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(17,671 posts)
76. Thank you.
Sun Feb 26, 2012, 07:31 PM
Feb 2012

I tend to agree.

It seems people seem to commit atrocities out of passionate attachment for something be it a deity or a nation state. I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to consider atrocities either on a small scale or a large scale crimes of passion. Since religion is a function of emotional expression it's not too difficult for unscrupulous individuals to push people to commit atrocities in the name of religion.

And indeed, since atheism is, by definition, a lack of belief in a deity it follows that there is no emotional attachment to inflame that which might result in such crimes. And yet, every atheist I have ever met or heard about, including myself, is human. And humans have emotions. I find it difficult to believe that atheists are so perfectly rational and atheism such a panacea for the extremes of human nature that it would be impossible for an atheist to engage in an atrocity in the name of atheism. Theoretically, if enough atheists cared enough about atheism they might be driven to do some pretty horrible things in the name of that ideology.

Of course after the fight starts it doesn't matter who's right, only who's left. So if atheists respond in kind to the assaults of those whose ideologies differ from their own, I don't really consider that so much a defense of atheism but simply defense. Any atrocities committed for any reason are wrong, no matter the ideology in question. A more interesting paradox is the possibility of a group of atheists initiating violence in the name of atheism.

It is possible to have a religion without a deity. As long as a group feels the same way about something and possibly conducts some sort of organized ritual to share that feeling, you've got yourself a religion. Such activities could include anything from a Pentecostal revival to a baseball game. In fact, the greatest threat to religion today isn't atheism, but professional sports.

So the question might be how do we take the emotional involvement of atheists and direct it in some other way than toward something they do not believe in? Well, most of the time your average atheist values reason and science. This might be a popular response to the common disregard of of same by most religious institutions throughout history who had a tendency to barbecue people who disagreed with them on rational grounds. Be that as it may, it might be a good place to start to look for such an impetus.

There has been an ongoing controversy regarding whether Communism was atheistic or religious. I consider it a religion built on a cult of personality. But Communism purported itself to be scientific and rational in nature, based on the inevitability of historical materialism. If any religion could be grounded in the stuff of reality, communism was the largest scale attempt to do so. It seems to me that if one wanted atheists to commit atrocities one would have to channel their emotional attachment to rationality and empirical evidence to give them something to fight for. But that's the catch - communism wasn't just a religion devoted to rationality, but a cult of personality centered around Marx and Lenin and whoever else would do at the time. It seems that, in a way, it might start out as atheism but become something else before the fighting started. Of course there is nothing to keep atheists from committing atrocities in the name of nationalism. Who knows how many atheists participated in the My Lai massacre for instance.

It seems to me that when it comes to matters of faith atheists are cultural anarchists. They seem to be against everything everybody else seems to be for. While there seems to have always been some sort of religion, there have always been a few atheists causing existential problems, and usually getting burned alive for their trouble. Given the trajectory of human cultural development, not believing means not cooperating. And cooperation is essential for the creation of a numerically significant group of people to perpetrate an atrocity of any consequence. So while it is theoretically possible that atheists, being human, are capable of committing atrocities, atheism by its very nature does not lend itself to the kind of cohesion required to generate sufficient focused passion for the ideology to commit such offenses. But that could change.

Religion, as we currently understand it, is on the wane. As societies become more advanced, religion seems to become redundant. But the human tendency toward emotional attachment shows no sign of waning any time soon. In fact, we produce so many sources for emotional attachment now that one of the greatest problems of our modern culture is not a lack of faith, but anomie from an excessive dispersion of faith. Our technological culture can produce and put into motion systems of thought and action just like any other widget. Such man made systems could possibly be ripe ground for the flowering of a sort of atheism not unlike the explosion of transcendence in the axial age two thousand years ago. Maybe. If that's the case, those who believe in the guy with the white beard in the sky may have good reason to cuss us for the next few thousand years.

It's a fallacious and illogical argument to equate atheism with having no morals. no_hypocrisy Feb 2012 #1
Simply and well stated. nt humblebum Feb 2012 #10
I agree, but.... Ron Obvious Feb 2012 #23
If belief in a deity is a requirement to be a moral person MNBrewer Feb 2012 #61
ask any survivor of the 1950s-60s USSR, and they will uniformly state ChairmanAgnostic Feb 2012 #2
And yet some people still feverently believe that a lack-of-belief in a god was the cause of it all. cleanhippie Feb 2012 #3
You wish. Starboard Tack Feb 2012 #5
Hi, ST. I see your passive-aggressiveness is at full strength this morning. cleanhippie Feb 2012 #8
It takes one to know one. Starboard Tack Feb 2012 #11
Ahh, the tactics of a petulant 3rd grader. cleanhippie Feb 2012 #18
Oh and all this time... Kalidurga Feb 2012 #4
I hate being a spelling Nazi but... Silent3 Feb 2012 #56
Atheism was fighting against ... repressive religion. Which some say is the culprit Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #6
Winston Churchill, in The Hinge of Fate thucythucy Feb 2012 #7
It might be intetesting to ask rrneck Feb 2012 #9
When they are not justly opposing real oppression; like oppressive religious regimes Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #13
So rrneck Feb 2012 #19
To be sure, "They did it first" is a semi- infantile excuse. But? Both sides are using it Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #21
That really doesn't answer the question though. rrneck Feb 2012 #24
I've answered that? Or consider this: Atheism has values Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #26
A position is not necessary. rrneck Feb 2012 #29
Spit it out. I'm not qoing to play the religious game with a Sphinx avatar. Time's wasting Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #32
If you cant entertain the notion rrneck Feb 2012 #35
Any redneck that can't spit it out, is no real redneck at all Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #37
It's already been "spit out". rrneck Feb 2012 #38
Enigmatic patronization is a very cheap way to "win" an argument. I'm not going for it Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #36
There is a question pending. rrneck Feb 2012 #50
So there's only one answer: yours. Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #70
Dunno. Haven't heard yours yet. nt rrneck Feb 2012 #73
"No positions are necessary"? Very Tao-ist/liberal. But? What do you do when the road forks? Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #39
If you can make food rrneck Feb 2012 #51
But then ... wouldn't the brain be getting ... smaller? Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #57
What sort of food do you think we're talking about? nt rrneck Feb 2012 #59
Making "spirit"? "Bread indeed"? But James 2 sez you can't live on words, spirit, alone Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #66
Religion or it's sacred texts are not germane rrneck Feb 2012 #67
Na. Trying to see if you have any coherent point at all Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #69
I asked a pretty good question rrneck Feb 2012 #72
OK: "Could atheism cause people to commit atrocities"? Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #74
Thank you. rrneck Feb 2012 #76
So who says that, "Atheism was responsible for Most 20th Century Atrocities?" - Interesting. humblebum Feb 2012 #12
The "atheist wars," were actually religious wars: religion opposed atheists, and fought them Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #14
Nice spin. Is that why religious expression was banned and humblebum Feb 2012 #16
Indeed, religion was banned as the oppressor and enemy; and the cause of so many wars Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #20
Yes, they also murdered an estimated 130 million of those "oppressors" and humblebum Feb 2012 #22
Ending 2,000 years of religion-enforced slavery? Takes hard measures Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #25
Um? Yeh. humblebum Feb 2012 #27
Speaking not only of Russia, but also of the various Soviet Social Republics; and communism worldwid Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #28
Well, indeed it does look like atheism saved the day. yesiree! humblebum Feb 2012 #30
Russian,Communist atheism, had its problems. That's the point of the original post. Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #31
You mean 'Saigon' and now we are discussing geography? nt humblebum Feb 2012 #33
Isn't your avatar the medal for Vietnam service? Saigon is now "Sia-gone"; or "Ho Chi Minh City." Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #34
Oh aren't you the silly one? I returned to Vietnam and Laos in 2006, and humblebum Feb 2012 #42
actually your "fact" is not fact at all but perpetuation of myth. way to go! msongs Feb 2012 #15
Just keep telling yourself that. BTW humblebum Feb 2012 #17
Still contending Hitler was an atheist, huh? edhopper Feb 2012 #40
Yup. Lots of documents say Hiter was a literally, a Catholic altar boy. Though later, he strayed? Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #41
I have NEVER claimed Hitler was an atheist. nt humblebum Feb 2012 #43
Where did you get the edhopper Feb 2012 #44
Had nothing to do with WWII. humblebum Feb 2012 #45
All sources that have been heavily edhopper Feb 2012 #47
Those sources were written by historians, and the numbers are estimates. humblebum Feb 2012 #48
Because the majority of those deaths were from famine edhopper Feb 2012 #53
And many of those deaths by famine were purposely caused, by taking away stores of food. Also, humblebum Feb 2012 #54
Purposely caused for reasons skepticscott Feb 2012 #63
"Purposely caused for reasons that had nothing whatsoever to do with the religious beliefs..." humblebum Feb 2012 #77
What's the total number of people killed in all religious-inspired conflicts? Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #46
Some details on calculating the total number of deaths historically caused by religion Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #49
I don't see any religious person denying the things that have happened in the name of religion. humblebum Feb 2012 #52
I'm not going to exhonorate Stalin, or Mao. But? Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #55
Again, no one is denying religious atrocities, but you seem to be manufacturing random numbers humblebum Feb 2012 #58
??? Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #60
Yes, I think we do agree on several points. nt humblebum Feb 2012 #65
Then why even say that tens of millions of people died under atheist dictators skepticscott Feb 2012 #62
Your dribble is getting old. Or I guess humblebum Feb 2012 #64
And in the end, as usual skepticscott Feb 2012 #75
A case for later discussion: when Christian Nazis invaded atheist Russia;an atheist-caused war?!WWII Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #78
The way I see this - it's similar to blaming the Christians and Muslims for the Crusades Taverner Feb 2012 #68
WTF edhopper Feb 2012 #71
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