Monday, September 21, 2009

Why Atheists Kill People


I happened to mention in my homily yesterday that atheists killed, according to some experts, in excess of 100 million people in China - this figure includes the Great Leap Forward.


After Mass a group of us discussed St Thomas' "Five Proofs", he ends each by saying, "... and this we may call God". For him God is the "Factor X" in the universe, though ultimately unknowable, it is knowable through reason, intuition and through revelation. It is benign intimately connected to mankind, for ultimately Factor X becomes Jesus Christ, Love made flesh.


An atheist Factor X is just the infill in the gaps in theories, and rather than being about wonder wonder or awe for atheist X = ignorance at best. The guiding principle behind the universe, if there is one, is either randomness or worse, competitive red in tooth and claw, Darwinian natural selection. Most atheists tend to see Man, both individually and collectively at war with the world around him, with his fellows. We see this in Marx's "class war", in Dawkins' "selfish gene", it is not benign, it is agressive, at its heart is "survival of the fittest.

It reduces love to chemical attraction, or self interest, there is a pessimissism here beyond anything Augustine could possibly put forward. More than that, death and destruction are its keynote, because man's survival depends ultimately on his conquering and destroying others, it is the embodiment of the "Culture of Death".


For Christians the guiding principle is "Life", atheism is about death. Therefore in the 20th century atheism lies behind Mao Zedung, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot. Atheists seem to be behind not just abortion but eugenics, family planning, radical feminism and the gay movement, political extremes of capitalism and communism and practically every evil I can think of.

47 comments:

shadowlands said...

"Atheism is a disease of the soul, before it becomes an error of the understanding"
Plato

The Lion said...

I can almost guarantee this comment will never show up on your blog, but here I go anyway.

Do you find it at all ironic that you attribute death and immorality to atheists when religion has inspired just as much (if not, more) death and destruction?

The Inquisition? Jihad? The Crusades? Ethnic cleansing all over the world in the name of Religion? Raping little boys?

Ringing any bells?

That doesn't even account for the roughly 3 million plus people that God personally dispatched in the bible.

The source of your morals is itself highly immoral; I'd rather take my morals from common sense and experience.

Moretben said...

"If there is no God, everything is permitted" - Dostoyevsky

karina said...

it is sad when men try to be like God, slaying millions for what they believe to be unclean in a great flood.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I had about thirty comments from atheists, most saying Hitler was a Catholic, what evidence is there that he believed what the Catholic Church teaches?

Fr Ray Blake said...

The comments originate from here
http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/9mnxp/why_atheists_kill_people/

an atheist website.

Hank said...

Heh. Typical Christian dullard who wants to find some outgroup to blame for mass killings, who thinks that morality can only come from the Sweet Baby Jesus, and whose only interest in Hitler is the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

To Christians, atheists are somebody easy to hate and revile ... in public. In private, they're probably adding the homosexuals, Jews and immigrants.

Independent said...

If Christ be not risen then our faith is vain, let us eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die". If there is no God then we are all just chemical reactions of no moral significance. In such circumstances what does it matter if people suffer, people die, people behave in any way they choose?

The Lion should be aware that what he is criticising is not religion but the use to which it is sometimes put. The Inquisition - operating like any other tribunal at the time and in Spain being used as an instrument of state to secure a uniform country; the Crusades -a noble enterprise marred by some ignoble men intent on loot rather than safeguarding Christian Holy places from Moslem occupation; ethnic cleansing - sometimes but not always using religion as a demarcation and being not about religion but about power. As for raping small boys I can think of no religion that enjoins such a practice, and where it occurs it is condemned.

As for taking morals from common sense, since no man is an island you are forced upon the wisdom of the past which is Christian in England and which to a diminishing extent conditions the society which conditions you.

Hans Heider said...

Hitler was certainly not a Catholic, if anything he was Political Darwinist.

gemoftheocean said...

But capitalism ISN'T evil! It's not an extreme. Otherwise I'd agree with you. Socialism is just communism without sticking a gun in your face.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

I think that many so-called atheists are believers deep down.

They just bear a grudge against a God that they think has let them down.

The ranting and raving gives the game away. If they really didn't believe, they wouldn't care enough to comment.

Henry said...

Atheism is part of the Enlightenment legacy. And if you look at the Englightenment, you will see that it can be traced back to NeoPlatonism, a Gnostic movement. It started when the texts of Hermes Trismegistus, which came from a library in Constantinople, were purchased by one of the Medicis and translated. There is a chain that seems to run through people including Giodarno Bruno, Dr Dee, Francis Bacon and some of the founders of the Royal Society including Newton, and the Freemasons, established in 1717.

Atheism is not what it seems.

Many of the movers of the French Revolution were freemasons, rationalists who believed in the rule of Reason, which turned out to mean religious persecution, the Terror, the Vendee massacre (175,000 died in 1794) and twenty years of war in Europe.

berenike said...

Heehee. Am tickled. :-D

Is The Lion real, or is he a spoof comment? He's certainly completed your point :-D

Crux Fidelis said...

One thing I've found on talkboards (notably Guardian Unlimited Talk) is that you very rarely get a reasoned argument with the atheists who post there. Hank above is typical. What you get is venom, vituperation and vilification plus an overwhelming sense of their own intellectual superiority. Jo Brand said recently that what she disliked about Christians was their smugness. Funnily enough, that's what I get from the internet atheists.

Moretben said...

(Sorry Father - I needed to sharpen my pencil a little; the following's better)

Hitler's "Catholicism" is an absurd straw man, which the most cursory familiarity with his beliefs and attitudes places beneath serious attention.

It is undoubtedly true that "religion" has provided the occasion for horrible crimes and very ugly attitudes. "Religion" becomes toxic to the extent that it functions like an "ideology"; ideology becomes lethal to the extent that it functions like religion; ideological religion and "eschatological ideology" are blood brothers.

Nevertheless, it's undeniable that the sheer scale of atheistically driven criminality has resulted in a corpse count (to put it crudely) that dwarfs every other manifestation of inhumanity combined. A contributory factor is undoubtedly the pathological inability of its partisans to acknowledge or understand that their implacable appetite for stoning "religion" is indulged within the frailest glass-house imaginable; this is the kind of blindness only unreasoning, unself-critical hate can foster.

The litmus of true Christianity is the extent to which we love and forgive our enemies.

Independent said...

\hitler was baptised as a Catholic, Stalin was baptised as an Orthodox, Karl Marx was circumcised as a Jew. So what? People do not always remain in the faith of their fathers and these three, together with many others certainly did not.

Henry said...

Gem, I know this is wandering off the topic, but please think about what the term "Capitalism" actually means. What is Capital?

As ask the question because these terms are used without being defined, to the point that they are useless, worse still, absolutely misleading, in a debating situation.

The Catholic Church's position is clearly set out in Caritas in Veritate. I have summarised it here

This too suffers from the use of the term without definition but the overall message is clear.

lizard said...

A few pieces of text from Hitlerś Mein Kampf prove he was actually a Catholic. Haha. I can easily prove that Charles Darwin himself didn't believe in evolution by natural selection and that Richard Dawkins is in fact NOT atheist. It's fairly easy. Just cut and paste a few citations from their works out of the proper contexts. If you look carefully you can even prove that Hitler in fact was a crypto-Jew.

I am a Russian myself and I am amazed how Richard Dawkins always managed to ignore the crimes of Russina atheists like Lenin and Stalin. He was pointed to them at numerous lectures, in books and papers. But still maniacally persists in the weird idea that Stalin did not kill in the name of atheism. It's an extraordinary unreason. Lenin himself wrote "The more religious we kill the better, there is no place for religion." Unlike Hitler's "catholicism," it is not just a piece of text thrown away from the context. Bolsheviks were deliberately seeking and killing priests and religious, thousands were murdered. Isn't it killing in the name of atheism? If not what is this? Will atheists respond like this: "they did not kill in the name of atheism itself, they just tried to destroy a particular historical type of religion. Therefore atheists cannot kill." Is such a (n il) logical lapse called reason?

Independent said...

If Hank wishes to see real hatred of Jews, homosexuals, and immigrants then Stalin is an excellent case in point, indeed atheists are not immune from the prejudices of the societies in which they live. The most anti-semitic articles produced in papers in the recent past have been in the liberal press with the New Statesman publishing a cartoon worthy of Der Sturmer.

One wonders why Hank dismisses those who happen to disagree with him as dullards. Is he of some exalted academic status?

Nor does he apply himself to the question of from where his morality originates? Man is a social animal and we live on the moral capital of the past. Societal breakdown is the consequence of the abandonment of this corpus of inherited values.

Perhaps also as an example of a new and in his eyes superior manner he should exhibit superior manners.

Laurence England said...

Lion

'The source of your morals is itself highly immoral; I'd rather take my morals from common sense and experience.'

Okay. If your mother and father sexually abuse you, lock you in a basement and feed you through a small hole, deprive you of love, friendship, parenting, care and treatment, from whence will you take your morals?

Your common sense and experience? You might say, "Well, obviously if that happened to me it would be awful and I'd disagree with it because of the shame and suffering."

Or alternatively you might say if it happened to you, "Well, that happened to me and it now appears natural to me, even second nature to do the same. I learned it from my experience. I don't know any better."

Secondly, if you only take your morals from your personal experience then your morals are not grounded in objective truth, but your own personality and whims, and if there is one thing we Catholics know, it is that our personalities and whims are subject to change, fluctuations and lead to all manner of personal disasters.

Crux Fidelis said...

I've no idea where Hank is from but he is way off the mark with his jibe about hating and reviling immigrants. As a matter of fact a large proportion of Catholics in the UK are immigrants or their offspring (myself included). I imagine the same applies to the US. A young Pole recently said to me that just about the only place where he has been made to feel welcome was in church.

Colin said...

Is it so hard to believe that crazy, evil people will do crazy, evil things? As I said in a previous post (that never made it up) Hitler was a crazy occultist who used Christianity to keep his population in line, Stalin set himself and the state up as a new "religion."

I also enjoy reading Christian defenses of capitalism, because Jesus was WAY a socialist. His message was "Blessed are the poor" and he told people to forgo their wealth to follow him. Sure he probably thought that the Second Coming was going to happen in about 95 AD but I digress.

I wish people would stop calling all atheists murderers, I have never killed someone, I have never assaulted someone, does my lack of belief in some non-physical, non-evidenced being somehow make me lose my humanity? Here I would point out the millions of deaths caused by religion, the suffering and hatred it breeds, and the extremists that come with every religion (Bill Donahue much?) but religious people are aware of this, and seemingly cannot comprehend a world where people would be good just because it is a good thing to do.

Thruxomatic said...

@ Lizard

"The more religious we kill the better, there is no place for religion."


Any chance for a citation for that supposed quote? What book or speech did that come from? I just did a Google search on the phrase and the only place on the entire internet that appears is in your post. I don't want to cry BS, but ...

Secondly, Dawkins doesn't need to defend against Stalin or Lenin. Communism is atheist, yes, but it is primarly about class struggle, not religious struggle. Religion was just one more way the rich and wealthy controlled the common populace, ie. opiate of the masses.

The vast majority of the Communist led killings in the 20th century were part of the revolutionary process itself (Long March, Russian Revolution), were related to political infighting and power grabs (Mao and Stalin's purges), were related to the hardcore centralization inherent in Communism (Holodor starvation over food collectivization) or were related to forced agrarianism (Killing Fields).

Blaming all those deaths on atheism is intellectually lazy and dishonest. Modern nations with significant portions of their population as nonbelievers are some of the least crime-riddenpopulations on the planet.

lizard said...

Thruxomatic said...

Lizard
Any chance for a citation for that supposed quote? What book or speech did that come from? I

Thruxomatiс,

There dozens of such documents. here is just one short telegram with my quick translation. Do you like to see more?

1 мая 1919 года, №13666/2.
Председателю ВЧК тов. Дзержинскому

В соответствии с решением ВЦИК и Совнаркома, необходимо как можно быстрее покончить с попами и религией. Попов надлежит арестовывать как контрреволюционеров и саботажников, расстреливать беспощадно и повсеместно. И как можно больше. Церкви подлежат закрытию. Помещения храмов опечатывать и превращать в склады.

Председатель ВЦИК Калинин,
Председатель Совнаркома Ульянов (Ленин)

-------------

1 May 1919 No 13666/2.
to the Chairman of VChK comrade Dzerzhinsky

Following the decision of VTSIK it is necessary to finish with priests as soon as possible. Priests must be arrested and conter-revolutionaries and saboteurs, shot mercilessly everywhere. And as many of them as possible. Churches must be closed. Worship premises must be sealed and turned to warehouses.

Kalinin
Ulyanov (Lenin)
----------------


By the way, the grandgrandson of Felix Dzerzhinsky is my good friend and coauthor of some research papers.

lizard said...

Thruxomatic said...

Blaming all those deaths on atheism is intellectually lazy and dishonest. Modern nations with significant portions of their population as nonbelievers are some of the least crime-riddenpopulations on the planet.

Priest must be shot mercilessly... Churches closed...- Blaming all those deaths on atheism is intellectually lazy and dishonest. Oh, it is just the class struggle. You must also posit that Blaming Jack the Ripper on killing is equally intellectually lazy and dishonest. He was just cutting holes in bodies. Your argument is an extraordinary unreason and clear nonsense.

"Modern nations with significant portions of their population as nonbelievers are some of the least crime-riddenpopulations on the planet."

Yes, but it is a completely different thing. The fact that modern European nations are non-aggressive does not tell anything against mass killing in the name of atheism that did occur in the past. Atheists did kill in the name of atheism. As Christians did kill in the name of Christ.

We can also compare aggression in nations with Christian heritage (most Europeans) with the rest and observe that those nations with Christian heritage are currently non-aggressive. Following your logic you must conclude that Christianity is responsible for non-aggression then.

As a matter of academic research you can also compare average aggressioveness in nations located in Europe with those in all other countries. You will not be surprised to find that Europeans are less aggressive. From this you must conclude that the European geographical position is responsible for non-aggression.

In a similar way you can compare aggression in nations with extensive railway network with those with poor rail network. Surprisingly, you'll observe that the former are significantly less aggressive. Following your logic you'll conclude that railway network causes non-aggression.

Try the same with the total number of tank engines in use during the last 200 years. Yes, it's the tank engines that cause non-aggression.

I think you can continue this kind of research investigating correlations between aggression and the number of electric bulbs in the household. The conclusion of course is this: bulbs also cause nonaggression. How about other factors like the number of Teflon saucepans and pans in the household: the more such pans, the less aggressive nation?

Now the abundance of elephants in habitats within 2000 km. Are you surprised to know that elephants living within such a distance cause aggression too? There would be a difference with countries without elephants being significantly less aggressive.

As a matter of further statistical exercise, compare average aggressiveness in nations which consume croissants for breakfast with those which do not. Your conclusion must be that it is eating croissants that causes non-aggression.

Are you still not convinced of your own fascinating unreason and irrationality?

So what is the argument? Be honest. Aggression and murder is a part of the human nature. An atheist would add it is just an inherited trait maintained by natural selection, a Christian would add that it is the consequence of the Fall.

Incidentally, the explanations of murder based on natural selection ("scientific theory") and fall ("Bible theory") are not mutually contradictory. I argue that after the Adam's fall humans have lost the God's grace which helped us control evil impulses that follow from our animal nature - just a short addition to the argument that science contradicts religious doctrine, no it does not.

lizard said...

Blogger Colin said...

I wish people would stop calling all atheists murderers, I have never killed someone, I have never assaulted someone, does my lack of belief in some non-physical, non-evidenced being somehow make me lose my humanity?

Colin,

No. not all atheists are murderers, most are just nice and kind people. I am sure it is possible to be good and moral (in the traditional in this country Christian sense) and be atheist or agnostic.

The main point is that "atheists never kill" or "no one was ever killed in the name of atheism" are wrong. The second point, that "religion inevitably promotes aggression and murder" is wrong too.

The basic problem with morality without God is that there is no universal criterion, no baseline point. The criterion for mortality is totally arbitrary, very well expressed by The Lion: "I'd rather take my morals from common sense and experience." - his morals from his own comon sense and his own experience (sic!). What if my common sense is cold selfish rationality, based solely on calculating the costs and benefits? In such a case it would be "moral" to kill 1000 if this is beneficial. It's a rather extreme example of an arbitrary morality, but possible. In this society morality is still significantly based on the Christian ethos and culture. But it is fragile and is being destroyed very easily.

You may point that (research has found that) morality is based on the common "species-specific" inherited traits of Homo sapiens, like inherent altruism etc (presumably maintained by natural selection). Yes, humans and other animals do display tendencies for altruism. Yes, this can be accounted for by a variety of biological factors (e.g. kin selection). The basic problem is that morality does not concern HOW people behave. Morality is about what we OUGHT to do. The theory that morality is based on emotions and sentiments is totally naive.

Even if people have an inherent tendency to be kind in some circumstances, why we ought to be kind? Also what is kind and good? People (and many animals) have also inherent tendencies to murder, xenophobia, paedophilia, etc etc. What is the criterion for considering one tendency as "good" and another as "bad"? It is very easy to build a perfectly rational and internally consistent moral system on any arbitrary basis, even on the most evil and perversed one.

I do not like to blame atheists for necessarily being killers and all kind of evil. It is wrong and totally dishonest. Many atheists are actually even more concerned about truth, ethics and morality than some catholics. Christians must not be too much proud of their own faith as if it were our own merit. Faith is a gift of grace - Deo gratias. Without such a gift we are all dumbest atheists. Anyone who thinks that faith is a kind of reward for being "good" risks losing faith, it is one of the worst and most dangerous kinds of spiritual pride. It is better to think of onself as the most poorest piece of scrap who won't even survive without being totally supported by God's grace and Faith, no place of arrogance of having faith. Anyway, atheists may be very good. Atheism is always evil (as a dirty person may be good, dirt is unquestionably bad).

Henry said...

@Thruxomatic

Just looking at actual events, both the atheistic French Revolution and all of the Communist revolutions singled out the religions and their followers for special attack, and right from the outset. It is not unreasonable to attribute this to atheism in that it in itself provides no framework for distinguishing between right or wrong and has no room for the concept of the natural law. When all is relative, then ultimately, anything goes.

Islam seems to be a special case of a religion with a violent founder, whose foundational texts preach violence and there is no authority to say that such utterances are to be taken in a metaphorical sense. Given also its denial of incarnation, perhaps it has a weak notion of the divinisation of the physical world, including man. These factors would help to explain the high body count resulting from actions done in the name of Islam.

I am always amused by the charge that religion is the opium of the people. Opium is substance that locks onto the body's endorphin receptors. Heroin is of course the contemporary opiate of choice. But everyone needs their endorphin receptors tickled one way or another. Some people go for a run. Others jump into cold water. Elaborate religious ceremonial with traditional chant, incense and other paraphernalia apparently does it quite well. Perhaps if more people participated in this kind of religion there would be less abuse of opiate substances.

lizard said...

Sorry - a little correction of the Lenin's telegram (my fault typing error):

"Priests must be arrested AS (not and) conter-revolutionaries and saboteurs, shot mercilessly everywhere."

Independent said...

Thruxomatic tells us that "Communism is primarily about class struggle, not religious struggle". Is this entirely true, Marxists do not disentangle the struggles? Marx himself saw emancipation from religion as the first step in the struggle which would bring about the Communist society. In Marx's 'Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right'(K Marx "Early Writings" Penguin Books 1975 p 243) he says that "The criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism" and goes on to make the famous assertion that "religion is the opiate of the people".The attack on religion is certainly an integral part of Marxism.

I would suspect ,though I have not checked ,that Bakunin would agree, and certainly the Spanish Anarchists who raped nuns and burned churches did so in the name of atheism.

lizard said...

torrent1337 sdaid...

"If there is no God, everything is permitted" - Dostoyevsky
Dostoyevsky never said that either! Intentionally (and popularly) mis-attributed to him by Christians to suit their world view

Nonsense, torrent, you are either too ignorant or liar. Please read Dostoyevsky's "Karamazov Brothers" (Братья Карамазовы), it's exactly this: "Если Бога нет, то все позволено". "If there is no God, everything is permitted."

Volpius Leonius said...

For atheists the ultimate law is the same as it was for the pagans before Christ came.

There is but one law for them and that law is the law of "might makes right."

Which is actually ok as long as you recognise that God is almighty and therefore makes all the other rules lol.

Colin said...

@Lizard

Sir,

I find you analysis of atheism as inherently evil abhorrent. I think that belief in irrational beings is harmful to society. If religion were not so intertwined in so many people's lives we could resolve territory disputes, (i.e. the Israeli/Palestinian conflict) but, because most believe they have the approval of some "all powerful being" they accept no less then total victory.

1. I disagree with your point that atheism inspires violence. Atheism only inspires the insane or those detached from reality to kill another. Meanwhile scriptures approve of killing, either because someone "heard" god command it, or they are different. This is not moral, nor is the slaughter of entire tribes (except for the virgins: Judges 11:11) under ANY circumstances. Atrocities committed in the name of "god" however, are rife throughout history, suicide bombing, torture, and the Crusades.

You accuse atheists of being ignorant of the value of life. I don't need a god to tell me life has value. Some insane individuals have taken the (misquoted) Dostoevsky line (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/features/2000/cortesi1.html) literally, this should be blamed on insane individuals, not the general beliefs they hold. However, there are identifiable motives to the "holy" crusades. (recover the "Holy Lands" from the infidels) But to the individuals fighting, they knew they were "doing God's will" by killing infidels.

You cite historical situations out of context. Religious establishments in France and Russia at the time of their revolutions were soundly in the pocket of the ruling class. Thus a populist revolt which targets the supporters of the status quo, would attack the aristocracy and religious hierarchy. But in each case this was an oppressed people taking retribution for abuses by the clergy. It is intellectually dishonest to call the religious repression that transpired "in the name of atheism." They were responses to previous abuses.

2. I would rather trust my morals to human experience than to a narcissistic, genocidal "God." Jesus had some good ideas, "love your neighbor as yourself," but the original post, and your reply seem to ignore that precept. Since atheism is evil by its very nature and the earth would be better without it. While anyone can come up with examples where individual experience is a bad example of morals, in the vast majority of cases a socially acceptable morality can be discerned from social experience.

As to morality being how to act as opposed to how one acts, I ask you to consider the following Matt 19:23-25 and the Vatican. I do not intend to paint with too broad a brush, I went to a wonderful Catholic high school, but the hypocrisy of organized religion cannot be dismissed.

3. No "universal moral baseline": The idea of "treat others as you would have them treat you" has popped up in many cultures independently. This suggests there is a biological explanation for this, not just a theological origin. Also, human culture could not have come as far as we have without overcoming these barriers to cooperation, thus your argument fails to account for human society today.

4. Philosophy has the "discussion of what is good vs. bad" well within it's purview, and I trust philosophers over "prophets." You seem to make the assumption that all atheists are cold, efficient followers of logic, almost Vulcan. Atheists are generally life focused. There is no animal sacrifice, nor human, to anything.

5. There has never been a country of peaceful religious people invaded by an atheistic nation solely to induce atheism.

I am not trying to indict every believer for the crimes of past believers, but I will not allow such abuses of power, and injustices to go unmentioned in discourse about the future of the world.

Calling atheism, evil is abhorrent. I hope that you can understand how insulting it is to say, essentially, many atheists are good people despite their evil disbelief in gods.

-Colin

Independent said...

Colin Point 5. The occupation of Eastern Europe by the Red Army in 1945 was in the name of a creed, Marxist-Leninism, of which atheism was an integral part. Countries and groups invariably act for mixed motives and just as religion undoubtedly acts as a motive for action in some very few cases,so too does atheism. In both cases they are part of a package of motives. We must all beware of over- simplification.

Point 3. Certainly in pre-revolutionary Russia and France the upper clergy differed little from the aristocracy, but it is noteworthy that in the latter country the House of Clergy joined the Third Estate in the National Assembly. The Revolution only became anti-religious when the Jacobins gained power. In Russia the February Revolution was succeeded by the Bolshevik Revolution and there was not doubt about its inspiration. Lenin may have departed from Marx but he shared his view of religion as being the first enemy.

Colin said...

@ Independent

First, again, Leninism/Stalinism replaced religious devotion with state worship; they were a religious population before, and when the Bolsheviks came to power they recognized this as an opportunity to control the populace. They did not belong in the dictator business if they could not exploit this opportunity. Thus while communist countries tend to be "officially atheist" that is a bit of a misnomer, as state worship replaces religion. My point is that the Soviet government took a people who bowed to religion, and substituted the state for god, so the negative aspects of religious belief (unquestioning obedience to authority, etc...) While shedding the previous god and clergy.

When you say that the House of the Clergy joined the Third Estate, I did a little reading and it seems to me that while the "lower" clergy would often be devoted to the people, the "high" clergy were mostly just aristocrats who would not inherit their father's titles of the majority of his wealth. So if you were saying that there were some good clergy, sure. There have always been clergy people who are concerned primarily with the well being of the poor and downtrodden. But this was far from the case in pre-revolutionary France.

The Bolsheviks were an ideological group who, again, worshiped the state. And their motivations were clear, they wanted to control the new government of the largest country on earth. Were many of them violent sociopaths? The trail of bodies cannot be ignored, but again there had been hundreds of years of Czars ranging from slightly mean to downright brutal, and these Czars were also the head of the church, an instrument they used to enforce their will.

In no way in either case am I suggesting that the people were justified, or "right" to kill off the clergy, quite the opposite. I am simply trying to put these actions in the historical context in which they belong.

Independent said...

colin - I am afraid that your history is seen through a particular lense rather than looking unblinkered at the actual facts.More than a "little" reading would seem appropriate, You impose upon it an ideology which suggest that any belief system, even one which is aggressively and professedly atheist, is a religion.

Please look at what the Jacobins and the Bolsheviks actually said and consider in the latter case the actual teaching of that articulate, scholarly. thoroughly atheistic system, Marxist-Leninism.
There are plenty of modern works on both the French and Russian Revolutions and on Marxist-Leninism.

It is obvious that just as there are many varieties of religion, so there are varieties of atheism. Why not accept that the Jacobins and the Bolsheviks did things in the name of atheism with which your particular brand is not in agreement?

It confuses the issue to say that atheists who integrate their ideas into a belief-system are in fact religious.

lizard said...

Colin,

Important note: Please let me point that there is no religion as such. There are diverse "religions," many of which may be irrational etc. There exist very little which unites all these "religions." I therefore do not consider such generalised religions. Here by religion I mean solely the Catholic religion.

A. Rationality

I disagree with your point that religion is irrational. Rationalism is the theory positing that the source of knowledge and the criterion of truth is intellectual and deductive. Here reason is the source of knowledge. In the Catholic religion, the source of knowledge is intellectual and deductive. We have a few basic "axioms" which are the result revelation of God. All other religious knowledge is inferred by reason. We need basic axioms for any logical system (well known Goedel's theorem, do I won't touch this topic to be brief).

Now consider atheism. Is atheist's position rational? For atheist, the source of knowledge is empirical and subjective - atheist does not believe in God's existence because he personally did not see Him or any traces of His existence. What if someone else had an experience of God? This is not considered an "evidence" because it is someone's else experience. Now what are the atheist's basic "axioms" from where all other knowledge is inferred by reason? There is none. Only personal sensory experience. So I repeat, atheism it is not rational (it's probably empirical, but I repeat, it is NOT rational).

Atheist says he is rational because he bases his knowledge on "evidence." What is considered evidence then? There is no rational criterion. In most cases it is just an arbitrary choice (of the kind "I just believe this"). Actually, knowledge cannot be based "on evidence." Knowledge can be based only on trust and belief. Do you have any evidence for the existence of quarks? On what is it based? I am almost sure, on just trusting certain popular science publications (based on other of which the popular writer and you probably do not even understand 10%). Do you have any evidence that the Earth is not flat? I do not think so. All your knowledge is just trusting to the information you were given at school and everywhere. If you were taught it is flat, you will believe this nonsense. Have you been told that a small teapot is rotating at an elliptical orbit around the Earth, you'll believe this.

Ok, suppose you are a scientist. You are doing experiments, and making inferences based on your results and results of other experiments. Now the question is how you believe the all the information contained in someone else's scientific paper is totally valid and true, how could you be sure that the author of the paper did all correctly, perfectly understood the methods he used, perfectly understood the statistics and mathematics he applied? You again just trust. No scientist can be sure that everything is correct, even if he is honest. For example, most biologists do not well understand statistical methods they use and often use them incorrectly. It can even be demonstrated that a vary significant part of the scientific knowledge contained in numerous research journals is actually false.

lizard said...

A. Rationality (cont'd)

Now an atheist might agree that, even if there is no universal and unlimited "evidence," he bases his knowledge on the "scientific evidence," a procedure involving demonstrable and reproducible evidence (he might concede, local evidence). Here everyone can use the same procedure and obtain the same result. I argue that this argument is fundamentally flawed. While this evidence can be used in science operating with universal and reproducible physical reality, it cannot be used in numerous other cases. Especially those which involve unique singular phenomena. Almost all religious phenomena are of this kind, therefore they cannot be approached using the scientist reproducibility and demonstrability criteria.

Suppose you are interested to know did Mr.Raskolnikov kill the babushka. Are you going to find a sample of 100 Raskolnikov's and a sample of 100 babushka's, then put them together and see if one will kill the other? Then you will probably use the standard scientific procedure of using a statistical test to check if the number of murdered babushkas is statistically significantly different from zero. Nonsense? I am sure you will better try to find one or more witnesses, who saw or know anything about this particular case. For example, Mr.Jones may tell you that he saw Mr. Raskilnikov holding a bag with traces of blood and an axe, Mrs.Smith saw him selling a piece of jewelry which Mrs.Williams claim to belonged to the babushka. Why are you so ready to consider Mr.Jones' and others witness as an "evidence"? Why do not you consider the witness of Apostle Thomas about rising Christ? It is just because you do not believe the latter. So it is your belief that is fundamental.

Thus, the "evidence" is largely illusory. You may have only a very local evidence for something physically reproducible, but even here it is very far from being 100% correct. "Evidence" just does not exist.

A Catholic theist is perfectly aware of the fundamental limitation of his knowledge and of the limited nature of logic and rationality (e.g. no logic can be self-evidencing, it always requires an external axiom, Goedel). Such a theist is happy to find (and/or choose) someone he can trust perfectly, to be such an initial baseline axiom. We call this source of belief God. Atheist may argue this choice is totally arbitrary. Yes, it may well be true. But the atheist's choice is equally arbitrary, moreover, it is not based on anything at all. It is in fact based on ignorance. Atheist just ignores these fundamental questions, he does not like to understand and take into account that there is a fundamental limitation of his own source of knowledge, evidence and rationality. Atheist thinks of himself as perfectly aware and unlimited. I think even an atheist would call someone claiming to be an infallible source of truth insane. Therefore, atheism is not only not rational. Atheism is also irrational: "dixit stultus in corde suo non est Deus."

[Agnosticism is rational and internally logically consistent. While atheist is really insane because he does not understand and does not take account of his own rationality limitation, an agnostic may perfectly understand this but just chose not to believe. Alright, it is the matter of his existential choice.]

lizard said...

Father, sorry for blogging on your own blog.

lizard said...

Colin said...

If religion were not so intertwined in so many people's lives we could resolve territory disputes, (i.e. the Israeli/Palestinian conflict) but, because most believe they have the approval of some "all powerful being" they accept no less then total victory.

Colin,

These your views are naive. First, many people are doing evil in the name of good things. Consider love. Some people kill because they love someone (sometimes even kill the person they love). Do you hold that if love were not interwined in so many people lives, we could save so many lives? Patriotism. Do you believe if patriotism were not so....etc. Truth. Many people will kill (or at least bash) in the name of truth (are many atheists such?). Do you believe if seeking of truth were not so intertwined...etc?

The basic problem with such conflicts, as well as many if not all other disputes, wars and mass murders is delusion: false religion, false ideology, false love, false patriotism, false "truth" etc. In most national conflicts like Palestinian/Israeli, religion is only a pretext. If there were no religious differences, they will use nationality, language, skin colour, accent, and all other characters on which these groups differ. They will also CREATE characters which will differentiate one group from another. E.g. characteristic kinds of garments.

What is most important is how people identify and distinguish those from in-group from those from out-group. It is even not psychology, it is biology. Human nature is fundamentally evil. Atheists will argue it is the consequence of evolution by natural selection, here I tend to agree (although it is only a part of the whole story). Chimpanzees make organised wars and kill conspecifics from other groups. They identify those from out-group by unfamiliarity, smell (linked with MHC genes), language dialect etc. Chimps do not have religion but still do war. It's evolutionary biology, not religion.

lizard said...

olin said...

"1. I disagree with your point that atheism inspires violence."

As any other irrational ideology, atheism may inspire violence by facilitating delusion. It is agnosticism that does not inspire violence. In fact agnostics never killed anyone. While we know thousands and millions were killed in the name of atheism (and in the name of God or gods), no one has ever been killed in the name of agnosticism. So it is a much more honest, rational and peaceful position, although false.

"Religious establishments in France and Russia....were soundly in the pocket of the ruling class. Thus a populist revolt which targets the supporters of the status quo, would attack the aristocracy and religious hierarchy. ...It is intellectually dishonest to call the religious repression that transpired "in the name of atheism." They were responses to previous abuses.

This is incorrect. I know the situation in Russia and must tell that communists were really exterminating religion in the name of atheism, it was not something concomitant. Atheism with arbitrary morality is in the heart of communism. Do you know that communists tried to build a new morality? For example, women were encouraged (in many cases, forced) to be "common." They failed and had to return to traditional morality just because their experimental arbitrary morality was contradicting the human nature (nothing highly spiritual, just biology and psychology). So if they tried to exterminate all religions deliberately, how can you call this was not done in the name of atheism? It is not only dishonest, it is irrational.

---
"2. I would rather trust my morals to human experience... in the vast majority of cases a socially acceptable morality can be discerned from social experience."

There exist many cultures with substantially different moral values. Are you willing to present your wife for a night to an occasional stranger in your home? But it is "socially acceptable" and moral in certain cultures (e.g. Chukcha in Arctic Russia). What exactly experience do you mean? What is the source of your morality? You must agree that it is arbitrary. Irrational, vague and inexact thinking about morality is potentially harmful.

"As to morality being how to act as opposed to how one acts, I ask you to consider the following Matt 19:23-25 and the Vatican....but the hypocrisy of organized religion cannot be dismissed."

Hypocrisy does exist and may even be widespread. I think everyone agrees it is evil. So what's the argument? Are you going to dismiss mathematics as false if you occasionally find that a math teacher cannot extract square root correctly? Error, Evil and sin are the human nature in this world.

lizard said...

----
"3. No "universal moral baseline": The idea of "treat others as you would have them treat you" has popped up in many cultures independently. This suggests there is a biological explanation for this, not just a theological origin."

Yes, a biological explanation may be true. It may be false, this maxima may also not appear independently in various cultures, at least in this verbalized form: there is a significant flow of memes between cultures. Do you have any evidence that this maxima is present in ALL cultures and is a universal species-specific trait?

Not all people behave this way and not in all contexts. In competitive contexts many people pursue their own interest. In highly competitive contexts. most people will be nasty beasts. The above kindness is certainly not even an universal and domain-general tendency. A further problem for an atheist and evolutionist is that this behavioural strategy (it is proven mathematically) is not evolutionary stable, a nasty mutant will easily spread within the population being more fitted. An evolutionarily better strategy is be "treat your relatives or members of your in-group as you like them to treat you" - this is the root of xenophobia. Do you think xenophobia is moral?

The most important point is this: these tendencies, whatever they are, are just about HOW people behave. They are not about WHY we OUGHT to behave in this or that way. Why xenophobia is bad but indiscriminate altruism is good? Why unconditional "treat others..." is better than "treat your relatives..."? The question ought requires an external criterion.

----
4. "You seem to make the assumption that all atheists are cold, efficient followers of logic, almost Vulcan."

No, just the opposite. Almost every atheist I saw was an illogical, irrational dude offended by something or someone and preoccupied with envy and lots of psychological problems. Totally emotional and not much efficient. Philosophy has the discussion of what is good and what is bad and philosophers typically agree that (1) morality cannot base on sentiments and tendencies; (2) morality requires an external criterion. So what is the fuss about?

----
"5. There has never been a country of peaceful religious people invaded by an atheistic nation solely to induce atheism."

There were peaceful religious people living in a country, and atheists raising against these peaceful people to kill them solely because of their belief. If they do not believe these things, why not let them continue their harmless excentricity? Why kill and forbid?

lizard said...

"colin - I am afraid that your history is seen through a particular lense rather than looking unblinkered at the actual facts."

Yes, most fervent atheists I ever seen are illogical, irrational and emotional dudes. Their way of thinking is inflexible, dogmatized and ignorant. Causal reasoning is certainly not their main strength.

Independent said...

Stalin. Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao were all atheists - that can easily be attested from their public writings. They were all mass murderers. Can this be shrugged aside by saying that it is co-incidence?

Certainly one can think of Christian religious people who committed massacres (minor when compared to the big four), but they can be condemned in the name of the religion which they professed. On what grounds can an atheist condemn Stalin et al?
On what grounds was the anti-God Museum in Moscow defended? It cannot be dismissed as an example of state worship.(It is said to have included a picture of the Archbishop of Canterbury).

Henry said...

Perhaps a good analogy for atheism is a gun with the safety catch off. But Islam has the same problem, and Christianity has been problematic when people have been so concerned about other people's immortal souls that they have thought it OK to burn them at the stake.

The real problem, I suggest, is attachment to things, people, land, ideologies, ways of doing things.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

"Christianity has been problematic when people have been so concerned about other people's immortal souls that they have thought it OK to burn them at the stake."

Er, no it hasn't.

It was a punishment for wrongdoing, much as hanging was a punishment for wrongdoing.

Are you going to say civilisation has been problematic when it has been so concerned for morality, that it hanged murderers??

Somehow, I doubt it.

Simon Platt said...

Dear Lizard,

thanks for your posts. I hope Fr. didn't mind their length. I suppose he didn't, and I certainly didn't. I read them with interest and found them inspiring.

Adam said...

Oh vey, atheists get all uppity over the idea that they kill and resort to going "oh oh oh oh oh religious people have killed." Y'know that Sam Harris has advocated killing Christians, right? Maybe atheists would do well to weed out the rats in their ranks and stay out of religious affairs.

Of course ey won't be able to help themselves, being too fanatical and obsessed with something they don't believe in to stop pushing for their ideal world without religion, without freedom, with only atheism as the allowed and tolerated belief.