Atheists and secularists love to trot out the canard that religion has harmed more people than it has helped, and has been at the root of many or most world concflicts. However, in Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history, Dinesh D’Souza,Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, argues that actually, atheism is responsible for more murders in history. His points are summarized below.
Dinesh D’Souza’s claims, most of which I agree with:
The familiar accusation: “The Crusades slaughtered millions in the name of Jesus. The Inquisition brought the torture and murder of millions more. After Martin Luther, Christians did bloody battle with other Christians for another three centuries.”
Ignoring the crimes of atheism – “The problem with this critique is that it exaggerates the crimes attributed to religion, while ignoring the greater crimes of secular fanaticism.”
How many killed?
- Salem Witch Trials (25)
- Crusades (10,000 to 100,000) – note that the Crusades were most likely a justified defensive war after 400 years of Muslim aggression, and were not used to spread Christianity or take revenge, but to free captured lands from Muslim oppression.
- Atheism (>100,000,000,000) – at the hands of the militant anti-religious atheists Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong
- (NOTE: I disagree with D’Souza that Hitler was atheist – he publicly claimed Christian faith, but in private conversations, derided the church and persecuted Christian dissenters like Deitrich Bonhoeffer. His actual ideology was more likely a mix of Darwinism, Arianism, and occultism.)
Many wars attributed to religion are not religious in nature – “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…. Ethnic rivalry, not religion, is the source of the tension in Northern Ireland and the Balkans [for example]”
Nazism often mistakenly characterized as Christian – “Dawkins and Harris cannot explain why, if Nazism was directly descended from medieval Christianity, medieval Christianity did not produce a Hitler. How can a self-proclaimed atheist ideology, advanced by Hitler as a repudiation of Christianity, be a “culmination” of 2,000 years of Christianity? Dawkins and Harris are employing a transparent sleight of hand that holds Christianity responsible for the crimes committed in its name, while exonerating secularism and atheism for the greater crimes committed in their name.”
NOTE: Also, despite the cries of revisionism, I think the recent books and TV specials linking social Darwinism, and by extension, evolutionary thinking, as the scientific underpinnings of the eugenics practiced by Hitler is worth investigating. Rather than being Christian in nature, Hitler’s revolution is more probably linked with the pseudo-science of Darwinism – but that’s a separate discussion. See
- From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany
- The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism
- Evolution’s Fatal Fruit
- From Darwin’s Theory to Hitler’s Holocaust
- Darwin’s Deadly Legacy
- Darwin at Nurenberg and other Darwin Papers
- Darwinism and the Nazi Race Holocaust
Religious fanatics commit evil in religion’s name, but Jesus’ teaching stand as a rebuke to such, not a support – “Religious fanatics have done things that are impossible to defend, and some of them, mostly in the Muslim world, are still performing horrors in the name of their creed. But if religion sometimes disposes people to self-righteousness and absolutism, it also provides a moral code that condemns the slaughter of innocents. In particular, the moral teachings of Jesus provide no support for – indeed they stand as a stern rebuke to – the historical injustices perpetrated in the name of Christianity.”
If God is not, everything is permitted – The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. 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 long and short of it? It is the fallenness and wickedness of man that creates wars. Abusing faith, or being rooted in false and evil religions like (militant) Islam, people do evil in *spite* of God. And those who reject God with the bathwater of man’s religious evil fall into their own trap – depending entirely on mankind for morality, they fall prey to their own fallenness, fulfilling the dictum “ultimate power corrupts ultimately.” Man needs God to keep from self-deception and selfish or misguided justifications for doing evil.
“Whatever the motives for atheist bloodthirstiness, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in 2,000 years not managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades.
It’s time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the greatest source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history.”
The historical fact is that, whenever atheism has had it’s day, it has produced murder, despite what generous and kind atheists like to say. This is not because atheists are any more sinful than anyone else, nor do they usually set out to murder. They set out to make the world better. But, their own hatred for God and sinful nature eventually take over. I’m not sure why this is, but I suspect that some of it is because, without God, there is no real reason to sacrifice for others or do good. In fact, you more likely would end up with a Randian utopia where the weak and helpless who can’t do for themselves are left to die so that the strong may carry on.
- Atrocities of Atheism (a 6-part series from Freedom Defender)