Open Thread: Do Militant Atheists Want to Wipe Out Religion?
On my recent article Tugging at Loose Threads, Evanescent and Storbakken resumed a debate they had suspended on another blog. It was completely off topic, so I’m starting an open thread for them, and anyone else, to continue it.
Evanescent’s last comment was:
It is not my intent to go round and round again. But I will briefly respond to your comment. The point is not that Hitler was an an atheist or a theist, rather that his ideology was based on the notoriously atheistic philosopher Fred Nietzche much more than it was based on the teachings of Christ. Hitler clearly infused religious rhetoric to win the masses and most definitely believed his own rhetoric.
You’re right, the point is not that Hitler was an atheist or a theist. I don’t hold up Hitler as an example of theistic horror, even though he was an affirmed Catholic and his many speeches and sayings reflected one who believed in the Christian god. I don’t care if he did or not believe in god as it was irrelevant to his actions, which is exactly my point.
I never said that Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, et al committed their evil actions IN THE NAME of atheism. I did say that atheism produced these characters.
So their entire personality and character was a result of them being atheists? No, I don’t think so.
As evil as their characters were, it was not atheism that PRODUCED this evil. It is vital and yet obvious to point this out.
It is interesting that the anti-theistic communist government of Russia actually sent Christian communists to the gulag. It is also interesting that Enver Hoxha did brutally persecute the adherents to the religions of Albania for two decades and proclaimed his nation to be completely atheistic in 1967 when he passed the Decree on the Atheist State. You can argue whether or not these fascist atheistic dictators persecuted believers IN THE NAME of atheism or not, but the facts of history speak for them self.
Yes they do, and even if I grant that atheism was the motive for these actions, (which I do not grant), the scales are irreversibly tilted with blood in religion’s direction. Even if was 50/50, that would still be damning against religion, after all that would just show that believers and non believers tend to act with equal altruism and equal wickedness, a fact that throws religion into severe doubt anyway. But when we consider that religion has ALWAYS been a constant source of repression and cruelty, and far outweighs the crimes of non-believers, you are left with an absurd inexcusable mystery. The problem is yours, not mine.
The militant atheism movement today in America is almost frightening in its fervent zeal to eradicate theistic religions. This anti-theistic movement desires to wipe out every person’s faith in the grand name of reason. Why?
First of all, I could say that if your religion was grounded on REASON to begin with, you have nothing to fear. But since you are afraid of reason, I wonder what that implies?
All the same, the charge of ‘militant’ is unjustified. Atheists do not wish to wipe out peoples’ faith. You are happy to believe whatever you want! All we ask is that you don’t interfere with anyone else’s life. NOW, if religion did that, I AM CONVINCED that atheists everywhere would shut up about religion.
Unfortunately, religion has never kept itself to itself. It causes too much misery, repression, suffering, and interference in the world. It has become a menace to civilisation, and if religion is eradicated as a matter of slow evolving history, so much the better. However, I will say again, we all have a right to free speech and belief, so as long as no one is hurt, I would not force anyone to do anything, and I think I speak for most atheists when I say that.
Storbakken’s reply was:
Evanescent said: “All the same, the charge of ‘militant’ is unjustified. Atheists do not wish to wipe out peoples’ faith… All we ask is that you don’t interfere with anyone else’s life.”
The charge of militant atheism is not unjustified when I am specifically addressing militant atheism. I agree that not all atheists wish to wipe out people’s faith, but militant atheists clearly do. Militant atheists fail to employ reason with the same disregard for truth as Fundamentalist Christians. And yet, ironically, militant atheists say they do it in the name of reason.
Militant atheists make grand statements such as: “religion has ALWAYS been a constant source of repression and cruelty.” There have been times in history when adherents to religion (e.g. Tibetan Buddhism) are crushed under totalitarian and, dare I say, atheistic regimes (Communist China). I’m not saying that atheism is the reason China oppressed, systematically killed and exiled many Tibetans, but I am saying that religion is not, as you say, “ALWAYS a constant source of repression.”
Militant atheists declare that they don’t want theists to “interfere with anyone else’s life.” Does this mean that it is better for theists not to assemble, not to visit shut-ins, not to serve meals to the poor and indigent? Or should they simply not allow their beliefs to shape their views regarding foreign/domestic policy? Just like atheists, there are theistic pacifists, war-mongers, Democrats and Socialists. It is unjust to repress another group simply because they have faith in something greater than themselves.
I’m not going to pretend to be impartial, I am completely on the side of Evanescent, but rather than dropping my two cents in here I’ll join in the discussion as and when I can. Enjoy!