This is the agit prop from well funded right-wing christian apologist dinesh d'souza and his cohorts who are arguing that all forms of modern intellectual activity that resulted from the enlightenment were responsible for causing the Holocaust and all other mass murders of the mid 20th century.
"The atheist killers...viewed themselves as acting on behalf of inexorable and incontrovertible forces like science, reason, and progress." .... "Reason? The Communists saw their project as an institutionalization of the age of reason. Marx was in the Enlightenment tradition of the French Jacobins, who enthroned a Goddess of reason in the Cathedral of Norte Dame and then unleashed the Reign of Terror, in which "unreasonable" people - noblemen, priests and other[s}..were sent to the guillotine." D'Souza. What's So Great About Christianity. D'Souza D. Regnery Pub, 2012. p.224.
The main problems with this argument is that it implies that Hitler and other dictators of the period were reasonable men who killed people that they felt were "unreasonable." The idea that the greatest madman of the 20th century, Hitler. and and others like him were reasonable men has to be the most astonishingly ignorant one I have yet to encounter. The act of reason implies examining all the consequences of one actions - not just those that support one particular aim or motive. When only the one set supporting your motives are looked at, the practice is generally called cherry picking, bias and prejudice, which are roughly the antitheses of reason.
D'souza's clear purpose in this lie is to protect the church from all accountability for its crimes against humanity. By vilifying atheism and rationality he attempts to invalidate our ability to sit in judgement on religion and hold it responsible. According to him, religion's morality is so much higher than that of human's such that it cannot be judged by mere mortals. It can only be judged by God himself, and only his church knows what god thinks. That is a cute trick by which the wolf ends up guarding the chicken coop.
Moreover D'souza's effort to vilify reason doesn't even apply to some of the worst tortures and slaughters of the second world war. For example, a holy Roman Catholic State, Ustashi Croatia under Cardinal Stepinac and dictator AnteiPaveli, both frequent visitors at the Vatican, were untouched by secular enlightenment or reason, and carried out perhaps the most sadistic & inhuman tortures and atrocities of the European war. The Ustashi were trying to become a vassal state of the Vatican and were purifiying their nation of all 1 million of its heretics (Jews, Romas and Serbs) so that it would be 100% roman catholic to impress the Vatican of their devotion. They carried our some of the most vicious mutilations and massacres with primitive tools tearing off the victim's skin, pulling out eyes, the human body is capable of sustaining that even shocked German SS observers not known for their humanitarianism They even went so far as to impale small children on stakes who died with their faces distorted by pain and from their terminal screams.
A major reason why D'Souza and his cohorts want to accuse reason is to hide the real reason why some of the Communist dictators murdered the millions they did which was revenge. Communism was a vengeful movement that wanted to bring to "justice" all the upper classes who had oppressed the masses or murdered and exploited the lower classes for the previous hundreds of years. One of these groups were the clerics and the religions which appointed and supported the monarchy and aristocracy and preached that it was sinful to protest and disobey your masters. Stalin and others therefore attacked religion ferciously in the early years (late 1920s) but then pulled back in the 1930s because of pressures from his own peasantry and from world religious leaders. When you realize they the Communists were killing for revenge, you iimmediately are led to question what the reliigions did to deserve such hatred and you arrive at the essential role played by religion in maintaining the oppressive conditions that led to the revolutions. So it is job of D'Souza and other religious apologists to hide this history as best they can which they do by attributing the murderous rage to reason, the enlightenment and atheism. (the things that brought us trial by jury, end to cruel and unusual punishment, balance of powers, and the end of monarchical tyranny).
The Vatican Made Nazism Possible in Germany and Croatia. Israel J The Emperor's New Clothes.2005. http://emperors-clothes.com/vatican/cpix.htm.
Spy in the Vatican, 1941-45. Bokun B. New York, Praeger Publishers, 1973.
It seems that inaccuracy is a way of life with this man. Maybe the Republicans can approach him for another movie. Help him with immigration matters in exchange again for "good old fundamentalist" values.
corporate hacks using faith as decoy are no match for true American arts!
I hate Dinesh almost as much as William Lane Craig, but the latter is more intellectually dishonest, so he'll remain at the top of my list for the time being. Even so... I didn't see Dinesh address the fact that Hitler was an avid admirer of the works of Martin Luther, most specifically his reformist and anti-semitic stances. Oversight maybe? Yeah... yeah... probably not.
Throughout the years I've found myself almost entirely incapable of agreeing with any article that wants to blame the Holocaust or communist atrocities on either "atheist philosophy" or "the Church". It seems that neither atheists or theists are really prepared to analyze the topic in an honest way, and every criticism of one extreme on the spectrum (such as D'Souza's stupid garbage here) inevitably winds up swinging to the other side of the extreme and winds up being almost as misguided.
For instance, if you characterize Hitler and the Nazi party as "madmen" and try to define reason in such a way that gets the Nazis as far away from it as possible, it's difficult to not see the similarity with the No True Scotsman Fallacy. Just who exactly fits the definition of reason in the OP? I don't know about you, but I can't name a single person who at times hasn't been engaged in self-deception or let his thoughts be clouded by emotions. So are we all unreasonable now?
I'm not saying that the Nazi's ideas about racial purity and authoritarianism were pearls of reason, but one has to account that (i) these were not isolated cases, as ideas of racial purity existed all over the world and were still informing governments everywhere to some extent (ii) racial purity was not a 'dogma' for the Nazi party: they did their best to support their ideas using science and history and (iii) for a sizeable portion of the Nazis, religion was not their primary motivating factor.
Now of course, the Nazi's were engaged in bad science and self-deception and all of the rest of it, but who amongst us isn't from the time? Can we really pretend that these people were just entirely uninterested in reason and should in no way be associated with them? Or should we pretend that there's no clear distinction between reason and non-reason, only gradations, and that we should aim to move people as far up the chain of being reasonable as we can.
Just characterizing the Nazis as "madmen" isn't going to help us with this project.
Then there's the strange section where you try to justify (there's really no other word for it) the communist rampages because they had a good reason: after all they were just getting back to them for supporting the oppressive regimes for hundreds of years (even though that's an oversimplification by far). So was this hatred against Church power reasonable or unreasonable? Was it reasonable for communists to burn Buddhist nuns alive by the hundreds, or not? We're left to guess, but they certainly get a lot more sympathy than the "madmen" of Nazism.
And finally, anyone who tries to perpetuate Cornwell's thesis that the Vatican was a secret or evert supporter of Nazi Germany, is pretty much lost from the start. While hindsight is a cool superpower, the Catholic Church was -individual exceptions notwithstanding- one of the few institutions that stood up to Hitler. Which is why Nazi propaganda villified the Vatican and why both the allies and many Jews praised the Vatican after the war. Anyone wanting to argue otherwise based on our benefit of hindsight, is on a wild goose chase.
In conclusion, of course Dinesh D'Souza is an idiot. But we don't do ourselves any favours by simplifying the variety of factors that spawn human cruelty.