ATHEISTIC VIOLENCE

Atheism, not religion is the force behind the mass murders of history | December 4, 2007

Update – July 28, 2008

In recent months, a spate of atheist books have argued that religion represents, as “End of Faith” author Sam Harris puts it, “the most potent source of human conflict, past and present.”

Columnist Robert Kuttner gives the familiar litany. “The Crusades slaughtered millions in the name of Jesus. The Inquisition brought the torture and murder of millions more. After Martin Luther, Christians did bloody battle with other Christians for another three centuries.”

 

In his bestseller “The God Delusion,” Richard Dawkins contends that most of the world’s recent conflicts – in the Middle East, in the Balkans, in Northern Ireland, in Kashmir, and in Sri Lanka – show the vitality of religion’s murderous impulse.

The problem with this critique is that it exaggerates the crimes attributed to religion, while ignoring the greater crimes of secular fanaticism. The best example of religious persecution in America is the Salem witch trials. How many people were killed in those trials? Thousands? Hundreds? Actually, fewer than 25. Yet the event still haunts the liberal imagination.

It is strange to witness the passion with which some secular figures rail against the misdeeds of the Crusaders and Inquisitors more than 500 years ago. The number sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition appears to be about 10,000. Some historians contend that an additional 100,000 died in jail due to malnutrition or illness.

These figures are tragic, and of course population levels were much lower at the time. But even so, they are minuscule compared with the death tolls produced by the atheist despotisms of the 20th century. In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people.

Moreover, many of the conflicts that are counted as “religious wars” were not fought over religion. They were mainly fought over rival claims to territory and power. Can the wars between England and France be called religious wars because the English were Protestants and the French were Catholics? Hardly.

The same is true today. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not, at its core, a religious one. It arises out of a dispute over self-determination and land. Hamas and the extreme orthodox parties in Israel may advance theological claims – “God gave us this land” and so forth – but the conflict would remain essentially the same even without these religious motives. Ethnic rivalry, not religion, is the source of the tension in Northern Ireland and the Balkans.

Blindly blaming religion for conflict

Yet today’s atheists insist on making religion the culprit. Consider Mr. Harris’s analysis of the conflict in Sri Lanka. “While the motivations of the Tamil Tigers are not explicitly religious,” he informs us, “they are Hindus who undoubtedly believe many improbable things about the nature of life and death.” In other words, while the Tigers see themselves as combatants in a secular political struggle, Harris detects a religious motive because these people happen to be Hindu and surely there must be some underlying religious craziness that explains their fanaticism.

Harris can go on forever in this vein. Seeking to exonerate secularism and atheism from the horrors perpetrated in their name, he argues that Stalinism and Maoism were in reality “little more than a political religion.” As for Nazism, “while the hatred of Jews in Germany expressed itself in a predominantly secular way, it was a direct inheritance from medieval Christianity.” Indeed, “The holocaust marked the culmination of … two thousand years of Christian fulminating against the Jews.”

One finds the same inanities in Mr. Dawkins’s work. Don’t be fooled by this rhetorical legerdemain. Dawkins and Harris cannot explain why, if Nazism was directly descended from medieval Christianity, medieval Christianity did not produce a Hitler. How can a self-proclaimed atheist ideology, advanced by Hitler as a repudiation of Christianity, be a “culmination” of 2,000 years of Christianity? Dawkins and Harris are employing a transparent sleight of hand that holds Christianity responsible for the crimes committed in its name, while exonerating secularism and atheism for the greater crimes committed in their name.

Religious fanatics have done things that are impossible to defend, and some of them, mostly in the Muslim world, are still performing horrors in the name of their creed. But if religion sometimes disposes people to self-righteousness and absolutism, it also provides a moral code that condemns the slaughter of innocents. In particular, the moral teachings of Jesus provide no support for – indeed they stand as a stern rebuke to – the historical injustices perpetrated in the name of Christianity.

Atheist hubris

The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth. Of course if some people – the Jews, the landowners, the unfit, or the handicapped – have to be eliminated in order to achieve this utopia, this is a price the atheist tyrants and their apologists have shown themselves quite willing to pay. Thus they confirm the truth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s dictum, “If God is not, everything is permitted.”

Whatever the motives for atheist bloodthirstiness, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in 2,000 years not managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades.

It’s time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the greatest source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history.

Dinesh D’Souza is the Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution. His new book, “The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,” will be published in January.

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16 Comments »

  1. I think that none of these was killed in the name of atheism at all. Communism is an non-theist religion, but it was as an effect of and in the name of communism that people were killed, not because of or in the name of atheism.

    “it’s time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the greatest source of human conflict and violence.”

    It is without a doubt religious beliefs that is the greatest source of violence, most of it in the form of communism.

    Of course, if you don’t accept the idea that a religion can have no god, then communism is not religious. And then it is not religion, but violent dogma that is the killer. Something that happens both with and without a god.

    Comment by dorfl — December 8, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  2. very interesting.
    i’m adding in RSS Reader

    Comment by music — January 8, 2008 @ 2:37 am

  3. dorfl

    ” Communism is an non-theist religion ”

    First of all though Communism is non theistic ( it’s atheistic ) , it’s still a religion

    Second you seem to have deluded yourself into thinking that these horrors were not produced on atheism’s behalf

    Can anyone seriously deny that Communism was ( is ) an atheist ideology ?

    Communism calls for the elimination of the exploiting class , it extols violence as a way to social progress , and it calls for using any means necessary to achieve the atheist utopia

    Not only was Marx an atheist , but atheism was also a central part of the Marxist doctrine

    Atheism became a central component of the Soviet Union’s official ideology , it is still the official doctrine of China , and Stalin and Mao enforced atheist policies by systematically closing churches and murdering priests and religious believers

    All Communist regimes have been strongly anti religious , suggesting that their atheism is intrinsic rather than incidental to their ideology

    Comment by Valeria — February 8, 2008 @ 8:52 pm

  4. A late answer:

    “First of all though Communism is non theistic ( it’s atheistic ) , it’s still a religion”

    No, non theistic is not the same as atheistic. The word atheism means in modern usage, that you do not have a religion. There can’t be atheistic religions. There can be NON-theistic religions, ie religions without a god. That is not atheism, it’s still religion.

    If you don’t agree with this word definition, you need to come up with a new word for not having a religion.

    “Second you seem to have deluded yourself into thinking that these horrors were not produced on atheism’s behalf”

    How is that a delusion, exactly?

    “Not only was Marx an atheist , but atheism was also a central part of the Marxist doctrine”

    No it wasn’t. And isn’t. Marxism is about history and economics, not God.

    “All Communist regimes have been strongly anti religious , suggesting that their atheism is intrinsic rather than incidental to their ideology”

    Of course. Because communism wanted all the power, and religion was a power base. It’s no different from the catholics churches persecution of other christian groups.

    Nothing in this has anything to do with atheism. People who were killed where never killed in the name of atheism. The priests that were killed were killed either because they were opposed to communism, or because they were seen as a threat to power. Not because they had a god.

    What you said was this:
    “Whatever the motives for atheist bloodthirstiness, the indisputable fact is that not all the religions of the world put together have in 2,000 years managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of ATHEISM in the past few decades.”

    The fact is, that NO ONE has been killed in the name of atheism. Loads of people have been killed in the name of religion, though. Communism being one of them.

    Comment by dorfl — March 6, 2008 @ 10:33 am

  5. […] Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history, Dinesh […]

    Pingback by REFERENDUM - 14 QUESTIONS TO FIND OUT WHAT SECULARISM/ATHEISM HAS GOT TO OFFER OUR SOCIETY AND IF IT WILL SOLVE ANY OF OUR PROBLEMS? « Atheistic Violence — July 30, 2008 @ 2:42 am

  6. Communism is not a religion. For this post, I will use James G. Frazer’s deffinition posited in “The Golden Bough”: Religion is a method to explain pre-existing behaviors in a society. That, along with any credible, modern deffinition for religion, excludes communism.

    Comment by Nick — August 3, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

  7. Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

    Comment by AlexM — August 16, 2008 @ 8:02 am

  8. Marx understood the power of religious belief when he called it an opiate of the people. What he wanted is a similar feeling of the people concerning controlling the means of production directly so that the owners and such wouldn’t be needed and were unnecessary and hampered the people from earning a living wage. He saw the worst aspects of the last Gilded Age. Engles was a textile manufacturer so he wasn’t of the proleteriate. We are presently in another one.

    Lenin, Stalin and Mao knew its power too and wanted to supplant it with the state as savior and power in the lives of those they controlled. It failed in that area. Both Hitler and Mussolini were Christians not atheists. They just wanted a church more in line with their military interests. I haven’t seen any evidence that Marx was against religion per se.

    No matter what system of gov’t and philosophy you have if you are a psychopath or characteriopath you will be brutal for you have no empathy and torture and murder are as nothing to you in your ability to have power and therefor comfort. Just look at what has happened to our country lo these past 28 years.

    Comment by Nightgaunt — September 22, 2008 @ 9:05 pm

  9. It is a pity that such a great Christian apologetics writer does not know(or blindfolds his eyes in order not to admit) the Christian background of Hitler´s nasty views and purposes and the widespread support that Nazi-Fascists had from Protestant and Catholic leaders, and subsequently from the faithful.

    Hitler´s beliefs fell within some kind of Christian mysticism; Catholic-born, he saw himself as God´s instrument to sweep the “Christ-killers” off the Earth’s surface. Mein Kampf attests richly such religious-inspired bloody pretense.

    Pantheistic greetings.

    Comment by Diego Oliveira — October 10, 2008 @ 7:05 pm

    • Diego, you can spin it the way you want. This article and the link I have included (Was Hitler a Christian?) clearly substantiates the case that Hitler was NOT a Christian. It is very clear he used Christianity to further his political goals. His actions tells us very clearly that he passionately hated Christianity. To him forgiveness, love for your neighbor and love for your enemy was the sign of a weak religion, which was a hinderance to further his goals. Hence he decimated it when he became powerful.

      Comment by zacedwards — September 6, 2009 @ 7:29 am

  10. Well said.

    Comment by Nysa — November 10, 2008 @ 9:39 pm

  11. Hitler wasn’t atheist…

    Comment by Matt — December 16, 2008 @ 5:40 am

  12. “In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people.”

    um, Hitler was not an Atheist. He was Christian. Look it up. And anyway, blaming someone’s misdeeds on their lack of religion is the EXACT SAME THING as blaming their misdeeds on their religion. Some people do good, others choose to do bad, but it is not related to what they do and don’t believe in.

    Comment by Joey — February 1, 2009 @ 4:11 am

  13. My fellow on Facebook shared this link with me and I’m not dissapointed that I came to your blog.

    Comment by Liza — April 22, 2009 @ 7:01 am

  14. Here’s a hypothetical situation that I’d like you guys to ponder:

    If you take two individuals with the exact same character, mental capacity, culture etc. and both are very tempted to murder an innocent person and they are both guaranteed a free pass (ie. no jail time/no loss of reputation whatsoever).

    However, one is a devout atheist (defined by no belief in any God, supernatural entity, no moral absolutes) and the other is a devout mainstream Christian who obviously believes that he would be punished by God. And tell me who you honestly think would be MORE LIKELY to commit the crime???

    My point is obvious, Christianity ISN’T A GUARANTEE that self-professing chrisitans will be good people but the ones who TRULY believe in its teachings will be MORE LIKELY to restrain themselves from doing evil deeds. The atheist (as defined above) can set their own moral code and will have LESS RESTRAINT from commiting evil deeds.

    In fact, the atheist can much more easily defend evil acts in the name of “science” or “progress” because they cannot define good and evil in their “moral relativeness” world. In fact, they cannot be even sure of reality itself since you cannot assume your brain evolved “the right way” to interpret reality – especially if we all are just re-arranged pond scum!!

    Comment by Camber — September 7, 2009 @ 8:21 am

  15. Mussolin WAS Atheist (In fact prior to his “conversion,” Mussolini was such an outspoken atheist that his earliest political pamphlet was titled “God does not exist”.) So was Stalin. Hitler wasn’t Christian, he was just… Nuts. In fact, he had plans to EXTERMINATE Christianity after he won WWII.
    Anyway, the fact is that anyone who kills in the name of Jesus is…stupid. It’s like a vegetarian going into a feedlot and killing all the cows so that people won’t eat them, i.e., the exact OPPOSITE of the movement’s point!
    Note: I am Christian, but have no problems with anyone’s beliefs assuming they have no problems with mine. Good-Day.

    Comment by The Only Balanced One Here — September 16, 2009 @ 6:39 pm


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About author

This blog looks at exposing Atheism and Atheist for what it is.... I'll be concentrating more on Atheistic beliefs and Atheistic violence. Let me start off with a quote from Finnish killer and Atheist.... he said quote I am ...... "a cynical existentialist, anti-human humanist, anti-social social-Darwinist, realistic idealist and GOD-like ATHEIST. "I am prepared to fight and die for my cause," he wrote. "I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection." Pekka Eric Auvinen - Finnish killer of seven students and Atheist.

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