"Atheism has killed more people than Christianity" (1 Viewer)

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    SystemShock

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    This is a common argument that apologists keep bringing up over and over again, mostly - as far as I can tell - ever since Christopher Hitchens started mentioning the number of deaths caused by religion throughout the centuries, during debates, talks, and in written pieces. And the "evidence" presented for the apologist argument is always the four horsemen of the atheist apocalypse: Hitler, Stalin, Temüjin, and Zedong.

    And every time I hear this argument, I want to smack apologists across the face, because none of the aforementioned ever killed anyone in the name of atheism.

    Hitler was not an atheist. This is made obvious by passages written in Mein Kampf, speeches, letters to his generals, going as far as describing Jesus as being Aryan warrior. Even the belt buckles in nazi uniforms said "God is with us". So no atheism there.

    The Ghengis Khan wasn't an atheist. He wasn't a Christian, but he's known to have been a Tengrist. He also is known to have been tolerant of other religions and by all accounts wanted to learn about the philosophies of religions outside the Mongol empire. So again, no atheism there.

    Which brings us to the last 2, Zedong and Stalin. I put them together as both were proponents of Marxism-Leninism, and indeed there is an anti-religion facet within the Marxist-Leninist ideology. But to say both killed people in the name of atheism is not correct.

    Their actions were guided not by the non-belief in a deity (which is what atheism is) but by the fact that institutionalized religion was an obstacle to the socialist revolution, which is true of any period in history, as religions - like Christianity in ancient Rome, then England, Spain, France, etc - have always aligned with emperors, kings, and tyrants, used as political tools to control and oppress the masses, as religious leaders watched the suffering of the population from the comfort and warmth of the palace, all while absolving the kings and tyrants of their sins.

    So, killing in the name of a deity Yahweh still holds the title for more deaths, no contest.
     
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    The funny thing is though, atheists like yourself who are fine upstanding law abiding citizens, your morale code still comes from religion. That's why religion (especially Christianity) has done more good than bad! :)

    You do understand that atheists don't all share an identical moral code, right? Atheism is nothing more than a stance on a particular question.

    That said, can you explain what you believe to be the atheist moral code and how it is specifically derived from religion?
     
    The moral code you most likely abide by stems from the Ten Commandments, so religion has positively impacted your life :)

    LOL where did I say that? I said IF an atheist commits those atrocities, obviously most atheists do not. IF they do though, a lack of a moral code is why they felt comfortable doing so, thus atheism can be partially blamed for their behavior.

    The funny thing is though, atheists like yourself who are fine upstanding law abiding citizens, your morale code still comes from religion. That's why religion (especially Christianity) has done more good than bad! :)

    Where did you say it? You wrote:

    "There is no moral code to abide by if you're an atheist. So any killing done by an atheist is done so partially because they don't have a God to answer to for their sins.
    I would argue that makes any murder, rape, theft, etc. committed by an atheist was done in the name of atheism since it's their lack of a moral code that led them to believe that's it's okay to commit such atrocities."

    First you tell me that I don't a moral code as an anti-theist and then magically I do and Lo! it happens to come from religion - the Ten Commandments no less. Ha. We'll talk more about that in a moment.

    What does it even mean to do something in "the name of atheism"? Possibly the only thing I can remember doing with atheism in mind is to engage in conversations like this. Atheism is not a belief system; rather, it is the non-adoption of theistic belief systems. It does not preclude one from exploring and expressing moral philosophy. It just lets you go there with a mind open and unencumbered by divine dogma.

    Now, to your earlier statement regarding the 10 Commandments. I hear this sentiment frequently from people who like to insist that the United States is a Christian nation and that our laws stem from the 10 Commandments. I say that you have it backwards; people did not suddenly realize that murder and rape and theft etc. were undesirable because Moses one day appeared with tablets from God that said so. Rather, we know these things innately as social primates, and have subsequently enshrined them in religious tenets.

    If your version of events is correct - and that prior to the 10 Commandments people thought these "sins" were ok - then explain these facts. Similar injunctions appear in major religions across the world, many antedating Christianty, even Judaism. Heathen societies - ignorant of Christianity - recognized that murder, rape, etc. are bad. Read the Wikipedia entry on The Golden Rule, the "do unto others" that encourages empathy. It is prevalent across cultures and civilizations and religions.

    Also, a word of advice on relying on the Ten Commandments as a basis for moral philosophy and civil laws. First of all, which version of the Decalogue do you want to invoke? There are quite a few to choose from. Second, do you believe all the Commandments? Does God grant you the discretion to pick and choose? Our Constitution expressly enshrines freedom of worship, which directly violates Commandments 1 and 2. It further allows people to swear and to create images of God (freedom of expression), which violates Commandments 3 and 4. People are allowed to work any day they like, violating #5. And capitalism is anchored in part on covetousness, so there go a couple more.

    I don't know if on balance Christianity specifically, or religion generally, have caused more harm than good. I wouldn't know even how to begin to calculate that, nor do I think it is important. I prefer to look forward and in so doing it seems to me that we can better advance ourselves through humanism and critical thinking than we can by relying on blinkered religious injunctions. Not to mention that the current conflict among the major monotheisms is a powerful source of destruction.

    If believing in Jesus works for you, great. For my part, I find that, as Christopher Hitchens elegantly put it, atheists do not need religion to experience the numinous and the transcendent.
     
    I'll add one thing. Even small children can experience empathy, compassion, and remorse without any knowledge of God or Commandments or divine punishment. It is baked into who we are as humans.
     
    I find it very difficult to take this statement seriously; perhaps I have misunderstood it? The history of Europe from the Reformation on is rife with religious wars: Catholics vs. Huguenots in France, the Thirty Years War, the English Civil War, the Scottish Reformation, the Schmalkaldic Wars to name a few. Just google the Wiki article on European Religious Wars. Go back earlier to the Crusades.

    Using religion to justify violence is not the same as religion causing violence. If an anti-theist kills someone is anti-theism the culprit responsible? Or is it the anti-theist?
     
    Using religion to justify violence is not the same as religion causing violence. If an anti-theist kills someone is anti-theism the culprit responsible? Or is it the anti-theist?

    I agree with your first sentence, and that is part of the point I made originally. I think it helps to look at different cases and consider in each whether the violence in question would have occurred in the absence of religion. An easy example is the Crusades. I can't think of a political or economic reason that alone would have united diverse European countries to spend blood and treasure in the Levant without the motivation to "liberate the Holy Land." Conversely, the Reconquista had clear geopolitical goals that were bolstered by religion, but I don't know that religion necessarily was the driving force. Or, look at the civil war in Northern Ireland. Although Great Britain fanned the flames in pursuit of geopolitical interests, from the standpoint of many Irish the conflict was clearly religious at heart.

    However, your question, I think, muddies the waters a bit. I believe that individuals are always accountable for their actions, regardless of motivation. If an anti-theist kills someone for anti-theistic reasons, and would not have without those reasons, then the motivation is the anti-theism but responsibility for the agency still rests with the individual. However, I cannot imagine a scenario where someone would kill for reasons of anti-theism. You don't typically kill for a non-belief. And this is one of the things that makes religion so dangerous, and even anachronistic in the modern world. No logic or reasoning nor appeal to humanity will penetrate a mind bound with religious dogma. You can justify anything in the name of religion. If you truly believe that an action, no matter how horrifying to others, is what an all powerful, all knowing, prepared-to-punish-you-for-disobedience God wants you to do, how can you say no?

    So, if someone murders in the name of God, there is no appeal to higher authority that will resonate with them. This is why religion is not an affirmative defense for criminal action.
     
    I agree with your first sentence, and that is part of the point I made originally. I think it helps to look at different cases and consider in each whether the violence in question would have occurred in the absence of religion. An easy example is the Crusades. I can't think of a political or economic reason that alone would have united diverse European countries to spend blood and treasure in the Levant without the motivation to "liberate the Holy Land." Conversely, the Reconquista had clear geopolitical goals that were bolstered by religion, but I don't know that religion necessarily was the driving force. Or, look at the civil war in Northern Ireland. Although Great Britain fanned the flames in pursuit of geopolitical interests, from the standpoint of many Irish the conflict was clearly religious at heart.

    However, your question, I think, muddies the waters a bit. I believe that individuals are always accountable for their actions, regardless of motivation. If an anti-theist kills someone for anti-theistic reasons, and would not have without those reasons, then the motivation is the anti-theism but responsibility for the agency still rests with the individual. However, I cannot imagine a scenario where someone would kill for reasons of anti-theism. You don't typically kill for a non-belief. And this is one of the things that makes religion so dangerous, and even anachronistic in the modern world. No logic or reasoning nor appeal to humanity will penetrate a mind bound with religious dogma. You can justify anything in the name of religion. If you truly believe that an action, no matter how horrifying to others, is what an all powerful, all knowing, prepared-to-punish-you-for-disobedience God wants you to do, how can you say no?

    So, if someone murders in the name of God, there is no appeal to higher authority that will resonate with them. This is why religion is not an affirmative defense for criminal action.

    I made one statement. You agreed with it.

    I won’t “muddy the waters” with a long rambling postscript because I don’t need to convince myself of anything.

    I’ll simply state that ethnopolitical conflicts are ethnopolitical conflicts.
     
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    The moral code you most likely abide by stems from the Ten Commandments, so religion has positively impacted your life :)

    The funny thing is though, atheists like yourself who are fine upstanding law abiding citizens, your morale code still comes from religion. That's why religion (especially Christianity) has done more good than bad! :)

    ... reading down the AIG pamphlet...

    "I am obeying orders" is not a moral position.

    Depending on whether you are Jewish or Christian and your flavor of Christianity, 30%-40% of the 10 commandments are just about Yahweh, so they don't count towards your argument.

    As for the rest, what makes you think they are exclusive to your religion? Or any religion to begin with?

    You don't think anyone honored their parents before Moses came down the mountain? Speaking of being the last day of Hanal Pixan, the Mayas unearthed the bones of their dead ancestors to clean them, so their souls would be clean in Xibalba ( a tradition still observed in rural areas in Yucatan), They honored their parents and they never heard of Yahweh or Jesus until the Spaniards came and enslaved and tortured and tricked them into Catholicism while robbing them of their gold and resources.

    You don't think civilizations/communes/tribes had rules about murder or theft before Moses came down the mountain? The Aztec penal code had severe punishments for murder, theft, rape... and unlike any current penal law in the world today, punishment was more severe the higher one was on the social/political ladder. And they never heard of Yahweh or Jesus until the Spaniards came and enslaved and tortured and tricked them into Catholicism while robbing them of their gold and resources.

    And neither Aztecs or Mayas have moral a religion dictating morality to them.

    ... and then, talk about the things the 10 commandments don't even touch...
     
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    I made one statement. You agreed with it.

    I won’t “muddy the waters” with a long rambling postscript because I don’t need to convince myself of anything.

    I’ll simply state that ethnopolitical conflicts are ethnopolitical conflicts.

    Yes, and I will reiterate that some conflicts are religious, that people kill sometimes each other for religion, and that Christians have done it plenty
     

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