Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ideology and Violence

I have heard it claimed many times that Stalin and Mao killed people in the name of atheism, which frankly is not true. This is usually brought up as a counter-example to when someone criticising religion brings up the issue of killing in the name of god(s), which there are countless examples of. I'll try to briefly explain why Stalin and Mao did not kill in the name of atheism.
Neither of these dictators were motivated by atheism to commit their atrocities, rather they were motivated by their twisted communist ideologies. Anyone who opposed their rule was hastily silenced (read: murdered). It is as simple as that. To quote Richard Dawkins, "There is no logical pathway between atheism and killing people".
This is why attempts by theists to return the shit-slinging will always fail. There is an obvious pathway between  many different religions and violence. Take Islam for example, its founder Mohammed was a tyrant, who went around the middle east killing people who didn't convert to Islam. On top of that, there are many passages in the Qu'ran that say things along the lines of 'kill infidels'.


  1. you could argue(i sure would) that marxism is a secular religion(like buddhism).

    so, while stalin & mao may have been 'atheist', they still believed in something. which is, some would say, just as bad.

  2. While Marxism might have some things in common with religions, I probably still wouldn't classify it as such. Religions always have some kind of supernatural or transcendent doctrine, like a deity to worship, or a cosmic spirit or something along those lines. This is notably absent from Marxism, so it is more accurate to classify it as an ideology.

  3. I would have to disagree with you Jack, I don't think there can be a secular religion -- since it lacks the criteria. I hear this comment a lot, and I think I know why people make the mistake of ascribing to it: I think people use the word "religion" when they mean to say "ideology".

    Being a fan of Marx myself, I can say my views on the subject are not a matter of faith, or subject to the supernatural. They're just another set of political ideologies. I think Marxism is about as religious as democracy or an oligarchy.

  4. I would also say there is no real logical pathway between true Marxism and killing people as far as I know. What Stalin and Mao used as their system could almost certainly be classified as a religion, with Stalin and Mao being the respective deities of their system.

  5. For Parabola - Haha let's face it, we all know Wikipedia could be dubbed "The Atheist Bible"! *joke* here's a tiny article worth reading

    I think this is what jack ralph would try to argue. And seeing as Marxism is 'Wiki classified' as a variant of Communism I'd say jack ralph would probably win this (semantics) debate if he were to 'Wiki reference' philosopher Raymond Aron.

    For KJ -

    Indeed, atheists will probably never fly a plane into a tower based purely on a firm belief in no god, thinking that the resulting huge explosion and many deaths might just make their point crystal clear. But I can still see (unless I have a warped definition of the word 'logical') a logical pathway between the belief in no god/afterlife/eternal consequences and say... theft or persecution...even murder. While such a belief might not be the start of the pathway, i.e. the cause for a person to hate, it could easily be a stepping stone along the path of logic, giving an already hateful/maniacal person all the more reason to "go out with a bang", pardon the pun.

    Some examples of thoughts this person could potentially have:
    Action - Steal heaps of belongings from someone whose always really pissed me off.
    Consequence - I won't get caught (cos I'm a kick-ass thief) so none. Sweet.

    Action - Be a total asshole to some people cos I just don't like their views and opinions on things.
    Consequence - They might dislike me back. I don't give a crap, I don't like them either. Sweet.

    a more extreme thought...

    Action - Blow myself up in the middle of a busy city square cos I'm sick of this piece of shit life and this country's wanky people.
    Consequence - I will simply cease to exist altogether. Perfect.

    I like that you said "There is an obvious pathway between many different religions and violence" as opposed to saying 'all'. As there is no obvious pathway between a follower of Jesus Christ and violence.

    I know that it is rather unfair to now put the thoughts of this 'maniac atheist' next to the thoughts of a 'perfect Christian' but I'm going to do so because "The Thinking/Intelligent/Logical/Informed Atheist" seems to target and pick on the deluded creationist, the gay hater, the street preacher, the money-hungry-mega-city-church pastor and the Muslim terrorist ALL the time.

    Bare with me as we enter the mind of this follower of Jesus:

    Action - Anonymously give a needy person something, maybe money or another form of gift.
    Consequence - God will reward me, whether now or in heaven.

    Action - Forgive this person that I am holding a grudge against.
    Consequence - God will in turn forgive me.

    etc. etc. You know all the moral law the Bible teaches. Not for a second trying to say morality comes only from scripture or any of that stuff that has been addressed in your older posts.

    My main points are: (if I may draw logical pathways with dashes)



    Obviously these are generalizations as there are some rather hateful Christians in the world and also hateful non-religious people that come out of a hateful mindset/lifestyle through other means than "encountering Jesus". Not to mention a religious view is only one factor a person might incorporate into their thought-action "pathway of logic". But I feel my point has been made, unfair as it may have been :D

  6. What about Eugenics? (Eugenics is the study and practice of selective breeding applied to humans, with the aim of improving the species - for those of you who don't know). It is a seemingly logical path, comes from an atheist perspective, and involves violence. What is your view on this KJ?

  7. Atheism says nothing about anything except that an individual has no belief in gods. Atheism says nothing about an afterlife. Atheism doesn't cause anyone to do anything, which was the whole point of the post. A eugenics system is more likely to stem from a trans-humanist ideology. A suiciding person taking other people with them is more likely to come from some kind of nihilistic ideology.

    The reason people don't point at kind, altruistic christians that choose to follow the very positive teachings of Jesus, is because there is nothing wrong with those kinds of people. Unless they're indoctrinating children or something at the same time, then I have a problem with them.

    I would continue to write a 10 page long comment but it wouldn't really be relevant to the original post, so I'll stop there and just reiterate my one point I made.
    Atheism says nothing about anything except that an individual lacks belief in gods. No one kills in the name of atheism, but rather in the name of or as a result of other ideologies they may have.

  8. As for that secular religion article on Wikipedia. It mentions only 3 people who call different things secular religion. Though the description of which have nearly nothing to do with the definition of standard religion. So it's the view of a very small number of people. I think it's much more honest and accurate to refer to things like Marxism as a political ideology rather than secular religion. As for calling evolutionary theory a secular religion, I think that man Michael Ruse has a screw loose. The other person who called the Free Market a secular religion... It's once again a political ideology, not a 'religion'. FFS. We have words that mean certain things, what is it with people who try to make those words mean other things that we already have terms for. SERIOUSLY.

  9. On another note, the term secular specifically means to be seperate from religion. So to say secular-religion is like saying non-square-square or long-short, or white-black, or non-existent-existent-deity.

  10. @ Ryan: thanks for the thoughts on all this, my head nodded a few times reading what you said; but I'm not sure if you were doing me a favor by linking that wiki article.

    I try very hard to be open to new ideas, but that article was less than helpful. I think it only serves to cloud the conversational water with the purpose of providing cover for people that are hoping to change the rules we follow when exchanging ideas.

    I don't see any need at all for having a phrase like "secular religion". The only purpose I can see behind it is an effort to liken religion and secularism, which I think is a fairly silly thing to do given their different properties.

    While I'm rambling I'd like to take a stab at the reason we're seeing this kind of newspeak: I view it as an attempt to close the gap between religion and secularism, and in doing so making religion more appealing (or less foreign) to those on the other side. Which is a valid tactic -- I use it myself -- I just don't go so far as to redefine words to make it work. Finding new angles to appeal from is good, redefining words to make a method work is bad.

  11. for KJ - Interesting... I assumed (I apologise) that atheists disbelieved in anything supernatural, which I thought would include any 'afterlife theories'. My question then is: What do you personally propose might occur at death? (Like do you believe in 'souls' or something similar, or just a body/matter etc.)

    I wouldn't go as far to say "Atheism doesn't cause anyone to do anything". That's a bit silly isn't it? Doesn't atheism cause you to write the blogs you post? Atheism causes Dawkins and Hitchens to debate theists, etc.

    Anyway, the main point of my comment (hope I didn't digress to far from the point of your post) was to address the Dawkins quote in particular and try and explore that a little bit.

    If the 10 page comment isn't relevant, just make it a new blog :D I'll read it for sure.

    Haha, yeah the term secular religion is quite daft. Welcome to the wonderful world of the English language. Too many words - too many slight variants on definitions - too much confusion - too many semantics debates. Ha, I wouldn't be surprised if there's another word for semantics...

    for Parabola - Thanks, I like to think my comments are interesting reading haha. The Wikipedia article was more of a sarcastic joke, prodding at how dodge/pointless the worldwidewiki can sometimes be.

    Your last paragraph is very true! The pastor of the church I am currently attending likes to thrash the particular phrase:

    "This isn't about religion, it's about relationship. We don't do religion as Christians, it should be all about a personal relationship with Jesus" etc etc

    I cringe at this as it is used literally to make religion more appealing/attractive, like you say. The irony is that when people respond at the end of his messages, they are offered prayer and a Bible to aid their personal relationship with Jesus. I think churches should just embrace the fact that they are a religious institution by every definition of the word and not try and shake the term off purely because of its bad connotations. It's like the people on Facebook who say they are "Followers of Jesus", because they don't want to classify themselves as a Christian. WTF their problem?! They are one in the same! What, does FOJ sound more badass? More extreme or something?! They need to get a life in my opinion haha.

  12. Ryan:

    I was thinking you seemed a bit too smart to make the mistake of actually backing the Wiki article, I'm glad to hear that's the case.

    I partly agree with your Pastor, a relationship is a part of the faith; but it's sad to see the other parts of the religion get swept under the rug due to social stigma. Or if you like, cowardice on the part of the faithful. What kind of religious debates could we have if both sides were too scared to talk about it?

    If you believe in Gods, I think you should stand up and say it. If you think there isn't enough evidence to buy into Gods, stand up and speak for that -- but please don't be a sissy and disguise what you believe or think. The only thing worse than spinelessness is ignorance.

  13. Most atheists don't believe in the supernatural, but it's not a defining characteristic of atheism. That's the definition of naturalism. Buddhists for example, are by definition atheistic, but they most of them believe in supernatural and in some kind of afterlife.

    Atheism doesn't motivate me to blog, the proliferation of knowledge does. In fact the actual act of deconversion probably has more influence on my writing than my atheism itself.
    I also simply enjoy writing.

  14. I enjoy writing too. Best way to process thoughts I reckon.

    I'll ask again though:

    What do you personally propose might occur at death?


    Maybe you should change your blog name from Undeniably Atheist to The Knowledge Proliferator haha

  15. I personally believe death is simply ceasing to exist.

    The blog name is about atheism because that's the position that I'm blogging from I guess. The Knowledge Proliferater is a bit vain too haha.

  16. Haha please do it. The Knowledge Proliferator. Perfect.


  17. Nah I'm getting like 200 views a day on this name, don't wanna go changing things now.