Stalin Was a Mass Murderer (And I’m Not Too Sure About Myself) 2/2

Stalin Was a Mass Murderer (And I’m Not Too Sure About Myself) 2/2 May 23, 2019

You must’ve heard the popular Christian argument that the atrocities committed by atheists like Stalin during the twentieth century eclipse Christian overexuberance throughout history. That includes the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch burning, and pogroms. A recent blog post takes this idea and projects it forward: “Hoping Atheists (Or at Least Anti-Theists) Do Not Kill Us This Time” by fellow Patheos blogger John Mark Reynolds.

But Dr. Reynolds isn’t tiptoeing to avoid triggering the atheist avalanche. No, he’s publicly calling atheists to account.

In part 1, we saw that the problem is apparently only with “anti-theist” atheists, those who “actively dislike and work against religion.” That includes me, so I’m apparently part of the problem. We also explored his argument connecting genocide with these atheists. (Spoiler: I wasn’t convinced.) Let’s continue.

Case study: today’s not-so-Christian Western Europe

Reynolds acknowledges that Western Europe is socially healthy despite being more atheistic than America, but he handwaves that that’s just because it still benefits from the imprint of Christianity.

I’ve got news for you: Christianity already had the chance to rule Europe, and we call that period the Dark Ages. (I’m imagining a filthy, emaciated peasant in France around 1200 wearing a ragged t-shirt. On the front it says, “When Christianity was in charge, all I got was this lousy t-shirt” and on the back, “. . . and the plague, smallpox, famine, Pardoners, and a life of indentured servitude as a serf.”)

Western Europe is largely atheistic, but it wasn’t always that way. The hold of Christianity was much higher a century ago. As social conditions improved over the decades, secularism increased. Some scholars have suggested the causal relationship as poor social conditions as the incubator for more religion, with Christianity the symptom of a sick society.

Social metrics like homicide, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and so on can be used to compare countries. Atheistic and gay-friendly Western Europe does well in this comparison, and the good old U. S. of A. looks embarrassingly bad.

Yeah, but look at all Christianity gave you!

Reynolds is pretty happy with Western society, but he’s deluded about Christianity’s contribution. He imagines that Western society has as its foundation “a borrowed Christian culture.”

Atheists have such a poor track record in his mind that he suggests that, to polish their image, “Western atheists of the anti-theist sort [should] take over a nation or an area and run it for a decade or two. They should create new social norms, new art, and new constitutions.” As if these all came from Christianity!?

Consider just our legal rights, the America’s fundamental principles that did not come from the Bible: democracy, secular government, separation of powers, and a limited executive; freedoms of religion, speech, press, and assembly; protection from self-incrimination and double jeopardy; speedy and public trial, trial by jury, and the right to confront witnesses; no cruel and unusual punishment; and no slavery (more here and here).

A Christian dictatorship that followed biblical principles is easy to imagine. It would look similar to today’s Muslim theocracies where atheism and apostasy are punished by death.

For creating a livable society, I’ll take the U.S. Constitution over the Ten Commandments, thank you. And I think that in a thoughtful moment, you would, too. Note also that the one hundred percent secular U.S. Constitution protects you against religious excesses just like it does me.

And now let’s poison the well

Reynolds is judge, jury, and all but executioner.

Until anti-theism shows it can stop killing people, Christians are right to worry about “anti-theist” atheists dominating the levers of power.

None of this proves that if your local Internet atheist troll took over, people would lose civil rights, freedom of religion, their children, their right to religious education, and eventually their lives in “re-education camps”, but the track record is very bad and their present tone not promising.

Christians are not paranoid to worry and would be foolish not to do so. A rising tide of anti-theism (or even anti-clericalism) has oft been a prelude to death.

When this Chicken Little attitude gets an enthusiastic hearing in some quarters, who can wonder why atheists are (depending on the poll) often the least electable? Americans are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who has never held public office than one who is an atheist. Reynolds is doing a fine job strengthening this prejudice.

But let’s review the holes that sink his argument. Dictatorships are the problem, and there is no call within the Western atheist community for an anti-theistic dictatorship. Indeed, there have been zero people killed in the name of atheism because atheism takes no stand on issues like morality.

The U. S. has had a secular government since the ratification of the Constitution in 1788. Preserving this is the goal of every atheist I know, and this is quite different from a Stalinist dictatorship. It’s the Christians who rock the boat, not atheists eager for a dictatorship.

Western Europe is substantially less Christian and more healthy than the United States. Atheism or secularism haven’t led to bad conditions there, let alone genocide. In fact, the present religious friction in the United States is Christians asking for special privileges (such as the right to discriminate as they please) and demanding to impose their beliefs on the rest of the country by law (same-sex marriage and abortion, for example). Christian excesses are the driving force behind the anti-theism.

Reynolds concludes:

The twentieth and twenty-first century victims of state atheism cannot read “angry atheism” without a shudder and this is reasonable. Let’s start any dialog with this in mind.

So you expect me to come to the discussion with head hung in appropriate humility, burdened down with Stalin’s sins? Forget it—they’re not my sins. And if dialogue is your goal—it certainly is mine—poisoning the well like this isn’t helpful.

Dr. Reynolds replied to these posts. I’ll respond next time.

If religion were the key to morality, 
then mega-churches would look more like charities
and less like million-dollar businesses.
— seen on a t-shirt


(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 4/28/15.)

Image from Wikimedia, CC license


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  • epicurus

    “A Christian dictatorship that followed biblical principles is easy to imagine. It would look similar to today’s Muslim theocracies where atheism and apostasy are punished by death.”

    I hope to read about Calvin’s Geneva this year – from the little I have read most modern evangelicals would not enjoy it. Spys making sure you attended church, not working on Sunday (NO SHOPPING!!) or going out for brunch after church, etc., no superbowl sunday, or obsession with sports, and probably the most serious – no divorce, at least none based on the easy divorce laws we have now. “We drifted apart” – Hah! good luck with that.

    • Lex Lata

      More recently we have the example of the Papal States, which finally went rosaries-up in the late 19th century. No freedom of conscience, no contraception, a system of official censorship exemplified by the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, and of course execrable oppression of Jewish communities.

      • Michael Neville

        After the unified Italian kingdom took over the Papal States, Pope Pius X proclaimed it a sin for Italian Catholics to vote in elections. This was rescinded in 1910 when a socialist victory in national elections became likely. Then Pius decided it was acceptable for Italians to vote, as long as they voted for the “right” candidate.

    • Jack the Sandwichmaker

      Look, John, according to you, I’m either elect or I’m not elect, and there’s nothing I can do to change that. Going to church isn’t going to change it, so I’m going to stay home…

      • epicurus

        Yeah, while most had the terror of hell in them, you gotta think a few would come to your conclusion.

    • Ignorant Amos

      I’ve lived in a “Calvin’ Geneva style environment” in my lifetime…only it was Christian Northern Ireland.

      There are still some antiquated restrictive laws based on Christian fuckwittery still in place at present.

      Earlier this week restaurateur Michael Deane lambasted the laws forbidding the sale of alcohol in licensed premises to between 5pm and 11pm on Good Friday as “biblical”.

      On Holy Saturday alcohol can only be served until midnight and on Easter Sunday until 10pm. The day before Good Friday alcohol can be served up until midnight.

      Mr Neill said: “We are now entering yet another Easter in Northern Ireland where pubs, hotels and restaurants will be forced to sell alcohol on restricted hours across the whole of the Easter holiday period.

      Sunday shopping hours, while a bit more relaxed these days, are still restrictive.

      In Northern Ireland, Sunday shopping is regulated under the Sunday Trading (Northern Ireland) Order 1997. Opening hours are more limited for larger stores, usually between 1 pm and 6 pm. This was to create a greater gap between Sunday services and the opening of large shops, in response to objections from churches, which have more influence than in the rest of the UK. Pubs were not allowed to open on Sunday in Northern Ireland until 1989. These laws make Belfast one of the few capital cities in Europe to have no 24/7 supermarkets but does have smaller local stores that open 24 hours in busy areas.

      And parking regulations get relaxed around all the churches on a Sunday to allow the Christers to park wherever ta fuck they like…including the pavements (sidewalks).

  • RichardSRussell

    Until anti-theism shows it can stop killing people, Christians are right to worry about “anti-theist” atheists dominating the levers of power.

    There’s a grain of truth here. We should all be worried about any group dominating the levers of power. One of the genius moves of the US Constitution was separation of powers, with its accompanying checks and balances, so no one branch of the government could turn into a tyranny.

    • Pofarmer

      Well, hopefully.

      • Otto

        I think it is getting a big test.

  • larry parker

    Let’s start any dialog with this in mind.

    Says the guy who doesn’t allow comments.

  • some bastard on the internet

    Does Reynolds not know that Stalin gave large amounts of power and control to the Russian Orthodox Chruch?

    Does Reynolds not know that the vast majority of people in the USSR were christians, including the ones who carried out Stalins death orders?

    Or does Reynolds think Stalin killed all of those people by himself?

  • Stalin not only had a cult of personality centered on himself but also dialectical materialism, or whatever is called, causing some sciences to be classified as bourgeois pseudosciences as they contradicted Marxism, including curiously among others Darwinian evolution or quantum mechanics, and that the USSR lagged behind the US in some fields for a time at least. Not to mention how many intellectuals died in the ’30s purges.

    Atheism came in the pack of marxism, but it was not the main force behind those murders

  • skl

    Atheism must be getting some good PR. Although Americans are
    still coldest toward atheism (along with Islam), they are warmer than they used
    to be.

    • Michael Neville

      One reason for that is the bad PR that Christianity, especially of the fundamentalist, Evangelical flavors, is reaping. When refusing to make pastries for LGBTQs is a major theological concern but clerical pedophilia is supported and protected, then certain Christians show their “love” is not very lovely.

      • skl

        Yet Americans’ attitude toward the scandal-plagued Catholics
        went from a warm 62 to a warmer 66. They’re still over 30% ahead of the

        • Michael Neville

          That’s because many Christians are more concerned about LGBTQs having rights than ensuring that children don’t get raped. Doesn’t that make you proud to be a Christian?

        • skl

          I don’t know what that means.

        • Michael Neville

          That’s because you’re not willing to know what it means. Christians often ignore facts that go against your ideology.

        • Susan

          I’ve given up trying to talk to skl entirely because he has shown himself to be a relentlessly disingenous weasel over the years.

          But I’m not sure you can draw the conclusions you’re drawing from what skl has linked.

          Or the catlicks wouldn’t have made any progress.

          It seems more likely that it’s just that these days, everyone knows a mormon, an atheist, a catholic, a jew, a muslim, an atheist, etc.

          The study seems to be more about the acceptance of people. Not of their beliefs.

          In the 1960’s, it was a big deal that JFK was elected president because he was catholic.

          Nowadays, it’s nothing. Little by little, Americans are probably beginning to see that their neighbours can be perfectly nice people, no matter their faith or lack thereof.

          I could be wrong. But this is about cultural acceptance.

          I have no idea what skl’s point is, nor do I care. He usually doesn’t have one. He’s just here to shit disturb.

        • MR

          I thought catlicks were those little spots that develop at the bottom of my cast iron skillet.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yet Americans’ attitude toward the scandal-plagued Catholics went from a warm 62 to a warmer 66.

          Nobody is claiming that folk can’t feel empathy with other folk, especially fellow Christians. It doesn’t bode well for the omni abilities of YahwehJesus if he can’t do much to sort out his top reps on Earth.

          Perhaps the reason for the warmth, is because Americans feel sorry for the poor gullible bastards and the shite which the ordinary Joe Catholics have found themselves, in the recent past.

          Heck, I feel a certain amount of sympathy for any poor bugger who has invested a lifetime worshiping, and paying into, such a rotten crock of shite. Realizing now that the whole edifice is involved with what was going on.

          That is a lot different from supporting the institution at the core of the issues.

          The RCC is hemorrhaging members. Regardless of who has the warm and fuzzies for the hangers on.

          An article from the same year as your Pew report citation should help you understand your usuall fuckwittery…

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what skl’s source is or what it actually refers to. Because of my geographical location, a high proportion of people I know are probably still Catholic. Most of the still-Catholics I know are regular people who are pro-choice, LGBTQ-accepting, divorce-getting-if-it’s-time Catholics. They are also “this pope’s cool”, and you can’t say they’re not serious about their religious devotion or joke about going through the motions of getting their kids baptized or first holy communion, etc. Furthermore, I think Catholics stand out among Christians for accepting evolution. They are still superstitious as fuck if you scratch the surface. They will drink too much, commit adultery, steal, and based on the massive Catholic church I drive by to get to and from work, drive like entitled fucking assholes like almost anyone else. I don’t see really what there is to admire about Catholicism. One of my usual complaints assumes most people you encounter when out in public are probably Christian, and a lot of them behave like selfish assholes who “sin” as much as anyone. You can’t say they’re “not really Christian” if they sincerely believe Jesus saves them from having to be a nice person because they’re forgiven just for believing, but morality, my ass. They behave socially in any way they can get away with competing against their fellow human for time, space, and other resources. The whole “grace, not deeds” bullshit has gotten them off the hook, and they are assholes every fucking day, liars, cheaters, thieves, if not even more.

        • Ignorant Amos

          His source is a Pew Poll from 2017…

          Americans Express Increasingly Warm Feelings Toward Religious Groups: Jews, Catholics continue to receive warmest ratings, atheists and Muslims move from cool to neutral

          On the heels of a contentious election year in which partisan politics increasingly divided Americans, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that when it comes to religion, Americans generally express more positive feelings toward various religious groups today than they did just a few years ago. Asked to rate a variety of groups on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100, U.S. adults give nearly all groups warmer ratings than they did in a June 2014 Pew Research Center survey.

          It’s essentially a loada meaningless ballix..but that’s skl for ya.

          Furthermore, I think Catholics stand out among Christians for accepting evolution.

          Yeah, about that. The RCC has no official position on that issue, except the bit where whatever one believes about creation, God-did-it is a must.

          In the 1950 encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII confirmed that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, provided that Christians believe that God created all things and that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces. Today, the Church supports theistic evolution(ism), also known as evolutionary creation, although Catholics are free not to believe in any part of evolutionary theory.

          As for everything else, you’ve nailed it…again.

        • epeeist

          Furthermore, I think Catholics stand out among Christians for accepting evolution.

          They accept theistic evolution, they are forbidden from accepting atheistic evolution.

        • The mainstream is opinion is also not to interpret the Bible literally (ie: no global Flood, the Big Bang happened, etc), which even if they claim God is behind everything at least is better than the BS Fundagelicals sprout of the Big Bang being bullshit and far more believable the Sun had gone black for six seconds after Jesus’ death (and it’s just one of many)

        • Kodie

          I think this is why Catholics are favored more – they’re not from outer space. I listen to rebroadcast of Boston Public Radio later at night, and hear on Mondays, a segment called “All Revved Up” with two regular guests, and one of the hosts is Catholic (and extremely liberal) and the other host says he’s agnostic, and they talk about all types of religious and race/religion intersection subjects, and one of the repeated discussion points is how the Catholic Church is the people not the organization, so the basic materials of this religion is believers can be decent, modern, intelligent, and of course hypocritical, which is my basic problem with any religion.

          I mean, either they don’t follow it but they believe it anyway, or they follow it to every disgusting, misinformed, and arrogant level. Catholics, or really any theist, are not prepared to let go of their familiar tradition, even if it doesn’t seem to mean anything to them anymore, i.e., they can’t just break up with their church even if their church abuses its power (to say the very least) and dictates some pretty obnoxious policies. None of the Catholics I know are afraid of going to hell because they don’t do what the pope says. In a way, they seem to think it is like disagreeing with the president – you don’t just renounce citizenship because you don’t like anything about the president or anything he says, believes, or tries to push into law, even if the whole world is criticizing the president, and the laws, and continues to mislabel you as someone who, by virtue of citizenship and address, completely agree with everything and everyone, as though we can do that much to change how it is right now. That’s basically how most Catholics seem to me.

        • Greg G.

          and far more believable the Sun had gone black for six seconds after Jesus’ death (and it’s just one of many)

          Did the sun go dark when Jesus died or was it 8 minutes and 20 seconds before he died?

          That would be an impressive miracle. Gravity can start a fusion reaction but to stop a fusion reaction suddenly across the diameter of the sun, then restart it six seconds later would be amazing.

        • I think that was the result of mixing in the Trinity doctrine, with the results of that, like so many others of their kind, man being totally clueless about science, just like many of the people who are Evangelicals here -most of them inmigrants who come barely knowing how to read and write-. The “impressive miracle” would be that it would have been visible just from the place where Jesus was crucified and not in all over the world.

          That said, that man also claimed that was far more believable Eve was formed from a rib of Adam than evolution, mixed black holes which the very first verses of John, and claimed that this is the only planet of the Universe with life because the Bible says so -and probably there’s more I cannot remember or know of-

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sounds suspiciously like the author had witnessed a lunar eclipse or read about one somewhere. And then used that as a celestial sign for an important event. There is precedent for such woo-woo in the OT for it being a portent of Yahweh’s anger.

          Eclipse of the sun alluded to in Amos 8:9 ; Micah 3:6 ; Zechariah 14:6 ; Joel 2:10 . Eclipses were regarded as tokens of God’s anger ( Joel 3:15 ; Job 9:7 ).

          The time taken for such a phenomenon as a lunar eclipse being about the 3 hours reported in the gospels.

          Or if the event was historical, it was just a sudden dark cloud cover coincidentally at the moment of expiration.

          I’m plugging for the made up nonsense in the former as being a literary device, as opposed to the later.

        • Michael Neville

          You mean “solar eclipse”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…I realize that solar eclipses happen during the day from the point of the observer. And that solar eclipses only last 7.5 minutes…lunar eclipses last about three hours…accounting for the 3 hours in the magic story.

          Am not saying it happened that way, just that the author heard about, or witnessed the other, and applied the concept to the story. Who at that time reading it would’ve been scientifically astute to know the difference. The idea that Yahweh was extra angry on that particular occasion has been pushed as a reason why a solar eclipse could last 3 hours. But when making shite up, anything goes.

        • There’s also this:

          Of course assuming it was known how to predict them, it would probably not be knowledge the laypeople of the time would have had.

        • Michael Neville

          Okay, I understand why you were talking about lunar eclipses.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It was probably my cack-handedness at properly explaining maself and making my point clearer…mea culpa soz.

        • Greg G.

          lunar eclipses last about three hours…

          I must have been making coffee and composing my post when you posted this. That fits well with my first thought of the day.

        • According to NASA, there was a solar eclipse that was visible from Judea back in November 24 of the year 29, lasting a minute, plus a lunar eclipse on April 3 of the year 33.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Thanks. There ya go then. A bit of playing around and “hey presto!”

        • Greg G.

          Jewish Wars 6.5.3 [excerpt]
          Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.

          This is the sentence that precedes what I quoted from this section of Jewish Wars in my reply to IA about a half hour ago. This is describing Halley’s Comet, which appeared in 66AD.

        • Greg G.

          I had a good night’s sleep and was reluctant to get up and make coffee, so I was reading on my phone. The reply from Alec Bobmail Dumas Anon Fetty triggered a thought that Mark may got the idea from Jewish Wars and flipped the script.

          Mark 15:33
          When the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

          Jewish Wars 6.5.3 [excerpt]
          Thus also before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it.

          An eclipse of the sun can only happen around the time of the new moon but Passover (the feast of unleavened bread) is set at the full moon. This is discussed by a writer from the third or fourth century referring to another earlier writer discussing an eclipse.

        • Susan

          They accept theistic evolution.

          They are not required to accept evolution at all. They are required to accept the RCC’s teachings about Adam, Eve, Jesus, Mary and Yahweh.

          They are allowed to accept evolution but only under the RCC’s conditions.

          Which means they have to retrofit the history of this planet into being the creation of an all-good, all-loving agent.

          Which in many ways, is more insane that YEC thinking.

          I’m grateful for Ken Miller’s contributions in the Dover vs. Kitzmiller trial. He did a wonderful job and I deeply respect his contributions.

          But I have to wonder how he makes sense out of the RCC’s teachings.

        • If you choose to study religion in the school, that is taught to you but at least you’ve also real science mixed in. It’s not just one thing as Fundies would like so much.

          That said, I still have to find a member of the RCC saying all the BS Fundies love so much to say about science.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh they are among us.

          A number of us here have had the displeasure of engaging with one hyper fundamentalist fuckwit by the name of Rick DeLano. He of “The Principle” infamy, which he produced with his woo-woo mental case sidekick Robert Sungenis.

          He duped (lied?) some celebrities into taken part in his pile of pish.

          The moonbeam has a blog by the name of “Magisterial Fundies” which should say it all. Be warned, your sanity is at risk.

          Check out the comments for RC’s that are not as liberal…

          By the way, I find this Geocentric vs Heliocentric issue very fascinating. Seems that Atheist version of science is fatally flawed, both Evolution, and Copernican principle. As our technology advances and we are capable of more precise measurements, it appears whole Atheist philosophy of accidents and randomness looks more and more unsustainable and foolish. Having said that, I still believe that no amount of evidence is capable of swaying these people, only God can do that.

          I’ve just had a wee dander down memory lane…to the era before the mass banning of a large number of atheist contributors…

          There was one Catholic cleric that I frequently engaged with, that signed off all his comments with “Viva Cristo Rey!!” which was perfectly acceptable with the moderation, the same mods that banned me for mentioning the Papal sexing chair.

          “Viva Cristo Rey!!” is a Catholic battle cry from the “Battle Hymn of the Cristeros” during the Mexican Cristero War,

          The Virgin Mary is our protector and defender when there is to fear
          She will vanquish all demons at the cry of “Long live Christ the King!” (x2)
          Soldiers of Christ: Let’s follow the flag, for the cross points to the army of God!
          Let’s follow the flag at the cry of “Long live Christ the King!”

          Perfectly acceptable while chastising atheists for perceived snark.

          Anyway, soz for going off on one there. Needless to say, there are RC’s that are as fundamentally fucked up in the head as their Protestant counterparts. Fortunately you’ve been able to avoid them.

        • I’d have clarified I was referring to say that in public, as when some bash either LGTB people or abortion -or both- and media catch them.

        • Ignorant Amos


        • Otto

          That said, I still have to find a member of the RCC saying all the BS Fundies love so much to say about science.


        • Susan


          And many others.

          I’ve encountered many.

        • epeeist

          They are not required to accept evolution at all. They are required to accept the RCC’s teachings about Adam, Eve, Jesus, Mary and Yahweh.

          Went back to the Catholic Encyclopedia on this:

          Concerning biological evolution, the Church does not have an official position on whether various life forms developed over the course of time. It allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul.


          While the Church permits belief in either special creation or developmental creation on certain questions, it in no circumstances permits belief in atheistic evolution.

          So it looks as though we were both right.

        • Susan

          So it looks as though we were both right.

          I wasn’t disagreeing with you. The RCC insists on souls and all the other nonsense and allows you to accept evolution but doesn’t insist on it.

          They claim it is a scientific question, not a theological one.

          But how anyone can see a good agent behind evolution is beyond me.

        • epeeist

          I wasn’t disagreeing with you.

          I was disagreeing with me. I thought that the RCC was on board with evolution, I hadn’t realised that they were trying to look both ways on the issue.

        • Greg G.

          Remember that the Catholic Encyclopedia was written closer to Darwin’s time than to the present,

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aye, the original. There have been more up-to-date revisions with supplements.

          The first of these New Catholic Encyclopedia supplemental volumes. Supplement 2009 was published electronically in June 2009 and in print in November 2009. It focused on the theme of “Science and the Church”, and contained such new articles as the ones on Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud.

        • Kodie

          I want to make sure everyone knows what I say is almost always my impression. It’s my impression that normal everyday Catholic humans I encounter aren’t stupid creationist fundies, or even Catholics who are impressed upon to suspect evolution, even directed or created evolution. My impression of Catholics is possibly nuanced, and subject to locale and independent strains of the disease. I wrote a huge unposted post of my secret Catholic atheist upbringing (to cut to the chase, the culture of Catholicism, mainly the guilt and strict morals fed through, while the superstition was not). I know there are perverts, I know there are close-minded, angry, furious, and protective of god. I think a lot of Catholics are pretty lax and chill, which means they’re not scared of the pope or god and do whatever is normal in American culture, but still hate atheists and hate being accused of not having a sincere belief (which I really don’t fucking understand one fucking bit). They’re not afraid to justify any moral decision they ever make, but they will find some lame way to justify staying Catholic instead of anything or nothing else.

          Both my siblings married Catholics, and had to endure church bullshit so they could get married in church. I can’t remember what that’s called, and I don’t really care, because it’s bullshit. My first fiance was Catholic too, and holy shit, I would have put up with that! When I think, bullet dodged, so was my 2nd. My ex-best-friend married a Catholic and did that counseling too! I’ve said before, I’m raised pretty secular kinda atheist… you’re bound to end up with a Catholic. Almost certainly in my region. Well, to get married in a Catholic Church like your Catholic mate prefers or requires or their parents require (regardless of whether you have lived together, been married before*, had an abortion, etc.), yeah, every single one of these people I mention is guilty of 1-3 of those things. It’s kind of a hard position, because if you don’t have a religion, people you are going to marry can just demand you adopt theirs. It’s not like fighting if your children will be raised Catholic or Jew, it’s Catholic or nothing, so they fill the void, just like all these weddings were. Atheism isn’t NOTHING, it’s still something. It’s hard to meet another atheist, and then you have to put on a play, and then you end up compromising your children. Pofarmer, hi.

          *Stupid question for the Catholics! – if your prospective mate was married in a different house of worship, like Jew or Baptist or anything, and then got divorced, do Catholics care? Do you consider them divorced, even if they were never married in the Catholic Church, or do you invalidate their previous marriage entirely, even if the government validated it, but it was in a different church, so according to Catholics, does that annul that marriage or considered as though divorced for real?

        • Ignorant Amos

          *Stupid question for the Catholics! – if your prospective mate was married in a different house of worship, like Jew or Baptist or anything, and then got divorced, do Catholics care? Do you consider them divorced, even if they were never married in the Catholic Church, or do you invalidate their previous marriage entirely, even if the government validated it, but it was in a different church, so according to Catholics, does that annul that marriage or considered as though divorced for real?

          My US wife was a convert to Catholicism. She’d been divorced 3 times and was marrying this atheist. We got married in a park in Jax by a registrar.

          From what I could see, there was nothing Catholic about her. She never attended a single church service in the time I knew her. She didn’t appear much of anything religiously speaking. I think it is a fashion statement for many.

        • Kodie

          There’s just about nothing Catholic about most Catholics I know or have ever known. I’ve known 3 people close to me, including 2 of my siblings, who went through the motions to satisfy their respective intendeds to get pre-marriage counseling. I can’t say anyone converted per se, but the way this works is well, you don’t have a religion and they do, so you are like a blank sheet of paper, malleable to whatever, to raise your kids whatever, instead of an individual with your own religious-category convictions that say you believe none of it, and agree with none of it, and do have a certain desire to keep your kids from being brainwashed in it.

          Like, they have this superstition (in my observation) that you don’t have to please your parents by NOT getting married in their church, while they very much have to follow convention, and aren’t allowed to get married in their parents’ church unless YOU go to counseling with them and get approved. Meanwhile, saying whatever the priest wants to hear is fine for the both of you, as long as he lets you get married in the church.

          I don’t know any Catholics who aren’t so tied into their nagging, judging families that this wouldn’t be the case, even though they act unCatholic, i.e., premarital sex, cohabitation, abortions, divorces, and are 100% accepting of homosexuality. It’s even so much as their parents are cool wherever you get married, but they have parents, so we do that for Grandma. It’s not so much a fashion statement as something you were raised thinking was important for vague reasons, and raise their own kids in it, because there’s this lingering feeling about souls being saved, and teaching good church values and morals that they themselves fall very short in and don’t care.

          But my question was, if a Catholic got involved with a divorced person who was not previously married in a Catholic church, do they consider that person single (never really married before) or divorced?

        • Ignorant Amos

          When all yer doing is making it up as yer goin’ along, anything goes.

          Dogma is harder to change, but not hard to massage to fit current thinking…fudgery.

        • Sample1

          Bad explanations are easy to vary. (D. Deutsch).


        • Careful with the praise of Christianity. Your shtick is that you’re not a Christian, remember?

        • skl

          No praise, just fact.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    Reynolds acknowledges that Western Europe is socially healthy despite being more atheistic than America, but he handwaves that that’s just because it still benefits from the imprint of Christianity.

    And the superior societal health relative to currently religious countries is explained by what? Coasting off of a higher Christian crest?

    I also can’t help but wonder… what culture isn’t affected by that which preceded it? Why does Christianity deserve special causal consideration here?

  • eric

    …that’s just because it still benefits from the imprint of Christianity.

    Why stop at the 300s? Christianity influenced Europe for less than two millenia, but various nature religions imprinted European culture for likely ten or a hundred times that long. So shouldn’t they get ten or a hundred times the credit?

    • Ohyetwetrust

      Your assertion is far-fetched. Christianized Rome came in with the full might of both state and the Catholic mania for converting pagans throughout Europe. Most of Scandanavia was still worshiping, peacefully, in sacred groves into the 1100s-1200s and later. Great swaths of pagan symbolism still persists. Now the former Vikings make up the most prosperous countries on earth, (Denmark, Finland, Sweden) and also the least religious.

      They never got fully infected by religious violence OR the full dose of the religious violence of mass executions of other European pagans and “conversion” by force (by the sword). But still today, the Cathedrals of Europe are empty most days, though infested with tourists.

  • rationalobservations?

    Most religionist non-arguments are based overtly or tacitly on the non-argument that there is an option between accepting the existence of a god or not accepting the existence of a god ( as in “Pascal’s wager”). This is rendered nonsensical by the mythological fiction of many millions of undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men among which the originally Canaanite god “Yahweh” and the Roman’s god-man “Jesus” appear unremarkable and of which no evidence of existence has ever been discovered.

    Fewer than 18% of Americans can be found within a church on any given Sunday according to the actual figures published by the American Church Leaders organisation – in spite of the lies told in polls and surveys.

    The figure of Americans active in religion is far higher than with the rest of the developed world and in many European educated, free, secular democracies the number is below 2% or nearly off the scale and the villages towns and cities of the developed world pay silent testimony to the ongoing death of ignorance and superstition by the growing number of empty rotting redundant churches that have not currently been demolished or redeveloped into something more useful to mankind.

    It is worth also noting that the most peaceful nations in the history of our recently evolved species of ape are also the least religious nations in the world today. Every day growing billions of citizens demonstrate that we do not need belief in terrible, ridiculous, undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses or god-men to be good and that without enthrallment to any dishonest human entirely self serving institution of religion – we can be and are much, much better.

    We look with sympathy laced with contempt on those who abstain from evil only because they fear punishment and hope for reward after death actually consigns them to eternal nonexistence. The rapidly growing demographic of the godless/nonreligious need no such empty threats or false promises because we all own the evolved things we call “empathy”, “sympathy” and a human conscience. Not that most religionists lack these things since we all evolved in the same way at the same time – but it must be observed that evil is never done so gleefully as when done in the name of religion.

    The ridiculous argument that humanity must somehow chose between enslavement by political totalitarianism or enslavement by religious (in this case christian) totalitarianism is bogus. A rapidly growing number of us have already chosen peaceful, educated, free, secular democracy over any and all forms of totalitarianism.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    If the sway of past Christianity is keeping morals in check in atheist Europe, why didn’t that work when Stalin took over in Russia? Russia was also a strongly Christian country, shouldn’t the Christian morals have held on longer?

  • Ignorant Amos

    Dr. John Mark Reynolds is the President of The Saint Constantine School. Dr. Reynolds is a Senior Fellow of Humanities at The King’s College in New York City, and a Fellow of the Center For Science and Culture at The Discovery Institute.

    Says it all really.

    Credentials definitely ain’t all that, as epitomized by this knuckle-dragging fuckwit Reynolds.

  • Jim Baerg

    Regarding “re-education camps” Reynolds should look up the church run residential schools in Canada & (I think the US too) in which children were taken from their native parents to eliminate the ‘savage’ in them.

    • Ignorant Amos

      He should also look up church run Magdalene laundries for the pleasantries of Christian charity.

      • Ohyetwetrust

        And cisterns full of the remains of dead children who had been in Catholic orphanages. Those with parents who paid their way, usually survived. Those who were truly orphans or foundlings were fed gruel and ignored.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because they are oh so pro-life…or not, when it suits them.

        • Ohyetwetrust

          “Pope Francis leads the biggest criminal organization in the world, an organization that has facilitated the rape and sexual abuse of children and others for decades if not centuries.”

          They have zero moran authority. They should close up shop, sell all their wealth and turn lands over to communities and pay for hospitals, schools, elder care homes to be built and staffed.

  • Phil Rimmer

    Larry Siedentop, “Inventing the Individual” in the final chapter of his book having outlined how Christian thinking, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries particularly, gifted us our sense of the Individual, opines that this sterling gift at its virile peak in the US has been greatly degraded by the Greco-Marxian heritage of Europe.

    Fucking A!

  • Bruce Gorton

    Here is the big thing with Stalin – if I want to find examples of Christians behaving badly, I can look through the news for something that happened last week.

    The Christian apologist, to do the same thing for atheists, has to look for stuff that didn’t even happen this century.

  • BeamMeUp

    Stalin and Mao were Communists first and atheists second, and only because Lenin and Marx preached atheism. Most of the victims of Communism were people of the Soviet Union and China, which have populations much bigger than the countries of Europe.

    • Myles

      American victims of christianity have never been counted but five hundred years of murder really stack up.
      Stalin and Mao were at the back of any queue.

  • Wizzerd56

    “Some scholars have suggested the causal relationship as poor social conditions as the incubator for more religion, with Christianity the symptom of a sick society.” Could you make this sentence more grammatically comprehensible, please? Thank you.

    • Grimlock

      I suspect it’s a reference to something like this:

      Basically, the idea is that poor social conditions leads to greater levels of religiosity.

    • Michael Neville

      Karl Marx famously said, “Religion is the opium of the people.” What Marx meant was that opium relieves pain for the injured or sick and that religion helps the oppressed deal with fear and suffering.

      • Myles

        Now that is twisting words.
        Your sermons must be boundless.

        • Michael Neville

          In his essay Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right Marx wrote:

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

          Religious suffering is at one and the same time the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

          I suggest the next time you try to sneer at someone that you have some idea about what they’re talking about. Your blather reminds me of another quote from Marx. Groucho said, “Gentlemen, this man may talk like an idiot and look like an idiot. But don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”

        • Sophotroph

          Did you bother to read what you quoted?

          You just destroyed yourself and you’re sitting there all proud like you accomplished something.

          He came right out and said “It’s fake, but life sucks, and religion is the best fantasy the common man can concoct to take the sting out of it.”

        • Michael Neville

          That’s what I said originally, you illiterate cretin. I see reading comprehension is not your first language.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He came right out and said “It’s fake, but life sucks, and religion is the best fantasy the common man can concoct to take the sting out of it.”

          I think that was Michael’s point.

          Like opium, it is a false relief. One eventually has to come back down to earth…and with opium and religion, it will be with a crash.