Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Violent Atheists of the 20th Century

I read an article in the September 11th, 2006 issue of Newsweek. It is called "The New Naysayers" and it discusses the arguments of several scholars who are currently advocating atheism. In the article, it describes the arguments of Richard Dawkins who has a book coming out next month called the God Delusion. Although I have not yet read this unreleased book, one of the cornerstones of the book appears to be that religious belief causes war and violence.

The problem with Dawkin's view though is that in the 20th century the most violent and warlike nations on Earth were atheistic. The Soviet and Chinese Communist atheists killed just as many (if not more) people than any single religious movement. These and other communist regimes were not peaceful, did not respect human rights, and were just as guilty of spreading terrorism as any religion.

The issue then is not that atheism or religion causes violence. As both atheistic and religious views can inspire murder and war, it is reasonable to argue that neither religious belief or lack of it causes the problems. It must be either then a part of human nature that God created or an aspect of human behavior that has evolved with the human species.

I look forward to reading the Dawkins book. I am sure it will be thought provoking. However, I hope Dawkins does not base too much of his argument reasoning that religion is a root cause of war and violence. There are too many examples of atheism gone bad in the last century to seriously argue that any God delusion is the cause of it.

3 comments:

Jed said...

What this authors fails to realize is that the leadership of these "bloody regimes" were communist, but as far as the personal belief's go Ii would venture to guess that nearly 100% of Hitlers troops were Christian, Lutheran or Catholic, Russia's troops would have been nearly entirely Christian at the time. Now we are left with China, we know that many of the Chinese population are Buddhist.

Being a secularist or atheist holds no line to violence or atrocities. The near-genocide of native peoples all over the globe from 1400 to today have been carried out by bible preaching Christians.

Amen

M said...

Jed,

You missed the point. Neither athiesm or religion holds a line to violence or atrocities.

"The issue then is not that atheism or religion causes violence. As both atheistic and religious views can inspire murder and war, it is reasonable to argue that neither religious belief or lack of it causes the problems. It must be either then a part of human nature that God created or an aspect of human behavior that has evolved with the human species."

The Capital V's said...

The actual reason this article's logic is flawed is pretty simple. He thinks of religion as specifically a line of thinking based on a diety. I would argue that that the kind of religion Dawkins speaks of is merely a line of thinking based on a god or a god-like human. The kind of religion that allowed regular people to accept the rules set by kings, slave-owners, Hitler and Stalin, Osama Bin Laden, the Pope... It is the fundamentalism, always, and even so in Communism - which is known as a State Religion. A political religion, which is as dangerous as any religion based on an omniscient God. It IS dangerous and it does cause Wars. Atheists are anti-religion, not because of the God you believe in, but simply because you believe in any kind of god at all, human or otherwise.