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Killing In The Name Of Atheism


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I guess a lot of christians use the argument (I know I did) that although the church has undoubtedly been responsible for atrocities over the centuries, the socialist and fascist regimes of the twentieth century, presided over by dictators who institutionalized atheism, killed millions and because of this the idea that a world free of religion would be a peaceful utopia is ridiculous. I'm reading God is Not Great at the moment, and Hitch's reasoning seems to be that not only were the churches at the time complicit in the pogroms, ethnic cleansing etc, but the regimes copied religions's structures and that in practice they were more religious than atheistic or humanist because they deified the grand leaders and held them up as infallible, not to mention restricting the will of the people and controlling every aspect of their behaviour in the same way.

 

Still, I'm not so sure that this is valid; mind you i've only just starting thinking this through. Anyone else have any thoughts on this? We can't go around accusing christians of genocide if atheists have done the same, if not worse.

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I do not think any atheist has to make excuses for what the Communist countries did nor do I think any Christian today has to make excuses for what was done in the name of their religion. The root of these atrocities was neither a lack of religion nor religion. Rather, the issue was the leaders' deep-seeded desire to seek and obtain power over other people.

 

In the case of communism, atheism was not their motivation; rather, it was the communist ideal of eliminating capitalism and creating an economic equality among people. That was their ideology, but what the leaders were really doing was to use their ideology as an excuse to gain power.

 

The leaders of Christianity, the Pope, et al., had as their ideology that the whole world should be Christian, stopping the onslaught of Islam, and taking the word of Christ to people. That was their ideology, but what the leaders were really doing was to use their ideology as an excuse to gain power.

 

It's all a power struggle with those seeking power using whatever ideology is available for them to gain that power.

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Atrocities take place because of economic and political instability and often times when one group feels threatened by another. Dogma, theology or ideology has nothing to do with atrocities, yes some methods of though makes a better vehicle for violence such as religion but it is not quite the root of the problem. Both atheist and Christians have made genocidal mistakes and it really has nothing to do with the religions themselves (yes i know atheism is not a religion). The thing is about "atheist" genocides is that it was never done in the name of atheism, but in religious its ALWAYS done in the name of the religion.

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If the argument that Christians use here is to hold at all. It would have to be socialism that would be bearing the criticism not atheism. Most socialists originally were okay with the idea of violent revolution as long as they got to achieve there goals. Its how the, word "social democrat" became into use. Social democrats were socialists who thought the idea of violent revolution was batshit crazy so they decided to work towards gradual electoral development towards socalism. The purges and things like that were done in the name of the revolution, not atheism. Atheism being apart of socialism is irrelevant to socialism because your not required to be a socialist if your an atheist. So if they are right at all, its socialism that is the grand evil not atheism.

 

Now as to how they are not right at all. It goes back even, the idea from emma goldman, of propanganda by the deed. Violent revolution and propaganda by the deed is batshit crazy but that does not mean that, socialism or anarchism is wrong. It just a wrong aspect to put it mildly.

 

They say atheism didn't stop them. But a lack of belief in a god doesn't correlate with accepting batshit crazy ideas. Its the accepting batshit crazy ideas that is the problem, not the lack of belief in a god part.

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There was religion behind those atrocities, cult of personality. Jehovah and Allah weren't to be worshiped; Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung became the gods of the land. That's not free thinking atheism, that' authoritarianism. Just like the pope those dictators were just straight up authoritarians ready to strike any opposition down.

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Quite right. Authoritarian regimes are authoritarian, nothing else. Whatever they claim to be (socialist soviet republic, democratic people's republic, reich, united states of ..., whathaveyou) is just the mask the one(s) in power chooses to try and veil the true nature of the regime. If it so happens that the masking myth includes accepting atheism, they'll claim atheism. If it seems more advantageous to proclaim their religious faith they'll do that. Simple as that.

 

And that said, if they wanna claim "sure christians have killed other people in the past, what with the crusades and burning times and such, but atheists killed much much moooar!!11!!!!oneoneone!!!"... let's stop for a moment and consider the technology available back then.

 

How many infidels would the crusaders, for example, have killed if instead of swords and spears they'd have had Abrams tanks and Apache helis? Let alone ICBMs?

 

Yeah right. Now try and claim again that the difference in body counts really matters.

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Still, I'm not so sure that this is valid; mind you i've only just starting thinking this through. Anyone else have any thoughts on this? We can't go around accusing christians of genocide if atheists have done the same, if not worse.

 

The lesson here is that ideology can lead to great tragedy. Lenin/Stalin/Mao et al were not motivated by their lack of belief, but rather by their belief in an ideology. Kulaks were put down in order to create a utopian society where equality was created by killing those who were more equal than the hoi polloi. In Maoist China, mass starvation ensued when in order to achieve equality, doctors and teachers were put to work in the rice fields and rice workers were set to work as teachers and physicians.

 

Lack of belief in god does not motivate such backward thinking. A paradigm, or a belief structure that makes up a political ideology that frame's one's entire world view is to blame. Paradigms can sometimes contain elements of atheism, as did 20th century communism, elements of religion, or none of the above.

 

In the 21st century, George Bush tried to frame a new paradigm for us when he claimed the war on terror was a war of good vs evil, when he claimed there was an axis of evil out there that comprised a number of states, and when he claimed if you are not with us you are against us. In doing so, he drew from the evangelical model of angels and demons, god v Satan; an already ingrained mindset in the American public, which is constantly reinforced in film and books where there are white hats and black hats and no inbetweens.

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Here's the deal, it's ethno-centric thinking that is the source of the problem which leaders exploit for support of their power grabs. Religion has that artificial identifier of belonging to the group that that sets them apart from others which leaders can then call upon to support their agendas. As long as people think in these ways about themselves as opposed to a global-centric perspective this will continue to happen.

 

Nation states are the same thing, "We Americans must fight for democracy!", is asking for support for the politicians pressing corporate interests abroad where soldiers become the armed enforcement of a powerful board of directors, and we all feel justified under the national symbol of the flag. Those who disagree are 'unpatriotic', just as those who 'disbelieve' a religion's views are heretics, or in atheist slogans of those who think unlike them, "delusional". No real differences there.

 

Atheism equally can become that if it was popular enough to be exploited this way. You hear the cries already within its diverse ranks in anti-religion slogans. How is that any different than Christians wanting to convert Muslims so they are the dominant name in group identification? It's not religion that is the problem, but the mentality that religion, or any ideology defines us as a people. It's not knowing ourselves as individuals in a greater, diverse global community that is the problem. Does atheism have room for respecting and honoring religion in its view of the world? Atheism to many is exactly what Christianity is to many, and as such it can be as much a problem towards global peace as any religion. Trying to pin it on any one group is to only try to replace them with yourself.

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Nation states are the same thing, "We Americans must fight for democracy!", is asking for support for the politicians pressing corporate interests abroad where soldiers become the armed enforcement of a powerful board of directors, and we all feel justified under the national symbol of the flag.

 

In Italy, they haven't adopted the global centrism that you discussed above (an awesome value IMO) but rather have gone the other way and are highly regional centric. Most Italians would rather identify by their region than their country. "I'm Piemontese" or "I'm Milanese" not "I'm Italian".

 

I think it was James Madison who opined that there to be a lot of religious sects as opposed to one major sect so that they would constantly be battling with one another instead of for control of the nation. So, while the Italians don't meet the higher ideal of recognizing the value of global humanity as a group, at least nationalism is kept at bay. (in recent years they've had some serious issues with right wing groups that appeal to those across the regions and promotes nationalism -- it's slogan is Forza Italia!, -- so perhaps they will lose this odd advantage).

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It's not religion that is the problem, but the mentality that religion, or any ideology defines us as a people. It's not knowing ourselves as individuals in a greater, diverse global community that is the problem.

 

I think you may have nailed it right there. unfortunately some people, especially those of us who have been deeply hurt by religion (I'm confessing here), are a little quick to fall back into an 'us vs them' mentality and forget that the problems run deeper than labels.

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Yeah, we can! An atheist may kill someone because they can. A Christian will kill someone because God tells him to. Big difference when people use state-sanctioned religious laws to murder people compared to atheistic dictators weilding their own power over others. I would take it less personal being killed by a dictator than I would someone who worshipped invisible super friends and then told me they were killing me because I did not believe in those super friends. A moron's a moron whether an evil atheist or an evil Christian and both need to be brought to the center of attention because neither is acceptable to a society. If it's not pleasing to you, then don't do it. An immoral person hell-bent on murder is morally bankrupt whether Christian or an atheist.

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I would take it less personal being killed by a dictator than I would someone who worshipped invisible super friends and then told me they were killing me because I did not believe in those super friends.

If the dictator put you to death for not serving the State, how is that not an invisible super friend itself? States don't exist. A State is a creation of ideals and rules and laws and symbols. It is a fiction that is promoted as a truth that you live up to, or in some cases are put to death by. Doesn't that sound identical to the way God is used to justify the actions of a people, or a person? Doesn't that sound identical to 'religion' in this context? "It is not us who kill you. You are being put to death because the State so orders it". silverpenny013Hmmm.gif

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of course, all of this just reinforces the fact that getting rid of religion (if it were possible), would not necessarily be an improvement to our security.

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of course, all of this just reinforces the fact that getting rid of religion (if it were possible), would not necessarily be an improvement to our security.

Exactly. That's exactly what I've been saying, and why. In fact, to continue to look for a scapegoat further delays our own self-reckoning in order to take responsibility to change ourselves. But people always like to think its the other guys fault.

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I would take it less personal being killed by a dictator than I would someone who worshipped invisible super friends and then told me they were killing me because I did not believe in those super friends.

If the dictator put you to death for not serving the State, how is that not an invisible super friend itself? States don't exist. A State is a creation of ideals and rules and laws and symbols. It is a fiction that is promoted as a truth that you live up to, or in some cases are put to death by. Doesn't that sound identical to the way God is used to justify the actions of a people, or a person? Doesn't that sound identical to 'religion' in this context? "It is not us who kill you. You are being put to death because the State so orders it". silverpenny013Hmmm.gif

I know what you're getting at, but I'd still say a state is a tangible thing. Any society is a group of people deciding to play ball together. All social animals do it in some form or another. The trappings of the state like laws and borders may seem like a construction, but at least they're more real than any deity. Within the state are very real things people, cities, mountains, rivers, and beaches.
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Here's the deal, it's ethno-centric thinking that is the source of the problem which leaders exploit for support of their power grabs. Religion has that artificial identifier of belonging to the group that that sets them apart from others which leaders can then call upon to support their agendas. As long as people think in these ways about themselves as opposed to a global-centric perspective this will continue to happen.

....

 

Fwiw...I think the global-centric thing somewhat ignores reality. I think it's a worthy theory, but have a hard time visualizing something working....physical proximity, environment, etc. pose problems in my mind.

 

Also, there seems evident that an "everyone in harmony" also goes against the natural balance of life and death. I somewhat believe what you are proposing is a "heavenistic" type thing, all life, no death.....or at least that is my assessment of your statement.

 

And, I don't see that a commonality between religious behaviors is not necessary for development. We see groupings in nature, and often, if I am not mistaken, it's a necessity for the individuals within the group.

 

Just some things I thought about that came to me after reading your post.

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Here's the deal, it's ethno-centric thinking that is the source of the problem which leaders exploit for support of their power grabs. Religion has that artificial identifier of belonging to the group that that sets them apart from others which leaders can then call upon to support their agendas. As long as people think in these ways about themselves as opposed to a global-centric perspective this will continue to happen.

....

 

Fwiw...I think the global-centric thing somewhat ignores reality. I think it's a worthy theory, but have a hard time visualizing something working....physical proximity, environment, etc. pose problems in my mind.

 

Also, there seems evident that an "everyone in harmony" also goes against the natural balance of life and death. I somewhat believe what you are proposing is a "heavenistic" type thing, all life, no death.....or at least that is my assessment of your statement.

 

And, I don't see that a commonality between religious behaviors is not necessary for development. We see groupings in nature, and often, if I am not mistaken, it's a necessity for the individuals within the group.

 

Just some things I thought about that came to me after reading your post.

 

No it really isnt because the only thing it takes to get a world wide common identity is instantaneous communication which is what we have now it is just taking time for it to take full effect. That's the biggest side effect of globalization is a growing world wide identity, it dosent take a philosophy to make it happen it simply does.

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I would take it less personal being killed by a dictator than I would someone who worshipped invisible super friends and then told me they were killing me because I did not believe in those super friends.

If the dictator put you to death for not serving the State, how is that not an invisible super friend itself? States don't exist. A State is a creation of ideals and rules and laws and symbols. It is a fiction that is promoted as a truth that you live up to, or in some cases are put to death by. Doesn't that sound identical to the way God is used to justify the actions of a people, or a person? Doesn't that sound identical to 'religion' in this context? "It is not us who kill you. You are being put to death because the State so orders it". silverpenny013Hmmm.gif

I know what you're getting at, but I'd still say a state is a tangible thing. Any society is a group of people deciding to play ball together.

...who chose to create a name to identify themselves as: The French; Americans; Russians, etc. Suddenly you have an entity that doesn't actually exist, yet people band themselves together as the people of X. Nation-States are artificial creations in order for people to create ties with one another on common grounds. We are the people of these artificial lines drawn on a map. We share the same resources and conduct social affairs and commerce with one another.

 

America doesn't actually exist as some object in nature.

 

The trappings of the state like laws and borders may seem like a construction, but at least they're more real than any deity. Within the state are very real things people, cities, mountains, rivers, and beaches.

How is calling the area between the between two lines on a map a State, any different than saying God exists? Isn't it how people understand what a State consists of? It's true you have infrastructure such as laws and peoples, cities and roads, etc, but those are external manifestations of what people create to support that subjective creation called a State. To cite those as proof a State is real, it seems you would need to likewise recognize all the churches and religious infrastructure around the world as proof of God as well. Georgia exists because we can see the State Capital building? God exists because we can see the Vatican?

 

You have to look at these things in the same context when saying that religion in somehow different than what we do in these other fictions.

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Fwiw...I think the global-centric thing somewhat ignores reality.

Actually it negates tribalism in favor of a better reality. Reality is what we make it.

 

I think it's a worthy theory, but have a hard time visualizing something working....physical proximity, environment, etc. pose problems in my mind.

As was already pointed out, technology overcomes all that. No doubt at all about that anymore.

 

Also, there seems evident that an "everyone in harmony" also goes against the natural balance of life and death.

Why? Who says being in harmony means death goes away? That's not being in harmony, or as I would prefer to call it, being in balance. Life and death is part of that balance. Discord and resolution is also part of that balance. The ability to do this without ripping each others limbs off in some madness is balance too. I would never suggest just holding hands and everything is harps and love. Peace, does not mean an end of being human.

 

I somewhat believe what you are proposing is a "heavenistic" type thing, all life, no death.....or at least that is my assessment of your statement.

bzzzzz, incorrect. :)

 

And, I don't see that a commonality between religious behaviors is not necessary for development.

If by commonality you mean its all sameness, I don't believe that either. I believe diversity is important to group health - unlike the historical Christians who burned diversity alive at the stake in screaming anguish, mind you. The commonality I would suggest is to recognize that each group is embracing the same hope, the same end, the same Spirit, and you all get off your high, arrogant horses and see that. My god... Isn't it great to celebrate each others unique ways of experiencing and expressing that? Doesn't that add to your own appreciation of what you enjoy to see it expressed in others in their ways? How wonderful would that be? The only loss I see is that of religious arrogance and a lack of love.

 

We see groupings in nature, and often, if I am not mistaken, it's a necessity for the individuals within the group.

Yes, and you get that in the diversity of cultures. Sameness, is what the Christians have tried to do in converting everyone to their own way of thinking.

 

Just some things I thought about that came to me after reading your post.

That's good. It's a start of a dialog.

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The difference is, among many other things, Christians should have known better. Aren't they the ones with direct links to the Almighty? Excusing Christian atrocities because someone else did it first or later is a cop out. If God was real the Crusaders following his will, their should never have been Christian atrocities.

 

They should have known better. IOW, Christians were no better than other earthly authoritarian regimes. Neat.

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Actually it negates tribalism in favor of a better reality. Reality is what we make it.

When I look at the pasture, I see many small "tribes" of flowers or trees, granted within a bigger global centric thing, but still, the conditions are such to promote that growth in that particular spot.

 

As was already pointed out, technology overcomes all that. No doubt at all about that anymore.

 

You credit technology with much much more than I. And I would erase the word "all" in favor of tech is in the beginning phases of contribution.

 

 

Why? Who says being in harmony means death goes away? That's not being in harmony, or as I would prefer to call it, being in balance. Life and death is part of that balance. Discord and resolution is also part of that balance. The ability to do this without ripping each others limbs off in some madness is balance too. I would never suggest just holding hands and everything is harps and love. Peace, does not mean an end of being human.

I can rationalize beauty in figurative death, but less in literal death. Harmony to me implies in concert.

 

 

If by commonality you mean its all sameness, I don't believe that either. I believe diversity is important to group health - unlike the historical Christians who burned diversity alive at the stake in screaming anguish, mind you. The commonality I would suggest is to recognize that each group is embracing the same hope, the same end, the same Spirit, and you all get off your high, arrogant horses and see that. My god... Isn't it great to celebrate each others unique ways of experiencing and expressing that? Doesn't that add to your own appreciation of what you enjoy to see it expressed in others in their ways? How wonderful would that be? The only loss I see is that of religious arrogance and a lack of love.

I think we are saying the same thing. I am saying there are groups within the diversity. And suggesting that the small groups are a necessity.

 

 

Yes, and you get that in the diversity of cultures. Sameness, is what the Christians have tried to do in converting everyone to their own way of thinking.

I hear ya. I going to have to think on this one.

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That's good. It's a start of a dialog.

 

So there's an extreme innate feeling in us that death is not good, sucks basically. And I have opportunities to make choices that I see as life-giving. Yet, there is a balance of life and death in our humanity. And as some religion holds, Christianity even, that creating those life-giving moments are often by sacrificial or figurative death.

 

How do you see that death is a WILLING part of harmony......or am I just reading you wrong.

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