Why do atheists not focus on the evil done by atheistic regimes?

Atheistic regimes like Pol Pot’s, Stalin’s, and Hitler’s caused great pain, suffering, and loss of life.

Posted: June 8th 2007

SmartLX www

Firstly I must separate Hitler from the others. He never renounced his Christianity, the Nazi Party retained strong ties with the Roman Catholic church (there were plenty of crosses about with swastikas on them) and Hitler even saw Jesus as a role model for recognising the Jews as enemies.

It is misleading to call the other systems atheistic regimes. None of them say, “There is no God, therefore do this.” Communist regimes are actively atheistic only because they do not work as intended. I’ll explain.

Marx’s original quote “religion is the opium of the people” is the end of a passage where he describes religion as a symptom of oppression. The masses need it because they’re suffering, he said. Therefore, taking it away would remove their false happiness and force them to find real happiness.

It’s never worked out that way in practice. People in now-Communist countries have continued to suffer under the new regimes. The authorities see the persistence of religion in spite of Marx’s words as a possible indicator to outsiders that the system is failing. Rather than fix the system, they continue to squash religion and declare to the world, “Look at our happy people who no longer need their opium!”

The other reason for suppressing religions is that each one comes with its own philosophy and ideology. None of them are exactly like the Communist ideology, so they are all effectively rivals to Communism. Atheism is merely a position, so the Communist authorities are happy to substitute it in when they evict the religions. (At least somebody gets the idea that atheism isn’t a religion.)

Communism and fascism do not follow from atheism, and neither do the atrocities committed in the name of commnunism and fascism. Atheism is just the gap left by the forced removal of religion for ideological and PR purposes.

Posted: November 13th 2007

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They do. Hitchens and Dawkins spend considerable time on those regimes.

Following a political or economic ideology, with its abstract Utopian ideal which transcends the individual, is a form of religion. Many of the same elements are there: unquestioning conformity, leader worship, an intangible ideal to strive towards, violence towards individuals who object to principles, etc.

Ideology is simply a non-theistic religion.

The secular regimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc., didn’t kill in the name of atheism, or by adopting Enlightenment principles of the scientific method – reason, openness, questioning debate, libertarianism, etc. Proponents of these politically focused regimes were very unscientific, Lysenko being a good example. Another example of not encouraging science to flourish was the killing of Jews who dominated 20th century Physics and Chemistry in order to “improve” society.

Today, the most atheistic countries of Scandinavia have the highest standard of living in the world, together with the highest equality, foreign aid, environmental cleanliness, literacy, longevity, low crime, female political participation, etc. These countries – Sweden, Norway, etc. – could be said to be more representative of atheism as they are adopting genuine Enlightenment principles: openness, tolerance, scientific inquiry, equality, and a sense of social community without negating the individual.

Posted: June 9th 2007

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