The Atheist Atrocities Fallacy

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The Pragmatic's picture
The Atheist Atrocities Fallacy

A common version of this argument is: "Hitler was an Atheist, Stalin was an Atheist, and they killed millions of people!"

Sometime Pol Pot or other actors are brought into the argument as well.

This argument is referred to as "The Atheist Atrocities Fallacy", and this fallacy is all to common. It is ignorant and naive.

Atheism, "the lack of belief in a god or gods", is only that and nothing more: A stance on the question of belief in a god.
It is in neither a religious or a political doctrine.

Hitler was by no means a confirmed atheist. Some say he was, some say he wasn't.
But for the sake of argument, assuming that he was an atheist: Does anyone really claim to believe that Hitler was motivated to kill Jews and start a World War because of 'lack of faith in a god or gods'?
Or does anyone think Stalin killed all those people because 'the lack of proof for god caused him to become unconvinced of gods existence'?
Does anyone think that people ever have been killed in the honour of 'no god at all'?

To me, this alone is enough to put an end to that argument. If they believed in a god or not is irrelevant.

---

For those of you who still has the need to pursue the argumentation, here is some interesting information on the subject.

https://michaelsherlockauthor.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/the-atheist-atroc...
http://www.nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm
http://www.nobeliefs.com/mementoes.htm

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watchman's picture
Regardless of the of the

Regardless of the of the reasons Hitler , Stalin and Pol Pot .... were not in the first rank.....

Pol Pot managed approx 3 million.
Stalin got as far as approx 9.5 million
Hitler made it as far as 11 million ..............( all figures are approximate and/or debatable , but are there or there about ).

However for the really big hitters....we need the religious.... Google the Taiping Rebellion...

20 million in a 14 year messianic uprising of Chinese christians ...
"led by Hong Xiuquan, who announced that he had received visions in which he learned that he was the younger brother of Jesus".

Apollo's picture
Watchman you are assuming

Watchman you are assuming this is a numbers game. Atrocities really have nothing to do with who was an Atheist, and who was a theist.

WW2, started by Nazi's with no commitment to theism and Japan (not theists) was around 60 million. But since this is not really a numbers game, as you and others seem to assume it is, the numbers does't prove anything. The root of evil is human greed regardless of one's position on theism or Atheism. There are greedy theist and greedy atheist, and they are both capable of evil acts.

The very idea that theism is the root of evil, and atheists are the way, the truth and the life is absurd.

CyberLN's picture
Cso you're saying that the

So you're saying that the wholesale slaughter of people is a result of greed and is evil?

watchman's picture
Apollo ..... I assume nothing

Apollo ..... I assume nothing.....

I was merely providing statistical back up for Pragmatics description of the Atheist Atrocity Fallacy ....

You will note I began by saying "regardless of reasons "..... I was not ascribing theism or atheism as a cause of atrocities ...just giving access to the numbers...

I deemed this necessary as ,in the past I have seen theists draw some very silly assumptions ,on this very subject..... for instance I'm pretty sure no atheist ever claimed that atheism is the way ,the truth and the light.

Also , re the Japanese you may profit from looking up Shintoism .and "Japanese Emperor worship" makes an interesting read too.

Not sure what this makes of your "Japan (not theists))"

Apollo's picture
There are no statistics

There are no statistics without assumptions. So when you say you were giving access to *the* numbers I don't buy your assumption that your numbers are *the* numbers. Many of you guys seem to be heavily influenced by positivist philosophy, a relic of a by gone age. In your case I get this from your implicit (false) claim that statistics does not rely on assumptions. With all due respect you guys are constantly appealing to some foundation free of assumptions, beliefs, and the like. Its a delusion. Statistics does not provide any belief free or assumption free foundation for your perspective.

It could be that Japanese Emperor worship falls under theism. Never thought about it much before. I'll remain agnostic on that until I get time to look into to it more deeply.

ImFree's picture
“To me, this alone is enough

“To me, this alone is enough to put an end to that argument. If they believed in a god or not is irrelevant.”

I agree with you Pragmatic, don’t think theists will end the argument. They still argue about Noah’s Ark (Ken Ham and company) but we can hope (hate using the word faith LOL).

Apollo's picture
*Some* theists argue about

*Some* theists argue about Noah's Ark. Others see it for what it is - a story borrowed from the Gilgamesh story, and reshaped into a metaphor for Hebrew religious and cultural purposes.

A lot of you Atheists pick on the weakies - the Fundamentalists - who are mixed up, like you are.

Atrocities are about greed, regardless of creed.

ImFree's picture
Your quick to use an ad

Your quick to use an ad hominem retort, creationists often resort to that when confronted with explaining the absurd stories in the bible.

Concerning “ a story borrowed from the Gilgamesh story” you forgot to include: The Epic of Atra-Hasis and the Ziusudra story. The Noah story is the youngest story by about a thousand years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_um69RqBpSw

If you believe the Noah version is not influenced by the previous stories, your the one that is “mixed up’, which is a common Christian creationist affliction.

ImFree's picture
Apollo the fact that you were

Apollo the fact that you were aware of the Epic of Gilgamesh and now Epic of Atra-Hasis and the Ziusudra stories indicates you’re aware of the extreme probability these stories influenced the Noah story. Combined with the geological evidence that such a worldwide flood did not occur, I know this casts doubt in your mind concerning what really happened. You like many Christian apologists avoid prefer to avoid these stories and focus on philosophical word games (William Lane Craig, Matt Slick, Sye Ten Bruggencate etc.) since more and more evidence accumulates countering you beliefs. I think your beginning to realize what you were taught was true is not.

Apollo's picture
ImFree,

ImFree,

Maybe you should read my post about Noah again. I read the Gilgamesh epic over 40 years ago. If I remember right I think I wrote the autor of the Noah story "borrowed it from*, and reshaped it for his own purposes. You seem to be assuming I just heard of it. You have great faith in your assumptions and interpretations.

I didn't claim a worldwide flood occurred. It is obviously impossible.

"I know this casts doubt in your mind about what really happened": - Again you are exhibiting faith in your assumptions. I wrote previously in this thread what I think really happened, and I still believe what I think really happened.

"You like many Christian apologists avoid prefer to avoid these stories and focus on philosophical word games". Yet again you are exhibiting great faith in your assumptions. I don't avoid these stories. What I am learning here is you jump to conclusions and you have great faith in them.

the list of names you give (William Lane Craig, Matt Slick, Sye Ten Bruggencate etc.) are not ones who have influenced me. Again you are jumping to conclusions and assuming. You have great faith in your imaginings.

"since more and more evidence accumulates countering you beliefs. I think your beginning to realize what you were taught was true is not". You imagination is running away with you. Again you have great faith in the conclusions you jump to. What I think of the Noah story is about the same as what Northrop Frye believes. And since you are so knowledgeable about my beliefs, and what I read, I'm sure you would know the exact book and page where he discusses it. And while you are at it, why don't you outline what I was taught and who taught me and when, as I seem to have misplaced my Curriculum vitae, and according to you , you have an exact copy if it.

Actually, you are at best an average atheist. I hope you keep working at it and become an above average one.

ImFree's picture
Your the one that believes in

Your the one that believes in Christianity. Please, no assumption accusations here since you admit to that in your profile. Sorry you can't figure out the bible/christianity is a lie. Maybe some day you will. I don't care how you waste your life and time.

ImFree's picture
Your the one that believes in

Your the one that believes in Christianity. Please, no assumption accusations here since you admit to that in your profile. Sorry you can't figure out the bible/christianity is a lie. Maybe some day you will. I don't care how you waste your life and time.

ROYISM 's picture
Pragmatic

Pragmatic

The reason that theists bring up these figures (at least as far as i understand), is as a rebuttal to atheist claims that religion is at the heart of all evil. Even in this thread you can see watchman making that attempt.

All that it proves is that violence is a fundamental human nature, and man uses anything that is at his disposal to justify violence. People have made use of religion and other ideologies to justify violence.

But to squarely blame religion for all the violence is unfair.

watchman's picture
Valiya .....

Valiya .....

You disappoint.....

"atheist claims that religion is at the heart of all evil. Even in this thread you can see watchman making that attempt."

I attempted no such thing.....

You are painting with far too broad a brush ..... come man....I expected better from a member of the fourth estate.

I'd be obliged if you could show me where I have ever said anything that could possibly be construed as supporting the position that religion is at the heart of ALL evil.

By the way ... is your current avatar little Haya ?

ROYISM 's picture
Hi Watchman

Hi Watchman

By bringing up a 'theist' stat that is worse than the 'atheist' stat... what are you trying to prove? I thought you are trying to show that religion is capable of greater evil.

And my current Avatar is not little haya... it's hiba, my first daughter... but it's a very old photo. Now she is 10 years old.

Nice to chat with you again. I have always enjoyed engaging you in discussions.

Mangal Das's picture
Hitler was an Atheist, Stalin

Hitler was an Atheist, Stalin was an Atheist, and they killed millions of people!
I can not understand what has Atheism to do with being a murderer . What about burning witches, Raping women, Killing Galileo for truth, Crusade ,Islamic Terrorism etc ?
Bad person can be found anywhere irrespective of cast , creed, culture and religion.

CyberLN's picture
Galileo was not killed.

Galileo was not killed.

NordicFox's picture
Indeed.

Indeed.

Socrates was sentenced to death, and died like a boss rejecting religious 'law' though!

NordicFox's picture
Hitler was a devout Catholic,

Hitler was a devout Catholic, who believed in the "6,000 year old earth" and used Catholic ideology to fuel his hate of Judaism.

Honestly, Catholicism vs. Judaism is the same to me as the Muslim "Sunni vs Shiite" wars.

But Hitler did indeed believe in Catholicism, and so did Mussolini (who helped build the Vatican, and was hailed by a pope as a "good man").

You bring up good points, but I just wanted to point out that Hitler was not, in fact, an Atheist. He was also willing to believe in the occult along with Himmler, proving he was also not a skeptic.

CyberLN's picture
I think there is a distinct

I think there is a distinct difference between someone who kills in the name of a/theism and someone who is a/theist and kills.

Apollo's picture
The bottom line is Atheists

The bottom line is Atheists murder too. This thread is trying to make atheism noble by claiming atheists don't murder in the name of atheism (so therefore atheists have some moral superiority). What bunk.

Interestingly, many of the internal Germans who tried to stop Hitler by assassination attempts, and by other means were theists. Where the heck were the Atheists? Populating the SS?

NordicFox's picture
Atheism has never been a

Atheism has never been a motivation for murder. Have some murderers been Atheists? Sure. But what is 'bunk' sir is claiming that it causes murder, 99.9% of all murderers, rapists, etc have believed in a god at some point or another.

Many hard-time prisoners convert to christianity because they feel it 'brings forgiveness'. An atheist is actually less likely to commit a crime that results in a life in prison.... If you believe in NO afterlife, NO forgiving deity.... Why would you waste the one life you get in a prison cell?

Apollo's picture
NordicFox,

NordicFox,
"An atheist is actually less likely to commit a crime that results in a life in prison...."
Hi. you are making claims that are part of your belief system. But why should I believe it?
some reasons why people take the risk of prison is pride and greed regardless of creed.

The Pragmatic's picture
This is seems to be the only

This is seems to be the only real statistics to be found about that.
http://www.holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm

Catholic 39.164%
Protestant 35.008%
Atheist 0.209%

Edit:

My bad, fresher data exists. From 2013:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/07/16/what-percentage-...

Of the prisoners willing to give their religious affiliations (and that’s an important caveat), atheists make up 0.07% of the prison population.

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
74% Christians.

74% Christians.
This happens mainly because of 2 reasons:

1)The guilt con game works well with guilty people.

or

2)Christians are more prone to crime since they are used to the idea of everything is forgiven.

Reality check;
Not just yet Christians, only in your mind it works that way.
Until you are recognized as the insane people you are, you still need to be subjected to the laws of sane people.

I know it is not fair, but nothing is fair in this world.
We should work together so you get that certificate :P

Apollo's picture
pragmatic,

pragmatic,

The absolute numbers do not prove your point. If, for example 50% of total population were atheists, and only 0.2% ended up in prison that would be impressive.

What if the total % of atheists were .2% and in prison .2% were atheists. then the prison merely reflects the % in the total population.

Question: What % of the population in the country identify as atheists?
Other comment: Catholic 39 + Protestant 35 = 74 Isn't that merely reflective of the % in the total population?

Anyway, I don't buy your methodology.

Motives for felonies don't show 'I killed for God" very much. Its more like I killed for the money, or for revenge, to eliminate a witness to a crime, and so on. To me it seems like greed underlies a lot of crime and has not much to do with religious affiliation. Theists in prison generally are not there because of their religion.

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
"Theists in prison generally

"Theists in prison generally are not there because of their religion."
true but it shows that religion does not keep them out of prison or better persons.

Practically proving that religion is useless and only good for evil things.
raping of children, suicide bombers, scams, control people, get more votes you do not deserve.

The Pragmatic's picture
@Apollo

@Apollo

I'm not giving you my opinion, so I don't get your comments like "I don't buy your methodology". I'm just giving you some raw data.
You grab assumptions out of the air all the time. Example: "Motives for felonies don't show 'I killed for God" very much."

Please, tell us who claimed this? Where?
You make unfounded assumptions and then spit on atheists because of these assumptions. This only shows how anything you say is pure bias. Please, start showing me that I am wrong.

-------------------------------------------------

Thanks to The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta, we have even more interesting data about the prison population in the US.
"Atheists Now Make Up 0.1% of the Federal Prison Population"
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/08/21/atheists-now-mak...
This time it's even a state by state breakdown.

Apollo's picture
I lack belief in objective

I lack belief in objective "raw data". The atheist scientist that I am heavily influenced by doesn't either.

Well, Ted Bundy didn't claim he killed for God. No one who believes O.J. was guilty of murder thinks he did it for God. My opinion on this matter comes from watching the news of high profile crimes. There are probably some who say they did it for God, like that military psychiatrist who went on mass killing spree.

Getting back to "raw data". Data is selected. In the selection of it, the selector makes choices, evaluations, and judgments. Consequently, "data" always relies on human evaluation, judgment, and choices. Ergo, it can not be objective.

I think your raw data excludes things that are inconvenient to your perspective. For example, USA and allies sometimes send troops to fight terrorism. Supposing 70% of troops who are sent to fight terrorism identify as theist, and. 0.2% identify as atheist. What would that mean?

Incidentally, I was taught by theist professors that the Crusades were atrocious and a most disgusting low point in the history of Christianity. Would your view of theists allow you to accept the idea that theists can evaluate the Crusades in that way?

psgamer92's picture
Hello Apollo, happy to have

Hello Apollo, happy to have you here.

The difference between genocides, atrocities, and such that are committed by atheists/non-believers is quite different. I have yet to hear a single atheist in modern times or in history kill people for them not believing in a higher being. If you have evidence for this I am open to it. Atheists that have committed genocides and such usually do it in a mix of politics, power, etc...

Where as on the other hand there is plenty of evidence to show that theists have killed in the name of their God. Abortion clinic bombings by Christians in America. You have the genocide of Muslims going on in Burma. Boko Haram, ISIL, Anti-balaka, etc. History also clearly shows us this. As mentioned above you have the Crusades, the Inquisition, Colonizing the Americas and more, 9/11, the current state of radical Islam. When a member of ISIL kills in the name of Islam, it's a safe bet to take his word for it. Even an Unorthodox Jew stabbed homosexuals during a recent Pride Rally in Israel.

Now I will not exclude the fact that it isn't solely religion that plays a part in these genocides. You also have to consider as stated earlier the politics and such that play into it. The striking observation however is that in the three Abrahamic religions, theists are required by their texts to observe the laws stated within them. Politics and such play a part because of the law required by a radical interpretation of said texts. When it comes to religion, especially the Abrahamic ones, it's not as easy to separate religion and law as they go hand in hand. It's why most Middle Eastern countries are Islam theocracies and why some want America as a Christian Theocracy. Killing or doing immoral things in the vein of a God for politics emphasizes how those politics play a role because of their role in religion.

Now of course it's not as simple as that. There is a matter of psychology, sociology, etc... Also a fact of how the Western world treated the Middle East with politics and diplomacy after World War II. Lastly, economical reasons as to why these groups rise or why genocides happen. The clear distinction however between atrocities committed by atheists and theists is that one's disbelief in a God doesn't influence them to commit genocide so much as the latter when their belief in God does.

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