• Atheists have no history of genocide - unlike Christians, Jews, and
Richard L. Measures. AG6K, 805-386-3734,www.somis.org
Richard, you tend to make a lot of unsubstantiated claims like the one
above. Rather than
talk crap, let's see the evidence that supports your above claim that
Atheists have no history of genocide.
Here is my counter argument. Atheists are responsible for far more
murder than any other religious group that has ever existed:
Here is R.J. Rummel, a professor of political science at University of
With this understood, the Soviet Union appears the greatest
megamurderer of all, apparently killing near 61,000,000 people. Stalin
himself is responsible for almost 43,000,000 of these. Most of the
deaths, perhaps around 39,000,000 are due to lethal forced labor in
gulag and transit thereto. Communist China up to 1987, but mainly from
1949 through the cultural revolution, which alone may have seen over
1,000,000 murdered, is the second worst megamurderer. Then there are
the lesser megamurderers, such as North Korea and Tito’s Yugoslavia.
Obviously the population that is available to kill will make a big
difference in the total democide, and thus the annual percentage rate
of democide is revealing. By far, the most deadly of all communist
countries and, indeed, in this century by far, has been Cambodia under
the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot and his crew likely killed some 2,000,000
Cambodians from April 1975 through December 1978 out of a population
of around 7,000,000. This is an annual rate of over 8 percent of the
population murdered, or odds of an average Cambodian surviving Pol
Pot’s rule of slightly over just over 2 to 1.
In sum the communist probably have murdered something like
110,000,000, or near two-thirds of all those killed by all
governments, quasi-governments, and guerrillas from 1900 to 1987. Of
course, the world total itself it shocking. It is several times the
38,000,000 battle-dead that have been killed in all this century’s
international and domestic wars. Yet the probable number of murders by
the Soviet Union alone–one communist country– well surpasses this cost
of war. And those murders of communist China almost equal it.
Communism is a worldview that explicitly repudiates the truth of
religion and the idea that man is created in the image of God. If God
is dead, all things are permissible. Atheism, historically, has been
the moral foundation for mass murder and genocide.
For all of your examples, no link to the Bible was even attempted. The
assertions that wars were conducted for religious purposes was made,
but not substantiated with a single piece of evidence.
I’ll help you again with a list. There are only a few areas where
Christian doctrine appears to have been a factor:
- the Crusades (between 2 and 100 thousand according to Encarta, I say
about 30 thousand)
- the Inquisition (about 2000 dead)
- the Salem witch trials (about 25 dead)
I won’t worry too much about the 25 dead from the witch trials. Let’s
take a closer look at the others with the help of Dinesh D’Souza, who
has sustained these points in debates against Hitchens and other
“The Crusades were a belated and necessary Christian enterprise to
block Islamic invasion and conquest. Remember that before Islam,
virtually the entire Middle East was Christian. Egypt, Syria,
Palestine, Jordan—these areas were predominantly Christian. The
Muslims conquered the region, and then Muslim armies invaded Europe,
conquering parts of Italy and virtually all of Spain, which the
Muslims ruled for nearly 700 years. The Muslims over-ran the Balkans
and were at the gates of Vienna. Edward Gibbon, no friend of
Christianity, says that if the Christians hadn’t fought back then,
today at Oxford and Cambridge—and by extension Harvard and Duke—we’d
all be studying the teachings of Muhammad in the Arabic language.
Western civilization, then called Christendom, was mortally
threatened. The Crusades, for all their excesses, helped to prevent
this disastrous outcome.”
“Well, the best scholarship on the Inquisition shows that
approximately 2,000 people were killed by the Spanish Inquisition over
a period of 350 years. I would never apologize for the Inquisition,
which I think represented a terrible strain in late-medieval
Christianity. I am glad that Christianity is different now, and the
closest thing you have to a religious inquisition today would be
something like the regime of the ayatollahs in Iran. Still, how can
you even compare the casualties of the Inquisition to those of the
atheists’ regimes? Even a second-rate atheist despot like Pol Pot
killed more people in a month than the Inquisition managed to do in
More on the Crusades here.
Do belt buckles on SS troops prove anything?
Here is a historical assessment by Dinesh of Hitler’s vicious hatred
of Christianity. Also, I recently wrote a post where I contrasted the
morality of an authentic Bible-believing Christian with an authentic
Darwin-believing non-Christian. The morality you inherited today in
the West is a morality left-over from the prominence of Christianity
in the last few centuries. It is based on Christian ideas, and
explicitly so, ideas that have NO GROUNDING on atheism.
Please explain to me how a 3-word inscription on belt buckles
undergirded Hitler’s wars of aggression, and explain the real record
of his hatred of Christianity in his own actual writings. On your
view, you would have to argue that Barack Obama is a Christian,
because he claimed to be one. Don’t we actually have do some scholarly
study to link external activities directly back to specific Biblical
teachings in order to claim that there was a meaningful link? If I
taught my parrot to claim to be a Christian in his speeches, would he
also be a Christian?
What is the ground for a moral standard on atheism?
Again, you had nothing to say here because there is no standard of
morality on atheism. None. Atheists do what they please. Indeed, that
is the whole point of it – to rebel against morality. If you would
like to try again to tell me where is the content and being of the
atheist moral standard, I would be delighted to hear.
Until then, the moral language you use in praising this and condemning
that is literally meaningless gibberish. There is no standard that you
can use, on atheism, in order to praise or denounce anything in the
world, past present and future. I offered you 3 alternatives for the
source of the moral standard, you declined to answer. Answer the
question, please. Where is this moral code that atheists follow? What
is the reason for following it when it goes against their own self-
interest? What does it matter, on atheism, whether atheists follow the
moral code, or not?
Are you familiar with the concept of “heat death of the universe”.
Eventually, the usable energy in the universe will run down and no
life will be possible. This occurs whether atheists act one way or
another. What does it matter for atheists ultimately if they act this
way or that way? Is it not the case that what is rational, on atheism,
is for atheists to simply do what pleases them most at any given
moment? What reason is there, given the meaningless of life on
atheism, for putting selfishness second and morality (and you need to
point me to the atheist moral standard) first?
If you ask someone to shut up, and they don’t shut up, do you then
remove their means of earning a living? Do you imprison them? Do you
torture them? Do you murder them? Do you remove their fundamental
rights by means of state coercion?
Or, do you grow up and realize that in life you are going to hear
things you disagree with and that is not a justification for
destroying the fundamental liberties of individuals by imposing
fascism on individual values.
This is where the impulse in atheism that justifies mass murder and
genocide comes from. You feel strongly in the removal of the
fundamental rights of those who disagree with you. The idea of
tolerating other views seems wrong to you. Instead, atheism seems to
bring out the fascist impulse, and you use the very means that you
condemn in others against those who have different beliefs than you
do. Show me where this idea is in atheistic prescriptions of morality.
(I.e. – where is “you ought to love your enemies” on atheism?)
Here’s an idea: how about going out right now and finding the first
evangelical Christian you meet and buying them lunch in order to
listen to why they are a Christian and what it means to them? I did
that 3 times with atheists this week, and will be posting the results
of my interviews in a highly-anticipated series about what atheists
think. All of these atheists are my personal friends, they know my
real identity and could blow my cover at any time. Do you have any
Christian friends that you love with all your heart? I do. Love for
enemies is explicitly taught by Jesus in the Bible.
Thanks for your comment. I enjoyed responding to it. Please comment
again soon, I won’t mind to hear your ideas. Differences of opinions
are welcome here!
UPDATE: I gave her the last word here.
Filed under: Polemics , Afterlife, Atheism, Atheist, Bible, Christian,
Christianity, Communism, Crusade, Deaths, Debate, Debates, Ethics,
Foundation, Genocide, Imperialism, Inquisition, Jesus, Mao, Mass
Murder, Materialism, Million, Moral, Morality, Murder, Ontological,
Rationality, Salem, Stalin, Torture, Trial, War, Witch
05/10/2009 at 12:31 PM
I find it amazing that atheists still trot out the Inquisition and
the Crusades (only the former of which was a perversion of religion,
as the latter was, as you noted, a fight for survival) as events on
par with the murderous, atheist, regimes of the 20th century–it’s
almost like these people just read what, say, Chris Hitchens says and
take it as gospel truth without actually doing any verifying on their
own…which is exactly how Dawkins, Hitchens, et al like it, of course.
For anyone that would like a thumbnail sketch of the Crusades by
an academic that has spent his entire career in the classics, I
recommend A Concise History of the Crusades–it’s very short and
information-packed, giving a very nice overview of the entire
conflict. I’m fairly certain that if everyone read this book, we’d
never hear the canard about blood-thirsty Christians murdering hapless
Mulsims meme ever again.)
Wintery Knight says:
05/10/2009 at 12:47 PM
Yes, and the other point is to force the challenger to see how
even elementary judgments about right and wrong are impossible without
a moral standard that is independent of personal opinion and vulture.
You can’t judge anything on atheism without that transcendent
standard. And of course that standard must be made by God, for who
else could prescribe the way that humans ought to be other than the
ones who made the humans in the first place?
Thanks for reading the exchange!
Shamelessly Atheist says:
05/10/2009 at 3:40 PM
I take a great deal of issue with what has been said here. So much
so that I will only comment on a few examples. First, the whole
argument over who has the bigger body count is ridiculous to begin
with. To distill causes to a single factor, either religion or
atheism, is absurd. Every event in history is contingent on previous
events, which results in there never being a single cause.
That being said, you then go on to historical revision. Using
Dinesh D’Souza as a source does not help your case one bit. Along with
such people as William Lane Craig and Duane Gish (to name just a few),
they represent some of the people [I disagree with most about facts].
D’Souza makes the claim that only about 2,000 were tortured and
murdered in the Spanish Inquisition as if he is proud of the fact that
a mere 2,000 is okay. Are we really okay with that? I’m not. But
notice also what he has done: he has artificially reduced the
Inquisition to the Spanish Inquisition, which was but a small part of
the whole. He doesn’t even mention the Albigensian Crusades that
started the whole thing, killing 200,000 to 1,000,000 over 20 years,
no mean feat with the military technology available at the time. A
rather glaring omission that [in my opinion] is a conscious one on
And this is only one example. Perhaps D’Souza could explain how
the city of Judenberg got its name by rounding up every Jew they could
find and burning them alive? To celebrate, the name of Berlitz was
changed. Hitler was only acting on his Christian heritage embodied in
the Fourth Council of the Lateran which prescribed exactly what was
done in the Holocaust. Is that in his book? Nor does any of this
answer the question of where all the Christians were during this
terrible act of genocide. Sure, examples of resistance can be found,
but Christians were taking part in the crime too.
As for communism being an atheist doctrine, balderdash. I am an
atheist. Do you think that makes me a communist? The whole argument
that atheism leads to mass murder is similarly [wrong]. It is
idealism, the adherence to the claim of an absolute knowledge or ideal
without regard to the human condition, that is the source of these
atrocities, whether they were religiously motivated or otherwise. This
can include religious ideals espoused by de Torquemada, or non-
religious ones fronted by Stalin and Hitler. Each was an ideologue
pushing their brand of idealism no matter the cost, and the costs were
great. Thus, the argument over which has a higher body count is silly
“You can’t judge anything on atheism without that transcendent
standard.” Of course I can. It’s called empathy, based on the
principle of reciprocity – I act towards others as I would like them
to act towards myself. Empathy is the ability to place yourself in
another’s shoes and imagine how they would feel if the action were
happening to them. Pretty simple with no need for a fictitious
absolute moral standard. In fact, so many counter examples to a moral
absolute can be made as to reduce it to absurdity. Even something like
the definition of ‘murder’ has changed over the centuries.
Wintery Knight says:
05/10/2009 at 4:08 PM
Thanks for the comment, it’s a great comment!
See, the reason why body count matters is because atheist
ideas lead naturally to mass murder, as I argued. The reason why you
don’t see this as much in the West today is because Christian morality
forms the basis of the “moral conventions” of atheists, so that
atheists smuggle in Christian morality inconsistently grafted to a
rotted out atheist metaphysical foundation. As Christianity is
suppressed by secularism, you will see more and more violence, such as
abortion, euthanasia and infanticide, as was the case in the pre-
Christian Roman empire.
Atheism means: no soul, no human rights, no human dignity, no
purpose in life, no meaning in life, no objective morality, no free
will, no moral responsibility, no moral accountability, no way humans
ought to be, no moral duties, no moral values, no moral standard, etc.
Nothing that is needed for meaningful morality is grounded on atheism.
An accidental universe produces hedonism, selfishness, might-makes-
right and survival of the fittest. Morality is not rationally grounded
That is why mass murders are committed by people who are the
most thoughtful and consistent atheists. They write about the
implications of atheism in their books, and then they proceed to act
on their atheist beliefs. Mass murder follows from atheism, atheism is
a necessary pre-condition to mass murder.
The following questions must be answered by you in order for
your future comments to appear.
1) Where in the Bible does Jesus teach his followers to commit
these atrocities? There needs to be a direct connection. There is a
concept of just war in Christianity, (i.e. – World War 2, or the US
Civil War), but it doesn’t even come close to providing justification
for crusades, and it wouldn’t be ordered by the church, either. What
does Paul say about imposing Christian morality on non-Christians?
2) On what basis are these atrocities wrong on atheism?
“Empathy” just means that you personally do not like it. I am asking
you what is the mode of existence of the moral rule that applies to
all people in all times such that humans are obliged not to engage in
such activities? Be specific. Where is this moral prescription, on
atheism? It seems to me that these actions are NOT forbidden on
atheism in any objective way.
3) Suppose you were alive during the Crusade. How would you
rationally justify opposing the Crusade and then suffering the
inevitable consequence for your opposition, on atheism? What rational
sense would it make for you to take a stand then on something you
denounce now? How can atheists expect to be taken seriously as moral
authorities when their own worldview justifies keeping quiet about
moral wrongs since there is no reason to do the right thing on
4) What is the atheist explanation for free will, with is
required for moral choices and moral responsibility?
5) What is the atheist explanation for the ultimate
significance of moral or immoral actions? What does it matter on
atheism? Is it not like discussing ice cream flavors on atheism, since
there is nothing objective to discuss? How does acting morally affect
the destination of you or anyone else, on atheism?
Be sure and read this post in which I contrast a famous
authentic, consistent Christian and a famous authentic, consistent non-
Christian from history.
05/10/2009 at 5:04 PM
So much so that I will only comment on a few examples.
Naturally: since you likely have no answers for the vast, vast
majority of the cases cited, you will attempt to hone in on one the
one area where you might have read an article in a magazine or taken,
once again, as gospel truth something from a historian with an axe to
grind. (Hell, I’ll be the first one to admit there is a wide latitude
on deaths during the Inquisition but, any way you slice it, even the
most die-hard revisionisnt historian would not peg those deaths at any
greater than about 10k over that time period.)
Furthermore, laughing off the issue of body counts is sick and
pretty much says a lot for how ‘moral’ you are as an individual (let’s
forget that you’re an atheist for a moment and ask yourself a
question: would most of the atheists you know discount the sheer, a-
religious, slaughter of the 20th century as meaningless when it was
more than 1000x (!!) the body count of a series of defensive wars
launched over centuries while atheist regimes managed to rack up their
obscene body counts over about a 60 year period.) You are basically
implying that Hitler’s acts against Jews in WWII is on a moral par
with the Columbine killings, simply because some people died in both
Listen: if you can’t muster a point-for-point refuation (which I
see WK has called you out on in a subsequent post) why bother at all?
It just betrays the weakness of your argument or your ability to make
an argument as you probably aren’t intelltectually equipped to have
this debate in any meaningful sense. More likely you are simply upset
that he ‘dared’ call out a philosophy that has done more harm to the
world than any other in recorded human history and by mountain-
clearing leaps and bounds.
Shamelessly Atheist says:
05/10/2009 at 6:31 PM
“the reason why body count matters is because atheist ideas lead
naturally to mass murder, as I argued. ” No, they most definitely DO
NOT! How does secular humanism lead to mass murder? It is in direct
opposition to it! As an atheist, I have absolutely no wish to kill.
Why do you think that might be?
“1) Where in the Bible does Jesus teach his followers to commit
these atrocities?” I’ve never said it does, of course. Remember, I do
not subscribe to the idea that either religion nor atheism does.
Atheism is simply the position that there are no gods. No moral
philosophy here, though for some reason you seem to think there is.
The problem is that being a Christian is no bar to committing
atrocities. Neither is atheism. Where does that leave your argument?
In shambles, actually. Religious and nonreligious alike commit crimes
against humanity and always for some ideal.
“What does Paul say about imposing Christian morality on non-
Christians?” Would that all Christians thought so. There would be no
such thing as the so-called New Atheism. I used to think that being an
atheist and not speaking up was the right thing to do. The problem is
that this view is predicated on the assumption that others would feel
the same way. They don’t. Hence from a purely survival point of view
we had no choice but to make sure that society recognized that a
significant portion of its members do not believe and the creation of
a theocracy out of secular government institutions is unacceptable,
and is actually harmful to believers as well.
“…but it doesn’t even come close to providing justification for
crusades, and it wouldn’t be ordered by the church, either.” You have
GOT to be kidding. The Albigensian Crusades were the result of a
DIRECT order from Pope Innocent III (I love the names these guys take
on for themselves – they bear little resemblance to the nature of
“2) On what basis are these atrocities wrong on atheism? ” As I’ve
stated, you mistake the position of atheism for a philosophy. This is
just not so. Similarly, atheism is not a moral position. It is simply
the position that there are no gods. I know no atheist who would claim
anything more than that. Fortunately, no one, not even atheists, needs
morality supplied to them. Do you not feel bad when you do something
bad? Similarly, do you not feel good when you do something good? As a
result of our having evolved in a social setting, we have developed
what we call morality in response to a need to interact co-operatively
with other members within a group. For a much more thorough treatment
of this, see Shermer’s The Science of Good & Evil and Hauser’s Moral
Minds. Even had I had no answer to why atheists renounce atrocities,
it is of no matter. The problem for you is that we do! That you do not
understand it within a religious framework should be telling you
something. (Along the lines that a religious framework is unnecessary
for morality. But somehow I don’t think you will see that.)
The concept of reciprocity predicts that I would not commit such
atrocities because I would not want to undergo such treatment myself.
Morals aren’t something we consciously calculate. We do not come up
with them before hand, but rationalize them after-the-fact. This is
why we feel good when we do good. We have no need to consciously come
up with what is good and bad prior to acting. How we feel about it is
how evolution gets us to do acts of good and try to avoid acting
badly. This is not conjecture, but an active area of research. The
framework is there. We’re just filling in the details.
“How can atheists expect to be taken seriously as moral
authorities when their own worldview justifies keeping quiet about
moral wrongs since there is no reason to do the right thing on
atheism?” Now this is just [very very wrong]. I am hardly quiet when
it comes to being outraged at moral wrongs. Read my blogs. I am
infuriated with religious nonsense killing people in Africa by
interfering with sound public health policy. Millions will die as a
result of a pope (completely lacking in credibility on the subject)
denouncing condom use. You have no idea at the feeling of outrage that
I have over this.
The question is irrelevant – again, the problem is not whether
atheists have or have not justification to speak out against moral
wrongs, but that we indeed do so. If you can’t understand why, this is
not my problem. Hint: There are a lot of clues in this response. If
you can’t figure it out, try a change of viewpoint. Second hint:
Invert the question.
“4) What is the atheist explanation for free will, with is
required for moral choices and moral responsibility?” I have yet to
see a good definition of ‘free will’. As such, this question can not
be answered as put. If by free will you mean choosing form an infinite
number of possibilities, I reject the concept. We would be paralyzed
into inaction if background processes of the brain didn’t make the
decision for us. Decision making is a far, FAR more difficult process
to understand than most apologists have any idea about and
neuroscience is now addressing.
“5) What is the atheist explanation for the ultimate significance
of moral or immoral actions?” This just begs the question: is there
ultimate significance of moral or immoral actions? No, I can’t see any
reason for there being such a thing. What is there to suggest that
there would be? It’s like the concept of ultimate justice – nice idea,
but what makes anyone think there is such a thing? Why should there be
just because you want it to be so?
As to how acting morally affects my ‘destination’, it makes me
what I think and I hope is a better person. This to me is the purpose
of life – to better oneself. Unless you mean that it gives me a key
into some nebulous and unsubstantiated afterlife, which I reject. I
only get one shot at life and I had better make it count, so that when
I get old I can look back and be satisfied and feel good about my run
at it. If that’s a problem for others, well, screw them. I have yet to
see a religious principle which is remotely necessary to this end.
Here’s one for you: if I don’t subscribe to any religious
framework, why is it that I do try to act in a manner which would be
deemed good when (according to you) I have no reason to do so? (Here I
am asking you to accept as stated that I do act morally, of course. I
have never been imprisoned for a crime, I clear my neighbors’ sidewalk
and driveway of snow in winter with no expectation of reward, I am
kind to others, I am not a sociopath as many believers view atheists,
I am empathetic to the plight of others, etc.) Certainly, I don’t feel
the need to justify myself to anyone else. I am by far the harshest
critic of my own actions. Why should that be so? This is a question
that always confounds believers and the answer to which I haven’t the
least bit interest in learning except is a purely intellectual
Of course, this whole conversation is predicated on the idea that
religion makes one a moral person. This is the logical fallacy we all
know and love as ‘begging the question’. Does it?
The truth of the matter is that believers need this to be so, else
the perceived need for religion as a moral compass disappears in a
puff of smoke. If you want to believe for belief’s sake, fine. I’m a
secular humanist and as such believe everyone is entitled to that so
long as it harms no one else or interferes with the beliefs of others.
(I’m presuming you understand the difference between atheism and
secularism – many do not.) But to call atheists pariahs is rather
insulting and unsubstantiated. It is idealism to the extent where
people are no longer considered is what we need to avoid. Whether it
is based in religion or atheism is immaterial.
01/05/2010 at 5:48 AM
“As an atheist, I have absolutely no wish to kill. Why do you
think that might be?”
To you, murder might be a matter of wish. To Christians, it’s
not just wishy washy, but it is immoral and sinful to murder, that’s
why Christians don’t wish to commit murder.
The mass murderers mentioned by Wintery were simply atheists
who wish to kill as opposed to those who don’t wish to kill.
“Here’s one for you: if I don’t subscribe to any religious
framework, why is it that I do try to act in a manner which would be
If you could tell us, that would be great, because that is a
Nietzche would laugh at the so called ‘New Atheists’. The old
atheists knew there is no morality in atheism. The new atheists just
like to try to have their cake and eat it too.
05/11/2009 at 1:08 PM
Communism did not arise from atheism. In fact, some of the first
communists were Christians, and there are even Christian communists
today. Communism actually owes an intellectual debt to Christians and
the Bible. You can read more in my article on atheism and communist
atrocities found here. More articles debating Christian apologists
Dinesh D’Souza and Dr. David Aikman can be found at my site too (yes,
these guys actually responded to me).
It’s interesting you quote Dr. Rummel as a source for your views.
Do you know what else he wrote?
Q: Is atheism the principal factor in democide, such as that
committed by the “Big Three,” Stalin, Mao, and Hitler?
A: No. I find that religion or its lack – atheism – have
hardly anything to do in general with wide-scale democide. The most
important factor is totalitarian power. Whether a church, atheists, or
agnostics have that power is incidental – it is having the power that
is a condition of democide. Incidentally, some ideologies, such as
communism, function psychologically and sociologically as though a
religion. The only distinction is whether the subject is a god or a
man, such as Marx, Lenin, Hirohito, Hitler, Mohammed, Kim Ill sung,
Your view is explicitly debunked by the very scholar you use to
Wintery Knight says:
05/11/2009 at 1:15 PM
I trust Rummel’s numbers, not his personal opinions about the
numbers. All totalitarian systems that murdered massive numbers of
people have been atheistic, because the content of the worldview
(materialism) does not forbid it. Atheism does not have a ground for
human rights, human dignity, etc. The content of the worldview makes
the murders possible.
Communism is a system of economics built upon materialist
atheism. No Christian can believe in atheism, the two are mutually
exclusive. Marx himself wrote about atheism and he was an aggressive
atheist. His economic views emerged directly from his metaphysics.
That is why Marx wrote that “religion is the opium of the people”,
while the New Testament says that if a man does not work, neither
shall he eat. The New Testament values private charity.
Here is a citation from a communist web site:
In the body of his study Marx pointed out that: “The
proofs of the existence of God are either mere hollow tautologies… all
proofs of the existence of God are proofs of his non-
existence.” (Marx, The Difference Between the Democritean and
Epicurean Philosophy of Nature, 1841, MECW 1.)
Others were publishing more strident arguments against
religion and in favour of humanism at the time. For example Ludwig
Feuerbach published The Essence of Christianity (1841), which argued
that the root of religion was man (meaning humanity). Bauer wrote the
pamphlet, The trumpet of the last judgment on Hegel (1841), denying
that Jesus was an historical figure and defending atheism.
In 1841 Marx and Bauer planned to publish a radical
philosophical periodical, Archives of Atheism. The views of some
contemporaries give some indication of the scope of their project.
Arnold Ruge wrote: “Bruno Bauer, Karl Marx, Christiansen
and Feuerbach are forming a new montagne and are making atheism their
slogan. God, religion, immortality are cast down from their thrones
and man is proclaimed God.”
And Georg Jung wrote to Ruge: “If Marx, Bruno Bauer and
Feuerbach associate to found a theological-philosophical review, God
would do well to surround himself with all the angels and indulge in
self-pity, for these three will certainly drive him out of his heaven…
For Marx, at any rate, the Christian religion is one of the most
immoral there is.” (David McLellan, Marx before Marxism, 1970)
Flowing from his atheism, Marx opposed organised religion
and the role of religion in politics. A flavour of Marx’s attitude can
be gleaned from his journalism at the time.
In his Comments on The Latest Prussian Censorship
Instruction (1842) he wrote:
“Hence either forbid religion to be introduced at all into
politics — but you don’t want that, for you want to base the state not
on free reason, but on faith, religion being for you the general
sanction for what exists – or allow also the fanatical introduction of
religion into politics. Let religion concern itself with politics in
its own way, but you don’t want that either. Religion has to support
the secular authority, without the latter subordinating itself to
religion. Once you introduce religion into politics, it is
intolerable, indeed irreligious, arrogance to want to determine
secularly how religion has to act in political matters. He who wants
to ally himself with religion owing to religious feelings must concede
it the decisive voice in all questions, or do you perhaps understand
by religion the cult of your own unlimited authority and governmental
wisdom?” (MECW 1)
And in “The Leading Article” in No. 179 of the Kölnische
Zeitung (1842), Marx accused the Prussian state of disseminating
Christian dogma, criticised the police and the censor for protecting
religion and insisted that no distinction should be made between
religion as belief and the religious establishment. (MECW 1)
Religion is “the opium of the people”
Bhattacharyya seeks to downplay the essential Marxist
criticism of religion, summed up by Marx’s famous aphorism that it is
“the opium of the people”, by emphasising religion as a protest
against real suffering.
It’s a good comment, because it gives me a chance to plug Jay
Richards’ new book from HarperCollins. Now Jay Richards is a Princeton
education theologian and philosopher, who writes books about the
nature of God. Whatever he says about whether Christianity is more
compatible with capitalism or communism should be considered
authoritative for Christians. His specialty is explaining what is and
is not compatible with orthodox Christianity, and he is the best.
Money, Greed and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not
Does capitalism promote greed? Can a person follow Jesus’s
call to love others and also support capitalism? Was our recent
economic crisis caused by flaws inherent to our free market system?
Jay Richards presents a new approach to capitalism, revealing how it’s
fully consistent with Jesus’s teachings and the Christian tradition,
while also showing why this system is our best bet for renewed
The church is bombarded with two competing messages about
money and capitalism:
* wealth is bad and causes much of the world’s suffering
* wealth is good and God wants you to prosper and be rich
Richards exposes these myths, and other common misconceptions
about capitalism, and reveals the surprising ways that capitalism is,
in fact, the best system to respond to the biblical mandates of
alleviating poverty and protecting the environment. Money, Greed, and
God equips readers to take practical steps in their own lives to
conduct business, worship God, and serve others without falling into
the “prosperity gospel” trap.
You can listen to a good lecture featuring Jay Richards on the
agreement between Christianity and capitalism here.
And don’t forget agnostic historian/sociologist Rodney Stark’s
book: “The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom,
Capitalism, and Western Success“.
So, I think you’re mistaken. What is that noise I hear? The
theme from Jaws? Oh, my God! Run! It’s ECM! He’s coming for you!
05/12/2009 at 4:42 PM
Communism did not arise from atheism.
I’d say he makes a more compelling argument than you do, unless
we’re supposed to simply take you at your word.
In fact, some of the first communists were Christians, and there
are even Christian communists today.
Wow, no kidding: you’re telling me that in a day and age when
Christianity was as ubiquitous as the preening of religious atheists
on the Internet that some of them might just be Christians? Wow, my
mind is, like, totally blown.
Of course there is the sticky points that WK makes and the simple
fact that, based on the quotes below (and writings and beliefs) of the
arch-priests of communism that the two are painfully and obviously
mutually-exclusive but, hey, you’re making a point here…I think…so to
hell with intellectual honesty.
Communism actually owes an intellectual debt to Christians and the
Bible. You can read more in my article on atheism and communist
atrocities found here.
Again, so what? Most of the philosophies in human history owe a
debt, no matter how potentially perverse, to the ones that came before
and is, generally, what one might call ‘progress.’ (Though i’ll be the
first to admit that ‘progress’ isn’t a good unto itself.) As a key
example, does it bother you that science, as we understand it, owes a
tremendous debt to Christianity, i.e. it wouldn’t exist in the terms
we comprehend without its influence.?
More articles debating Christian apologists Dinesh D’Souza and Dr.
David Aikman can be found at my site too (yes, these guys actually
responded to me).
And (again!) so what? What does that have to do with what you’re
arguing here? I mean, other than self-promotion and/or auto-ego
With all that said, though, I figured I’d pull some quotes from
the leading lights on communism to show the depths of their tolerance
and belief in religion and how that might make Christian communists
(whatever they are) sorely confused at best and devious liars using
Christianity as a foil to make converts at worst:
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 encyclopaedic
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 is one of the forms of spiritual oppression which
everywhere weighs down heavily upon the masses of the people, over
burdened by their perpetual work for others, by want and isolation.
Impotence of the exploited classes in their struggle against the
exploiters just as inevitably gives rise to the belief in a better
life after death as impotence of the savage in his battle with nature
gives rise to belief in gods, devils, miracles, and the like. Those
who toil and live in want all their lives are taught by religion to be
submissive and patient while here on earth, and to take comfort in the
hope of a heavenly reward. But those who live by the labor of others
are taught by religion to practice charity while on earth, thus
offering them a very cheap way of justifying their entire existence as
exploiters and selling them at a moderate price tickets to well-being
in heaven. Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of
spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human
image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.
But, of course, religion is poison. It has two great defects. It
undermines the race (and) retards the progress of the country. Tibet
and Mongolia have been poisoned by it.
(Note: having read several of your blog posts, I am fairly certain
you would agree with the statement ‘religion is poison’, yes?
Incidentally, this is why most blogs like this one require comment
moderation: far too many religious atheists are unable to be civil and
decent in debate, even when they are busily assuring the rest of us
that they have lots of “empathy” for those with which they disagree.)
Anyway, those are just a few of the big-time communists (you can,
I’m sure, dig up more from, say, monsters like Pol Pot and Stalin) and
how they view religion and not a one of them has a kind word for it.
It’s also painfully clear that communism sees relgiion as an arch-
rival that must be stomped out of existence with extreme prejudice,
and that one of the pillars of communism is, obviously (yes,
obviously), rabid, blood-thirsty, atheism–how anyone that’s read the
Communist Manifesto or the writings and speeches of any number of
communist leaders could believe otherwise calls into question the
intellectual honesty of the individual in question.
Steynian 354 « Free Canuckistan! says:
05/15/2009 at 3:45 PM
[...] WHO IS MORE responsible for the mass murders of history?
Christians or atheists? …. [...]
09/21/2009 at 1:05 AM
100 million? The Soviet Union had AT MOST a population of 160
million at any time during Stalin’s rule. The consensus today seems to
be about 20 million
Wintery Knight says:
09/21/2009 at 1:11 AM
Yes, yes. That is the total for all communist regimes. Sorry
if I was unclear. If you dispute the book blame Harvard University
Press, not me!
As the death toll mounts—as many as 25 million in the
former Soviet Union, 65 million in China, 1.7 million in Cambodia, and
on and on—the authors systematically show how and why, wherever the
millenarian ideology of Communism was established, it quickly led to
crime, terror, and repression. An extraordinary accounting, this book
amply documents the unparalleled position and significance of
Communism in the hierarchy of violence that is the history of the
09/21/2009 at 3:25 AM
Religion today is every bit as violent and dangerous as it was in
the Dark and Middle-Ages.
Within the last fifteen to twenty years we have:
Palestine–Jews vs. Muslims
Balkans-Orthodox Serbians vs. Catholic Croatians & Orthodox
Serbians vs. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims
Northern Ireland-Protestants vs. Catholic
Kashmir-Muslims vs. Hindus
Sudan-Muslims vs. Christians and Animists
Nigeria-Muslims vs. Christians
Ethiopia and Eritrea-Muslims vs. Christians
Sri-Lanka-Sinhalese Buddhists vs. Tamil Hindus
Indonesia-Muslims vs. Timorese Christians
Caucuses-Russian Orthodox vs. Chechen Muslims and Muslim
Azerbaijanis vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians
India vs. Pakistan-Muslim vs. Hindu-they have already fought 3
wars against each other and now both of these countries have nuclear
Of course there are the religious wars in Europe in the Dark and
09/21/2009 at 4:53 AM
You don’t get it: even if we grant you that everything you
wrote in this post is accurate (and, good lord, it is not even close),
the body count racked up during wars in the 20th century alone dwarf
the religious ones. Period. Full stop. End of line. Hell, if we decide
to go back and start including wars prior to the 20th century launched
w/o an overtly religious motivation, it gets even worse by several
more orders of magnitude.
This site does a solid job of collecting the relevant body
counts though it is a bit out of date and the numbers aren’t entirely
accurate but it should give everyone here a general idea of how
ridiculous your post really is:
I suggest everyone take a look at (Possibly) The Twenty (or
so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other at the beginning of
that link and then, doing some quick math (and even being very
generous with what you would describe as ‘religious’ warfare) and you
tell me whether religiously-motivated warfare is remotely as bloody as
that waged by avowed atheists.
Wintery Knight says:
09/21/2009 at 12:17 PM
Thanks for your comment. Keep in mind that I am a Protestant
Christian, but I will defend all of Christianity from charges.
Here’s what we need to see from you.
1) Body counts for each of these wars and then compare them to
the 100 million dead from atheism.
2) Proof that these wars are motivated by religion not just
territorial disputes. (HINT: Virtually all of the ones you name are
3) Citations from the Bible showing where Christians are
taught to engage in wars with other religions.
4) Citations from the Bible showing where Jesus engaged in
wars with other religions.
I await your reply. Right now the score is ZERO to 100 million
for your team.