When I discuss the harm done in religion's name with my sister, who is Moslem, she inevitably brings up the harm done in atheism's name, including Stalin in the process.  I am not sufficiently well informed about history to know whether or not she is right that harm has been done in atheism's name.  (I know that Marx thought that religious belief would simply vanish once people ceased to live under oppressive economic conditions, so that he didn't see the need to actively combat religious belief, but I also know that the USSR was an officially atheist state.)  What sort of reply would you give to someone who contended that while harm has been done in the name religion, it has also been done in the name of atheism, so that the look-at-the-harm-religious-belief-does argument isn't effective?

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@ Matt VDB:  I think you have a ton of knowledge on this subject but I do think your argumentation technique is a little childish.  I admit I have been following this argument with great interest and I have been interested to learn but there are paradoxes in your style.  I have no time to research the aspects of the points that are being discussed.  I would imagine many others also don't have time to do that.  At some point we all need to form opinions about sources.  You know what I mean, this source is more reliable, that one routinely lies about such and such and so on.  If not for this reality we wouldn't be here discussing we would be researching.  

 

All I'm saying is that your attitude toward the sources of others and generally toward your "co-discusser" is a bit over the top and detract from the overall conversation.  That is why they are easily construed as ad hominem.  People hate a sore winner as much as a sore loser.  Try to stay with facts and leave out the "scorn" if you will.

Hi Tom,

Well thanks for the kind words, and let me give my perspective on the unkind ones ;)

I'm usually polite enough with people at first, and I've been rather polite throughout this thread as far as I can tell.
The thing is: I have a pet peeve about history being twisted to fit an ideological narrative. That's why you'll find me debating just about anyone who tries to paint neat little black-and-white pictures, from the racist bigotry of Holocaust Deniers to Christian apologists overstating the reliability of the gospels.
On this forum, I tend to expect a little more from people because just about everyone here proclaims themselves to be rationalists and routinely points out the fallacies theists engage in.

When I then see people claiming demonstrable falsehoods as declarative statements despite not knowing much about it (despite frantic googling and copy-pasting to make it look like they know what they're talking about), or making arguments of the same kind they would revile theistic apologists for making, I don't think I need to be as polite as an Oxford don when pointing this out; there's going to be a bit of humor in there.
And if people want to avoid this, all they have to do is start prefixing their declarative statements with "Well I haven't been researching this in detail, but my impression is..." instead of just blanket statements. Then you'd see me at my most polite as a recognition of that.

As for your point on sources, I don't think I've really had to discredit any specific source at all. Much of what I've read (even on that evilbible.com) has been correct... but what I'm saying is it only shows a one-sided story. Anyone can look at Hitler's pro-Christian quotes and then conclude that he was a Christian, and can look at what the Vatican didn't do to stop national-socialism and say that they were obviously tacit supporters.
All it takes to debunk such narratives is to bring other sources to the table; I don't even need to discredit anything. The extra sources show the need for a more nuanced assessment.

That being said, sometimes a source just really is unreliable and we have to discard it. And then the argument can get technical as to why this is... if people don't care enough about a subject to get that deep into it, then that's fine with me... as long as they then have the courtesy to stop confidently declaring it as truth.

Kind regards,

Matt
Yes, I'm for fucking real.  So are my three graduate degrees and decades of college teaching experience.

The only self-proclaimed rationalist on this thread is you.  Seriously, you're doing what many unsophisticated, biased, amateur "historians" and egotists do, and that is trying to overturn dozens, perhaps hundreds of sources with one highly questionable source and pretending you are the only rational person here.  You criticize others for using quotations from one site, even though they have been gathered from many different sources, while you yourself draw from only one source.  And you are rude about it.  It's tiresome.

The problems with Table Talk are legion.  First, there were several different "recorders" taking notes.  Picker and Heim did the bulk of it, but the anti-Catholic Martin Bormann also contributed and, as the Fuhrer's secretary, had final control over the complete set of notes. Picker published his version in 1951.  Genoud translated Borman's version into French, and Stevens and Cameron translated that one into English.  Hugh Trevor-Roper wrote an introduction for it, and undoubtedly considered it genuine.

Genoud, though, was a Nazi spy and money launderer, and his translations are more than a bit out there. You might want to get hold of Jochmann's version from around 1980 and read the German as it existed before Genoud acquired Bormann's copying  and try to find the passage about Christianity being a disease.  (I expect this is what you're referring to when you say historians are all using the German, though most are relying on the Stevens-Cameron-Trevor-Roper English edition by way of the spy-money launderer-forger Genoud.)  Oh, never mind.  Here is Carrier's translation:

"I have never found pleasure in maltreating others, even if I know it isn't possible to maintain oneself in the world without force. Life is granted only to those who fight the hardest. It is the law of life: Defend yourself!
    The time in which we live has the appearance of the collapse of this idea. It can still take 100 or 200 years. I am sorry that, like Moses, I can only see the Promised Land from a distance."

Note that Hitler denies finding pleasure in cruelty.  This denial comes from a man who had the torture and execution of traitors filmed so he could watch them suffer over and over again.  Note also that it doesn't mention Christianity or disease, but instead discusses what Hitler apparently saw as an unfortunate fact of life, that one must defend oneself in order to survive.  He is predicting that this situation would change in a century or two and that he himself would not live to see it.  Quite different from what you find at the Aryan sites, isn't it?

Hitler is also quoted by Genoud as saying that "Christianity is the invention of sick brains," though the passage actually is a criticism of transubstantiation, probably inserted by Bormann.  Transubstantiation is the Catholic doctrine explaining that the communion wafer and wine miraculously become the body and blood of Christ when blessed by a priest, but in such a way that human senses cannot detect the change.  I think it's a bit sick myself.

Hitler was critical of certain church doctrines and also resentful of the Pope's power, but what the hell, so was Henry VIII, along with a fair number of other European kings.  He disliked the power structure of the Church, and so tried to claim the church had perverted Christ's teachings.  Table Talk again, translated by Richard Carrier:

"Christ was an Aryan. But Paul used his teachings to mobilize the underworld and organize a proto-bolshevism. With its breakdown, the beautiful clarity of the ancient world was lost."

Let's see . . . according to the gospels, Jesus was born of a Jewish mother in the city of David, presented at the Temple in Jerusalem, addressed as Rabbi, crucified at the behest of the Jewish leadership, descended from David with ancestry tracing back to Abraham, yada yada yada.  But thanks to that noted historian, Adolf Hitler, we now know that he wasn't Jewish at all.  Since Jesus never wrote anything down, we are lucky that Hitler miraculously got the message straight before Paul could raise the rabble with the heretical doctrines of sharing and equality.  I wonder if Hitler and Jesus were blood relatives?

Another point that Carrier makes but that should go without saying is that tea time with Hitler was hardly private.  Like any head of state, he was much in demand and liked to show off for audiences.  Tea included his cronies, yes, but also visitors and stenographers.  Hitler knew quite well that his words were being written down to be published later.  There's just not much mealtime privacy when you're the savior of the master race.

Your thinking is seriously flawed.  You're assuming that the famous psychopath would never lie to his intimates, though people often do, and that those intimates, with their own biases and other mental issues would transcribe his words with perfect fidelity, never letting an ulterior motive interfere, even after the post-war ass covering began and the beatification of Adolf Hitler was under way.  Your entire case rests on the assumption that tea time and Hitler's late-night ramblings were private, though they weren't; that Hitler, the master deceiver, would never lie to his intimates, though he did; that Hitler's lying, murdering followers were trustworthy, though they weren't; and that a fanatical spy cum forger was a scrupulous, trustworthy translator, though he wasn't.  The mind reels.

I do apologize for misremembering the book I recommended earlier.  It is not Contantine's Cross, but Constantine's Sword.  As I said, most of my books are still in storage.  And thanks for the pro tips; coming from such an obvious amateur, they mean, well, just as little as one might expect.  I still wonder, though, about the rudeness, especially considering that everyone here has been so polite to you--until now.

Sieg Heil, Herr Gauleiter Scheiskopf!
Religion has caused alot more harm than atheism ever has.

Matt DVD, In order for "Christianity to mature" Christianity has to run contrary to the Bible. There is nothing in Christianity that allows it to mature.  Christianity has become more civilized by way of adapting to world trade and the atheistic/humanistic ideology of democracy. This adaptation is crucial to cultural evolution, which works in tandem with biological evolution.

 

I cite the books Hitler's Pope and Hitchens' .....Not Great..... re: the celebration of Hitler's 50th birthday. The burden is on you if you want to claim the Vatican limited it to one birthday. Are you good with the assertion that the Vatican never excommunicated Hitler?

 

And even by your own statement there's nothing violent toward other groups in the written doctrine of communism. However, the Bible does have such written doctrine. This country rejects communism while it embraces the Bible religions. That's the relevant problem. By the way, Stalin and his successors permitted churches in Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union to continue throughout the Union's existence. Hitler's killing was religion on religion killing.

 

Communists killed mainly not for  particularly irreligious reasons but because that particular ideology nullifies the individual for the sake of the group. Nullifying the individual for the sake of the group is also what the Bible religions do. Communism and religiosity have this in common. This commonality is what allows both doctrines to view individuals only as parts of a group or groups. Christianity exhibits only a perverse acknowledgement of individuality with its "accept Christ as your personal savior" recruiting tactic -a brilliant tactic that appealed to people repulsed by the demands of the Torah. Both doctrines kill for the same reasons. But over-all communism killed at a smaller rate (even with greater means for killing) due not only to lack of longevity but because it didn't have a specifically written doctrine for killing.

 

What points do you feel I conceded?

Hi JVLtrailman,

 

Matt DVD, In order for "Christianity to mature" Christianity has to run contrary to the Bible. There is nothing in Christianity that allows it to mature.  Christianity has become more civilized by way of adapting to world trade and the atheistic/humanistic ideology of democracy. This adaptation is crucial to cultural evolution, which works in tandem with biological evolution.

 

Whether the way Christianity evolved ran contrary to the Bible or not, isn't really my concern. What matters is here is that it did incorporate neo-Platonism, and famous Christians like Augustine argued in favour of scientific knowledge about the world, and pointed out that even though the Greeks and the Egyptians were pagans, they were still just as able of gathering knowledge about the world as Christians were, and so their works should be studied and expanded upon. These are all facts, and I can link you to the relevant documents of him and many others who argued precisely this.

This is why, after the Fall of the Roman Empire, Christian ministers travelled to muslim territories to recover the works of Aristotle and other philosophers, in order to learn about them themselves, and when the political chaos in Europe ceased, started expanding upon it themselves.

Besides, Roman Catholics never thought of the Bible as literal anyway (they read the Bible on 4 different levels), so it's actually fairly hard for them to "run contrary to the Bible". But in any case, they didn't think they were.

 

All of this to point out that the neat story of "Religion has always opposed science" the way the conflict thesis would have it, just doesn't work.

 

"I cite the books Hitler's Pope and Hitchens' .....Not Great..... re: the celebration of Hitler's 50th birthday. The burden is on you if you want to claim the Vatican limited it to one birthday."

 

Be careful with Hitler's Pope. I read it myself several years ago and found it fairly convincing, but much research has been done in the meantime. Cornwell's own views have changed much because of this.

And be careful with getting your history from Hitchens too. He doesn't always respect proper historical analysis.

 

The specific claim I disagreed with was that "The Vatican celebrated Hitler's birthday yearly". And that's wrong.

It is true that Cardinal Bertram sent Hitler a birthday card in the name of all German Catholic Bishops in 1939 (which many protested by the way), and it may even be true that some German Churches commemorated his birthday as well. And it's also true that Cesare Orsenigo was sent to congratulate Hitler, also in 1939.

But "The Vatican" celebrating it? Nope. Some German Churches, sure. But I don't see any evidence that this was systematic on orders of the Vatican, or that the Vatican itself was celebrating it.

 

"Are you good with the assertion that the Vatican never excommunicated Hitler?"

 

Sure. That's mainly because being a "sinner" isn't enough to get you excommunicated by the Catholic Church. That goes for whether you stole a cookie from the cookie jar, robbed a bank, touched kids or exterminated half the Jews on the planet. These are all "sins" (some far graver than the other, obviously) in the eyes of the Catholic Church, and it takes more than that to get excommunicated.

That being said, prior to 1933, the Catholic Church did excommuncite anyone who was a national socialist. But after they became the leading party in Germany... not so much anymore. For obvious friggin' reasons.

 

By the way, Stalin and his successors permitted churches in Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union to continue throughout the Union's existence.

 

*ahem*

Was this before or after they dynamited the Cathedral of Christ Saviour and many others?

Was this before or after the continuous persecution in the 1930's which dropped the number of active parishes in the Soviet to Union to under a 100 (from over 50,000) and tens of thousands of priests and religious figures had been murdered?

 

Religion was reallowed in 1941 (when the Nazis invaded Russia) because Stalin needed all the help he could get to rally the population against the invaders, but let's please not pretend that his policy before 1941 was not one of extermination.

Hitler's killing was religion on religion killing.

 

You can keep shouting that until the cows come home, but as we've just gone over with Craig, Hitler's "religion" was directly inspired by his racial ideology ("Jesus was an Aryan") and for the rest the religious ideas Hitler adhered to seem to have been a combination of various esoteric ideals.

And he wasn't just killing Jews, remember. He was also killing homosexuals, the terminally ill or mentally challenged, people belonging to Slavic races, etcetera... To call this "religion on religion killing" is deceptive. It's racial ideology at work (with thin theological justification, as there always is).

 

"Communists killed mainly not for  particularly irreligious reasons but because that particular ideology nullifies the individual for the sake of the group. Nullifying the individual for the sake of the group is also what the Bible religions do. Communism and religiosity have this in common."

 

I don't dispute that at all, and I never claimed that communists was so murderous because it was irreligious: obviously it used the same mechanisms religions use in many cases.

But this still doesn't change the fact that they did view atheism as a desired state of mind for a population to be in, and they did kill tens of thousands of people to achieve this state of mind in their population. We can run in circles around that point as long as we want and point out that this wasn't their only motive and that it wasn't all they were trying to do, but: they were still killing priests because they wanted an atheist state as both a means and an end.

That's killing in the name of atheism, no matter how many qualifiers we throw in there.

 

"Both doctrines kill for the same reasons. But over-all communism killed at a smaller rate (even with greater means for killing) due not only to lack of longevity but because it didn't have a specifically written doctrine for killing."

 

I haven't exactly done the maths on this and I haven't taken population levels etcetera into account, but I'd bet my right hand that Stalin's killing of 15 million people or more during his reign, is still a higher rate than any Christian regime you care to mention.

 

"What points do you feel I conceded?"

 

Mainly the point that the fact that most Germans were Christians, meant that the Holocaust "was a Christian religious endeavour". That was a pretty idiotic argument to make (because the flipside of that is that the communist killings are therefore necessarily "atheist killings" because the majority of their population was atheist).

 

Anyway, this was a long post because there was a lot to cover. All in all I want to thank you for keeping this discussion civil: that means I get to stay on the civil side too :)

 

Kind regards,

 

Matt

Good post.  Most Biblical laws have been dropped because they're simply too barbaric.  The OT is full of genocide, and most Christians cherry-pick a few of God's 613 "eternal laws" and reject the ones they don't agree with.

Starting new reply here:

 

I love it when people call some mild sarcasm "rudeness", and then reply with a torrent of insults of their own. That usually happens when people develop emotional attachments.

 

Anyway:

 

"Yes, I'm for fucking real.  So are my three graduate degrees and decades of college teaching experience."

 

Wonderful.

 

"The only self-proclaimed rationalist on this thread is you.  Seriously, you're doing what many unsophisticated, biased, amateur "historians" and egotists do, and that is trying to overturn dozens, perhaps hundreds of sources with one highly questionable source and pretending you are the only rational person here."  

 

"You criticize others for using quotations from one site, even though they have been gathered from many different sources, while you yourself draw from only one source.  And you are rude about it.  It's tiresome."

 

Actually no, I've already granted that the quotations from the other sites are accurate -not very hard, considering the vast majority are simply public speeches. What I'm saying is that they only offer one side of the story. Analysis of his private conversations, among other things (like what he read) give us a clearer picture that doesn't make us rely just on what he said in public.

So of course I'm only going to quote those sources which tell the other side of the story. Why you were expecting more is another mystery.

 

Much of your post, I actually don't have an issue with since I find it very balanced. Then you even quote Carrier:

 

"Hitler was critical of certain church doctrines and also resentful of the Pope's power, but what the hell, so was Henry VIII, along with a fair number of other European kings.  He disliked the power structure of the Church, and so tried to claim the church had perverted Christ's teachings.  Table Talk again, translated by Richard Carrier:

"Christ was an Aryan. But Paul used his teachings to mobilize the underworld and organize a proto-bolshevism. With its breakdown, the beautiful clarity of the ancient world was lost.""

 

Here's where you give away the game completely.

Okay, so Hitler believed Christ was an Aryan and Paul corrupted his teachings. But hang on a second Craig, isn't it in Paul where we find... a large chunk of Christian theology? And he hates the power structure of the Church as well... which is where we find the other half of Christian theology.

Note that this discussion started with Sassan's claim that Hitler and the Nazis were Roman Catholic; well, forget that claim: if Hitler rejects Paul as a proto-Bolsjevik, Catholicism goes right out the window. So does Protestantism, Lutheranism, Thomism and pretty much any variant of Christian theology you can think off.

 

Hitler clearly views Jesus as some sort of predecessor to what he is doing: fighting Jewish influence based on his Aryan philosophy, and he admires in that sense. In other words... he's about as much of a Christian as Deepak Chopra is. Sure, Deepak claims Jesus as his own and often quotes him as agreeing with his own beliefs, but clearly he's not a Christian in anything but the most nominal sense.

 

Hitler is pretty much the same way. He loosely holds to the precepts of Positive Christianity, the viewing of Christianity in a very Aryan-centrist way, but that's about it.

 

 

"Your thinking is seriously flawed.  You're assuming that the famous psychopath would never lie to his intimates, though people often do, and that those intimates, with their own biases and other mental issues would transcribe his words with perfect fidelity, never letting an ulterior motive interfere, even after the post-war ass covering began and the beatification of Adolf Hitler was under way.  Your entire case rests on the assumption that tea time and Hitler's late-night ramblings were private, though they weren't; that Hitler, the master deceiver, would never lie to his intimates, though he did; that Hitler's lying, murdering followers were trustworthy, though they weren't; and that a fanatical spy cum forger was a scrupulous, trustworthy translator, though he wasn't.  The mind reels."

 

I'm not making any of these assumptions at all. If you're going to reply to what you think I'm saying, it might be a good idea to actually have a clue what that is.

Obviously Hitler lied to his intimates as well: even a cursory glance at the material shows this (otherwise there wouldn't be contradictions), and it's also hardly a coincidence that he's reported as making pro-Christian quotes whenever there's Christians around, and anti-Christians quotes whenever anti-Christians are around.

There's one constant throughout all this: Hitler never claimed to be an atheist, so that's about the only thing we can be absolutely certain that he was not.

However those wanting to make the case that he was a Christian specifically (like you and Sassan), need to get around the fact that all the quotes written down are potentially unreliable, and then explain why we have to get rid of all the anti-Christian ones... but for some reason keep all the pro-Christian ones. That requires some very subtle and careful cherry-picking, which is exactly the reason why historians tend to avoid it.

 

And again, if you agree with Carrier's assessment then we don't even need to go through all that: we're already done.

 

"Sieg Heil, Herr Gauleiter Scheiskopf!"

 

For those not familiar with German: scheiskopf is German for shithead, and a Gau-leiter is a party leader of the regional branch of the NSDAP.

In other words, this is where, in return for the teeeeeeerrrrrrrible rudeness I have shown (mainly disagreeing with Craig), I now get called a Nazi.

 

Very classy Craig. But I no doubt deserved that in the imaginairy episodes of rudeness you keep talking about.

 

Have a wonderful day.

 

Matt

Matt,

Any intellectual dalliances that can be attributed to Christianity are nothing more than interesting footnotes. Positive changes to Christianity can be attributed to atheism. Science says that stem cells are not humans. But does that stop Christians from claiming otherwise? No. The Christian interference with stem-cell research, in one way or another, is oblivious to Augustine. But those Christians are not oblivious to the Biblical inspired opposition to the science that knows stem cells are not human. That's the dangerous problem that lingers and festers. It lingers and festers because anti-science is sanctioned by the all mighty creator of the universe.
 
Literalism and the Bible: Paul never existed? Or, he did, but his claims were not literal? 

I don't have a problem with conceding a lack of proof re: the Vatican and Hitler's birthday. However, the Vatican's failure to excommunicate Hitler is without mitigation -and is bad enough, birthday celebration or no birthday celebration. And if it was pragmatic to not excommunicate Hitler while he lived (though what of the principles of those so close to the almighty creator of the universe?), what about posthumous excommunication? After all, in their eyes he's still alive somewhere, isn't he? and without the power he had when he was walking around running things, right?  And wasn't there a high-up Nazi who was excommunicated?
 
My point about Stalin's "tolerance" for churches has much to do with the inherent cowardliness of belief. He allowed them to exist as an opiate and as a way of gathering intelligence by having one church spy on the others -where were the Christian Soldiers?

And Hitler's "ideology": The anti-Jewishness of Christianity allowed Hitler to employ Spenser's perversion of Darwin's work. If you want to aggravate someone's hatred for another religion, then, throw racial inferiority into the effort.

The millions murdered by Stalin was the solution of an economic problem by a psychopath. This same mentality murdered others for the reason stated in my previous post: nullification of the individual. Murder for this reason is not intrinsic to atheism, but it is intrinsic to the Bible religion, and less so to communism. Believers with unwitting self-condemnation used to say that communism was a religion. (Imagine the lack of intellect that would inspire someone to disparage another's belief by saying it was just like their own.) Believers seem to have wised-up a little and they stopped claiming the comparison. The problem for them now is: they were right. The promise of an ideal communal life headed by an all-powerful unelected leader with the nullification of the individual makes communism a religion. Only, the all-powerful unelected leader was a little more earth-bound than Jesus was -at least in the minds of believers.

All this means that atheism didn't murder anyone. What murdered those people was the embracing of the same primal mechanism that allows believers to murder. Joseph Conrad said that the mind of man is capable of anything because everything is in it. Humans invented religion with the primal part of their brains. Out-hatred was, for a time, a biological adaptation expressed first by early humans then solely by religiosity. Cultural evolution overrode that adaptation with an adaptation for cooperation among groups. Unfortunately we still carry our primal brains, which religiosity of various sorts still puts to use. Atheism is the cultural adaption that overrode the primal brain. As time goes by, more and more believers are atheistic (without realizing it); that is: They mirror the transitional stage of one species evolving into another species -this is the maturation you touched on. Being in the transitional stage has made them better people. But religion is
 still along for the ride though, and ready to rear its ugly head, like the monkey on a junkie's back, e.g. stem-cell research is evil. Atheists have already culturally evolved, ironically unencumbered by the monkey, at least unencumbered by murderous religiosity.
 
No matter the numbers murdered by religion and communism, without the dilution of religiosity by atheism, religion would be murdering more and more as in the farther you go back in Christianity and the Bible. OK, except for the short-lived good time in the Garden of Eden.
 
What I said above addresses the "flip side is, communist killings are atheist killings."

And if you only want to regard religion as an ideology while dismissing the supernatural part of it as a meaningless artifact, then, that's akin to the question? "Well, besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?" except, of course, for the relative enormity of the religious problem.

And  when it comes to calling someone's point of view "idiotic," you are somewhere along the continuum of actually calling that person an idiot.

JVLtrailman,

 

Any intellectual dalliances that can be attributed to Christianity are nothing more than interesting footnotes. 

 

Sorry mate, but you can't have it both ways. In one of your earlier posts you said that "religion has stunted the development of science by centuries" and you took this to be one of ill effects of religion on humanity.

Yet now that I've pointed out that, actually, the equation is much more complex and that early science in the Middle Ages was largely started because of religious ideals about a rational universe, this is dismissed as a mere "dalliance" and a mere "footnote" of history.

That is precisely the sort of black-and-white version of history that I am objecting to. You can't both claim that religious interference with science was a detriment and a fault of religion, and is an important aspect of history, and then frame religious starting of and promotion of science as a footnote and a historical irrelevancy. Make up your mind: you can't have it both ways.

 

Positive changes to Christianity can be attributed to atheism.

 

See above about the black-and-white ideological tales. The idea that the evolution of Christianity itself was wholly performed by application of "atheism" (which is just non-belief in God) is ridiculous on its face.

But also, I draw your attention to the slippery language you used. Oh, so positive changes can be attributed to atheism? But hang on a second, I thought atheism was just a non-belief in God that didn't automatically lead to any specific set of ideas? Isn't that what you say when atheists are accused that communist ideals are the product of atheism? Don't you then say that atheism itself isn't a belief system that can lead to actions and beliefs on its own? Yet somehow we do have to credit it for all the advances (!) in Christianity? Once again, you're trying to have it both ways.

I don't particularly care which alternative you take, I'm just pointing out that you're using a double standard.

 

That's the dangerous problem that lingers and festers. It lingers and festers because anti-science is sanctioned by the all mighty creator of the universe.

 

Most Christians do not and never did agree with that. You can't simply frame your reading of the Bible (though I'm puzzled as to exactly what verses in the Bible you view as God commanding anti-science) as fact and then frame all Christians who do not agree with it, as oblivious to that fact.

 

Literalism and the Bible: Paul never existed? Or, he did, but his claims were not literal?

 

Hmmmmm? What's that supposed to mean?

All I'm saying is that the Catholic Church does not and never did read the Bible in a literal sense. They see four layers in the Bible: the eschatological, the moral, the allegorical, and the literal. The literal is the least important layer. This is a tradition that goes back to the earliest Church fathers.

 

I don't have a problem with conceding a lack of proof re: the Vatican and Hitler's birthday. However, the Vatican's failure to excommunicate Hitler is without mitigation -and is bad enough, birthday celebration or no birthday celebration. And if it was pragmatic to not excommunicate Hitler while he lived (though what of the principles of those so close to the almighty creator of the universe?), what about posthumous excommunication?

 

Post-humous excommunication is a contradiction in terms: the act of excommunicating refers to barring someone or some group from participating in the rituals of the Church.

Hitler, to my knowledge, was only baptised and did not receive any of the higher sacraments, so excommunication did not apply.

 

"My point about Stalin's "tolerance" for churches has much to do with the inherent cowardliness of belief. He allowed them to exist as an opiate and as a way of gathering intelligence by having one church spy on the others -where were the Christian Soldiers?"

 

Which is still disingenious, I'm sorry. Stalin brutally persecuted the Church prior to 1941 and killed tens of thousands of clergy in the process.  And he only allowed them to exist after 1941 because he needed everything he could to rally the population against the Nazis.

But prior to 1941 he was trying to kill them all, and that clearly had something to do with the ideal of atheism in communist ideology.

 

And Hitler's "ideology": The anti-Jewishness of Christianity allowed Hitler to employ Spenser's perversion of Darwin's work. If you want to aggravate someone's hatred for another religion, then, throw racial inferiority into the effort.

 

Once again, racial inferiority wasn't just a by-product of the hatred for Christianity. After Jews, Slavic people were the most killed group in the Holocaust. This had nothing to do with Christianity: it was the Nazi's racial ideology at work; that was what united them, not a specific religion, because as I've pointed out, Nazi religious beliefs were all over the place ranging from neo-paganism to atheism.

 

"The problem for them now is: they were right. The promise of an ideal communal life headed by an all-powerful unelected leader with the nullification of the individual makes communism a religion."

 

That's sophistry. It makes communism a dogmatic doctrine based on group-thinking and idealistic perceptions of reality, sure, but trying to fit that into the "religion" category doesn't work and is just another way of not facing up to the problem: humans can be violent creatures and can kill for a variety of causes. If religious ideas and doctrines are available, they're glad to kill for those, but if not, they're just as glad to find non-religious ideas and doctrines to kill for. And sometimes those non-religious ideas and doctrines involve the idea that atheism is an inherently more virtuous and beneficial position than religious belief is... in which case some people will happily kill for that, and that'll be people killing to achieve atheism.

 

There's no way around this. You can try to cut your categories and distinctions any number of ways, but in the end you'll have to face up to the fact that human beings are capable of killing for a whole host of ideas. Trying to fit it all into religion, just doesn't work.

 

All this means that atheism didn't murder anyone.

 

So atheism didn't murder anyone (despite many communist dictatorships explicitly murdering religious people in order to create an atheistic state) but on the other hand, all "positive changes to Christianity can be attributed to atheism".

See the problem? You're engaging in some very delicate hair-splitting to get everyone who kills for the ideal of atheism as far away from "atheism" as possible, but then on the other hand you want to "attribute" and credit positive developments in religion to "atheism". Surely you have to see that you just can't have it both ways.

 

To pretend that somehow enforcing any idea is somehow anathema to "atheism" and so any such enforcement in atheism's name is somehow nothing to do with atheism is a big, kilt-wearing, hairy-legged, porridge-eating No True Scotman's Fallacy, pure and simple.

 

What murdered those people was the embracing of the same primal mechanism that allows believers to murder. Joseph Conrad said that the mind of man is capable of anything because everything is in it. Humans invented religion with the primal part of their brains.

 

Exactly what I'm saying. So why do we have to have all this dancing around to distance ourselves from the fact that humans can kill for just about anything? Why can't we just say that instead of playing the word-game of "Well yes, humans are able to kill for just about anything, but no human has ever killed in the name of atheism. And if it appears that they did, that's just because they weren't real atheists and were actually part of something that looked like religion.".

 

We also get the double standard again. Acts that involve religious believers killing for their religion is to be blamed on religion, apparently, but when non-religious believers kill for their non-religious doctrine, that's just "a primal mechanism" at work -the same that's working in believers.

If that's the case, then both religious and non-religious killing needs to be blamed on that primal urge.

 

Atheists have already culturally evolved, ironically unencumbered by the monkey, at least unencumbered by murderous religiosity.

There's no guarantee that atheists are a "cultural evolution" in any way whatsoever. Atheists can still be dogmatic, sadistic, and able to kill because they think they are right and someone else is wrong.

All that atheists are guaranteed to not have is a non-belief in God. They can still be just as prone to the primal urges of blind adherence to a doctrine as anyone else.

 

"No matter the numbers murdered by religion and communism, without the dilution of religiosity by atheism, religion would be murdering more and more as in the farther you go back in Christianity and the Bible."

 

Once again, this is pretzel logic. When -say- Augustine argues that a rationalistic framework should be part of Christianity, you don't get to say that Augustine is "diluting" his Christianity with atheism (what would that even mean?). If you're going to say that a fanatic killing in the name of his interpretation of the Bible, is something to blame religion for, then Augustine interpreting the Bible in another way to promote science, is something to credit religion for -not the "dilution by atheism". Don't. Try to. Have it. Both. Ways.

Atheism doesn't own rationality, and it doesn't own science; in fact it doesn't own anything. It's an idea. Just like theism is an idea, and religion is a set of ideas. Insofar as humans want others to conform to their ideas, they are capable of killing for their ideas.

No matter how many hairs you split ;)

 

And  when it comes to calling someone's point of view "idiotic," you are somewhere along the continuum of actually calling that person an idiot.

 

Erm... sure. And by the same logic, I'm also on the continuum of calling you a Holocaust denier. And I'm also on the very same continuum to calling you an idiot if I say that you are an adorable human being. The difference between calling you positive things and calling you negative things is after all, by definition, also a continuum.

So let's not get caught up in that please. I'm free to call an argument you make idiotic, or stupid, or irrational, or contrived, or farfetched, and there's absolutely no reason for you to take that personally. I'm in the business of attacking points, not people.

 

Kind regards,

 

Matt

Matt,

Your claim that my reasoning is "black and white" is itself an act of black and white thinking and reeks with the simplicity that you accuse me of, and is therefore a straw man.

The danger of belief comes from the lay and the pseudo intellects of religion who regard such things as stem-cell research as evil. The only value of the Augustines is that of un-comprehended name-dropping much like when the name of Jesus is dropped as a claim of moral superiority over atheism.  

----

Yes, as you state, atheism is just the non-belief in God, therefore, anything that runs contrary to God, or its facsimiles, is atheism. Meaning, whenever the Bible religions (for the sake of this discussion) make an adjustment, or evolve, they are in contradiction to the written basis for belief in God. Remember, the Bible does not provide for evolution (in any way), including cultural evolution -with the evolution of human thought being intrinsic to cultural evolution.

And to say something is "ridiculous on its face" is a lazy accusation; lazy because it relieves you of your responsibility to provide an explanation.

That you backed yourself into a corner comes from the fact that you wittingly or unwittingly rendered belief as the default state of human thought that another mentality can only replace with a construct of its own. Given that belief is merely bad thinking (certainly monumentally bad thinking), all that's required for belief to be replaced by good thinking is for belief to dissipate, or disappear altogether. Science and democracy are good ways of thinking and are contra-belief. Belief was an early attempt at science and social organization that was all too much ruled my primitive impulses.

-------

The anti-science of the Bible?: The Bible is supposed to be an explanation of the world and the human experience (God does not leave the door open for any other explanations). I take no risk in insisting that science and the principles of democracy are far more superior to that which is offered by the Bible.

--------

Literal Catholicism: Is the Bible literal or not? You say it isn't but then you say it is, but has other layers. Are you trying to selectively dismiss the bad stuff in the Bible as not literal? Do Catholics say the element of an almighty creator of the universe is literal or real? 

 -----

So, some technicalities keep and kept Hitler from being excommunicated. How 'bout an exception for the purpose of making an important point?! Or, maybe, at least a ceremonial letter of reprimand?

 ----

Again, what Stalin did was effectively religion on religion violence.
 
Your can't remove religion from what the Third Reich did. Racism is only religiosity with a slightly different face. It is anti-science and anti-democratic.

 -----

Again, all murdering based in xenophobia comes from the primitive brain. Religion as such a group(s) is the extent group that has held its own as a chronic danger to the world. Communism and other deadly isms do not have the hook into humanity that religion has. Religion takes its direction from a psychotic imaginary being. When an individual displays that kind of psychosis in an extreme way he is institutionalized because he is operating from a primitive part of his brain.

 ---

The primal mechanism in question is never more pronounced than when it is armored by religion, they are one and the same. No other doctrine matches it. The early murdering in the human species, whether articulated in other ways or not, came form the murderer believing he was god or was acting on behalf of god.

 -----

Again, there is nothing in the Bible that allows for "interpretation." Interpretations or changes in what the Bible means comes from acting and thinking in contradiction to the Bible.

 -----

Continuum: Consider the possibility that there is more than one continuum.


And when did the word "faulty" loose its power?

Hi JVLtrailman

 

Your claim that my reasoning is "black and white" is itself an act of black and white thinking and reeks with the simplicity that you accuse me of, and is therefore a straw man.

 

Well that's nonsense. Black-and-white thinking is just a linguistic place-holder, an observation; you can't pretend that that's a strawman just because you disagree with that observation.

 

The danger of belief comes from the lay and the pseudo intellects of religion who regard such things as stem-cell research as evil. The only value of the Augustines is that of un-comprehended name-dropping much like when the name of Jesus is dropped as a claim of moral superiority over atheism.

 

I don't agree in principle, but once again you're fuelling your points with rhetoric rather than with distinct observations.

You say that the "danger of belief" comes from the pseudo-intellects who regard things as stem-cell research as evil, but when Augustine argues for a focus on reason and inquiry of the world, that's dismissed as "name-dropping" (even though that was one of the pivotal moments of western history). If one is a danger, then the other is a benefit.

 

Yes, as you state, atheism is just the non-belief in God, therefore, anything that runs contrary to God, or its facsimiles, is atheism.

 

This is pretzel logic.

Atheism is when you profess a non-belief in God. If all you're doing is going for a different religious interpretation within the context of that very religion, that's religion.

You're defining religion as this very narrow and highly undesirable thing, and then semantically construct a system where everything that's not that very narrow thing, is automatically atheism (unless of course it doesn't suit you and it's something nasty, then it's "religiosity under a different name").

 

Meaning, whenever the Bible religions (for the sake of this discussion) make an adjustment, or evolve, they are in contradiction to the written basis for belief in God.

 

Total nonsense. Augustine argued that his new pro-scientific position was in complete agreement with the written basis for belief in God (which is again a misnomer, considering the literal basis was the least important anyway).

To pretend that when Augustine changes his religious beliefs and argues from the framework of what God wants, that science should be favoured, that's somehow suddenly atheism at work, is sophistry, pure and simple.

 

And to say something is "ridiculous on its face" is a lazy accusation; lazy because it relieves you of your responsibility to provide an explanation.

 

Absolutely. Since you're clearly not thinking this through very carefully, I'm certainly not going to do all the work.

 

Literal Catholicism: Is the Bible literal or not? You say it isn't but then you say it is, but has other layers. Are you trying to selectively dismiss the bad stuff in the Bible as not literal?

 

I thought that would be obvious to anyone who wasn't desperately trying to nit-pick his way to an argument.

Catholics believe the Bible has four layers, and the literal layer is the least important. That's just a fact, I don't know why you're having such difficulty accepting it (well actually I do know, but it's not a very rational reason).

 

Again, what Stalin did was effectively religion on religion violence.

 

More sophistry. Stalin wasn't killing believers because he wanted them to believe in another supernatural God, he was killing believers because he thought religious belief to be intrinsically poisonous.

Calling that "religion on religion" killing is another No True Scotsman fallacy.

 

So, some technicalities keep and kept Hitler from being excommunicated. How 'bout an exception for the purpose of making an important point?!

 

What important point? That Hitler was a bad person?

Considering the Vatican opposed Hitler and publicly professed (even during the War) that they did, that's not a point they need to underline exactly.

 

Or, maybe, at least a ceremonial letter of reprimand?

 

Oh you mean like the encyclical "Mit brennender Sorge" the Pope published to the world in 1937?

 

Racism is only religiosity with a slightly different face.

 

Lol. 

In other words, it's different, but I want to be able to pin everything bad in the world on religion so I'm still going to call it religiosity because I want to!!!

 

Communism and other deadly isms do not have the hook into humanity that religion has.

 

The death tolls disagree with you.

 

The primal mechanism in question is never more pronounced than when it is armored by religion, they are one and the same. No other doctrine matches it. The early murdering in the human species, whether articulated in other ways or not, came form the murderer believing he was god or was acting on behalf of god.

 

Funny then how the largest campaigns of efficient and organised extermination in recorded history were inspired, perpetrated and planned by people who were distinctly less religious than people of -say- the Middle Ages.

You cannot dodge the obvious implications of this: you're simply wrong; many other doctrines can be just as vicious as religion, and that's because the primal mechanism you talk about can be activated by just about any doctrine there is.

 

Again, there is nothing in the Bible that allows for "interpretation." Interpretations or changes in what the Bible means comes from acting and thinking in contradiction to the Bible.

 

Asserting that doesn't make it so.

 

It doesn't matter what you believe. What they believed is that the people could be interpreted four different ways: moral, eschatological, allegorical and literal; literal being the least important. Hand-waving won't help you: that's a fact. Deal with it.

 

Kind regards,

 

Matt

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