The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Oooohh...Atheists Are The Bad Guys After All

There's this writer named Dinesh D'Souza who holds something called the Rishwain Fellowship at a place called the Hoover Institution. He wrote an article I'd like to discuss for a sec, if I may.

He says that atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are mistaken when they blame religion for the huge amounts of deaths and murders and atrocities in the past and that it really is atheism that holds the record for bodies piled up. Particularily for slaughters in "the last few decades". He brings up the usual suspects:
In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match.

Well, that's true, but likely only because of advanced technology - you know, better ways of killin' folks. And I would disagree that these asshats were trying to achieve a "religion-free utopia".

D'Souza seems to be another in the getting-ever-longer line of people who are criticizing Harris and Dawkins without ever reading their books. I mean, Dawkins in The God Delusion has a section on this exact subject. Not to mention that Hitler's atheism is quite suspect. Dawkins himself cites from Mein Kampf on page 273 of Delusion where Hitler says, "I sank down on my knees and thanked Heaven out of the fullness of my heart for the favour of having been permitted to live in such a time", when he heard about the declaration of WWI. There are numerous other examples of Hitler's religious nature, but quite frankly, it's irrelevant.

D'Souza continues:
Moreover, many of the conflicts that are counted as "religious wars" were not fought over religion. They were mainly fought over rival claims to territory and power.

Sure, but many of them used religion as a motivating force for the soldiers. That's the point Dawkins and Harris are making. Even if the wars/conflicts aren't explicitly about religion, they are made more deadly because people either aren't afraid of dying (because there's a "better place beyond this") or are convinced that they are right and that god is on their side, therefore killing the foe is fine because the creator of the universe is our buddy and he says it's ok.

Dawkins and Harris cannot explain why, if Nazism was directly descended from medieval Christianity, medieval Christianity did not produce a Hitler.

Sure they can - because it did produce a Hitler: Pope Urban II who started off the First Crusade. The Christian warriors cried, "Deus vult!" or "God wills it!" while they did their killing. Did they kill as many as Hitler did? No, but they also didn't have gas chambers. Maybe I'm just better at using Google than D'Souza.

He finishes with this ludricrous bit:
Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth. Of course if some people - the Jews, the landowners, the unfit, or the handicapped - have to be eliminated in order to achieve this utopia, this is a price the atheist tyrants and their apologists have shown themselves quite willing to pay. Thus they confirm the truth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's dictum, 'If God is not, everything is permitted.'

...The indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have...not managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades.

Ok, my problem with this guy is that he's talking about shit that is dealt with in the books he is criticizing, making it fairly obvious that he either didn't read them or read and didn't understand. Again from Delusion on pages 272-3, Dawkins says, Even if we accept that Hilter and Stalin shared atheism in common, they both also had moustaches, as does Saddam Hussein. So What?...What matters is not whether Hitler and Stalin were atheists, but whether atheism systematically influences people to do bad things.

Exactly, Rich. Not too many people have been killed "in the name of atheism". Atheists have killed folks - certainly Stalin - but he did it because he wanted power and control (and in his later years he was a bit of a paranoid crazy person). A lot of people have been killed in the name of religion. The fact that D'Souza either is ignorant of this or chooses to avoid the issue makes him come off as a disingenuous prick.

Oh, and the Dostoyevsky bit? That's just plain stupid. As Michael Shermer says in The Science of Good and Evil (also referenced in Dawkins' Delusion): "If you agree that, in the absence of God, you would 'commit robbery, rape, and murder', you reveal yourself as an immoral person, 'and we would be well advised to steer a wide course around you.' If on the other hand, you admit that you would continue to be a good person even when not under divine surveillance, you have fatally undermined your claim that God is necessary for us to be good." So morals exist regardless of god(s). Thanks for coming out, dipshit. Enjoy your fellowship.

10 Barbaric Yawps:

At 22/11/06 12:47 am, Anonymous Melissa said...

Woohoo!!!! ::applause::

 
At 22/11/06 9:53 am, Anonymous NoodlyPirate said...

The trouble is it's like arguing with a record- it keeps saying the same arguments no matter how many times they are refuted.

 
At 22/11/06 10:10 am, Blogger Paul said...

I think one point that can be taken from that article, although the writer didn't seem smart enough to state it explicitly, is that human beings kill each other. We cannot seem to live together without some kind of conflict, and if we hadn't invented religion to blame our hatred of others on, we'd have invented other reasons. That is why, for me, the biggest fight is not against religion specifically, but irrationality in general.

 
At 22/11/06 10:29 am, Blogger Chris said...

You should read last months Wired magazine. The cover story is "The New Atheism". It's very good. Here is a link to the online story http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.11/atheism.html

 
At 22/11/06 11:54 am, Blogger Seven Star Hand said...

Hey Big Mike,

Though we might disagree on the Creator, we certainly agree that religion is blatant deception that has caused great evil throughout the ages. Anyone who denies this is being purposely deceptive themselves and therein lies one of the great dangers of religion.

Truth and justice never remain defeated forever !!

Peace...

 
At 22/11/06 6:48 pm, Anonymous Skeptico said...

Direct quotes from Hitler in Mein Kampf

"Due to his own original special nature, the Jew cannot possess a religious institution, if for no other reason because he lacks idealism in any form, and hence belief in a hereafter is absolutely foreign to him. And a religion in the Aryan sense cannot be imagined which lacks the conviction of survival after death in some form. Indeed, the Talmud is not a book to prepare a man for the hereafter, but only for a practical and profitable life in this world."

And:

"The best characterization is provided by the product of this religious education, the Jew himself. His life is only of this world, and his spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity as his nature two thousand years previous was to the great founder of the new doctrine. Of course, the latter made no secret of his attitude toward the Jewish people, and when necessary he even took to the whip to drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity, who then as always saw in religion nothing but an instrument for his business existence. In return, Christ was nailed to the cross, while our present-day party Christians debase themselves to begging for Jewish votes at elections and later try to arrange political swindles with atheistic Jewish parties-and this against their own nation."

Hitler was an atheist. Sure he was.

 
At 22/11/06 7:14 pm, Blogger BigHeathenMike said...

Hey Chris,
I just read that article in Wired. It was quite good and not completely negative (a nice change!). Thanks for the link :)

 
At 24/11/06 5:02 pm, Anonymous ATM said...

Oh, and skeptico, don't forget these "atheistic" jewels from Herr Adolf:

"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

In reference to Arayans:

"But if out of smugness, or even cowardice, this battle is not fought to its end, then take a look at the peoples five hundred years from now. I think you will find but few images of God"

And:

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.... We need believing people."
-- Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933

Yup, definitely an atheist. That must be why Nazi soldiers have "God is with us" on their belt buckles.

 
At 24/11/06 11:42 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does no one ever wonder where Hitler got his anti-Semitism from in the first place? Hitler was a Roman Catholic; as a boy he wanted to join the priesthood; he was raised in the strict atmosphere of Jew-hating Roman Catholicism. And why do these Christian lunatics hate Jews? Because they murdered Jesus. Yep; centuries of persecution because Christians hated Jews who killed their god...all those millions of deaths because of a stupid belief. I'm sure that if those insane bastards of the Catholic Church in the middle ages had the weapons we possess today, there would be no one alive right now save those masturbating bastards called Catholic priests. To learn more about Hitler’s Christian beliefs, check out the brilliant writings of Jim Walker at www.nobeliefs.com

 
At 28/11/06 12:24 pm, Blogger Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Remember, Mike, that Dinesh D'Souza is ALSO the person who argued that the main reason for Islamic terrorism was our freedoms, particularly our free speech and our sexual freedoms, and that THEREFORE the best way of defeating Al Qaeda was giving up these freedoms -- and no, he wasn't, sadly, being sarcastic.

You might also check out his book THE END OF RACISM for more fascinating glimpses into this shriveled mind.

Prup (aka Jim Benton)

 

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