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Extreme view points are likely to be expressed in this discussion and a flame war will most likely break out. Please do not continue with your reading if you are any of the following: Easily offended, weak minded, pregnant, nursing, or may become pregnant (this debate will probably ruin the mood if you are trying to get pregnant)
The question: Atheism is a system of belief that purports to believe that there is no God/gods and no divine powers in our world. That said Atheism believes that the world is as we see it. With that in mind the obvious question that most theist would have is, what is the reason for doing good then? I will concede to the Atheists that doing good out of feeling guilty towards a higher power isn't really doing good, it is being scared. When Atheists do good then they are doing out of genuine compassion more often then not. If they are doing it for selfish reasons well then they are no better than the theists. Unfortunately however, there is a lot of blood on the hands of both the theists, and more recently, the atheists.
Here is what I am getting at. In the 20th century there where more people living on this planet than there had been at any other time in the past. The blood shed of the 20th century is also some of the greatest that humanity has ever seen. Communism played no small part in that blood shed. Communism is a political philosophy that believes at heart that there is no God/gods. Therefore, almost all communists were atheists (in theory). This included people like Stalin, Mao Zedong, and members of the Khmer Rouge. According to The Black book of Communism, in the 20th century there where between 85 and 100 million people where killed in various communist uprisings and takeovers. Compare that to the Holocaust, around 10 million people.
What I want is a reasonable answer from theists and atheists as to why so many enlightened people would do such a horrible thing over the course of the 20th century. Atheists have a right to criticize theists for their crimes against humanity. However, these crimes must be answered for too.
If atheism is so superior then why did all this death and destruction occur in communist societies?
*Note: In no way am I trying to say that Atheism is morally wrong! It is a philosophy that should be respected and appreciated. This is just a bit of history that has always bothered me. By the way the statistics given can be found on both Wikipedia and Amazon, just look on pg. 4, in The Black Book of Communism.
I just want to bump this, becouse you didn't respond. I've given you some nuances which I think is important. I have edited it in order to clearify my view, so please read again.
No, you're wrong. In Christianity, you have a moral yard stick and an in built community system designed to function to build people up in their holiness. The Bible specifically commands...
Where as in Athiesm, there is no way for one athiest to rebuke another, because there is no moral authortiy. No athiest can say to another with any objective truth "what you are doing is wrong". Sure they can say "I think what you are doing is wrong" but then the response can be "I think you are wrong in your thinking I am wrong" and there is a stalemate. In Christianity, with a direct extrernal source to appeal to, people can be declared wrong etc.
I think what you're saying is true, but that is also exactly the reason why it would be very hard to start a war in the name of atheism. As you said, there's a stalemate among us on moral issues, so it would take a lot more effort and plotting in order to convince us that something foreign is so inherently wrong and evil, that we would have no choice but to start a war in order to change/end it.
I think many atheist have a higher tolerance and appreciation of diverging behavioral conduct and tradition as long as it isn't shockingly violent, forceful or suppressing of the human spirit. Wheras many religions proclaim many (imo) benign behaviors as immoral; me and many other atheists wouldn't percieve it as an issue of morility at all. For more serious issues of morality, most of us have the logical and caring capacity to reach some form of consensus between each other and within our states.
Wheras for all Communist experiments to date, there's always been manifestos which has replaced religious scriptures and deities as the superimposed axioms of truths and moral autority. They have without exeptions been cultist and elitist, so in the end it doesn't really matter that they are proclaimed atheist, because they haven't been governed that way. Their persecution of religion have only been a means to get rid of competition and old enemies. And because of the rigidness of these states, there has been little room for challenging or even revising the contents of these manifestos throughout open and frank discussion in retrospect. While it's true you must be atheist in order to be a leader like the Stalin and Mao, you don't have to be an atheist to hold communist ideals. Similarily you don't have to be a believer to rule a religious state. You simply need to fake it. And there certainly doesn't have to be a manifesto that proclaims there's no god in order for a state to be communist.
But to finish off, I agree the idea that religion is the only source of war is troublesome, and could potentially under the right circumstance be used to rally atheists against religious people. Which I suspect was partially the rallying factor throughout most communist revolutions in the 20th century. Since all church leaders in Europe at that time were so busy embezzling themselves among the royals and the elites.
Is "bald" a hair color, good sir?
Dear Lord! WTF is this still doing at the top of the debate thread!? Seriously? Did I insult that many people? Look I know that this debate was made when I was kinda angry but seriously? The sad part is that the only reason why this thread would stick around so long is because it genuinely threatened some peoples philosophical viewpoints. So much so that they apparently felt the need to reinforce and rationalize their viewpoint by trying to discredit/argue this debate. Look, if this debate made you seethe with anger and resentment, good! THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT! I wanted people who are non-theists to feel the way I feel about people pointing to the crusades and other things. I won't take this thread down, but really? Do we really need to beat a dead horse till its a smoothie people?
I disagree. I think there is much to be learned about your own belief and the believes of others in these discussions.
Wait... You actually learned something from this debate? You didn't just argue your point and closed your ears to other possibilities? Well then... I am not sure what to say. I tip my hat to you sir!
Imma gunna flog this dead horse all over again and probably repeat 28 pages of old discussion but hey, why not.
Atheism is a system of belief that purports to believe that there is no God/gods and no divine powers in our world at all, but it can also be "I don't believe in that particular God", meaning as far as Hinduism is concerned, Christians are atheists, and so on. That said Atheism believes that the world is as we see it has no comment on whether or not we should rely on observation.
With that in mind the obvious question that most theist would have is, what is the reason for doing good then?
Depends on the situation. Near as I can tell religion and lack thereof, has nothing to do with moral and immoral conduct. Whilst people are more than capable of thinking things through, including empathising with other people, when push comes to shove, we're adaptive. So if a situation calls for X behavior, that's what will happen. And even when removing extreme outliers (like serial killers) and considering these factors, people, in general, are pretty irrational and we tend to just do stuff anyway, and then make up reasons for it later.
What I want is a reasonable answer from theists and atheists as to why so many enlightened people would do such a horrible thing over the course of the 20th century. If atheism is so superior then why did all this death and destruction occur in communist societies?
The same reason why people did these things in the 10th Century. And why they're doing it now, in the 21st Century. People seem to need the illusion of control. Some more than others. So what happens is, we keep inheriting systems of control, whereby different ideas come up that challenge the previous system of control and maybe get adopted. But because it's still a system of control, and requires some kind of [often violent] uprising to have it implemented, the people most adept at controlling other people wind up in charge. And unfortunately, those people happen to be extreme outliers - the psychos! So when they get in, what the original ideas were, don't matter one iota. Jesus wanted to remove corruption the temples - so what! The Popes make lots of money. Communists wanted everyone to eat and not be worked to death - so what. Stalin invented the gulag and the bread queues. And of course, to maintain their control, they have to kill people off, you know "don't mess with me, i'm the biggest dick in town". Keep people in line with fear. Works every time, and has done, for thousands of years.
Alright, I agree that people are just horrible sometimes however the question here was why/how people tried to justify their actions. The religious holy wars were just what they sound like, wars waged for "God/gods." In a similar way the communist "cleansing" were done to make society better. I wasn't saying that people aren't idiots/jerks I am asking how/why people tried to morally justify something that is clearly immoral. Really I made this post in reaction to all the posts about how Christians, specifically, were war mongering jerks who love genocide. Never mind that it was done in violation of several sections worth of material in the Bible condemning such actions. I felt like it was only appropriate that I point out that a pure communist society was just as cruel as the crusaders.
"God" and "cleansing" and what have you, are the excuses. The system of control trying to keep itself in power, is the reason. People are very creative when it comes to rationalising why we do anything. Entire schools of thought, and libraries, are written from this sort of thing. But when it boils down to it, people just don't like not having control, and will do whatever it takes to keep it. We only call them jerks when they do something we can agree isn't particularly nice, or outright horrible - after all, if the people in charge kept their power by placating the masses with circuses and gladiators and throwing bread at the crowds, it wouldn't matter that their starvation was caused by a war of attrition with the visigoths.
That seems very reasonable. I think that you might have a point in saying that humans are jerks to begin with and that they are simply using popular philosophy's to try and show that what they are doing is right. Good reasoning, I like it!
Oh no, not jerks to begin with. Jerks after the fact. We judge people based on what they're already done. Who knows what the Stalins and Hitlers of the world were like when they were little boys. Maybe they were boy scouts, and helped old Mrs Googlovich (or whateva) across the road, only to be clobbered with her cane, a few too many times? I mean, obviously genocide is a bit extreme...but...
The good thing about atheism is that people have the freedom to be one. I am not an atheist though. ;)