Bring up the wrongs of religion (be it the ‘relatively benign’ individual cruelties the churches and religious schooling have visited on the young and feeble – or the truly murderous), and the default knee-jerk retort, the most powerful in the whole arsenal or religion’s defense force, will be launched; a ‘weapon of mass distraction’:
“Yes, but look at atheism’s murders”… They’ll yell – and the rap sheet of totalitarian communism(?!) and it’s fascist cousins will be read out; “Mao, Hitler, Pot, Stalin.”
I’ve heard this “atheist murders” claim a thousand times, yet, the nonsense of it never ceases to stun me for a moment; can the faithful truly be that confused? Or are they simply being devious?
Clearly, the motivation for communism’s opposition to religion has nothing to do with the motivations intelligent and informed atheists have against superstition.
Let’s get the facts and issues straight:
· Communism is an economic doctrine; it is not a philosophic one.
· More to the point: Communism is definitely not a scientific enterprise!
· The proponents of communism did not come to an atheistic conclusion by following any ‘evidence’; they arrived at that conclusion by decree – a decree that is motivated by the grab for power.
In truth, Marxist communism and evolutionary knowledge are at opposite ends of almost any spectrum on which you care to plot them.
Religion – The Opium of the Masses
The father of communism, Karl Marx, wrote against religion in order to neutralize a hurdle in the way of communism’s path-to-power. He understood that a mind addled with religious thoughts and under the spell of distant religious leaders in non-communist economies would be a thorn in the proverbial side of his fledgling new doctrine, as it sought centralized power. That much has got to be obvious to anyone.
Then, under the communist economic model, a cult of personality arose around the various despots who seized and hung onto power through depravity, and, again, motivated by a lust for power. In reality then, though a tool, atheism is an incidental footnote to the murders conceived by madmen, and certainly not its central tenet – as the faithful would make it seem.
Science Incubates Freedom
The communist/fascist power-mongery is as far removed as one can get from the atheistic motivation and views of modern science and its adherents. The sciences, and particularly the quest to understand evolutionary processes, breed the very antithesis of communist barbarism: Evolutionary understanding is the nursery for free thought, for enlightenment, and for humanism. There is a reverence for all life that stems directly from an understanding that humans are not the only show in town, that the world and its beasts were not made for our exclusive pleasure and to do with as we please, and that our ‘in-group’ is not ‘chosen’ to lord over or destroy all other groups.
This analysis as given above should be enough for any reasonable person to appreciate the error in trying to saddle atheism as a whole with an awkwardly fitting hat marked ‘murder’ that doesn’t fit.
I should be able to close the matter here, but, from experience, I know that there is a level of myopia and denial-of-reason that the religious suffer from; and what better way for religion to remove focus from its crumbling island of relevance than to make mischief by muddling minds.
So, I’ll go further now and help you clarify and resolve those well-stirred thoughts.
Let’s knock several more stakes into the heart of this “you atheists have killed millions” lie to ensure it is forevermore banished.
Filling a Godlike Vacuum
For the past century, communism has been a clear and present danger to religion, but, the mere decrees of communism against practicing religion leaves an undereducated individual as ‘empty’ as ever in grasping the origins and ‘purpose’ of his or her life. When you consider it, perhaps this is part of the answer why the cult of a ‘godlike’ personality can step into that breach.
Religion gleefully seizes on that example and lectures us that, where god is absent, despotism takes root. But that is tripe.
We only have to look to the educated, secular, Scandinavians and their 85%-plus atheist populations to realize that democracy, decency, and high moral integrity can persist when, and possibly ‘because’, God is expunged. That same dignity and gentleness is obvious when you follow the writings of or listen to the lectures of the 97% of the 1,200 Fellows of Science who are atheists.
The difference between the tragedies of Marxist/Fascist murders and the prosperity (of ‘spirit’) of Scandinavia, of course, is higher education. Filling that ‘blind belief’ gap, where superstition and fairytales are excised, with knowledge and understanding is the most important tonic for a healthy decency.
In communist countries, we’re regaled with stories of religion skulking back in, unseen by the authorities, trying to find its toehold in the peasant mind.
But, not so in Scandinavia; we hear nothing about resurgence of religion among educated people. Like a vampire exposed in the glare of illuminated memes, religion has accepted its defeat fair and square and retreated without a whimper to the shadows of more distant and darker lands that are still cloaked by superstition, and under the twilight of religion’s dark cape.
There, religion plots its stand against looming science; snarling and hissing it’s ferocious Abrahamic wartalk.
This trend is beautifully illustrated in that swathe that bisects the United States called “The Bible Belt”. Ahead of the upcoming Republican nomination for President, we see it amplified to fever pitch, with each of the fiercely patriarchal nominees assuring his rabidly Christian blue-collared supporters that God Himself has whispered His support. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.
For the record, across the water, Yahweh has evidently also been rather busy, stirring the Middle East to a nice rolling boil.
I highlight these issues; of religion raising the tempo on its war drums; to illustrate a point. Remember, the entire discussion here revolves around Christians projecting that all atheists of the murders instigated by Marxist and fascist leaders. The context of these accusations is always to suggest that, ‘religion is a peaceful enterprise’, while atheism itself is somehow a murderous concept – yet the facts I’ve spelled out here clearly speak otherwise.
As if to highlight the lie, our epoch will be marked in history by secularists begging their angry religious fellows to avert a self fulfilling Armageddon.
Let’s briefly understand how we got to this point of contention:
Science is not Religion’s Enemy – It’s the Other Way Round
Let us be absolutely clear about one thing, science did not set out to pick a fight with religion – Science is in the business of finding facts and debunking myths – that is all. Unfortunately, for two or more thousand years, religion has made its daily bread from that same business of trying to explain existence. Unfortunately for religion, it’s time of reckoning has come, and its ancient philosophies that it claims are unchanging have been debunked; one by one.
This sets the scene for an unavoidable collision and backlash.
The fact that science has inevitably and indifferently answered most of the questions that religion had been fumbling with for eons is without intent or malice against religion. The collateral damage done ‘to’ religion in that process is, from the scientific perspective, simply incidental and academic.
Religion doesn’t see it that way. The flocks are scattering and the gravy train is cooling and clotting.
The religions have seen it coming, and tried to hop and skip their way out of the rising flood of knowledge; religion first ‘reformed’ its message, it then got itself ‘reborn’, and, of late, it wears a fabulous new cloak called ‘intelligent design’ - in which it tries to camouflage itself in the language of science.
Fighting Fire With Fire
The evangelicals and fundamentalists have also sensed their rapidly evaporating magisteria, and they in particular, lead the charge by attacking science on many fronts; seeking to discredit, or attempting to project gross violations onto the ‘offending’ sciences; and evolution in particular.
If you consider that “the ends justifying the means”, the smear strategy has some merit: Obscure as it may be in reality, once the connection is made; “Communists are anti-religious and so are evolutionists”; the erroneous nonsense that “therefore, evolutionists – who are atheists – are responsible for terrible murders” may be a fatally twisted piece of logic, but the stain it can leave in the unsophisticated mind is hard to erase.
Confronted by this type of attack-as-a-defense, there are now many in the science community who are fed-up and lashing back: Though science itself is and should be fundamentally indifferent to religion, it is unavoidable that we who celebrate the freedoms science brings us must sometimes go on the offensive to hurl off the old bronze-aged bridles with which we would otherwise again be roped and doped.
For those who haven’t already seen it, I believe that one of my previous articles might help get your head around how religion operates like a virus, bending otherwise rational people’s heads to its will, see:
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.