I don’t get Dick Gross.The guy is meant to be one of us, an atheist, he has in the past posted lucidly on atheism issues, and he seems to generally know what he is talking about.
But his style of writing drives me up the wall.This whole “Let’s post nonsense claim X, defend it for 200 words, then knock it down with a big Booh:just kidding” thing that he does is a bit hard to find funny at times.Like, today.
It starts ridiculous enough, with the old “Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao were atheists and killed millions” canard.He even goes one better and puts up this “and they killed so many more people than the religionists ever have” crap:
The atheistic honour roll includes: Stalin (about 15 to 17 million), Mao (40 to 70 million) and Pol Pot (about 2 million). The losses of three hundred years of Crusades were nothing for these three. They would have been a mere skirmish. The devastation of 9/11 would have been a quiet day at the office.
Well, Gross knows it’s rubbish, he will even tell his readers this in the next paragraph :
The higher body count in the name of atheism than religion actually does not tell us much about unbelief for there is much complexity here to do with proximity, causation and ideology. Just because some psychopath commits an atrocity in the name of a belief or non belief, the culpability of that belief might be utterly untarnished. The vegetarian Hitler does not prove that vegetarians are inevitably psychopaths.
Argh !! So why bring it up in the first place, Dick ??? He goes on, now lucidly again(and that’s why I post it here, it’s an important point):
So if we try to analyse why an idea leads adherent to murder, the analysis must depend on several issues such as CAUSATION (did the atheism give rise to the atrocity) MOTIVATION AND PROXIMITY (did the atheism have such proximity that it could be said to have motivated the atrocity) and IDEOLOGY (did the tenets of the atheism encourage the atrocity). These are complex issues. For example the Russian and French Revolutions were very anti-clerical for the Church was perceived to have worked hand in glove with the oppressors. But I get the impression that the revolutions would have occurred without the explicit atheism of the Russian takeover or the anti-clerical disposition of the revolting Frogs. In the Chinese stoush I discern that the anti-Confucianism was less important that anti-colonialist narrative. And all occurred in baleful times when misery begat misery regardless of ideology.
So by and large, I think that atheism is not overly tarnished by our impressive body count for atheism did not cause the atrocities. Rather, deep-rooted social and political stresses did. And atheism did not motivate the atrocities by ideology or disposition
Well, yes, QFT. But why bring up all this nonsense to start with ? I don’t get the guy.
Atheism is not, in my humble estimation, so evangelical that it provides the mandate for madness. Many evangelical faiths do. Revolutionary Communism used to. Patriotic movements do.
Atheism does not make any positive claims, it’s the absence of belief in gods.That’s precisely why it is a nonsensical claim that atheism leads to Hitler/Mao/Stalin/roasting babies/same-sex marriage/evil X.And if someone wants to come with the old “atheists have no morality” trope, I suggest you look at the Catholic Church, or the composition of prison populations, for a much needed reality check.