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political atheismImagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

 – John Lennon (Imagine)

There are lies, damned lies, and neo-atheist polemics. One of the most egregious examples of such godless mendacity is the claim that religion has been the cause of most of the wars that have blighted humanity throughout its blood-stained history. In a world with “no religion”, so the argument runs, there would be “nothing to kill or die for”. Such nonsense is only believable if we remain willfully ignorant of the lessons of history.

Almost all wars have been the consequence of human selfishness (a synonym for godlessness) and have been carried out according to the principles of that proto-secularist and incorrigible atheist, Nicolo Machiavelli. Although secular rulers have sometimes used religion as an ethical and ultimately ethereal veneer to justify their actions, war has almost always been the consequence of Machiavellian realpolitik. This includes the so-called wars of religion, most of which were fought by power-hungry princes eager to impose their egocentric wills on their neighbours.

Yet even were one to accept an element of religious culpability in the wars that ravaged Christendom, such culpability pales into relative insignificance when compared to the terror carried out in the name of atheism.

Let’s take a look at atheism’s track record.

The first great atheist uprising was the French Revolution, which sought to dethrone God with godless “Reason” and sought to replace the Holy Trinity with the atheist trinity of liberté, egalité et fraternité. The man who is traditionally attributed with coining this triune revolutionary war-cry, which would later be officially adopted as the motto of the French Republic, was Antoine-Francois Momoro, a rabidly anti-Christian radical who advocated the eradication of religion. He played an active and bloodthirsty role in the crushing of the Catholic peasants of the Vendée and was a key figure in the notorious Cult of Reason, an anthropocentric alternative to religion, which effectively enthroned self-worshipping Man as the Lord of the “enlightened” cosmos. In 1793, Momoro supervised the nationally celebrated Fête de la Raison (Festival of Reason) in which his own wife was dressed and paraded as the Goddess of Reason, surrounded by cavorting and costumed women. In a wild and licentious liturgical dance, the Goddess of Reason processed down the aisle of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, surrounded by her female entourage, to a newly-installed altar to Liberty, the Christian altar having been desecrated and removed. All across France, Christian churches were desecrated and re-established as Temples of Reason.

The Cult of Reason metamorphosed into the Reign of Terror in which the streets of Paris literally ran red with the blood of its victims. The Goddess of Reason made way for Madame Guillotine who was omnivorous in her bloodlustful appetite, devouring Christians and atheists alike.

A little over four months after Momoro’s triumphalist Fête de la Raison, Momoro was himself a victim of the Reign of Terror that he had helped to create. Accused by his erstwhile comrades of being an enemy of the revolution, he was guillotined on March 24, 1794, a timely reminder of the words of the French political journalist, Jacques Mallet du Pan, that “the Revolution devours its own children”.

Having experienced this incestuously cannibalistic debauch, any genuine age of reason would have rejected atheism’s Cult of Reason and sought more humane ways of solving the problems of modernity. Not so. The nineteenth century saw a plethora or revolutions, inspired by atheism and anti-clericalism, which paved the way for the Russian Revolution of 1917, a godless monstrosity that would dwarf even the Reign of Terror in the sheer scale of the secular fundamentalist horror that it unleashed. Throughout the Soviet Union, thousands of labour camps were established in which political dissidents, enemies of the State, were literally worked to death. This system of camps, dubbed by Solzhenitsyn the Gulag Archipelago, would claim tens of millions of lives before the communist tyranny finally crumbled under the dead weight of its own corruption.

Meanwhile, in Germany, another form of Socialism, both anti-Christian and anti-Semitic in inspiration, ushered in a period of genocide, adding the ghastliness of the Gas Chamber to atheism’s legacy of mass destruction.

Guillotine, Gulag, and Gas Chamber. These are the glorious gifts that atheism has bestowed on a world grown tired of God. Such gruesome realities should come to mind whenever we hear the new generation of atheists asking us to imagine that “there’s no heaven; no hell below us; above us only sky”. Where there’s no heaven, there is only hell. And if we won’t have hell below us, we must have it with us and within us, and also above us, in the form of the hell of political atheism that crushes us underfoot in the name of “reason”.

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55 replies to this post
  1. “In 1893, Momoro supervised the nationally celebrated Fête de la Raison”

    A little typo there, you must mean 1793.

  2. Guillotine, Gulag, and Gas Chamber. (Quoted from above). Somehow the parade of “reason” noted above is not normally mentioned in popular commentaries which tend to glorify the French Revolutionn Noting that some in French leadership worked with the Nazis in WW2…but there were notable persons in the Resistance who worked with the Allies. Suspecting that if a survey could be done, many of the French Resisters were either persons of faith or were heavily influenced by the Christian faith…i.e. they knew the difference between good…and evil and had the courage to act accordingly, even at peril of their lives.

  3. Then again, the intense protestantism on both sides is said to have contributed to the horrors of the American Civil War. Sadly when it comes to the destruction of lives, religious states are no less prone than their realpolitik counterparts.

  4. Certainly atheism is not innocent, but if we look at all of history, we find that perhaps we should use the kind of scoring they use in the NHL. That is because not only does the goal scorer get credit, so does the person(s) who passes the puck. The latter get an assist.

    The guillotine just didn’t result from spontaneous generation. Rather, it was used as a humanitarian alternative to previous methods of execution used when the clergy played a prominent role (the 1st estate) in French society. Before the revolution, methods by which people were executed included burning at the stake (also see Calvin’s Geneva), hanging, being pulled apart by 4 horses, and being beheaded by a sword or axe. The guillotine was seen as humanitarian because of its efficiency and quickness. And the desire for a more humanitarian way of performing executions came from the enlightenment.

    But if we want to look at the ant-Christian reaction by those in the revolution, we must first see the role that the Church played in subjecting much of the 3rd estate to poverty. So we have consider how much of the French Revolution’s rejection of the Church was due to a rejection of theism and how much was due to a rejection of how the 1st estate controlled society. Sometimes, context is important.

    Likewise in Germany, we could say that the Church earned another assist in the development and use of the gas chambers mostly on Jews but also on others. Remember that for centuries, Germany held a Church inspired “eliminationist” anti-Semitic attitude. This was significantly inspired by Martin Luther’s pamphlet called, “The Jews And Their Lies” (in particular see the end of page 39-47 of While Luther called for the elimination of the Jews in Germany, Hitler added the means and drew inspiration from Hitler. And even without Hitler, for centuries the Church practiced a harsh anti-Semitism such that by the 1800s, Jews started to organize the current Modern Zionist enterprise.

    And don’t forget that the Church gave us the inquisition, the burning of witches and heretics at the stake (Geneva), and even the persecution of fellow believers (see the Puritans’ persecution, including the killing, of Quakers). Then we have the Church’s support for the ethnic cleansing of America’s indigenous people from America and a partial support for slavery. We can count that if we don’t wish to include European wars over religion or claiming that the Christian God was on the side of their country (see WWI).

    One more point, if socialism is defined by proletariat rule, then the totalitarian rule of both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are disqualified from being called socialist. The kind of state that Marxists envisioned as being in control was partially democratic. It was democratic in the way the representatives were selected. But it was not a fully democracy because only the workers and soldiers were qualified to be representatives. But to the opportunistically simple-minded, state control equals socialism even when the state that is not in control is not socialist.

    What this blogpost serves as an example of by its externalization of evil and whitewashing of faults is that of a cult. According to this post, only those outside the movement can be evil and have faults. Those true conservatives who are believers could never abuse others or push for war.

    • So the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic was not really socialist…interesting….

      Though Marx claimed that eventually the world would arrive at a class-less state, he very much advocated the use of bloody violence as the only and necessary means to get there (Cf. Communist Manifesto). Massacres on a monumental scale, then, are very much part of the atheist plan, as Comrades Lenin and Stalin demonstrated.

      • Sean,
        Depends on which Socialists you talk to. Those favoring elite-centered gov’t where those running the gov’t act as a vanguard would say yes. Those who favor worker-control of work places through democratic measures would say no. For example, read how Rosa Luxemburg criticized Lenin for ushering in a bourgeois dictatorship. Kautskuy also criticized Lenin for silencing the dissenting views of fellow socialists. And you can read how Lenin himself criticized left-leaning communists.

        Finally, if you read Marx himself, you’ll find that the way one ushers in the class-less state he envisioned was through a proletariate dictatorship–which involved the democratic election of representatives from the proletariate. Elite-centered gov’ts are contradictions to proletariate control as Luxemburg noted. Otherwise, if we go by your definition, that is Communism being defined by bloody violence, then any massacre of people could be counted as being communistic including some American actions in the ethnic cleansing of the land of the American Indian and in its bombing of Vietnam.

  5. And, now the Democrat Party has placed the ‘right’ of a woman to kill her unborn child in their platform. It is not possible to be a believing Christian and a card carrying Democrat.

    • Where in the Bible does it say that abortions are against God’s will? They certainly aren’t proscribed in the 10 Commandments. Maybe you interpret something in another book this way? To say that it goes against God to abort? But to fully follow every rule in the Bible, surely you don’t shave your beard, and you stone women and children for adultery and disobedience, respectively? Do you beat your slave within appropriate Biblical limits? Or perhaps I assume too much, in assuming you consider the Bible the inerrant word of God. The fact, bobcheeks, is that there are as many ways of being a Christian as there are Christians, and not a single one has any sort of proven legitimacy over another. So please, just stop. It is absolutely possible to be a Christian and a Democrat. You are just plain wrong. As much as possible, divorce your politics from your religion, for the sake of both.

      • Abortion is murder.

        An individual human life, as scientifically understood, is deliberately destroyed.

        Individual: unique DNA;
        Human: species from its parents;
        Life: only living organisms can grow.

        In most societies in history it would have been madness to destroy the next generation. In very few societies, such as late Rome, was it seen as expedient. At least they did not have the scientific understanding to recognise life so early on.

        With our scientific understanding now there are no excuses.

        • One definition of murder is to kill another person. A legal definition of murder is to end the life of a legally recognized person. To do so is legally concerned with the brain death of that person. A fetus is (a) not a legally recognized person and (b) has no brain activity that could be monitored in a sense comparable to that of a living, post-born human being. A potential human life is ended via abortion (and only maybe considering that up to half of ALL conceptions are spontaneously aborted by a woman’s body), which is not at all the same thing as a murder having taken place. Granted, it’s individual and unique human DNA, but loss of semen and ordinary menstruation cause the same loss of unique human DNA. I don’t see anyone trying to legislate that. The fact is, there’s as much debate within the scientific community as to what constitutes a human life, even life at all for that matter, as there is over whether women should have the right to choose. Plenty of scientists disagree over when life begins, even over whether we can actually determine such a nebulous concept. But keep arguing on like you have science on your side.

          • Ron, if it takes a human being to be legally-recognised for you to see a human being then God help you.

            That you depend upon the current legal fashion for excusing the destruction of the defenceless is inhumane.

            And if you think that semen and an ovum existing separately constitute the same as a fertilised egg, then please do some reading.

          • Nobody disputes when life begins any longer. The science is closed on the subject. People do argue about whether an early fetal life is a person. It is only when personhood is categorized by looking at the capabilities of the fetus vis-a-vis a fully functioning adult, that these distinctions blur. Perhaps a fetus does not have the ability to reason or play basketball but neither, often, do the sick or the very elderly (or the sleeping for that matter.)

      • Ron, it seems that your knowledge of Christianity is somewhat limited if you seem to assert the prescriptions of Mosaic Law as a defense for aborting a child. Christians are not bound by Mosaic Law (cf. Acts 15) and what you have said in most of your paragraph is just a straw-man fallacy.

        What Christians are bound to is the moral prescriptions of the Law as all people are, Gentile or Jew, as the Mosaic Law also shows moral teachings alongside other laws that aren’t necessary to get into. Part of this is to not murder. A fetus, the sperm and egg joined together, is a living being that will continue to grow until the child is ready to be taken out of the mother’s womb. It grows and what else will this fetus be than a human being?

        While I agree politics and religion shouldn’t be intermixed, abortion is still murder and a sin. And as for “proven legitimacy over another” I would refer you to the fact Catholicism can date itself back to the first Apostles and that she was the Church that gave the world the Bible.

        God bless, I hope I’ve spoken well.

        • Logan, thank you for proving my point. Some Christians still follow Mosaic Law. Others don’t. Which is the real Christian? Well, that depends on who you ask.
          As to your second point, I feel I made a pretty sound argument diffusing the “murder” argument about abortion in response to Hegesippus above. Some people feel it is. Others don’t. Science isn’t super clear on the issue, but the law is, so I feel it’s pretty safe to let women decide whether or not they can bring a child to term or not. Remember, women? The ones who are responsible for carrying a non-person fetus into being an actual, legally recognized person?
          As far as religious arguments go, I have a constitutional right to not care what anyone considers a “sin,” and to live my life unburdened by the religious dictates of another’s conscience. So … you can stop using that argument.
          So abortion is not a murder, not even by “scientific” standards, and whether it’s a sin is irrelevant to U.S. law. Got it? Everyone on the same page?
          As far as Catholicism is concerned, ha. Various cults of Christianity (and all of the New Testament) existed in many forms before becoming institutionalized under the aegis of the Vatican. The Bible as it came to be was decided by committee, with views contrary to the political elite excised. Gnostic gospels anyone? Apocrypha? Your bias for Catholicism (with its attendant historical blindspots) is showing.
          God bless yourself.

          • Your arguments are primarily made of indecision and thus used as an excuse to do what is morally incomprehensible and detestable. I made a point to acknowledge the moral prescriptions of the law as being necessitated to everyone and morality is not legislated by governments or determined by science but is an objective truth. Yes, it is also a sin but that wasn’t my main point at all.

            For Catholicism I would have you understand that, yes, various cults of Christianity were around since, it seems, even the inception of Christianity and some are even spoken against in the Bible (Judaizers, and possibly forms of Gnosticism). This is all quite basic. The reason that Catholicism, and the Bible, can be accepted is because what is written in the Bible and understood to be correct teachings had been handed down bishop to bishop since the first bishops (the Apostles). This Apostolic Succession ensures the correct teaching, and not a creeping heretical teaching, is preserved and taught.

            The idea of Apostolic Succession was even used by St. Iraeneus of Lyons against Gnosticism (the Gnostic Gospels you mentioned).

            The “Apocrypha” you mentioned are understood to be valid and are the Deuterocanon of Catholicism. The Deuterocanon wasn’t acknowledged as less than biblically correct or Apocrypha until the Protestant Reformation. (Admittedly, the Catholic Church does still acknowledge 3 and 4 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh as Apocrypha and not infallible and are distinct from the rest of the Bible, sometimes added to it, sometimes not).

            It seems your ignorance is showing and I shall end this. God bless.

          • Ron, a little reading of the Early Church Fathers should banish your ideas about how the Church began, was established and grew. I suggest Clement, Ignatius and Irenaeus. You will find strong evidence for the Church being consistent from Peter, the canon of Scripture consistently used (with very small variances) from the second century and the teachings of the Catholic Church stemming from the Apostles. To claim otherwise shows a distinct bias against the evidence.

            As for your claim that your constitution allows you to ignore religious matters, good luck with that one in the end.

        • I agree with much of what you write, Logan, but if you are a Christian and cast off your faith in order to be politically active then I would question if this is a healthy spiritual action for you. Faith should be the foundation of your life, not an aspect of it,surely.

          • I’m not quite sure how you’ve come to the conclusion that I might be casting off my faith. I agree, faith should be the foundation of life and it is of mine.

            I’m actually not much for politics, I only commented to defend the sanctity of a child’s life and then to defend the Church.

            God bless.

        • Using Apostolic succession to prove the legitimacy or supremacy of the Catholic church is circular reasoning. It’s basically the Catholic church saying “We’re the only true church because we invented a notion that says we are.” This in no way legitimizes the Catholic church’s view of Christianity over anyone else’s. Just like the Bible isn’t 100% true and believable and historically accurate because it says it is.
          All that Apostolic succession stuff happened well after the fact, too, considering that gospels were being written well before the church had even formally established itself and determined its canon.
          Believing something doesn’t make it true. Saying that you’re right doesn’t make it so.

          • It’s not quite circular reasoning. It says the Catholic Church has the correct interpretation of Christianity because we can show that, since the Apostles, we have held the same beliefs and handed them down as St. Paul instructed.

            All this requires faith in the first place, though and without it it is pointless to discuss. Also, the Bible doesn’t claim itself as 100% accurate historically but accurate according to as the Spirit moved men. It wasn’t after the fact as St. Paul instructed to do it and did it himself.

            2 Timothy 2:2 NABRE

            And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.

      • Ron,

        Your other comments previously submitted will not be published. If you wish to submit comments which observe basic standards of civility they will be given due consideration. Calling writers or other comments “ridiculous”, “pathetic” or “lies” will guarantee that you wasted your time writing the comment. We welcome disagreement but will not publish comments which lack civility.

      • Ron, If I remember correctly the democratic party tried to eliminate “God” from their platform at the last national convention. There comes a time when one must see that the Democrats are slowly becoming an anti-Christian party.

        • I don’t recall any such thing, so I’m going to need to see some evidence. Nothing from Fox News will be accepted. (Only actual journalism. Sorry, I have to draw the line somewhere.)
          The vast majority of Democrats still identify as Christians, so your argument there isn’t too strong. Plenty of Democrats are Christian. Plenty of Americans are atheists. Plenty of Christians are bad Americans, and plenty of good Americans are atheists. We have the freedom of belief and creed in this country, and it shall not be infringed even by religious majorities. But have you checked out the Pew Research findings lately? The electorate as a whole (led by Millenials) is less religiously affiliated than ever before, and heading more strongly that direction.

          • Your last sentence was removed. If you would rather not have the comment published as is let us know and we will take it down. This is the last time I will ask you to cease including insults in your comments. Argue politely or none of your comments will be published. Thoughtful disagreement is interesting, insults and attacks are not.

      • Ron in the 10 Commandments it states”thou shalt not kill”. Abortion is the killing of a pre-born human being. Scientific fact: life begins aft conception. This is not a fact of faith but of science.
        On to the faith questions: Jesus said: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned… For whatever you do to the least of these you do unto me. It is not possible to care for humanity if we do not have life. The dignity of every life, which is created by God, is granted to everyone simply because they are human beings – whether one chooses to believe in The Creator or not. Abortion is intrinsically evil. This is an absolute since the killing of a person is never good, it separates us God.
        Ron, as Christians, we who believe in Him, are called to be in the world but not of the world. This means participating in the public square without relinquishing my conscience formed through faith & reason. In order to embrace the democratic party you have to embrace their platform too which denies the dignity of life. Without life there is no need for further discussion on the rest of the party platform because nothing else can be attained or accomplished without first having LIFE. There are many ways to be poor: spiritually materially, emotionally and physically. We have an obligation to care for humanity at all its labels of need but we don’t have the right to deny humanity to any class of citizen be they born or pre-born.
        The concept of subsidiarity is one that will provide for the needs of our neighbors since the duty of providing for the needs of our neighbor falls to each of us acknowledging their need & acting generously with our time, talent or treasures.

  6. I certainly find it laughably foolish for anyone to declare that Man is the “Lord of the Universe” through “reason.” The fact that an asteroid could destroy human civilization in mere moments, with us more or less powerless to do anything about it, is a glaring example of how we are anything but “lords” of anything more than our own backyard. There are forces more powerful, and natural, in this world than our petty and pathetic “reason.” And that’s not including the supernatural Powers at work.

    @Harris: I believe you are on to something here. While I am a Protestant by upbringing and certainly disagree with a number of tenets of Catholic doctrine, I find myself turning, albeit slowly, to a kind of quasi-Catholic orthodoxy. As Russell Kirk notes in his section on Orestes Brownson in “The Conservative Mind,” Protestantism ultimately makes Man the linchpin of theology and morality, not Christ and His Authority. I found this to be true when one of my fraternity brothers said one time that during his time in our mutual church, the lesson he gleaned from its teachings was, and I quote, “God is all-loving…believe what you want.” The correlation between this and what you said is that Protestantism as well as the realpolitik, atheistic, secular tyrannies place Man’s judgement in higher esteem than Divine Order. I am finding that my adherence to order and established wisdom finds a better home among Catholics and Orthodox than among a Protestant creed.

  7. Pope Pius VIII welcomed the guillotine into the Papal States as a humane improvement over the axe which papal executioners previously used. It was abandoned only when the Papal States were lost to Garibaldi.

  8. While the general gist of this article is certainly true, I would like to point out that the spiritual philosophy behind the French Revolution was not solely atheism but also deism. Robespierre himself propagated the cult of the “Supreme Being” and sent the leading atheists (Hébert and his followers) to the guillotine.

  9. Oh, please. People are just awful. We’ve got it in us, as pride and greed; professing one god or twenty or none is no sure proof against it. The history of genocide, terror, and conquest goes back millennia before anyone ever thought of being an atheist, and is rich with examples that rival the atrocities of the last century, and dwarf the petty kerfluffles of the French revolution and American civil war. This bickering between low-brow atheists and indignant Catholics is ridiculous. The sad fact is that what we do bears far more of visible fruit in this world than what we profess.

    • Hank, the point being made is that regardless of the stated reason (e.g. religion) the vast amount of wars in recorded history were for political power, wealth accumulation, conquest of land. And the fact is that more people were killed in the non-religious wars of the 20th century than in all wars since the birth of Christ combined. Yes, people who “called” themselves religious could be horrible people. But I can’t name a saint in the catholic tradition that started a war. We didn’t start the Crusades by the way, it was a reaction to Islamic violence.

      • Wow, conservatives think history is so important, they invent a new one every day. Today’s inventions are:

        Dan says: “We didn’t start the Crusades by the way, it was a reaction to Islamic violence.”

        Oh yes you did. Are you from Texas, where “He needed killin'” is considered a legal defense? Keep in mind that Christians on the way to the crusades would stop off to massacre Jews wherever they could find them. I guess you think the Crusades were a reaction to Jewish violence!

        Dan says: “I can’t name a saint in the catholic tradition that started a war.”

        I can.

        “[Saint] Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade here [Vézelay] in 1146, and Richard the Lionheart and Philip Augustus departed for the Mediterranean coast from Vézelay in 1190 to participate in the Third Crusade. This means that the tympanum would have been viewed by many whose minds were turned toward the Holy Land, whether for spoils, violence, spreading the Word of God, or some combination of these. Therefore, there is good reason to believe that, gazing at the images of the Monstrous Races, crusaders may have interpreted these as the contemporary Muslims they would encounter in the East.10” [Strickland, “Saracens, Demons & Jews”, p.159]

        Here is a quote from Peter the Venerable himself, generally considered a saint in the Catholic tradition. He says Jews should not be killed [many Christians, like Radulphe and later Martin Luther, said all Jews should be exterminated], but Peter says they should be kept alive in the maximum suffering conceivable as that will make Christianity plausible. Instead, Christians should steal all their property and use the wealth to kill Muslims.

        ‘If the Saracens are to be detested… how much more are the Jews to be execrated and hated who, utterly insensible to Christ and the Christian faith, reject, blaspheme, and ridicule that virgin birth and all the sacraments of human redemption? Nor do I say this to incite the royal or Christian sword to slay their wickedness… God wishes them not to be killed, but to be preserved in a life worse than death, like Cain the fratricide, for greater ignominy… I… exhort that they be punished in a way suitable to their wickedness. And what more fitting way to punish those impious people than… that those who have been enriched by fraud be deprived of what they have wretchedly… stolen? Let their lives be spared and their money taken away, so that the audacity of the infidel Saracens may be conquered by the right hands of the Christians, aided by the memory of the blaspheming Jews…. All this, debonair king, I have written from love of Christ and of yourself and the Christian army.” [Strickland, “Saracens, Demons & Jews”, p.162-3]

      • I had an interesting conversation with a dear relative who brought up the crusades as an example of Catholic aggression. When I asked him how it was that Muslims came to be in the Holy land when their religion was founded in the 7th century, he looked at me blankly. I explained that there was a time when the middle east and north Africa were virtually all Christian and that they were wiped out in bloody conquest. My relative’s reply was “I’ve never heard that before, that can’t be true.” Many modernists neither have a firm grasp of history or logic. If they did, then the crusades, as messy and ugly as they could sometimes get, would be seen as a natural and logical consequence. Mark my words – there will be a day when people will say “isn’t it terrible that American invaded Europe to start the second world war.”

      • That the 20th C was especially bloody is a given, but can it be ascribed so easily to atheism? The horrific violence of the trenches of WWI was also suffused by Christian sensibilities on both sides. It was nominally Christian nation that perfected the art of the fire bomb raids. And so forth. The scale is staggering, but plainly many of the participants did so as believers in one faith or another. Horror, violence, atrocity and massacre are not the province of atheism alone.

        What may be said is that atheism can feed a propensity to violence, a propensity in which we all share. It is the common turn to violence that should set us on guard against Leviathan, but also against war that grips the soul.

        • Disbelief in magical beings doesn’t feed any kind of attitude, any more than religion does. Well, the Bible IS full of stories about God commanding the extermination of entire cities, running pregnant women through to ensure the death of the fetus, child sacrifice in exchange for military favors, permissive attitudes toward slavery, capital punishment for almost anything from picking on old people to gathering firewood on the wrong day, killing people for having the wrong religious beliefs…oh, but all that “kill ’em all” business was over when Jesus came to condone slavery, advocate against planning financially for the future, and being good to each other (except the slaves, of course, who could still be beaten within an inch of their lives). Not believing in capricious blood-thirsty vindictive magical beings requires no particular other beliefs and imparts no particular message regarding anything beyond belief in gods.

          • Randy, your observations on the Bible are riddled with over-simplicity and ignorance; such is the common atheist’s arsenal.

            Cities were allowed to be destroyed because of the excess of the city’s sin. If you would remember, ancient Israel had pagan neighbors and would ally itself to some of these as well. Simply because they weren’t Hebrews didn’t give them the right to war.

            Child sacrifice for military favors. Yes, their pagan neighbors did this unless you’re incorrectly including Jephthah and his daughter in this.

            Yes, slavery was allowed. This is the atheist’s favorite topic to throw out as if it were powerful. The fact that slavery was allowed is not surprising because that was a common area of life. Was it good? No. But neither was life generally in this moment of time. What one does in life, their trials have no complete effect on God, just how we handle it. There are stories of saints voluntarily being enslaved to save souls. This current fascination in society that pleasure equals happiness is absurd. Is the fact that slavery abolished good? Of course, but how handles things is better, especially in the pursuit of ending slavery that was heavily influenced by Christianity.

            Jesus didn’t preach against financial security, He spoke against placing all our hopes in it as if it could truly protect us. We know to trust God first and foremost as our security.

            Slaves could be beat an inch from their lives still? The fact Mosaic Law is no longer applicable to Christians seems to escape you. Anyhow, how can one truly discern when one has done this without having already killed the person? You forget, “Love your neighbor as yourself” is from the Law.

          • However, this is all dodging the main point: our common propensity to violence towards the outsider, the one outside the tribe. We are alike inclined to take hold of power, and with it the ability to reduce the other to a thing (as Simone Weil had it).

            Now an interesting question is how we escape this trap of Power and its inevitable tendency to self interest and self delusion. What reflective process supports our resistance to this warping? What part of us perhaps encourages it?

            Here, the social construction of our belief systems comes into significant play. When a Nietzsche pushes for a will to power, when elevate the Self’s desires (political or cultural) we can easily fall into the abuse of others, the turning of the other into a thing, a tool for our purpose. it is not that disbelief (or belief) causes the slaughter, but how it warrants or resists it.

  10. “Hitler was a Catholic and everything that he wrote was heavily influenced by his religious upbringing…”

    Wrong. Hitler himself stated that he had been “liberated from the superstitions taught by the priests” when he was 14. If you would actually like to learn something about this subject, take a look at Michael Burleigh’s book on the WW II period, the title of which escapes me at the moment, but it actually has Hitler on the cover.

  11. Mr. Pearce, wonderful article – thank you very much. You started your article with John Lennon’s imagine. For whatever reason, atheists have put a flag on that song and declared it their anthem. Many Christians have come to view it through than lens as well. HOWEVER, this is absolutely 100% incorrect atheist propaganda. When asked about the song’s meaning during a December 1980 interview with David Sheff for Playboy magazine, Lennon told Sheff that Dick Gregory had given Ono and him a Christian prayer book, which helped inspire in Lennon what he described as: “The concept of positive prayer … If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion—not without religion but without this my God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing—then it can be true … the World Church called me once and asked, “Can we use the lyrics to ‘Imagine’ and just change it to ‘Imagine one religion’?” That showed [me] they didn’t understand it at all. It would defeat the whole purpose of the song, the whole idea.” So at worst, the song is pantheistic and vaguely spiritual, while at best it is a Christian inspired song with a sense of the universal of Catholicism. Either way, it is NOT atheistic. It is obviously a cheap attempt by atheists to say “John Lennon is brilliant and the voice of our generation, and like any brilliant person, he is an atheist, so nah, nah, nah.”

  12. Nothing about atheist leaders like Nehru of India, Ben-Gurion of Israel, Gillard of Australia, or dozens of others, eh?

    Hey, fine with me if the far-right keeps alienating voters, particularly the younger generation where atheism is more common.

  13. ““[Saint] Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade here [Vézelay] in 1146, ”

    The Second Crusade was a response to Zangi’s conquest of the Christian city of Edessa in 1144.

    “Richard the Lionheart and Philip Augustus departed for the Mediterranean coast from Vézelay in 1190 to participate in the Third Crusade.”

    Which was a response to Saladin’s victory at Hattin and his conquest of Jerusalem in 1187.

    “Keep in mind that Christians on the way to the crusades would stop off to massacre Jews wherever they could find them. I guess you think the Crusades were a reaction to Jewish violence!”

    None of the main armies in the First Crusade engaged in pogroms. The actions of some in the so-called People’s Crusade were condemned by the Church and several bishops in Germany actually tried to protect the Jewish communities. If you want to know more about this, take a look at Robert Chazan’s In the Year 1096.

    Saint Bernard himself rode to Germany to put a stop to anti-Jewish violence at the start of the Second Crusade.

  14. I think the question isn’t whether atheism caused relatively more or less atrocities than religions. We can argue that until the cows come home. The only thing to note, as far as I’m concerned, is that secular rationalists have always claimed that their systems would be more just, more humane and more reasonable. And it was probably quite a plausible claim in the 18th century, before we had seen what social systems founded on atheism actually looked like. Rationalists can blame religion all they like for witch-burnings, inquisitions, and persecuting scientists. What they can’t credibly claim anymore is that by getting rid of religion you will necessarily end up with anything better.

  15. This piece is riddled with patent bias, logical fallacies and ignorance. Firstly, the author presupposes that religious doctrine – notably, HIS religion’s doctrine – is true in an article advocating religious belief. I am an atheist not because I’ve compared the death tolls in select wars or under select regimes, but rather because there’s no credible evidence for the truth claims of the Bible. So there’s that.

    And I was immediately struck by the underlying hypocrisy of the author’s entire perspective, when he begins by stating that you can’t blame religion itself for atrocities committed in the name of religion (a point with which I agree to some extent), but then he goes and blames every atrocity supposedly committed in the name of atheism (a dubious label to begin with) on atheism itself. SMH.

    “Almost all wars have been the consequence of human selfishness … Although secular rulers have sometimes used religion as an ethical and ultimately ethereal veneer to justify their actions, war has almost always been the consequence of Machiavellian realpolitik. This includes the so-called wars of religion, most of which were fought by power-hungry princes eager to impose their egocentric wills on their neighbours. Yet even were one to accept an element of religious culpability in the wars that ravaged Christendom, such culpability pales into relative insignificance when compared to the terror carried out in the name of atheism.”

    So right off the bat, he even finds a way to blame “secular” rulers for religious wars and atrocities. Uhh, “secular” rulers like the mullahs who want to wipe Israel off the map, Osama bin Laden & his band of merry atheist jihadists; most Popes including the ones who ordered the Crusades, the Inquisition and those secular, rational witch trials; “Bloody” Mary I, etc., etc.? Then he goes on to blame atheism itself (apparently fair game) for things such as the French Revolution, which notably had nothing to do with *atheism itself.* (The French Revolution was inspired by Enlightenment ideals – generally a good thing – including rejection of royal absolutism, the Catholic Church’s grip on the state and increasing inequality between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, among other things. Those are all actually fairly American ideals and do not at all require atheism.)

    Then the author goes on to talk about Hitler, which is always the sign of a good argument: “Socialism, both anti-Christian and anti-Semitic in inspiration, ushered in a period of genocide, adding the ghastliness of the Gas Chamber to atheism’s legacy of mass destruction.” Umm, for starters, although called “National Socialism,” their ideology had nothing to do with actual socialism. Although Hitler himself didn’t view the Nazis as being either on the left or the right of the political spectrum, he ran a nationalistic, racist, fascist regime. That’s essentially far-right ideology. Actual socialism (as the term is used here, today) is about social and economic equality. Equality wasn’t really Hitler’s thing. (See: Holocaust.) I think we can all agree that socialism is basically a far-left ideology. So like, the opposite of what you’re saying. And Hitler’s Nazis, whose motto was “Gott mit uns” (God With Us) professed Christianity, which is all we know about his religious beliefs. (Try reading Mein Kampf.) How was Nazi Germany “anti-Christian”? More Christian delusions of persecution, with no basis in fact.

    Regardless of whether or not so-and-so was Catholic or atheist, Religion X has caused more suffering than some atheistic totalitarian regime, etc., the fact remains that there is not one shred of credible evidence for the concept of a divine Jesus, much less let alone “Hell.” Indeed, the entire purpose of Jesus is wholly undermined if you don’t accept literal Genesis creation – and if you do, this is where you and I stop listening to one another. (If no “fall from Grace” in the Garden of Eden, there is no “original sin” for Jesus to redeem his followers from.)

  16. Joseph Pearce has written a brilliant article and is sorely needed to help educate the young college and high school crowd who’ve been indoctrinated, not educated, in this five-year age of Obama we’re living through. And, as seems to be more and more happening these days, a plethora of very clever apologists for atheistic regimes, startling as it may seem, have tried to savage Pearce’s notion of the hellish fruits of scientific and uber-humanistic theories tried out on the human race, ala Nazism, Fascism, and Communism. What are many of them trying to prepare us for? Scales of societal bloodletting not imagined before? I’m referring in the main to Curt Day’s response, which seems to me to be that, at the end of the day, it’s Judeo-Christianity and it’s “abusive” ways that have brought on so much bloodshed and carnage in the 20th and now the 21st century. And self-righteous Conservatives. Where were you schooled, Curt? The university of secular progressivism, led by the esteemed Barack Obama? Some of his cohorts and mentors, like Bill and Bernadine Dorn and Frank Marshall Davis have hardly been paragons of societal virtue OR moderation. Maybe U.S. society needs another dose of the forces that brought us the “transformatory” ouevre of the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution so we may know that, as David Harsanyi shows in his latest book “The People Have Spoken AND THEY ARE WRONG” (last four words my emphasis) that we’re headed on the fast track to tyranny precisely BECAUSE we’ve bought into the lies, distortions and sophistries of people like Curt Day., whose response, btw, is very well-written, but for that reason, also very dangerous.

    • Markite,
      The Christian tradition of Western Civ has provided quite a number of abuses. History tells us this, not sophists. The question is will we be honest enough when our tradition is indicted?

  17. Anyone who states that a certain “ism” has been a benign influence, and sets up another “ism” as the primary villain is blind to their own history.

    The legacy of Western atheism (which went international) is genocide, wars, ideological conflict, tyranny, deaths of millions.

    The legacy of Abrahamic religion (which went international) is genocide, wars, religious conflict, tyranny, deaths of millions.

    Little to choose between a/theism in terms of general decency, though I’ll give the artistic edge to the religious. No one beats them there.

  18. The most interesting feature of Communism is how, despite being implemented in very diverse cultural contexts on different continents, the outcomes it produces are so similar. It’s also noteworthy for being the only serious, large-scale attempt to found an atheistic society.

  19. Hey, Maria, is that comment above meant for my response to Joseph Pearce’s piece? I’ll assume not because it’s not indented, so I’ll just say that what you’ve written hasn’t resonated with me in terms of coherence or relevance to Pearce’s piece, nor is it particularly true.,especially in your 1st paragraph: so if Jesus Christ institutes his own Church, and it gets called “Catholicism,”as St. Jerome says the first Christians in the 1st century called their own church, and it DID have a benign influence on all those who were drawn to it, as they were, and they even suffered and died for it, say, under the Roman Emperor Nero, as was the case, if you know ANYTHING about Catholic history, who was the group or person responsible for setting up a villain to the first Christian Church, which by the time of St. Jerome, called itself the Catholic Church? What are you really saying here? Do you even really know what you’re talking about? For it sounds like gibberish to me. Then, in your 3rd paragraph, you start bloviating about “the legacy of Abrahamic religion… genocide, wars, religious conflict, et., etc., what the heck are you talking about here? WHICH Abrahamic religion’s legacy are you referring to here? The religion of Islam? Or are you starting to be clever by half? Maybe that’s it, yes, you’re trying to be more clever by half. Basically, it’s all gobbledy-gook to me.

    • Nero was emperor of the Roman state, which was theistic. That’s theistic-on-theistic violence you identify, Romans against Christians. Furthermore, as for the Abrahamic religions, the Hebrews committed genocide against the Canaanites, and Israel is committing it against Palestinians today. Some Christians committed genocide against Native Americans, to name but one example. (They’re also, in my estimation, way too eager to get involved in invasions of Muslim or Arabic nations.) Some Muslims are currently committing genocide against all sorts of groups. So, yes, Maria’s right.

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