t include however many times More have been Shown, which threads have been collapsed, etc.

      • al kimeea

        also on the list – “why did I look that up”

  • DogGone

    How about evolution?

    • DogGone

      no problem

    • No, I don’t think that was there. But that reinforces the message that I was given, that this list of naughty words is solely to improve the bottom line (by not pissing off Google’s ranking algorithm) and not to create some G-rated Christian paradise.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    As a tiny group in most nations, [atheism] tends to live off the cultural patrimony of the majority (or the historic majority). For example, Western Europe has a larger group of atheists [than in the United States], but the society they live in came of Christian social movements at the end of the Second World War.

    I find it amusing that his own argument concedes that most of the progress he attributes to Christianity happened over a 1,000 after Christianity rose to prominence and after its grip had slackened.

    Even ignoring that, i don’t see how this is supposed to be persuasive. Let’s grant for a moment that Christianity triggered progress that couldn’t possibly have come about afterward. Why would this be a problem moving forward?

    It seems to me that the this argument requires more than Christianity merely inspiring progress, it must be necessary to keep us on course. This, however, contradicts the evidence and even Reynolds’ description of the phenomenon at play.

    I suppose you could also argue that Christianity has untapped moral insight to offer (just give it another 1,500 years!) but either way, Reynolds has a lot more work ahead of him before this becomes a complete argument.

    • I think his focus is on the flock. That we see holes in his arguments doesn’t much matter. He’s targeting Christians who want a pat on the head.