People don't do anything in the name of atheism because atheism is a belief in the non-existence of something. If it's not there, you can't do anything in its name. Now, does that mean that atheists never do anything terrible, even comparable to what theists do? No. I'm sure many of us have done terrible things. I know I have. But I never did them in the name of atheism because there's nothing there to which I could devote my actions. It's the whole idea of NOT devoting my actions to something that I call "atheism" in the first place.
I had this argument with people for a while too. Perhaps surprisingly, it was fellow atheists with whom I debated it the most, because I heard so many of them demonizing religion for being the inspiration of horrible acts of all kinds, and claiming that if we do away with religion, we will be doing away with a great many evils in the world. As if things like rape and murder and starvation did not exist before religions were invented. That's just silly, to me. Horrible things are done by people, in the name of themselves, not by religion or by atheism. Religion is not a physical entity that can cause things to happen, nor is atheism, so this argument is really misdirected.
All I can say to atheists, or theists, who are wont to engage in this debate, is stop wasting your breath trying to blame each other for everything. I'll even draw on a biblical idea: let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I don't believe any god inspired those words, but that does mean they aren't sage words. Blame yourself for your bad shit before you go blaming other people for theirs. You're not perfect, neither am I, and neither are our religious brothers and sisters. Get over it.
Sorry Sassan, but that's just sophistic hair-splitting of the same kind that we condemn theistic apologists for doing. You're far from the only doing this, but that doesn't make it any more right.
The fact is: the ideal of atheism is an integral part of communism. And the reason was that Marx said that religion tended to cloud people's judgement, and distracted them from the real problems in the world. That's why they thought atheism had to be propagated because it would lead to communism and to a better state of the world. And so they killed priests and nuns and any number of religious figures to try to spread atheism.
You can build any number of semantical constructions and sophistic arguments to dodge the implications of this, but you can't get around the fact that these people were killing to spread atheism. End of story.
To pretend that people who don't believe in God couldn't possibly commit atrocities because they wanted other people to stop believing in God, is absurd. And it has clearly happened.
We need to deal with that, not dance around it.
"You are ignorant of the historical facts of Christianity and it's open hostility to progressive values and movements."
People usually tell me that when I tell them uncomfortable things.
Unfortunately, nowhere in your reply did you get anywhere near to demonstrating my supposed ignorance. What I said still stands: communism had an ideal of atheism and they were prepared to kill to achieve that.
Your value judgements of whether or not the Church "had it coming" or deserved it, do nothing to dispute that fact.
Guys, I appreciate all the lessons in elementary Russian history but to be honest, after reading several books on communism in general and a friggin' biography of Stalin, I think I'm pretty up to speed considering those basic facts.
As you say, the philosophy of communism involved the idea that religious belief clouded man's judgement about his circumstances and so adopting atheism was the first step towards the communist utopia (it wasn't therefore just "the power" of the Church that bothered them, it was actually more religious belief in general).
Look, you can tell me five more epistles about all the nasty things that happened in communism, but the fact is that the ideal of atheism was central to communist philosophy (both as an end and in and of itself). To then see Mao executing Buddhist nuns and the Russians rounding up thousands of priests and putting them in the Gulag, and keep arguing "This isn't being done for the ideal of atheism!! It's the ideal of communism!"
This is silly. The ideal of atheism was central to communism and lots of people died for it. To not recognise that these people were killing priests and nuns to achieve their ideal of atheism, is dancing around the facts.
"An entire biography of Stalin? Wow! That is sooo impressive"
It certainly seems to have stopped the lessons in elementary Russian history, so it had the effect I wanted.
"Did you notice in all that reading that the Party rounded up intellectuals, writers, professors, teachers, and journalists? They were obviously trying to spread stupidity. Or were they getting rid of as many "subversives" as they could to protect the revolution?"
The idea that stupidity had to be spread was not central to the ideology of communism. The idea that atheism had to be spread in order for people to become more aware and more in tune with the real world, clearly was.
Spot the difference.
Primary mover or not, in their quest of achieving atheism, communists were "moved" to kill all kinds of people.
Again we can quibble about primary motivations until the cows come home, but surely we can agree that sometimes, people feel that there's something so special and profound about some of their beliefs that it's worth killing for.
To say that atheists couldn't possibly do that, that's absurd.