I was recently confronted by theists on the issue of an apparent lack of morality when it comes to atheists. They cited Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler.
I know that Hilter is a controversial one, b/c you can't really prove it one way or the other. But the other two, I couldn't comment on.

My initial response was to number these 3 individuals against the many Islamic/Christian jihadists/crusaders, etc. And then to consider the difference between the number of people (the loving and merciful) God himself has killed or ordered killed vs. what those three have. And then, b/c I know more about Hilter than the other two, I asked them to read Mein Kampf and note the references that Hilter made about his religion and how he uses this common denominator to influence other people to do his bidding--so even if he was atheist, then he knew that people would do what he said as long as he said it was in the name of God (of course, that is my interpretation of it). But, before I go on a tangent:

Does anyone have an SOLID answer to this? Have anyone ever been confronted with this question before? It seems logical to me that a few bad apples shouldn't be representative of the massives, but of course, it's common to hear arguments where they are. I googled, but didn't get a solid counterargument. Just wondering if anyone can point me in the right direction!

(sorry if this is in the wrong category, I wasn't 100% sure where to put it)

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Here's my argument in this case.

The problem is not what one believes. The problem is wether one believes they are absolutely right in their chosen view and cannot change their mind or realize they are wrong despite what they are actually doing.

The end result, is ideological fanaticism. The ideal is SO important, that the end result of pushing the ideal is ignored.As an example of a fanatical ideology: Condoms are evil. Therefore, even if people die from aids you CANNOT support condoms. You cannot fight evil with evil and even if people die from aids, the "idealogy" that condoms are evil(and the certainty that this view is GOOD) is more important than the human life involved. Another example: Jews are responsible for the worlds problems. Therefore we must kill the jews and extend that death to any human who lacks perfection. If you wish to save these people then you do not support humanity itself. If humanity is to survive, these people cannot live.

This is THE problem. Not religion or athiesm.

This is a human trait. We desire certainty and when we get a bee in our bonet(usually as a result of irrational thinking), this is what we convince ourselves we have....certainty. And if it goes to the point that it did with hitler or past popes, it ends up in bloodshed.

These examples show, that athiests can and will become killers and incredibly violent ones at that. If you want to enter into this debate, you cannot shower the athiest with roses and pretty flowers. We are human. We are capable of this as are religious people. Religion is not the issue really. We cannot with any intergrity point out the "sins" of past popes without pointing out the "sins" of past athiests.

They are right and we know it. We are also right and THEY know it.

It is ideological fanaticism that is the problem. This occurs when an individual is so absolutely certain of their views , that they by default see themselves as right and good. Obviously others are wrong and bad. And therefore NOT EQUAL. You cannot have compassion for a human, if you do not see them as your equal, hence WW11, Slavery, inquisitions and crusades.

Your argument shouldn't ever be based on religion vs non-belief. It should look to the deeper issue of why humans behave the way they do. Then you have an argument that is worth listening to and exploring and may lead a believer into questioning their "need" for certainty as opposed to their need to believe their church is right. Start with the deeper human issue, and you may get results.

It is however an admitance(at least in this regard) that athiests and believers alike, can and will become fanatical. History has showns us that we both do, and there is nothing wrong with seeing this. It shows you and the believer that you have a shared humanity that is capable of great things and is also capable of the most heinous of crimes against ourselves.

We are fragile and sometimes broken creatures :) We can actually embrace ourselves and each other in kindness when we realize this and loosen our need to change one another because of our absolute certainties. It is those certainties..that lead us astray in the first place.

Cheers
I like this. Thanks Anette
Very good advice to follow,Anette. I do not think I can improve upon that, so I will use their own ignorance against them.

Hitler was a vegetarian, therefore all vegetarians are evil and should not be trusted. See how silly that sounds? That is just the same as using 1 person's beliefs or lifestyle to condemn or praise the rest who follow the same.

(Ignoring Hitler's own self-proclaimed divinity) Those 3 guys were atheists, so what? Can you find me an atheist text or ideal that excuses or praises their acts? Oh that's right, there are not any. Atheism is simply the absence of belief in god(s). That's it, sorry it is not an excuse for you to blame millions of deaths on.
The English defended the freedom of Western Europe under Churchill, an agnostic. Hitler,the leader of a Catholic country, started WW2.
The Nine-Eleven (that's how to spell the name of the event) hijackers weren't atheists.

Sounds like a perfect counterargument to me.

If they're the unthinking morons that I presume that they must be from that very fact that they not only think but brought up the idea that atheists correlate with immorality, then they're likely to also be the kind of "ZOHMYGOD you blaspheme the Holy You-Ess you heathen!" idiots that this'll put onto a tangent and let you escape from their negative attitude toward you.

Yeah, it's a little immoral to cheat like that just to avoid bother, but they won't ever notice or bring it up to you, and you won't be able to shift their opinions anyway--they're goodthinkers and duckspeakers. It's best to just get done what you can--including freeing yourself up from quagmires and changing the minds of those whose minds actually *can* be changed.
What has been said, and that religion affiliation or lack thereof has got nothing to do with ideological politics, things that both Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini worked very hard to carry through. It's also an attempt at guilt by association, that is, we are supposed to feel bad when they bring up these names (and many do because they committed atrocious acts towards a great deal of people during their lifetimes), so the end goal is for us to agree with them only because they were bad people.

But there are also bad religious people. A great deal of people who profess to be Christians or otherwise are ex-criminals or are criminals. The problem ultimately is that religious people believe there to be absolute morals, that you can really say that something is good and something is evil.

Truth is, no society has the same morals like the other. Muslims think it's ok to marry more than one woman, among a small ethnical group in Thailand, it's ok to marry away men like how many peoples marry away women, and in some societies boys are supposed to perform oral sex on their uncles so they can drink their sperm and hence become men themselves. All these things would be considered wrong in our society, but it is not wrong in theirs. We instead, do many things they would consider wrong.

Additionally, there is not one person who lacks morals, even serial killers. The difference is that an atheist moral does not necessarily stem from the bible originally, but we may agree on morals that exist in the bible, such it is bad to steal or it is bad to kill. Ultimately, we do because many of these morals are inherent to us as pack animals. Killing and stealing from ourselves damages the pack. A great show on this issue is Dexter, who gained much of his morals from his father. It shows how he as a person, chooses to so strongly identify himself with the moral code his father set up, that when he tries to leave it, it creates an identical crisis. But ultimately, he CHOOSE to follow that very certain moral code. Just like a Christian chooses to follow the bible.

But the thing is, the bible is contradictory. It says that in the eyes of god, every human is equally worthy, yet, many Christians look down upon homosexuals, or even people who may just disagree with their religion, such as as atheists. Just to show that not even the bible is consistent with its idea of absolute morals. The OT says that the world and all animals were made for man, but it is also all god's creation. So some interpret it as it is ok to destroy our planet and abuse the animals who live on it with us, because it was all made for us, and some say that since it's all god's creation, we should respect it.

It also says that humans got free will and that as long a human being accepts Jesus in their hearts, they will be forgiven for any sin they commit, yet, Catholics argue over the sanctity of life, when we don't even know what "life" actually is.

So truth is, not even Christians themselves can agree on these universal morals the profess to exist. And when they can't do that, I can't really say I believe universal morals exist either. It's all man-made. If there is such a thing as a god to profess universal morals ot us, I do believe that that god should've been much clearer in that case, instead of all these multiple contradictions over and over.

Point being, that an idea of an ideology has got nothing to do with religion, and when religion claims it to have universal moral codes, then people should start asking themselves why then so many even within their own religious group disagree on as many issues they may agree with.

Of course, Christians will say that "they got it all wrong" or "they are not true Christians", but how was it with "judge how ye be judged", and only god is allowed to judge people? If someone claims to be a Christian, then the only logical solution is to assume that person speaks the truth. If that person would deviate so much from the original idea of Christianity (not following scripture, not even believing in Jesus' death), then it can be questioned why this person chooses to label him/herself that way, but whether someone is Catholic, Mormon, Presbyterian or Protestant does not matter. They are Christians. And even within their own Christian groups there are people who are going to disagree with them on many issues, just like they will agree on others.

And this is a point you must carry across.

Unfortunately. If someone starts throwing arguments like the one above, they have most likely already decided what to believe and how to refute your points, and it will be like arguing with a wall. So really, it's a waste of time. Instead, you can just counter it with something like, "I can discuss these issues with you, but only until you are willing to accept the fact that you may be wrong." You will most likely get answers similar to that you can never be wrong with their faiths and that they believe in god and all that bullshit, but then just walk away. If they start throwing around that crap, you know that at that point, you will be wasting your time to deaf ears who refuse to listen.
Wow. Thank you! I've been away for a week, so I'm just catching up on all the responses, but this has been, by far, the argument I'd most likely use... if, of course, I find myself in the position to have to or want to argue it again, lol. I normally keep off the radar when theists try to argue anything of this nature. But, knowing that Hitler's atheism isn't even 100% fact made me angry at the "natural tendency among humans to combine two of their dislikings" (as Amer said), so I had to pipe in.

guilt by association! fantastic, I hadn't even thought of that. Thanks!!
Hitler was a Roman Catholic. Check out this link:
http://proudatheists.wordpress.com/2009/04/12/why-do-christians-ins...

Look at the list of facts. That being said, you can agree with them they were all (Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler) evil people because they killed a lot of innocent people with ruthless abandon.

You can agree that these people were evil because they were mass murderers of the innocent. However what they did "combined" doesn't come close the mass murder of the innocent by the god Abraham, (if you believe the biblical stories are true). So one could hardly believe that murder is wrong and get their morals from that god.
Hilter's atheism has always been controversial. Fact is, we can't ask him so we don't know. His writings and public speeches have many Roman Catholic references in them and my go to prove his theism, but according to "inside sources" he was a closet atheist.
While I don't think Hitler and Mussolini were atheists, here is how I explain this point.

These tyrannical regimes were not theocracies, but they were 'cults of personality', wherein the leaders were basically treated as Gods, and to question them was to risk your life. These leaders set down rules, and those rules became dogma.

Hiter's Germany was basically a cult, with Hitler as the unquestioned leader. In a sense, Nazism was a religion without supernatural explanations.

A religion is dogma + supernatural. These regimes were simply dogmatic, which is the most dangerous part of religion. The only thing that makes religion more dangerous is when your unquestioned leader becomes a God and tries to convince you to obey not purely out of fear, but because his ways are greater than you can understand.

Kim Jong Il is doing this now in North Korea. It's not because he's an atheist, but because he understands how to control people.

Dogma is what gets people massacred every time. The supernatural just adds incredibly tough armor to dogma. The crimes of Nazism stemmed from the fact that they were dogmatic and stifled dissent, which is exactly what religion does.

So I don't even feel the need to say 'oh but the crusades were worst' because the reality is that Hitler and Stalin used dogma to control in the same way the church does, and that is what is important to take away from it. Then of course there's the fact that they weren't atheists in any way that we were. If they opposed the church is was because they wanted total power over their subjects, not because they were promoting skeptical thinking.

edit: Oh yea, and why could the majority of Germans quickly turn their back on Hitler? Maybe because he hadn't used supernatural explanations and pretended he was more than a man, or that claimed he was acting on God's behalf.
"but because he understands how to control people." That's always been my take on Hilter. He was said to be a closet atheist but always mentions religion in speeches and in Mein Kampf. I tend to believe he did so as a means of control. If God told him to do these things and if people are willing to believe that "his ways are greater than you can understand" then those people are willing to do atrocious things in the name of said god.

Although, I completely agree with your argument about the three using dogma to control similar to the church, I doubt that argument will fly with a theist... just because they'd refuse to believe that the two are one in the same.

"Dogma is what gets people massacred every time. The supernatural just adds incredibly tough armor to dogma." This is great! it explains why (even after the crusades/jihads) the church stands and is regarded as holy. Whereas, Nazism, fascism, and Stalin's communism have all fallen and are regarded as the worst of atrocities.
I always instead of pointing the finger at mass populations that act on impulse discuss the head of the religious exstreamests. For example I ran into the Hitler discussion with a theist but is also a friend who was just talking with out thinking. He claimed that Hitler as an atheist brainwashed an entire country to do whatever he said. My reply was that what Hitler was no better or worst than Pope Urban II ordered the first crusade which sent soldiers into a country (that at the time allowed people from other religions to pray at Jerusalem) where they slaugtered every man woman and child in their path.

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