1. The reason people cite atheist murderers is to counter the anti-religion bigotry of those who claim that ALL religion is evil because religion has been used as a reason for war. Now please do this same critique of those, even if you think that’s pointless, just so it can be linked to and cited.

  2. M

    Could someone please reply to this, I myself am an atheist but I am doing a project on whether religion is a force for good. Stalin was an incredibly unstable person and easily the biggest mass murderer in the history of mankind, perhaps the LACK of a religion denies someone the set of mainstream moral standards proposed by e.g. christianity’s ten commandments. I have read what the god delusion says, it basically says exactly the same as this article, I am not convinced by the reasoning.

    • Andrew Pritchard

      I offer Hitler as the counter to Stalin as mentioned in the article. Both were psychopaths. Both were in charge of a fundamentalist country willing to do whatever their leaders say (usually because they didn’t want to suffer the same consequences). One used religion to control their people, the other used politics.

      Religion could be a force for good. Unfortunately religion over the centuries has been used as a way of controlling the populace to do more evil than good. Taking Christianity as an example. Christ said you should look after people. Yet the fundamentalist Christian right in America will tell you that food stamps, which are keeping millions of Americans from starving to death, are evil and creating a dependency. The opposite of what Christ said.

      Perhaps you could explain the flaw in the reasoning of the article, or is it just that the truth makes you feel uncomfortable.

  3. Dave Gamble

    M … a few thoughts to ponder over.

    Being an Atheist is not a thing, it is simply a conclusion, a dismissal of the God claims, usually due to a lack of credible evidence for such assertions, and says nothing about anything else. Hence you can have believers and non-believers who are decent or complete shits.

    A “no-God” conclusion is not coupled with morality, nor is an acceptance of a belief in any way coupled with morality. People are not good or bad because they happen to hold or reject specific beliefs. To illustrate that point, do believers read the bible and think to themselves, “Well gosh, murder is wrong, I never knew that; its a good thing I read it here or I would not have known and so I might have rushed out to murder somebody”. Morality is a product of our culture and our empathy and so regardless of our individual beliefs, most embrace it, and some don’t to various degrees.

    It is possible to point to some truly obnoxious non-believers (Stalin being your example), but it is also possible to point to some truly obnoxious believers who have engaged in similar acts (Hitler) … [It is about here that some will assert "Ah but he was not a true believer / non-believer" ... because there is an assumed coupling between belief and morality that does not exist.]

    It is all tied in with your project … is belief a force for good or not.

  4. mike klein

    You misunderstand D’Souza’s point. Atheists like Hitchens use the argument that Religion is evil because of all the evil done by Christians, Muslims, etc.

    The argument is granting that criticism, which you would call a post hoc ergo promptor hoc argument, and saying if you really believe that, then you also have to accept the evils committed by atheists as well.

    If D’Souza, and Christians in general, rejected the argument that Christianity is responsible for the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials, I quite certain that we would be attacked for that position as well.

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