02/10/2007

A Response to Aquinas Dad

Recently, as some of the regular lurkers know (at least according to Google Analytics), I have been having an argument with a guy (pseudonym Aquinas Dad) who has been arguing that atheists have killed more people than religious people. His sole argument centres on the atheist nature of communist organisations (in this case focusing on Shining Path in Peru).

Well you’d imagine that Shining Path being a bunch of atheist murderers would make the search “shining path atheism” a good term to Google. Indeed it returns over 360,000 results. However the comments of Aquinas Dad on this blog were ranked 4th in the listings, hardly indicative of a wealth of scholarly study. (I realise this isn’t exactly the best way of rating intellectual ideas but it is indicative of what has been done).


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I accept communist organisations, such as the Maoist Shining Path, have committed murder on a large scale. But did they do this because they were atheists? Clearly the answer is no. In the same way that most murders by religious fundamentalists often are not done because people believe in this, that or these gods. The problem is that the religious G3 (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) through their acceptance of horrific Bronze Age texts actually condone these actions.

If the Old Testament or the Koran actually condemned violence then many of the most horrific acts in history would have been avoided. These texts gave, and still give, authority to such actions as the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust. (The last one may seem far fetched but I was sent a magazine by the Christadelphians which states clearly that “the Holocaust was an essential part of god’s covenant with Israel”).

So yes, there are mentally ill individuals (both theist and atheist) who commit murder. The difference is that the religious person has the authority of religious texts, accepted by millions of people worldwide. They act to support an imaginary being that they believe certainly exists and holds the key to their personal afterlife.

Atheism denies the existence of this imaginary deity and, as a consequence, has to accept the delusions of these people for what they are: delusions. It may not be easy, but it’s the truth.

7 comments:

Aquinas Dad said...

Mr. Baker,
I am not really sure where you are trying to go with this. See, while you claim that,

"The problem is that the religious G3 (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) through their acceptance of horrific Bronze Age texts actually condone these actions."

Yet are unable to refute that explicitly non-religious groups have murdered many more people (by orders of magnitude) than people that are, you claim, urged to commit 'bronze-age atrocities' by their religious texts.

When you write,

"The difference is that the religious person has the authority of religious texts, accepted by millions of people worldwide."

you cannot erase the fact that people pointing to the authority of Communist/Socialist theory have had a much more negative effect (as far as sheer volume of death and suffering) than the people you are attempting to paint negatively.

As for your "research" on the Shining Path, I recommend your closest university library. Much more effective than Google when it comes to scholarly research, I fear.

Another thing that puzzles me is this statement,

"I accept communist organisations, such as the Maoist Shining Path, have committed murder on a large scale. But did they do this because they were atheists? Clearly the answer is no. In the same way that most murders by religious fundamentalists often are not done because people believe in this, that or these gods."

If that is the case, that you accept that when religious people murder it is usually not because they are religious - what is your beef?

Also, when you make statements such as,

"The problem is that the religious G3 (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) through their acceptance of horrific Bronze Age texts actually condone these actions."

I must ask - what actions? Where are these actions justified? Are there conflicting statements in the respective canons? etc., etc.

I don't mean to be rude, but there doesn't seem to be much in this piece except 'religious people = bad, trust me".

Aquinas Dad said...

Please come by and see my response

http://aquinasdad.blogspot.com/2007/10/hey-someone-linked-to-me.html

Edward Baker said...

Well taking one point at a time. Where in the Bible is murder condoned?

Have you not read the Old Testament?

Aquinas Dad said...

You are aware of the difference between the crime murder and, say, warfare, right? Also, what about the many pacifist religious groups that claim sacred scripture as their source? What about the screeds of atheists such as Pol Pot or Mao that advocate the murder of priests and capitalists - are these condemnations of atheists?

Again, you are trying to take complicated issues (when is murder justified? what are viable reasons to go to war?) and trying to boil them down to 'religion bad, atheism good'. It is much more complicated than that. If you want to throw out the bible because of its discussion of warfare and when it is justified, then what about the fact that the bible is the source of ideas such as - all men are created equal? Or, not even a king is above the law?

outlawbirder said...

people will use any excuse to kill and take. what makes atheists believe that by banishing religon anything will change

outlawbirder said...

people will use any excuse to kill and take. why do atheists believe they are any different ? how would banishing religion stop mans inhumanity to man.

Eric Arthur Blair said...

Religionists who trot out the "murderous atheist" argument always seem to mention Hitler, Stalin, Mao and, sometimes, Pol Pot in their enumeration of atrocities. They consistently overlook the fact that these men were authoritarians first and (presumably, in the case of the latter three) atheists second. Their killings were carried out, not in the name of godlessness, but to maintain their rule through terror.

While it is perfectly reasonable to question Hitler's true religious convictions, he never publicly renounced Catholicism, and his public statements show that he not only considered religion a political tool, but that he claimed, whether or not he actually believed, that he and god were on the same side. "I am fighting for the work of the Lord," he wrote in Mein Kampf.

You can find ultra-fundamentalist web sites that claim that George W Bush, for all his pious platitudes, is not a "true Christian" (whatever that is). Whenever I hear a politician giving lip to religiosity I suspect an ulterior, i.e., political, motive. JFK's election year statement was a notable exception, although it was motivated by, and delivered in the name of, political expediency, but delivered in an age when political discourse was more civil and less petty than it is now.

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