October 15, 2007

Christopher Hitchens in Madison — giving the atheists hell.

Madison, home of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, starts off loving the surly atheist they've brought in, but then — who could have imagined? — he gives them a hard time:
Responding to a question from an audience member on what he said was the futility of killing Muslims in Iraq to end extremism, Hitchens parodied:

“‘How does killing them lessen their numbers?’ You must have meant something more intelligent. … We worry too much in America about our ‘right’ to be in Iraq.

“Make them worry. Make them run scared. … I’m going to fight these people and every other theocrat all the way. All the way. You should be ashamed sneering at the people guarding you as you sleep.”
But stop laughing at the Madisonians for getting theirs. Here's what Hitchens thinks of your Heaven:
He also told the crowd that heaven would be comparable to North Korea, as they both embody a totalitarianism of eternal gratitude.

Hitchens pointed to the “horrific pointlessness and misery” of having to thank a leader for everything when the leader was never asked for in the first place — which he said is intrinsic to both the concept of heaven and in North Korea.

“At least you can fucking die and get out of North Korea,” Hitchens added.

329 comments:

1 – 200 of 329   Newer›   Newest»
rhhardin said...

At least you can fucking die and get out of North Korea

Suicide is the ultimate proof of freedom ; Blanchot in _The Space of Literature_ produces it over and over.

Hence the fear in the aged of being unable to die, if they become helpless.

How do you get out of Heaven? This aspect is not planned for.

If instead (which Hitchens does not do) you take religion as this or that poeticization of ethics, you don't get the problem. Levinas ``A Religion for Adults'' in _Difficult Freedom_ develops along this line.

Then Heaven is something you produce, albeit without planning to ; and you can lose again. There's no question of being unable to escape.

Every man is the Messiah, as Levinas puts it.

Pogo said...

God Bless Christopher Hitchens for his fight against Islamic fascism.

Simon said...

I suppose that the difference between opining on Iraq vs. opining on heaven is that what humans (more particularly American who vote) think about Iraq is in some way relevant to what happens vis-a-vis Iraq. In a hundred or so years, everyone reading this is going to know who's right about religion, and nothing that any of us can say or do - even the sainted Hitchens - is going to change that. You can place your bets, but the roulette wheel isn't listening to you.

Gahrie said...

Didn't Lucifer figure a way out of Heaven?

George said...

Re: Islamic fanatics...

this new book,The Siege of Mecca, is excellent. By a Wall Street Journal reporter, it's the only book I know of on the 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, an event that inspired bin Laden and, along with the Iranian revolution, intensified the export of Wahhabi fundamentalism.

Original Mike said...

“‘How does killing them lessen their numbers?’ You must have meant something more intelligent.

Chortle. I wish I'd known Hitchens was speaking in town. But then, I'd have had a hard time dealing with this crowd. I'm an atheist, but those people (Gaylor's followers) are loons.

Kiley said...

For war protestors who are deaf and blind to jihadist and totalitarian hell on earth:
"Here lamentation, groans, and wailings deep reverberated through the starless air, so that it made me at the beginning weep. Uncouth tongues, horrible shriekings of despair, shrill and faint voices, cries of pain and rage, and, with it all, smiting of hands, were there, making a tumult, nothing could assuage, to swirl in the air that knows not day or night, like sand within the whirlwind's eddying cage."
Inferno, Canto III, lines 22-30

For the tired in our fight for human freedom and enlightenment:
"O human race, born to fly upward, wherefore at a little wind dost thou so fall?"
Purgatorio, Canto XII, lines 95-96

For Hitch:
"Reason, thou see'st, hath all too short a wing."
Paradiso, Canto II, line 57

Simon said...

Gahrie said...
"Didn't Lucifer figure a way out of Heaven?"

Oh, that's the easy part. Getting out of Hell (on collateral rather than direct review, so to speak) - that's the trick. ;)

ricpic said...

Hitchens has every right to be an atheist but it would help if he had more than a cartoon vision of religion.

Melinda said...

Hitchen's version of heaven sounds like the scene in the original "Bedazzled" where Peter Cook as the Devil is showing Dudley Moore what it's like in heaven by sitting Moore on top of a mailbox and then bowing down to him and constantly chanting, "You're great! You're perfect! The Creation...Great Job!" etc.

rcocean said...

"Hitchens has every right to be an atheist but it would help if he had more than a cartoon vision of religion."

His vision of pretty much everything is Cartoonish, and seems to be governed by expediency. Wolfe got him exactly right satirizing him in "Bonfire of The Vanities".

He recently was on C-span defending the firebombing of Dresden and other German cities. His Justification? The "krauts", (including old women and children) deserved it.

garage mahal said...

Ann, FFRF knew exactly what they were getting in Hitchens, his stance on Iraq was printed right on their brochure.

My mother and I were having dinner at the restaraunt next door just talking about him, when who walks in none other than Hitchens. He sits down right next to us, orders a Scotch, 2 shots, and a glass of wine to start things off, then proceeded to boss the wait staff around up until we left. Waited too long for the club soda for his scotch, his bread wasn't crusty enough etc etc etc.

Major league dick.

Michael Reynolds said...

Hitchens' view of heaven is cartoonish? Read the Bible. Read the descriptions of heaven in Revelations. Hitch is working from Biblical authority, some of you are working from your own cleaned up and re-imagined versions of heaven.

Gedaliya said...

A year or so ago (in NYC) I attended a debate between Chris Hitchens and George Galloway, the Saddam-loving commie MP from Londonistan. Hitchens wiped the floor with him, despite an audience that was 90% hostile to everything Hitchens said. Watching Hitchens debate is a great experience, for his corruscating intelligence, his amazing wit, penetrating erudition and Churchillian command of the English language are simply awe-inspiring.

He is, in my view, one of the very best writers of his generation, and it's been my privilege to shake his hand and meet his eye. He's an original, and without doubt his body of work will endure for many generations to come. I simply love the guy, and I don't give a damn and his many faults and peculiarities (his strange atheism at the top of the list).

I'm just joyful that he's here among us, and truly hopeful that he'll continue to be here for many years to come.

Windbag said...

If I were a celebrity, I'd go out of my way not to piss off Hitchens. I'd hate for the crosshairs of his arsenal to rest on me. Whether or not you agree with him, he's entertaining.

Kiley said...

Hitch is an earthly delight.

Heaven for some of us is completely connecting with Idea, Mission, Life and Person via something transcendental by (human-ineptly) dealing with distracting evil and superficials. Very difficult to reach, but the pursuit must be the thing. Is Heaven a process?

Pogo said...

Re: "Hitch is working from Biblical authority"

Really? So what?
Atheists eat this up. Great. It's real impact on Christians is nil.

I like his other stuff, and forgive him this pointless excursion (though he believes it's central). He negelcts to mention that more people have died under atheism than under any of God's supposed banners. 100 million in the 20th century, IIRC.

Compared to the godless, we're pikers.

Maxine Weiss said...

Althouse automatically loves anyone named "Christopher".

Trooper York said...

Jackie Burkhardt: So, Michael cheated on me with Laurie, and Laurie cheated on him! There is a God, and he's on MY SIDE!
(That 70's Show 1998)

Kiley said...

This isn't about whose side God is on, it's about being on God's side. Or wondering who and where the Godness is and how to get to where It is. Wonderful Hitchens doesn't wonder, he knows that the Godness isn't there. I love Hitch but don't compleatly enjoy his rationally limited vision.

Parker Smith said...

Gahrie -

Lucifer DID find a way out of heaven - but it was damned hard...

Freder Frederson said...

Compared to the godless, we're pikers.

Oh come on Pogo. Even if we accept the oft-cited 100 million death toll for atheism in the twentieth century which is almost certainly on the very high side for communism, they were just playing catch up for the bloody reign of the religious over the previous 19 centuries. Atheists didn't depopulate three entire continents and forcibly deport at least 10 million people from another (most of whom died within a few short years from overwork).

Even during the twentieth century the god fearing held their own. Two world wars that cost at least 60 million (probably closer to 75 million) lives. The partition of India and almost constant war in Africa after World War II.

Cedarford said...

rcocean - He recently was on C-span defending the firebombing of Dresden and other German cities. His Justification? The "krauts", (including old women and children) deserved it.

He may have an excellent point. History tends to show that if you don't break the enemy right down to family level, they are a high risk to regroup and come back at you with war after war, or use terrorism against you. Or, feeling that as "civilians" they are safe from reprisal, embark on a massive insurgency to bushwack your "victorious forces" and bleed you dry.

After WWII, we erected a mindset and body of "sacred" UN human rights laws that held that military victory was a matter of simple battlefield conflict where "bad soldiers" could be slaughtered remorselessly, with a parallel, nearly bloodless strategy that could be implemented without harming a single hair on a precious civilian head.

And somehow, enemy populations would blindly accept the paperwork of surrender, endorsed by the Mighty UN and various "international Jurists" as legally binding on their civilian selves even if they felt that even if they betrayed the surrender - the "law" said they, as sacred civilians only trying to kill occupying troops part of the time or supporting people actively who were in battle - they were immune from this war's effects. Or the next one, or the next one.

Even if they had somehow known a brief moment of fear from tank columns or precision bombers, or actually personally knew "innocent covilians" killed. Armor and air units that feared "harming innocent enemy civilians" as much as they feared losing the war.

War is a collective endeavor. It takes a full society to wage it. The civilian enslaved into war against his will by a Draft is no more guilty and his death no less consequential than that of an "innocent enemy civilian woman" cooking their meals or raising new warriors...

After WWII, the dream was that we could end the razed cities of people that "deserved it" if we just embraced the "inner goodness of all humans" and only fought wars according to strict rules with uniformed armies and technology that "spared innocent enemy civilians wherever possible".

The first thing that made it a fiction, of course, was development of nuclear and biowar that guaranteed civilian casualties on a mass scale, yet were indispensible parts of strategic war deterrent and in fact kept the peace between large powers for 60 years...not the human rights lawyers or pacifists parading around.

The second thing that made the post-WWII fantasy of strict laws regulating war out of human goodness is assymetric war. Where one side was humanitarian and followed all the rules, but the other side didn't and usually won their revolt, insurgency...
And the only way to continue those steady losses to the rule-breakers is for the human rights people that reject the more enlightened humanitarian nations from behaving as the enemy does to win is to somehow assert that the West is intrinsically evil, and the enemy side either deserves to win or at least fight under "fair odds" of winning against "unfair advantages" - as if war is a zero-sum game.

The only way the Jihadist or "freedom fighter" flouting of Geneva and Hague conventions can continue while the West pretends those Conventions are still real and must remain legally binding is for a substantial part of our own population to believe we in the West are evil and deserve to lose - but the enemy, oppressed victims they are, may commit atrocities with impunity and flout all other laws of warfare, including following terms of surrender.

It's a shame. Because the Left may end up destroying Hague and Geneva if they do not come to understand that reciprocity is what the treaties are based on, what keeps the treaties viable. Not some human rights lawyer or a newspaper saying how noble it was that the US kills more of it's own troops to avoid "any enemy civilian casualties amidst the insurgents."

If we had said the residents of Fallujah were in insurrection that had to be stopped at all costs and done a Dresden, we might have had Euroweenies pissing their panties, the Left in paroxisms of grief for the "hero oppressed resistors of evil America", and the enraged Arab street enraged for a week.

But a Dresden might have saved us 3,000 dead American soldiers and 350 billion in war costs after spring of 2004 when we showed we were weak and under lawyers control and thus could be IED'd with relative impunity.

Though Dresden followed Coventry. Perhaps we need to suffer more bloodshed in the West to be willing to shed blood. Like it or not, 9/11 was a tiny attack as wars go, and calling 10 acres of wreckage in NYC "Ground Zero" is laughable compared to effects at real ground zeros from a firestorm, saturation bombing of a city, or a nuke.

christopher said...

Well, fuck that shit.

SMGalbraith said...

Hitchens condemns (well, more than condemns) the "Great Dictator in the sky judging your lives".

So, he's finally come around to denouncing Trotsky.

What was Lewis's tocsin: the danger in atheism is not that people will believe in nothing; it's that people will be in anything.

Something to that.... after all, how could someone not miss the striking similarities between dialectical materialism/historical determinism and the eschatology of most religions?

Apparently, Hitch did.

SMG

Original Mike said...

Pogo, I don't think you can argue that the 100 million were killed in the cause of atheism.

Paddy O. said...

Freder, the religious have been at it a lot longer than 19 centuries.

And they were even nastier about the business. Greeks, Persians, Romans, Celts, Egytpians, etc. Those polytheists were nasty pieces of work for thousands of years before the previous 19 centuries got to work. And they thought Christians were so limited in consideration of historical (as it was) religion that the earliest charges against Christians was they were atheists.

People needed to be told about Heaven. They'd already seen and lived in Hell.

Heaven, of course, was the place of hope when life was consumed in terror and loss. Hitchens lives a life of comfort, so sees heaven as a hell. He has no conception of what hell people still live in throughout the world who need hope still, hope that there isn't just Hell now and through eternity.

You like thanking people who have saved you from hell, especially as you bask in light, peace, and an eternity of creative dance and celebration.

Original Mike said...

Paddy O said: Hitchens lives a life of comfort, so sees heaven as a hell. He has no conception of what hell people still live in throughout the world who need hope ...

I think Hitchens knows. Hitchens to the Gaylorites: You should be ashamed sneering at the people guarding you as you sleep.

Pastor_Jeff said...

the “horrific pointlessness and misery” of having to thank a leader for everything when the leader was never asked for in the first place

Yes, darn those parents for giving us life, providing for us, teaching us and helping us. We didn't ask to be born. Take your loving care and stick it!

As far as compelling gratitude, that's not what God does, and its denial is not why people end up in hell. As Hitch well demonstrates, like Lucifer they'd rather rule in hell than serve in heaven. For those who want to be their own gods, a heaven defined by loving gratitude to a good God would be hell.

But Hitch needn't worry. No one who wants nothing to do with God will have to spend eternity with Him.

George said...

Re: Cedarford's post above...

Consider this Myrna Blyth column on the fate that befell a group of momentarily soft-hearted Navy Seals....

They took pity on a group of goat herders...

The result?

18 dead Americans.

Writes the surviving soldier..."A massive mistake had been made....I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I’d turned into a…liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit.”

Simon said...

Original Mike said...
"I don't think you can argue that the 100 million were killed in the cause of atheism."

Sure you can - they may not have been killed in the cause of atheism sub nomime atheism, but they were killed directly in service of atheist causes, whether you call it socialism, nazism, maoism and so forth, so it's plainly different to the comparison Freder tries to make with slavery.

Trooper York said...

Satan: I'm sorry. After careful consideration, I regretfully have to decline.
Dan Marino: C'mon, man, I'm just asking, let me win one Superbowl.
Satan: In exchange for eternal damnation of your soul? You're too nice of a guy for me to want to do that to you, Mr. Marino.
Dan Marino: You did it for Namath.
Satan: Yeah, but Joe was coming here anyways.
(Little Nicky 2000)

Original Mike said...

Simon: Communism, to use one example, is not an atheist cause. It's a totalitarian cause that views religion as a competitor.

Freder Frederson said...

If we had said the residents of Fallujah were in insurrection that had to be stopped at all costs and done a Dresden, we might have had Euroweenies pissing their panties, the Left in paroxisms of grief for the "hero oppressed resistors of evil America", and the enraged Arab street enraged for a week.

Yes, in Cedarford's sick fantasy world, the mass murder of an entire city of 250,000 for the murder of four Americans (a step even Stalin or Hitler would have considered a little over the top), would have been entirely justified and would have proved just how tough we are. In his sick world view, there would be absolutely no bad consequences from such an action. Not a chance that the situation in Iraq would quickly spin out of control as 25 million people were repulsed by this unquestioned war crime and with the witdrawl of British forces our tenuous lifeline to Kuwait was cut.

bill said...

Satan: His Psychotherapy and cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S. by Jeremy Leven. PSPS stands for "just some poor shmuck." From the first therapy session.


"I'll tell you what He does, Kassler, All day long He sits on a throne that's surrounded by an emerald rainbow. All around Him are twenty-four elders wearing white robes and gold crowns."

"Like in revelations."

"Exactly. Lightning and thunder come out of the throne. In front of Him are four creatures covered wit eyes, inside and out, who sing all day and night, 'Holy, holy, holy is God the Sovereign Lord of all, who was, and is, and is to come.' Then, as if this weren't enough, the elders throw down their crowns, fall on their knees, and cry out, 'Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power, because Thous didst create all things; by Thy will they were created, and have their being!' I tell you Kassler, it's enough to make you sick to your stomach."

Kassler looked ahead and said nothing.

"It never stops, kassler. Never. And I'm supposed to be vain!"

"These feelings about God," Kassler suggested, "these are why you were expelled from heaven?"

"I don't think so. The real problem is that I don't know why I was thrown out. I know when. When was August first. A long time ago. But why? I'm not sure. hat's another reason why I'm seeing you, Kassler."

"what were you told?"

"That I was being given dominion over man, over the earth, that I was to be a great symbol of protest against tyranny, a vindicator of reason and freedom of thought, the supremest incarnation of the spirit of individualism. It sounded great. Of course, it wasn't long before I realized that I was just being bumped downstairs."

"and it was shortly after this that you began to hate God?"

"I don't hate God. I don't think I've said that, have I? It's not true. I love God. He's my brother."

"But you don't give Him very much credit for knowing what He's doing?" Kassler asked.

"Not at all. I give God all things but one - the experience of feeling inadequate, being subject to a higher authority, weakness, being human, if you will. We know loss, Kassler, helplessness, having our best efforts go for naught. You and I share one experience God will never understand, the feeling of not prevailing."

Freder Frederson said...

they may not have been killed in the cause of atheism sub nomime atheism

Yes Simon, Marx saw religion as a tool of oppression. And slavery was often justified on the basis that the souls of the Africans were being saved by converting them to Christianity during their enslavement. In fact, bringing "civilization" and Christianity to the natives was the excuse for the whole sordid period of European colonialism--although I am sure you see it as nothing but a blessing on the world.

Trooper York said...

Adrian: Welcome to the party! It's so nice to see you all here! I'm so proud of you. You've taken to sin with such minimal prompting. You're acting as if there is no heaven or hell. Well, I've got news for you. There is most definitely a hell and you're all gonna go there when you die. Which is in about 15 minutes.
Deacon: Holy shit! We really are gonna die!
(Little Nicky 2000)

Luckyoldson said...

ALL religion is bullshit.

I there was really a "God," he or she would make it known to the world in a straight forward manner, so ALL could get on board.

Until that happens, it's all nothing more than a battle of whose religion or "God" is the best.

Trumpit said...

History tends to show that if you don't break the enemy right down to family level, they are a high risk to regroup and come back at you with war after war, or use terrorism against you. - Cederford

Of course you support bombing woman and children because you are the Scum of the Earth, Cederford. But we already knew that about you.

Pogo said...

Like it or not, atheism was behind the largest mass murders in the history of the world.h

Why Hitchens doesn't comment on that is unclear.

Were they killed because of atheism? Whittaker Chambers says yes. I say who cares, they are still dead, 100 million of them whether it was reason #1 or #2.

SMGalbraith said...

Isn't liberal democracy (Western version) almost entirely dependent on the moral foundation that Christianity gave it?

That is the uniqueness of the individual and dignity of men and the injustice in treating humans as means and not complete ends.

Sure, the record of adhering to these moral foundations is a sad one. But the record - as mixed as it is - still shows that without the belief that each man is made in the image of God, western democracy could not have emerged.

Would be nice if Hitchens and other atheists recognized this. Let's examine the complete record and not choose, however accurately, those pieces that support our views.

It is interesting, to add an additional note, listening to people who advocate a social justice cause without realizing apparently the source of that movement.

SMG

Original Mike said...

Like it or not, atheism was behind the largest mass murders in the history of the world.

This makes no sense. I understand (vehemently disagree with, but understand) the motivation for fighting for your god. But what's the rational for fighting for nothing, which is what atheism is. There are no 72 virgins waiting for the atheist warrior.

Mark said...

"Yes Simon, Marx saw religion as a tool of oppression. And slavery was often justified on the basis that the souls of the Africans were being saved by converting them to Christianity during their enslavement. In fact, bringing "civilization" and Christianity to the natives was the excuse for the whole sordid period of European colonialism--although I am sure you see it as nothing but a blessing on the world."

Excuse me for not knowing the proper terminology, but evil done in the name of good does not somehow make good evil.

Paddy O. said...

I think Hitchens knows. Hitchens to the Gaylorites: You should be ashamed sneering at the people guarding you as you sleep.

Funny, how that's the religious response to Hitchens too.

Maybe the Gaylorites just don't believe there's really anyone guarding them. Maybe they think it's freedom to be able to sneer at those who guard. Why does Hitchens want to impose his tyranny of non-sneering upon free people? He's very oppressive.

Pastor_Jeff said...

"I[f] there was really a "God," he or she would make it known to the world in a straight forward manner, so ALL could get on board."

Ah, irrefutable proof of the non-existence of God -- He doesn't do things the way LOS thinks He should.

I have a hard time believing Cindy Sheehan actually exists. I can't imagine why in the world anyone would do what she's supposed to have done.

And Hitch disproves your assertion. He's heard of God and wants nothing to do with Him. So much for God being to blame for everybody not getting on board.

George said...

Three armies advanced deep into enemy territory towards the ocean...one army of 60,000 men, another of 25,000, and the third of 13,000.

Their leader was viewed as the sword of God. Said one soldier...."We looked upon him, prior to his arrival, as a man, in the providence of God, specially set apart to accomplish this work."

The armies burned city after city. The goal? To starve the elderly, the babies, everyone...

When the city leaders of the town of Atlas begged the general for mercy, he replied, in part...

"Those who brought war....deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out."

Then he burned Atlas, er, Atlanta.

But that's okay, really, no hard feelings...

Original Mike said...

Paddy O said: He [Hitchens] is very oppressive.

I could not agree more, Paddy.

SMGalbraith said...

But what's the rational for fighting for nothing, which is what atheism is.

Immaentizing the eschaton.

Original Mike said...

Pastor Jeff: Don't you know? Lucky is smarter than God.

SMGalbraith said...

Immaentizing

Immanetizing that is.

Not exactly a word one uses every day.

SMG

Pogo said...

Dang it Galbraith!!!


"But what's the rational for fighting for nothing, which is what atheism is."

That is, creating Heaven on Earth. Atheism isn't belief in nothing, it's belief in Man.

When Man becomes God, we usually seem to become Shiva, destroyer of worlds.

Original Mike said...

Had to look that one up, SMG.

Atheism isn't belief in nothing, it's belief in Man.

Well, not in my denomination of atheism.

Luckyoldson said...

Pastor_Jeff said..."Ah, irrefutable proof of the non-existence of God -- He doesn't do things the way LOS thinks He should."

*I never said anything about an "irrefutable proof of the non-existence of God." I merely said that if "God" exists, he or she could make it obvious that it is indeed "fact."

Pastor_Jeff said..."I have a hard time believing Cindy Sheehan actually exists. I can't imagine why in the world anyone would do what she's supposed to have done."
(First of all, that's nothing more than right wing politics talking, not religion or a belief in "God.")

*And...that's pure nonsense. If you really don't believe she exists, if you try, you could probably get her telephone number and talk to her.

Pastor_Jeff said..."And Hitch disproves your assertion. He's heard of God and wants nothing to do with Him."

*The fact that anybody has "heard" about "God" has absolutely nothing to do with "God" actually existing.
(I've "heard" of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot...but I still don't believe they exist.)

And, as for YOUR personal beliefs, I have no problem with whatever ANYBODY "believes" and if it makes you feel better or makes you a better person...more power to you.

But it is nothing more than a "belief" and I'm entitled to mine.

Skyler said...

No, western civilization is a result of individualism that was only possible after the protestant reformation destroyed the Pope's monopoly on the christian church. Once people understood that they could be free to interpret religion without assistance from a clerical class, they were free to believe in their own individuality and freedom.

That is what spurred capitalism, which is the basis of modern western civilization since the age of enlightenment.

Hitchens' comparison of Heaven to North Korea is pretty brilliant, especially after I saw a documentary on television. In that show, after American doctors saved the eyesight of numerous N. Koreans, they all went to the "temple" and thanked their glorious leader for restoring their eyesight. Not one thanked the doctors or the American medical system that could not be provided by their glorious leader. It was awful to watch them, and to wonder which of them truly believed what they were saying and which ones were only successful in convincing others they believed.

It's brilliant to compare that to the bizarre belief that there is a magical entity out there "somewhere" that is so vain it wants our unending love and praise, and yet refuses to provide any evidence for its existence. The comparison of people worshipping it to those worshipping the glorious leader is inspiring.

In a free country, those of us that decide not to beleive in a god can do so, with only risk of suffering socially accepted bigotry by the majority. In most places, and muslim countries especially, we would all be saying praise be to allah at every drop of the hat, and we would have no way to know who was a believer and who was just really successful at convincing others that they believed.

SMGalbraith said...

Had to look that one up, SMG.

Sorry. It's a pretty famous aphorism in conservative circles.

Buckley once suggested that conservatives - in opposing the liberal Great Society programs in the 1960s - put bumper stickers reading "Stop the Immanetizing of the Eschaton!!" on their cars.

SMG

Pogo said...

(1) "Hitchens' comparison of Heaven to North Korea is pretty brilliant"
Really? I've seen better concepts out of 8th graders. It's bumper sticker level of thought, that one.

(2) I'd have to disagree Mike. But no matter. The death toll from atheism far exceeds that from theism, whether it was the primary or secondary mover.

Hitchens is bitching at the wrong crowd.

(3) "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything."
(attributed to GK Chesterton, but actually a paraphrase)

bill said...

Definition of hell: people arguing over the existence of God.

SMGalbraith said...

No, western civilization is a result of individualism that was only possible after the protestant reformation destroyed the Pope's monopoly on the christian church.

And from where did Luther get his beliefs to challenge the Church's teaching?

SMG

Luckyoldson said...

skyler said: "...after American doctors saved the eyesight of numerous N. Koreans, they all went to the "temple" and thanked their glorious leader for restoring their eyesight."

I agree with the substance of the comment, but you could probably say the same thing about many right here in America, merely substituting the church of their choice.

*You do understand that when a pass or run results in a touchdown, it's because "God" wanted it to happen...right?

Original Mike said...

Don't apologize SMG. Thanks for teaching me something new.

I think where we disagree, Pogo, is whether the motivation was atheism (your view) or human greed (my view). Similarly, most of the evil that is done in the name of God is really done for greed. But there does seem to be a core of people who are actually doing it for the religion. I don't think that there is a like group on the atheists side.

But what do I know? I'm a pacifist atheist.

Luckyoldson said...

From Austin Cline, Atheism & Secularism:

Question: Haven't atheists killed more people in the name of atheism than religious theists have killed in the name of their religion?

Response: No, because atheism isn't a philosophy or ideology.

*An opinion, but it does make sense...and I agree with Original Mike that it was pure "greed" and not atheism.

MikeT said...

Apparently Hitchens is not familiar with the finer points of what heaven will be like according to Christians:

1) You will have a new body, with its natural desires returned to the balance that God created meaning that you will have no desire to sin, and can freely engage in every normal activity wholeheartedly without worrying about doing evil.

2) Jesus Himself will be the head of state, which means that the embodiment of God will be ruling mankind. If you accept the premise that God is perfect and holy, this means that you will live under an absolutely perfect system of government.

3) With God totally in charge of worldly affairs once more, there will be no war, no hunger, no strife, no injustice and other such things that eat at even the best of human societies.

I would gladly take a theocracy led by Jesus Christ over the secular governments that exist today. His yoke is far lighter than anything a modern Westerner would be able to comprehend.

Chip Ahoy said...

That hilarious. Athiests crack me up.

Pogo said...

"Response: No, because atheism isn't a philosophy or ideology."

It's just mere coincidence then that atheists were standing over those 100 million bodies. Just chance, just walking by when plop, there they were, dead.


I would agree to excuse atheists per se, if you excuse theists per se, and simply compromise and admit that sometimes people are real shits.

Original Mike said...

...admit that sometimes people are real shits.

By Jove! I think he's got it!

Billy Beck said...

kiley -- "For Hitch:
'Reason, thou see'st, hath all too short a wing.'"


Yeah well, life does, too.

It's just the way it is.

Gedaliya -- "I don't give a damn and his many faults and peculiarities (his strange atheism at the top of the list)."

I completely agree, although I am convinced that his take on religion is spot-on. I note that in his "Letters To A Young Contrarian" he points out that "Those who persecute religion are to be avoided at all costs. Antigone taught us to trust the instinct that is revolted by desecration." (p. 65) I'm afraid that he let a bit of this get away from him in "God Is Not Great". However, it's a splendid marshaling of all the best arguments, and I thank him for it.

My problem with him is that he's still about half a commie. I get past that with the consolation that he's the least of my problems on that front. In any case, he's a sparkling thinker and I think his command of the language is second to none throughout its history.

God bless (metaphor!) Hitchens.

Blake said...

While Man hardly needs an excuse to start killing Man, atheism--far from being "belief in man"--is a relegation of man to animal. (Insofar as "atheism" is a misnomer for what is actually "materialism", a belief that there is nothing besides the material. One could disbelieve in God--be an "atheist"--and yet still believe that Man possesses a spirit. One could also believe in God while believing Man doesn't possess a spirit. It just seldom works out that way.)

In any event, atheism serves the political purpose of providing an answer to "Oh, my God, look at the horrible things you've done." The response provided is "So?" Without an extra-physical component, there's no qualitative basis for distinguishing between killing a man or putting out a fire. Indeed, there's no one qualified to make that judgment, because when you get down to it, there is no one, period.

Which isn't to say that all atheists believe this, but atheists aren't required to be any more logical than anyone else.

Chris said...

Among the many evils done in the name of religion, Hitchens said he learned while in Iran that prison guards rape women prior to execution, because it is against their faith to execute a female virgin.

“Only with God can people give themselves permission to do these things,” Hitchens said.

Hitchens really needs to enroll in a continuing education high school history course, with particular emphasis on totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.

Jeff said...

"I there was really a "God," he or she would make it known to the world in a straight forward manner, so ALL could get on board."

Lucky, go explain to your dog why you had his balls cut off.

I don't mean rub his belly and promise him a treat to make him feel better, I mean explain in detail the reasons behind the neutering.

Can't do it? We know damn near everything about how dogs think. We know their instincts, behavior patters and logical development. We know how to make them obey and perform dozens of tasks. We can mold their bodies to infinite shapes. Yet they're just too damn stupid to ever understand concepts that we as superior beings can grasp.

Now imagine that you're a vast god spanning the entire universe. Explaining what you are and the purpose of creation to a bunch of hairless moneys on Earth would be like explaining calculus to a dog. They're just too stupid to understand. The best you could do is... rub their bellies and promise them a treat.

Seven Machos said...

Anything that ends in "ism" is most certainly atheism a philosophy or ideology.

Belief in no God necessarily leads to a host of beliefs and stipulations. The fact that you choose to avoid addressing them, dear atheists who choose such avoidance, merely shows how silly you are.

Of course, the silliest thing is arguing about it. So you don't believe in any god. Great. Good for you. That and $3.00 will get you a ride on the CTA when these new fare hikes go through.

Original Mike said...

So you don't believe in any god. Great. Good for you. That and $3.00 will get you a ride on the CTA when these new fare hikes go through.

That's all I'm asking for.

titus23 said...

What I am amazed at is all the work Hitchens puts out. A book, multiple articles, traveling the world. That man never stops.

cyrus pinkerton said...

The death toll from atheism far exceeds that from theism, whether it was the primary or secondary mover.

This is an assertion without factual basis.

I remember seeing at least one attempt to count the "death toll from theism;" it estimates something on the order of an 800+ million "death toll from theism."

If anyone cares, I'll see if I can find the source for the estimate.

RightWingNutter said...

Well put Jeff. Don't forget that God most often compares humans to sheep. Far stupider than dogs.

Seven Machos said...

This is an assertion without factual basis.

This is an assertion without factual basis.

Roger said...

I have a suspicion that "theistic deaths" far outnumber atheistic deaths. And somehow I think Cyrus' number is going to be close to the mark. The communists were awfully good in the 20th century but just dont have the extended history. The Tai Ping rebellion in 19th century China was a doozie--in excess of 50 million. Then there were the European religions wars of the reformation; then the massacre of hugenots; and the wars between the ottomans and europeans, then the numerous crusades. The Mexican revolution, certainly with some religious overtones, killed 10 percent (around 11 million) of the Mexican population between 1910 and 1921 (not counting the Cristeros later).

Bottom line to me: no matter the cause of war, humankind is remarkably vicious to other humans in pursuit of their God, Gold, vainglory, or political ideology. In short we are murderous bastards which is why the few saints there are stand out!

cyrus pinkerton said...

We know damn near everything about how dogs think.

Absolute rubbish.

RightWingNutter said...

Cyrus,

Add up the death toll from assorted purges, Ukrainian famine, Armenian forced migration, gulags etc. in the USSR from 1919 through 1989. And don't forget the Afghanistan adventure. Oh yeah, Hitler was an atheist so include the WWII European theater death toll. Add in Mao's original conquest of China and later Great Leap Forward plus the Korean War. We have no idea how many Koreans have been killed or starved in the past 50+ years. Toss in Cambodia's killing fields and Cuba's few hundred K executions. Gotta include at least some of the Viet Nam wars and the purges that sent tens of thousands to their deaths in boats rather than be killed by the atheist state.

All that in a century too. Do the math. I think you'll find that the religion of no god is much deadlier than any theism.

Roger said...

An addendum on deaths: I didnt even consider the deaths in the Asia caused by religious conflict between Muslims and Hindus, sikhs and jains, or other sects that dont get featured in Western Civ courses.

Skyler said...

The number one most annoying argument by people who believe in magical beings is when they insist that not believing in one is in fact "a belief in something" which is like a belief in the magical being.

And the number two most annoying argument by people who believe in magical beings is when they insist that one needs to believe in a magical being in order to justify not being evil.

Good and evil are definable and understandable without resorting to magic. Right and wrong are absolutes and society's role is to come to as close an understanding of right and wrong as is possible. You don't need magic to have that understanding, and in fact one could argue that believing in magic goes beyond verifiable proof and thus is wrong.

Number three most annoying argument by those believing in magical beings is that atheism claims to know better. In fact atheism, for most people (there are no catechisms of atheism) , makes no assertion about the beginning of life, the cause of life, or the creation of the universe. It's the believers in magic that somehow think they have all the answers with no evidence.

I'd much rather live with the known and the ascertainable, searching to expand that body of knowlege, than bow at the North Korean Temple thanking the glorious leader for things he did not provide.

cyrus pinkerton said...

...Hitler was an atheist...

No. Hitler was a Christian.

Sorry, try again.

Synova said...

Freder ignores the fact that those who protested slavery were Christians protesting it from a religious viewpoint. I'd not hesitate to say that ALL anti-slavery movement and effort in England and the United States was motivated by religious belief.

But a couple asses said it was good for slaves to be slaves because they'd be taught Christ and Freder willfully and deceitfully ignores the fact that Christianity teaches and taught equality before God and led to the obvious and inevitable conclusion that slavery was wrong.

Synova said...

And I'm still trying to figure out which three continents were depopulated.

Original Mike said...

Very well put, Skyler.

Seven Machos said...

The Number One most-annoying thing about Skyler is that he doesn't understand the difference between atheism and agnosticism.

Cyrus: Hitler was decidedly not Christian. He was a neo-pagan if he had any religion at all, and he manifestly wanted to replace Christianity in germany with a whole new set of Aryan myths.

Please stop with the assertions without factual basis. It's either annoying or you are too stupid to understand that religion isn't just a Christian-or-atheist choice. I can't decide. I lean toward the latter.

Roger said...

Synova: my guess is depopulated of indigenous people: I get N and S America and Australia but thats just a guess and required several assumptions on my part.

Dewave said...

Even during the twentieth century the god fearing held their own. Two world wars that cost at least 60 million (probably closer to 75 million) lives.

I don't much care whether it was 'atheism' or 'theism' or 'pantheism' or 'witchcraft' or 'animism' that managed to score the biggest body count, but this bit of nonsense is too foolishly and blatantly ahistorical to let pass by without correcting.

The world wars were not, in any sense, religious conflicts. They were fought for almost completely material and secular reasons.

Sure, the US population may at that time have been nominally mostly Evangelical Christians, but there was no specific religious element motivating all the participants in that war.

It's safe to say the two biggest causes of death and poverty in the 20th century were Fascism and Communism, both of which were quite hostile to religion.

That's not to say that all the people that died in those wars were killed 'because of atheism' because they weren't being killed because of their religious beliefs: religious beliefs had nothing to do with it.

Skyler said...

Seven, I most certainly know the difference between atheism and agnosticism. I think you're missing a subtle point.

An atheist can understand that there is no god, and yet have no further explanation for the unknowns of the universe.

SteveR said...

Rather, Hitler advocated a "Positive Christianity", a belief system purged from what he objected to in traditional Christianity, and which reinvented Jesus as a fighter against the Jews. "Christian" does not mean Christian.

Actually all this who killed the most business is quite silly and hardly justifies anyone's claim of superiority.

Original Mike said...

Seven, my understanding of the terms is that an atheist believes there is no God, an agnostic isn't sure. Do I have that wrong?

Synova said...

"In fact atheism, for most people (there are no catechisms of atheism) , makes no assertion about the beginning of life, the cause of life, or the creation of the universe."

This is why many believers in magical beings differentiate between Atheists and atheists.

Because Atheists most certainly *do* demand that they correctly understand origins. The nature of origins. The essential Truth of origins.

The others, the atheists, are happy with a lack of belief. The Atheists have replaced one belief with another. Grousing about the belief not being a belief in a magical being is part of it, as the definition is important to the fundamental necessity of the identity as an Atheist. Nit picking about the essential Truth of origins not being an exact to the Nth degree reproducible science in no way lessens the firm knowledge that the essential Truth is unassailable.

An Atheist might even be as obnoxiously evangelical as any believer in magical beings. It's not enough to not believe. It's necessary to spread that unbelief. To gain converts. To protect children from, for example, magical believing homeschooling parents. The world would be a better place if only all people could be removed from their belief in magical beings and converted to Atheism.

The simple non-believing atheists, on the other hand, don't go on these crusades because their unbelief just isn't that overwhelmingly important an element of their identity and their understanding of their own rightness or other people's error.

Roger said...

What material I have read on Hitler, he seems to have been an apostate Roman Catholic who in his rise to powere tried to press the Luthern church in the service of nazism. By 1935, however, he was referring to the disruptive aspects of christianty and, I believe, asserted that Germany WAS God. I blame his character defects on being a vegetarian myself. You KNOW how those vegans are.

UWS guy said...

When the religious in this thread are left to defending their fabulous ideology by saying in effect that Atheism killed MORE people, then they've already lost the high ground.

Atheism could be directly responsible for the death of entire solar systems in far away galaxies, but that wouldn't make Jesus, or Mohamed any more plausable nor make their respective religions any better for mankind.

Also, last I heard America was a representative democratic republic (that's 3 greek words that don't make an appearance in the bible).

We owe more to athens then to the pope.

Original Mike said...

Guess I'm a "small a" atheist.

Synova said...

agnostic: It's impossible to know about God one way or the other so I'm not going to make up something either way.

atheist: I'm confident that only the natural exists.

Atheist: I am confident that only the natural exists and everyone ought to agree with me and give up their foolish delusions.

Skyler said...

Synova,

Atheist should say "Everyone must agree with me."

I've hardly met anyone in my entire life that didn't think that everyone should agree with them.

Cedarford said...

History tends to show that if you don't break the enemy right down to family level, they are a high risk to regroup and come back at you with war after war, or use terrorism against you. - Cederford

Trumpit toots his horn: Of course you support bombing woman and children because you are the Scum of the Earth, Cederford. But we already knew that about you.

Yeah, just like the war criminals Churchill, FDR, and Truman were. Not surprising that traitors and enemy sympathizers like Trumpit call people like Truman "scum of the Earth".
If both sides honor Geneva & Hague, fine, then we can hold their civilians as sacrosanct as possible...

But if they don't, treaties that are predicated on reciprocity to work in the long term cannot remain viable if the enemy flouts all aspects of the treaties. And unlike a few ex-military that agree with Lefties - honoring terrorists as if they were lawful combatants with no adverse consequences to them does not enhance the chances the next enemy will treat our soldiers and civilians decently, by law. It will look at the last enemy the US had that got away with disregarding Geneva and Hague, not facing any consequences - and justly concluding that they can get away with it, too.

********************

George, yep, the story of the greatest special ops massacre since WWII is poignant. Because Marcus Lutrell and Moriarity voted to spare 3 enemy civilian lives, 16 Americans had to die...

Shame Lutrell has to live with the knowledge he threw away 16 American lives and 7 million in equipment because he "failed open" and thought like a liberal instead of a Navy SEAL behind enemy lines should have.
I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I’d turned into a…liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit.”

I also blame the enemy-lovers in Congress, JAG lawyers throwing other soldiers to the wolves and intimidated US commanders thinking it is better for their careers to sacrifice Americans over enemy civilians - for that.

cyrus pinkerton said...

I'd not hesitate to say that ALL anti-slavery movement and effort in England and the United States was motivated by religious belief.

What about abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison, Robert Ingersoll, and Jeremy Bentham (to name a few)?

cyrus pinkerton said...

Hitler was decidedly not Christian.

Incorrect.

Dewave said...

...Hitler was an atheist...

No. Hitler was a Christian.

Sorry, try again.


Gentlemen, you would do well to educate yourselves on this matter.

There are more choices here than 'Athiest' and 'Christian'.

Hitler's antipathy to Christianity is well recorded. Regardless of the window dressing he may have thrown into his speeches, someone who intends to stamp out Christianity root and branch and states that Christianity is irreconcilable with his own political ideology is hardly a Christian.

Yet he also ranted and raved against atheism and proclaimed himself on a mission from God to uphold religion. Doesn't sound like an athiest either.

Now, this poses a serious problem for those desperate to score cheap shots by invoking Hitler and people who can't understand the complex factors at work and must stick either the 'Christian' or 'Atheist' label on everyone.

A careful evaluation of the evidence, remembering that Hitler was an inveterate liar and panderer to the masses, is that Hitler was neither a Christian nor an Atheist (you know, like much of the rest of the world) but would invoke one or the other to further his political aims (like most politicians).

Hitler did appear to have somewhat of a messianic complex, so he may have believed himself to be divine, but if not, he was most likely a good old fashioned pagan (which is not the same thing as an athiest) longing for a return to the 'old and pure' Germany in it's robust pantheistic pre-christian days.

Original Mike said...

Synova, I'd say I'm in an atheist subcategory. "Confident" is a little strong. I just see no evidence for the Deity explanation.

ohwhatthehell said...

Isms don't kill people, people do.

Pogo said...

re: "When the religious in this thread are left to defending their fabulous ideology by saying in effect that Atheism killed MORE people, then they've already lost the high ground."

That's just stupid. The anti-religion epithets were hurled by the atheists about how awful the religious believers have made the world and why don't they stop.

I offer, not in defense, but in mockery, the fact that the supposed higher moral beings atheists themselves were by far repsonsible for more deaths than can be blamed on churchgoers.

So by the Hitchens argument, the atheists should all be rounded up and.. and... well, my point is that people are shitty and mean. They kill and break things. They do it for all sorts of reasons.

Blaming God or anti-God is missing the point.

Synova said...

uws, I'd probably go for a round of "who started it" if it seemed the least bit useful.

I don't know who started it, but the charges that Religion has killed so many and that we are better off without it (and this is by no means an uncommon charge) logically brings up the counter argument that a lack of religion, or atheism, doesn't seem to have lead to anything the least bit less deadly.

So maybe it wasn't religion, huh?

Maybe it's people, no matter their beliefs about gods or lack or gods, that find it easy to justify killing other people. Maybe the fact that one group is one religion and the other group is the other religion has more to do with finding a simple way to identify sides than it's got to do with ultimate motivation.

As a culture we owe a lot to different sources. Athens, certainly. The Pope? Yeah, a bit. The Protestant Reformation? Quite a lot. (The Protestant Reformation, now that I think of it, might owe quite a bit to pre-Christian northern European culture as the Norse (as an example) were somewhat egalitarian.)

If we look at Western culture and values the emphasis on individual sovereignty and on valuing humility, are at the very least built upon and emphasized by Christianity.

When we figure that it doesn't matter if the world sees us as losers in Iraq this comes almost entirely from our Christian tradition. Others, such as Arabs, without this tradition view public humility as entirely unacceptable. (In fact, Muslims will say that Allah did not, and never would, allow Christ to be humiliated on the Cross... not for any reason.)

A hostility to religion and to Christianity that obscures the Historical ground for the things we consider "good" such as equality of all people (Slavery does still exist in some cultures in the world.) is worrisome because we really would *not* be better off without religion or our Judeo-Christian underpinnings of our culture.

Synova said...

cyrus, I'd say that their belief about the value of people was informed by their culture. ;-)

I'm the sort that believes that people can come to the same moral conclusions from a "natural law" or a "god's law" beginning point.

It just bothers me when someone like Freder tries to claim that slavery *proceeded from* Christian or religious belief.

That's just stupid.

And, as someone said, unhistorical.

SMGalbraith said...

If we look at Western culture and values the emphasis on individual sovereignty and on valuing humility, are at the very least built upon and emphasized by Christianity.

And not just culture and values. Our political system, our rights, our freedoms, as well.

Do you think Hitchens knows this?

I think he does; hell, I'm sure of it. He's an extremely well-read man, much more so than me.

But he doesn't want to admit it for if he does, his entire jermiad against religion - certainly against Christianity - starts to crumble.

Bad, dare I say?, faith arguing there, Hitchens. Very bad faith.

SMG

Cedarford said...

Stever - Actually all this who killed the most business is quite silly and hardly justifies anyone's claim of superiority.

Actually, no, Steven, it is not "quite silly" when you are assessing the deadliness of the underlying philosophy of state of a nation or movement that faces you.

Not when their antecedents have death tolls in the 30 million range, 100 million range in recent years.

Nor is it fair to equate present threats - radical Islamism, communist totalitarianism with long extinct or reformed religions.

We do not face a threat from the Aztecs. We do not face a threat from the ancestors of Mongols. Nor Canaanite eradicating Jews or Christians of the Conquistadors using Muslim tactics to propagate the Faith by the Sword.

And, no, Steven, it is not "quite silly" to help remind people that there were menaces even more bloody and savage in the 20th Century than the Nazis. Just because the Hollywood types give Islamic slaughter a pass (no movies on the Armenian genocide, Muslim slaughters in other countries came out of Hollywood).

Or give the inhuman actions of the Yamoto militarists a pass since the end of WWII because they must be oppressed race.

Or except for a spate of anti-commie movies in the early 50s, Hollywood has been diligent that though the commies butchered 4 times as many as the Nazis, their must be 100 anti-Nazi movies for every 1 of the Hollywood owners and player ideological kinfolk....

The silly "who killed the most" business actually is good for kids fed on a steady PC diet of history to realize. "What! The poor little Japanese people who were such victims of American racism are actually disliked by other Asians. For millions butchered? The Japanese did that?"

"I had no idea any Ukranians died other than the ones the Nazis killed...There is nothing in my classes on that! Just that Stalin was a real bad guy who plotted to kill the Jews, which makes him like a minor Hitler or something...No way anyone other than Stalin was at fault, I think..And the people loved Mao. Mao was no Hitler! My teachers say so! All the TV shows say Mao was a great man who drove out the imperialist whites and gave China great leaps forward!!"

Dewave said...

I should point out, for those desperate to shoehorn Hitler into the 'Christian' or 'Atheist' box, that even if you succeeded, what would it matter?

Many Christians and many Atheists (and many of other religious beliefs) fought against Hitler, so attempting to portray Fascism as either the height of religious fervor or the depths of disbeliving atheism is futile from the start.

Hitler was a lot of things, so trying to show some sort of overlap between your verbal opponent and Hitler is likely to be unproductive. Unless of course, you believe young male German artists need to be rounded up and locked away for the safety of humanity.

cyrus pinkerton said...

A careful evaluation of the evidence, remembering that Hitler was an inveterate liar and panderer to the masses, is that Hitler was neither a Christian nor an Atheist (you know, like much of the rest of the world) but would invoke one or the other to further his political aims (like most politicians).

When did Hitler invoke atheism to further his political aims?

Luckyoldson said...

Jeff said..."I there was really a "God," he or she would make it known to the world in a straight forward manner, so ALL could get on board."

Lucky, go explain to your dog why you had his balls cut off.

Now that's what I call a well thought out explanation of why, if there is a "God," he or she doesn't revel themselves to the world.

And you wonder why some think those who "believe" are out of their minds.

Dewave said...

It just bothers me when someone like Freder tries to claim that slavery *proceeded from* Christian or religious belief.

That's just stupid.

And, as someone said, unhistorical.


Freder seems to make a lot of wildly historically inaccurate claims.

In this case, slavery was a widespread occurence in the ancient world, definitely predating Christianity and thriving in areas Christianity had never even touched (South America and Africa) until the Europeans showed up.

Slavery then, would have (and did) exist and thrive even in the absence of Christianity. However, as pointed out earlier, many of the early abolitionists were motivated in their work by religious convictions.

While it's true that 'spreading Christianity' was used an excuse to give an air of legitimacy to some of the colonial escapades, it's fairly well recognized that that period of European history was a race for power and resources in the new untapped continents, and would have occured even in a complete religious vacuum.

Window dressing "it's for their own good honest" is just that, window dressing. It takes a variety of forms and has been deployed throughout recorded history as governments and countries try to make other people do what they want under a thin veneer of knowing better than the people involved what is good for them.

Of course, the English Empire gets a rather one sided treatment in history, and it's true that they did bring many benefits and advances to the countries they colonized, but concern for the well being of the natives was hardly the driving force behind all this.

cyrus pinkerton said...

dewave,

My interest in the argument goes no further than setting the record straight. Hitler never claimed to be an atheist. On the other hand, he did claim to be a Christian.

Now, some will argue that Hitler's Christianity evolved into something quite different from "Christianity" in the last few years of his life. However, for the great majority of his life, Hitler clearly identified himself as a Christian.

Revenant said...

go explain to your dog why you had his balls cut off.

That's an odd choice for an example of the supposedly ineffable nature of God -- because the answer is "because it was convenient for the dog's owner that way". Neutering a dog certainly doesn't do the DOG any good.

Luckyoldson said...

Seven Machos said..."The Number One most-annoying thing about Skyler is that he doesn't understand the difference between atheism and agnosticism."

Oh, please, talk about throwing out condescending and thoroughly ignorant comments...

YOU, of ALL people...are going to lecture (sermonize) someone on what they do or do not "understand"...ABOUT RELIGION?

Religion is nothing more than a "belief"...and that's why it elicits such a heated discussion and debate.

Now...unless YOU know something everybody here doesn't...continue to believe and let others decide for themselves.

Luckyoldson said...

rev,
I didn't think this would ever happen...but I actually agree with you.

And so does my dog.

Luckyoldson said...

What is the bizarre obsession with whether Hitler was or was not an atheist???

Would that serve as some kind of definitive proof that atheists kill more than Christians?

And of course, we all know that many of the Founding Fathers were deists, agnostics and atheists.

Dewave said...

Cyrus: he also identified himself as a man who loved peace.

Do you believe Hitler loved peace?

Hitler was a liar who claimed a great many things that were not true. Taking at face value some of his more absurd statements that are clearly contradicted by his actions or other statements is rather foolish.

You seem to be unaware of many of the statements Hitler claiming that he was not a Christian and that Christiniaty was horrible:
(http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/mischedj/ca_hitler.html)

"The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child."

"Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure."

"...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little...."

"The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity."

And so on and so on.

Now I'm sure that, much as Cyrus has over simplified matters, someone is going to come along and say "Aha! Hitler was hostile to Christianity after all! He must have been an atheist!"

I will re-iterate that just because someone is non-Christian doesn't mean they are an atheist. This should be obvious, but it seems to be often overlooked.

Luckyoldson said...

Off topic, but it looks like there's one hell of a cat fight brewing among the "Supremes."

Supreme Court Justices Disapprove Of Justice Thomas's Book

SUPREME Court Justice Clarence Thomas' memoir "My Grandfather's Son" is doing well everyplace but in the Supreme Court.

One of the things they are known to not like is for one of them to rise above the others of them. So, thrilled they're not with the success of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas' autobio.

They've sniffed about a precedent that behooves sitting justices to not capitalize whilst on the bench. Phrases swatted about are "unseemly" and "breach of decorum."

Besides unraveling his life story, he has also delved into the ways and hows of the Court. They feel it "irresponsible" for a sitting Supreme Court Justice to write about The Process.

Revenant said...

He negelcts to mention that more people have died under atheism than under any of God's supposed banners. 100 million in the 20th century, IIRC.

Well, and zero prior to that, since so far as I'm aware the communist regimes of the 20th century were the the first officially atheistic ones in human history. That would put all of the atrocities committed prior to the 20th century, plus all of those committed by non-atheist governments during the 20th, into the "religion" camp, at least according to your formulation. I've no idea what that number is, but its got to be well over 100 million.

A more reasonable estimate would count those people killed because either religion or atheism called for them to be killed. Of course, the problem with that is that the atheist count would be zero -- the sum total of atheistic belief is "there are no gods". "Kill religious people" is no more an atheist belief than "red is a pretty color" is. On the other hand, most religions have a concept of holy war -- of divinely ordained mass murder. This includes some Protestant sects, Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism. So a realistic count of people killed "for religious reasons" or "for atheist reasons" would amount to "tens of millions over the course of human history" and "zero".

SteveR said...

"steven" is not the same as "stever" which is my commenter moniker although you got it right to begin with. But it is silly, I may agree with your basic point but its way too simplistic to argue that way. There are thousands of years of, and thousands of ways to talk about, religion and the lack thereof. Millions of dead people for millions of reasons, attempting to boil it down in a few comments is arguing for the sake of arguing.

Windbag said...

Matthew 7 (Jesus speaking in the sermon on the mount):

20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Luckyoldson said...

Windbag,
Give it a break.

*And, NO...we're not donating any money.

Hecla Ma said...

Someone wrote: Yes, in Cedarford's sick fantasy world, the mass murder of an entire city of 250,000 for the murder of four Americans..., would have been entirely justified and would have proved just how tough we are. ...Not a chance that the situation in Iraq would quickly spin out of control as 25 million people were repulsed by this unquestioned war crime...

You're looking at Fallujah through Western, not Near Eastern perspective. With a Western perspective, your sarcasm is solid, but from the other side, it's not. In a culture where violence is answered with violence, the obscene desecration of the bodies of four murder victims wanted answering. I have become convinced that yes, the Muslims were waiting for exactly that - a show of ruthless power after Fallujah. Had we provided it, they'd have understood it and respected it, and Iraq would have settled down much sooner. Instead, we just confused the hell out of the situation by being ambiguous instead of forthright.

Revenant said...

dewave,

So far as I can tell, all of the famous Hitler anti-religion quotes come from the same source -- Martin Bormann's compilation of Heinrich Heim's notes. Bormann himself was fanatically anti-Christian.

That aside, I'm not arguing that he was a Christian, although he certainly started out Catholic before drifting off into la-la land -- and, of course, his attitudes towards Jews had a firm grounding in German Christian history.

Pogo said...

Revenant, I'm not going to get in a pissing match over this. The whole 'religion is wack' meme was Hitchen's, and it's a stupid tactic from an otherwise brilliant man. It smacks of Agenda Atheism, and ignores contrary evidence.

It's a pointless argument, as evidenced here. No one wants the killers, especially the mass murderers on their side, so they blame it all on The Other whom we would be good to be rid of.

That's why I always liked the US. Leave me alone, I'll leave you alone. Mess with me, I'll mess with you. Those desperate to prove the misanthropy of man by religion's adherents open themselves up to charges of hypocrisy.

It's an astoundingly stupid argument to have, but here serves the useful purpose of pointing out the mote in everyone's eye. We're all flawed, and while we can blame those flaws on ourselves or our parents or our church or our unchurch, the truth is that humans are messy people with a talent for killing each other.

Get rid of religion and ten other causes of murder will bloom, whether by one man or ten, by one town or an entire state.

Windbag said...

With apologies to Trooper York...

Woke up this mornin', turned on the t.v. set.
there in livin' color, was somethin' I can't forget.
This man was preachin' at me, yeah, layin' on the charm
askin' me for twenty, with ten-thousand on his arm.
He wore designer clothes, and a big smile on his face
tellin' me salvation while they sang Amazin' Grace.
Askin' me for money, when he had all the signs of wealth.
I almost wrote a check out, yeah, then I asked myself

(chorus)

Would He wear a pinky ring, would He drive a brand new car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds, would His dressin' room have a star?
If He came back tomorrow, well there's somethin' I'd like to know
Could ya tell me, Would Jesus wear a Rolex on His television show.

Would Jesus be political if He came back to earth?
Have His second home in Palm Springs, yeah, a try to hide His worth?
Take money, from those poor folks, when He comes back again,
and admit He's talked to all them preachers who say they been a talkin' to Him?

(chorus)

Just ask ya' self, Would He wear a pinky ring,
Would He drive a brand new car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds, would His dressing room have a star?
If He came back tomorrow, well there's somethin' I'd like to know:
Could ya tell me, would Jesus wear a Rolex,
Would jesus wear a Rolex
Would Jesus wear a Rolex
On His television show-ooh-ooh?

Ray Stevens

UWS guy said...

Gott mit Uns

This was stamped onto every belt buckle of every nazi soldier.

UWS guy said...

Oh yeah...almost forgot.


GOODWIN'S LAW

I pronounce this horse beaten.

cyrus pinkerton said...

dewave,

No, I'm very much aware of the book Hitler's Table Talk from which all of the examples you provide are extracted. Those citations come from (roughly) mid-1941 onward. This corresponds to a relatively short period of his life.

Whether or not the quotes you provide are consistent with the "positive Christianity" attributed to Hitler is debatable, I suppose. They may well be. I'd be interested to learn if you have any thoughts on this.

As I noted before, for the great majority of his life, Hitler clearly identified himself as a Christian (of some sort or another). He never identified himself as an atheist. None of the quotes you provide changes that analysis.

barry said...

UWS guy wrote:
"Last I heard America was a representative democratic republic (that's 3 greek words that don't make an appearance in the bible).
We owe more to athens then to the pope."

We owe the words to Athens, but little else. Last I heard, the brief "democratic" period in ancient Athens gave power to a small minority of free males belonging to the Attic race. No foreigners (i.e., other Greeks), women, or slaves had rights. Other Greek polities were often far worse: Sparta was a grotesque male "democratic republic" based on racial slavery, religious militarism, and explicit genocide.

BTW, N and S America were depopulated mostly by disease inadvertently brought by outsiders. Generally the disease preceded the actual appearance of the conquerors. Landfall by explorers and traders was all it took.

As for the African slave trade, it long predated European imperialism, and outlived it. It predated Islam as well, for the record. The "religious" slave traders merely continued and expanded the pre-existing trade to N Africa, Europe and the Middle East. European imperialism actually presided over a huge increase in the African population, thanks to continent-wide security and the intra-African trade it brought.

Revenant said...

Get rid of religion and ten other causes of murder will bloom, whether by one man or ten, by one town or an entire state.

Pogo, I disagree, and here's why: virtually all religions teach not just "you should live this way", but "those who do NOT live this way are morally wrong to do so". Even namby-pamby branches of Christianity like the Episcopal Church do this. Religion is, in most cases, yet another way of saying "there's OUR group, and THEIR group, and OUR group is better than THEIR group" -- with the added bonus of thinking that it is an ineffable and undeniable fact, available to everyone who opens their heart to hearing the truth, that OUR group is indeed the right one. Whenever you split people into us vs. them, you get conflict. When you throw in "and they're morally wrong" it gets worse, and when you add "and they should KNOW they're morally wrong" it gets worse still.

Atheism doesn't do that, because atheism is not a philosophy. Atheism is simply a lack of a particular belief. Atheists can, and do, subscribe to a huge range of philosophies, some of which (e.g., Communism) have the same problem of believing that everyone who isn't part of the system is morally inferior to those within it. Others, like myself, follow a system that amounts to "just don't mess with me and I won't mess with you either".

So no, I don't think that if we got rid of all the religion people would just find new excuses to kill each other. I think we'd see an overall reduction in killing.

Trooper York said...

Never apologize pilgrim; it's a sign of weakness

Skyler said...

Revenant,

Actually, relgions are not necessarily peaceful.

Shintoism believes in ancester worship and encourages oppression and war.

The Aztec religion encouraged warring on others to provide more human sacrifices, fattening children in cages before eating them, and killing the losers in athletic competitions.

Muslims believe in spreading their message of obedience by the sword and killing those that denounce their "faith."

It's only a coincidence that many modern relgions take peace and good will as a message. In fact, that was considered by many as a weakness.

The norse called the christians cowardly. The Romans derisively called them pacifists. Most religions before Christianity did not admire turning the other cheek one bit.

Ann Althouse said...

garage mahal said..."My mother and I were having dinner at the restaraunt next door just talking about him, when who walks in none other than Hitchens. He sits down right next to us, orders a Scotch, 2 shots, and a glass of wine to start things off, then proceeded to boss the wait staff around up until we left. Waited too long for the club soda for his scotch, his bread wasn't crusty enough etc etc etc."

Which restaurant?

Gedaliya said...

GOODWIN'S LAW

It's Godwin's law, btw, named for Mike Godwin, a longtime denizen of The Well, one of the first online "communities" (where I posted for many years under the screen name jdk).

Godwin still owes me $100 for a bet we had on the outcome of the Mark Green/Michael Bloomberg election for Mayor of New York in 2001. The prick never paid up.

Luckyoldson said...

Church's Chicken?

Luckyoldson said...

God with us

Gedaliya said...

Taki Theodoracopulos has a fascinating little essay on the question of Hitler's religion. A good read, highly recommended:

Hitler and the New Nazi Religion

Revenant said...

Actually, relgions are not necessarily peaceful. Shintoism believes in ancester worship and encourages oppression and war.

I didn't say religions were always peaceful. Of course they aren't.

However, you're mistaken in saying that Shintoism in encourages oppression and war. The "State Shinto" introduced by the Japanese government during the late 19th and early 20th century did that, but that form of the religion is no longer practiced.

boinky said...

All those who blame all wars on religion need to read the history of China...
And remember the greatest mass murderer was Ghengis Khan, not Hitler...

As for Hitchens, I always say a prayer for him to find peace. He reminds me of my adopted son, bitter against God for taking his (birth) mother from him...

Ralph said...

I read a couple of Hitchens columns this summer that were worse than phoned in. I give him credit for showing up for CSPAN at 7 am when he was obviously extremely hungover.

Ralph said...

Boinky, you know Hitchens' mother committed suicide with her lover when he was at Oxford, IIRC.

garage mahal said...

Ann asked...

Which restaurant?


Ovations , right next door to the Concourse Hotel approx 7:00pm. We were the only two parties for dinner at the time.

Pogo said...

"I think we'd see an overall reduction in killing."

We disagree then.

Atheists also pull the 'morality' card, primarily when they fall in love with the State. Peter Drucker noted this tendency, "Whatever government does always becomes 'morality'".

It's human nature, I'm afraid. Though I do think we've made progress over these millenia, the slide back into barbarism is a quick one.

Don't hang your hopes on that thin thread of religion gone.

Methadras said...

I wonder if the definition of Atheism really needs to be redefined to mean; having no knowledge of or predisposition of a divine entity or divine being.

The only reason I say this is because I'm coming to the conclusion that self-proclaimed atheists say there is no God and there is no existence of God, but don't you have to have knowledge of the purported existence of a divine being in order to deny that a divine being exists, in order to call yourself an atheist?

I would imagine that under my redefinition, only babies and possibly the severely mentally retarded wouldn't have such knowledge of a divine being and would therefore be true atheists. At this point, as I see it, Atheism is nothing more than a rejection of God or a divine being by people who choose not to accept his/her existence. And for whatever reason they become atheists only they can know, but I tend to side on the idea that they are either God haters, God deniers, have a distrust of religion and therefore of (a) God(s), or they feel forsaken by God for something that did or didn't happen and therefore have forsaken God.

And the reason I say that is because, wouldn’t or shouldn’t a real atheist simply not care about those that do believe in God or are religious? Shouldn’t an atheist simply and blissfully walk alone in his own personal knowledge that no God(s) exist and simply leave it at that? It seems to me that the current dogma of atheism is nothing more than God hatred by people who used to believe in God at one point in their lives.

So why do atheists who write books proclaiming that atheists are correct, that anyone believing in God is Stone Aged and backwards care so much about telling people that God doesn’t exist? Shouldn’t the simply not care and move merrily in their lives with this smug knowledge instead?

Seven Machos said...

I don't buy this little-a atheist and Atheist dichotomy. If you say there is no God, that opens up a line of inquiry and explanation that the serious mind has to follow, if that mind wants to be taken seriously. One obvious thing all atheists must buy into is the conclusion that everything is natural and physical. And that there is nothing more than nature and the physical.

If you sit here and tell me you don't know, I call bullshit. Either you are living a thoroughly unexamined life, in which case you calling yourself an atheist or an Atheist is the same as me calling myself blog commenter laureate. Or you are merely an agnostic dressed up as something else.

Luckyoldson said...

Methadras said...'I wonder if the definition of Atheism really needs to be redefined to mean; having no knowledge of or predisposition of a divine entity or divine being.

The only reason I say this is because I'm coming to the conclusion that self-proclaimed atheists say there is no God and there is no existence of God, but don't you have to have knowledge of the purported existence of a divine being in order to deny that a divine being exists, in order to call yourself an atheist?'

YOU know something everybody here doesn't?

Luckyoldson said...

Seven Machos said...One obvious thing all atheists must buy into is the conclusion that everything is natural and physical. And that there is nothing more than nature and the physical.

Atheism...a disbelief in the existence of deity b: the doctrine that there is no deity

Gedaliya said...

A wonderful portrait of a fascinating man:

Look Who's Talking

SMGalbraith said...

a fascinating man

He does well to be angry.

'Though he knows little about how real Christians behave and think.

As real life flesh-and-blood humans. Not these caricatures and cartoon figures he describes.

Believe it or not, most of them don't spend all their time chasing gays and denouncing liberals.

They just want to learn how to be better people, more loving, more giving, more caring.

SMG

Jeff said...

Luckyoldson,

What is greater than you?

Seven Machos said...

Most of the people I know who are atheists are leftists. I know, of course, that not all atheists are leftists but I think that it's fair to say there is a statistically valid correlation.

What's funny is that leftists believe all kinds of things that just aren't true. For example, they believe that higher taxes will not curb private sector revenue. They believe that free healthcare will not create shortages. They believe that diplomacy will work with tyrants. They believe that there welfare handouts work to get people out of poverty.

And then the atheists among them criticize religious people on the grounds that religious people believe something that, they say, isn't true.

There are a lot worse false things to believe in than a god.

BrianFH said...

Mathadras' definition is a failure; he needs to look up the definition of predisposition. One cannot have a predisposition "of" anything. Perhaps he has a predisposition to spout off without knowing what he's talking about?

Johnny Nucleo said...

Why are so many atheists so full of righteous indignation at injustice?

Why so righteous? Why so indignant? Is not your expectation and disappointment childish?

There is no God, you say? Then let us drink wine, for tomorrow we die.

Luckyoldson said...

Jeff said...Luckyoldson,
What is greater than you?

What????????????

Luckyoldson said...

Jeff...continue to believe and let others decide for themselves.

Seven Machos said...

Lucky -- No, you continue to believe and let others decide for themselves.

Luckyoldson said...

Johnny Nucleo...continue to believe and let others decide for themselves.

Luckyoldson said...

Seven Machos...continue to believe and let others decide for themselves.

Seven Machos said...

Lucky -- No, you continue to believe and let others decide for themselves.

If there has been a ranter here about what to believe, it's you. Hands down. Any objective observer would agree with this assessment. To wit:

ALL religion is bullshit.

blogging cockroach said...

jeff's question makes me think of metaphysics.
i don't want to think of metaphysics this time of night.
i don't want to think about god either.
but i do have a question...
are the doughnut crumbs at st. eulalia's a sign of god's bounty
or are they symbolic of a very fallible institution
that can't even clean up after itself...

at least they have doughnuts and catholic coffee.
catholic coffee is very weak and unsatisfying
a little like atheists' arguments.
on the other hand the unitarians have great coffee
and nice danish rolls that flake and leave such good crumbs.
but they don't seem to believe in god much.
maybe it's like the parable of lazarus and the rich man.
the rich man got all the goodies in this life
and lazarus got his reward up there in heaven with father abraham.
...frankly you could have left out the father abraham part...
anyway, catholic coffee must be symbolic of all the hardship in this life
but then you die and go to a unitarian church basement.

Luckyoldson said...

Original Mike said...Pastor Jeff: Don't you know? Lucky is smarter than God.

What????????????????????????

Seven Machos said...

Another thing, Lucky. You have shown us that can use a dictionary. That's good.

Now, let's think about this. Let's try to get beyond junior high school. I know it's not easy. But try:

We all agree that there is nature. Some of us think there is something else, which can only be called not nature. The actual term for it is supernatural. Is it possible to be an atheist and still believe in something not nature? If it is, what is that thing that is not nature called? How does it act? Whence its power? Does it die? Does it interact with nature?

If you don't believe that nature is all there is, you cannot call yourself an atheist. Whatever else that is out there beyond the scope of nature -- whether it's a god or a spirit or a power -- is sometehing that no atheist can allow and still claim to be an atheist.

These are serious, interesting questions without pat answers. Too bad you are too stupid to comprehend them.

blogging cockroach said...

boy i wish i could type a question mark

blogging cockroach said...

seven,
you might recommend spinoza
but something like his 'ethics'
makes people's heads explode.

Luckyoldson said...

Seven Machos...continue to believe and let others decide for themselves.

Luckyoldson said...

ALL religion is bullshit.

Seven Machos said...

No, Lucky. You continue to believe and let others decide for themselves.

Luckyoldson said...

Seven Machos...let others decide for themselves.

Luckyoldson said...

Seven Machos...Whether or not you agree.........let-others-decide-for-themselves.

Seven Machos said...

Lucky -- I thought you were all about letting others decide for themselves, dude. How can you do that if you are rudely yelling about how all religion is bullshit?

As you suggest, people should be able to decide for themselves.

Your frail logic, such as it is, is failing you. Shouldn't you go back to your question marks?????????????????? Or maybe you should berate people about their profiles. Or maybe you should string together several anti-gay slurs.

Luckyoldson said...

blogging cockroach...............Duh

Luckyoldson said...

Seven Machos...Whether or not you agree.........let-others-decide-for-themselves.

Seven Machos said...

Is there a duller commenter here than Lucky???????????????????

I have decided for myself that there is not.

Luckyoldson said...

Seven Machos...............Duh

Seven Machos said...

1. All religion is bullshit.

2. But everyone should decide for themselves.

3. Therefore, religious people should refrain from commenting.

4. But harebrained, fascist atheists reserve the right to call all religion bullshit.

5. Because we should all be allowed to decide for ourselves.

Luckyoldson said...

Clinton Reports $35 Million In The Bank.........God?

blogging cockroach said...

what a day
for an auto da fé

Seven Machos said...

Getting absolutely pummeled in an argument? Change the subject!

If that doesn't work, try a lot of question marks or maybe some disparaging remarks about gays.

Luckyoldson said...

All religion is bullshit..........opinion.

Luckyoldson said...

disparaging remarks about gays?????

Luckyoldson said...

religious people should refrain from commenting?????

Johnny Nucleo said...

Luckyoldson said: "ALL religion is bullshit."

All except for one: The Funk.

However, when Lucky says, "Let others decide for themselves," he is of course correct. But that is not the question.

Who says that people should not decide for themselves? Is there some group of people out their that want to force their religion on everyone else and create some kind of global theocracy? That would be wild, man, like science fiction or something. That would make a cool movie, though. Check it out: what if they blew some shit up, like a bridge or the Empire State Building? And they were trying to get nukes? That would be cool! But seriously. As if! Thank god (note the little "G") we do not live in such a world.

Luckyoldson said...

atheists reserve the right to call all religion bullshit............yes

Luckyoldson said...

Johnny Nucleo said...when Lucky says, "Let others decide for themselves," he is of course correct.

blogging cockroach said...

you never know when the spanish inquisition will show up

Luckyoldson said...

Johnny Nucleo...correct.

Luckyoldson said...

blogging cockroach...............Duh

Revenant said...

Atheists also pull the 'morality' card, primarily when they fall in love with the State.

Pogo, I noted in my post that some atheists adopt anti-freedom philosophies. My point is that that's not inherent in atheism, because atheism itself HAS no beliefs beyond "there are no gods", and has no inherent *moral* beliefs at all. Obviously atheists who adopt a moral system that encourages moralizing and anti-freedom behavior will -- unsurprisingly -- behave in the manner you describe. But unless 100% of currently-religious folk become atheists of the "in your face" variety, the net result of an abandonment of religion would still be a net reduction in people who view themselves as morally superior to nonbelievers.

Don't hang your hopes on that thin thread of religion gone.

I'm not hanging "all my hopes" on it, I just think we're long past the point where religion was a net positive influence on human behavior. The number of people who would start killing if they *didn't* believe in gods is, I think, less than the number of people who think God wants them to kill people.

The world today, even with all its problems, is a world with much less need, hunger, starvation, disease, and strife than we faced in previous centuries. The three driving forces behind that success over the past century were capitalism, science, and representative democracy -- all of which are fundamentally nonreligious in nature. Religion's contribution during that time, whether good or bad, wasn't very significant either way.

blogging cockroach said...

i tell you this parrot is dead
dead dead dead

mtrobertsattorney said...

I think Methadras might be on to something. His comment reminds me of something my favorite bartender, Ernie, use to ask Freddie N. the neighborhood atheist:

Ernie: Hey Freddy, can you think of a being than which nothing greater can be conceived?

Freddy: Damm right I can.

Ernie: Do you think this being exists?

Freddy: Hell no!

Ernie: Well then you ain't really got an idea of a being than which nothing greater can be conceived cause the being that your thinkin of don't exist. There's an even greater being-one that exists.

Freddy: I don't know what the hell your talkin about.

Uncle Anslem (from the end of the bar): Freddy, if you don't even have an idea or concept of a being than which nothing greater can be conceived, then how can you deny the existence of such a being?

Freddy: aw shut up!

Seven Machos said...

capitalism, science, and representative democracy

I would argue that religious underpinnings is what made all of this possible.

Capitalism and representative democracy have only thrived in places that were first Christianized. Would government and religion allowing the search for truth really be possible without the New Testament?

This is a thesis-sized argument I am not interested in making. Ultimately, I don't think you can seriously argue that the specific morality inherent to Jewish and Christian thought hasn't been the cultivator for capitalism, science, and representative democracy.

Seven Machos said...

Lucky -- so you can push your beliefs on others but others cannot express their beliefs? Is that about right?

blogging cockroach said...

no one expects the spanish inquisition

someday i'll get my python quotes straight.

anyway, let's start piling faggots around atheists pronto...

Revenant said...

Seven,

Most of the people I know who are atheists are leftists.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument that most American atheists are left-wing.

Most homosexuals are left-wing too, and for much the same reason -- the political right is chock full of people who hate atheists and think we're nasty, evil people -- immoral, unpatriotic, and without a role in decent American society. Obviously a political movement attracts few supporters from among those it hates -- so, unsurprisingly, this means that most atheists develop hostility towards right-wingers, and therefore gravitate to the left.

Those atheists who find the Left repugnant -- and there are a lot more of us than you'd think -- generally drift towards libertarianism (if not to the Libertarian Party itself). Libertarianism is, after all, basically small-government Republicanism minus all the fundamentalist Christian crap.

Luckyoldson said...

Seven,
Are you brain dead???

When have I "pushed" anything on anybody regarding religion, God or any such beliefs??

When I say that ALL religion is bullshit...that is MY OPINION. When I say I don't believe in God...that is also MY OPINION.

It's what I believe.

If YOU want to believe otherwise, that's your prerogative and I don't care...one way or another...PERIOD.

But why can't YOU just let others believe or not believe whatever they want?? Why do YOU have to be offended by another person's opinion...especially about something so personal??

You have your own life to live...and I have mine.

To each their own.

blogging cockroach said...

mtroberts,
you have opend the doors of metaphysics.
but it's late and i have a headache.
i was just hoping to burn a heretic or two
and go to bed.

blogging cockroach said...

chacun à son goo

Seven Machos said...

Lucky -- Why do you get to spout your inane opinion if you believe that others must merely continue to believe and let others decide for themselves? Why must others keep their opinions to themselves?

Are you special? Certainly, no one would know it based on your writing ability and the menial critical thinking skills you demonstrate.

Revenant said...

Capitalism and representative democracy have only thrived in places that were first Christianized.

Three observations:

(1): I suspect that it would come as quite a shock to Japan, Taiwan, and India that they have been "Christianized", I suspect.

(2): The majority of the world's Christians live in nations where capitalism and/or representative democracy are in lousy shape: Central and South America, much of Africa, and Russia.

(3): China (to name just one example) has seen a marked improvement in conditions thanks to capitalism and scientific research.

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