Sunday, September 25, 2011

Religion, Atheism and Violence

A superficial examination of history finds numerous examples of violence wrought in the name of God or gods in every age. Religious wars, the Inquisition, the Aztec practice of human sacrifice – these are but a few of the many examples of where religion has been used to wreak havoc in society. Atheistic apologists argue that no one would kill for a lack of belief - so religion is therefore more of a cause of violence than atheism.
But this belief is simplistic and foolish. The practice of the Christian religion, on the whole, has saved countless lives throughout history. (Note that I write the Christian religion. All religions are not created equal.) And atheism’s short existence has already caused the death of millions.
Christianity brought hope to a world that was mired in war, slavery and sin, civilized barbarians that wrecked an empire and destroyed her culture, kept Europe from destroying itself from infighting, and gave Europe a common bond that facilitated her rise to power.
And today, Christian charity is everpresent; religious charities and foundations abound, and missionaries still attempt to bring civilization and healing to troubled cultures.
Atheism only came into its own in the 20th century. Every culture in history prior to the 20th century has been religious - atheism was not around to influence society for most of human existence!
So the 20th century is the only century in which we can assess atheism’s effect on history. And the 20th century was the bloodiest in human history. (To be fair, there were a LOT more people to kill.) Strikingly, however, the great perpetrators of this violence were often atheists. Mao, Stalin, Lenin, and Pol Pot are merely the best known of the many atheistic leaders who murdered their own people without compunction.   
(And I am not counting the Nazis, who were certainly no friends of organized religion. Nor am I counting Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, who emblazoned the slogan “No Gods! No Masters!” on her newspaper and whose organization has killed millions of unborn children.)
Richard Dawkins and other atheists claim that religion is responsible for the deaths of people, while atheist leaders do not do so because of their atheism. This is nonsense. This high incidence of atheist murderers is not coincidental. There is a concrete reason why atheism is destructive.
There is no rational reason for human beings to be good without religion. Human beings act in their own self-interest. Without the check of God or a moral code, there is no penalty for megalomania and violence. And a man who believes in nothing but getting his own way will stop at nothing to achieve his own ends.  
Atheistic apologists claim that evolutionary biology has evolved human nature into a state that promotes morality. (At the same time, they reject sexual morality entirely.) Humans will be nice to each other, because they are hard-wired to do so by evolution.
In this view, morality is a lie that humans tell themselves to mask the “truth” that there are no rules. And anyone can break those rules if he or she recognizes the “truth” of moral relativism and nihilism.
A “moral” atheist is powerless in the face of a moral nihilist. If only the fittest survive, as any atheist who believes in Darwinian evolution believes, then a nihilistic, charismatic genius can kill solely for the purposes of enhancing his or her own power.

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