Sunday, September 9, 2012

Imagine no religion

Nobel laureate and Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn had deep personal insight into the intimate link between atheism and totalitarianism.

Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: 'Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.' 
Since then I have spend well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: 'Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.' [9]
Atheism in power is the most deadly ideology in human history. Nothing-- not Christian fratricide nor Islamic terrorism nor Catholic Inquisitions-- has been anywhere near as deadly and repressive as State Atheism.

The authors of The Black Book of Communism-- the definitive reference on the atrocities of communism, which is the only organized political form modern atheism has taken-- estimate that in the 20th century State Atheism murdered more than 100 million people.

The New Atheist tactic of harping on the violence of religion is not coincidental. It puts Christians on the defensive, and diverts attention from atheism-- mankind's most hellish and violent ideology.

In our public debates, we must not let atheists escape accountability for the horrors their ideology has wrought.

When you consider the totalitarian horrors of 20th century-- the gulags, the Berlin Wall, the Show Trials, the massive famine of Great Leap Forward, the indiscriminate brutality of the Cultural Revolution, the barbarism of the Killing Fields, the enduring nightmare of the 'Democratic People's Republic of Korea'-- remember Solzhenitsyn:

"Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened"


  1. You couldn't be more right! Faith in a bloodthirsty and vindictive imaginary being is exactly what we need to ensure peace and stability.

  2. Michael,

    No. Atheism isn't an ideology. It's a worldview. Communism deserves the opprobrium for the crimes committed in its name. State atheism is just a madeup term. If you're going to criticize communism, you should criticize communism.

    I'm not defending communism (it's an odious political ideology), but a large percentage of its death toll was due to stupidity rather than malice. Stalin's collectivization of agriculture. Mao's famine due the so-called 'Great Leap Forward' inspired by the insane idea that farmers were perfectly qualified to run industrial smelters on the side. That birds were a pest in crops and should be eliminated from farms by not allowing them to land and rest by having children create a continuous racket, not realizing that birds also kept under control insect pests destructive of crops.

    1. "Atheism isn't an ideology. It's a worldview"

      I have heard this retort quite frequently from the "Gnu" community, usually offered as a convenient excuse for mass murder committed under totalitarian regimes. I will concede a degree of merit on such a statement, if only on the strength of mere definition of terms. But as you should know, ideas have consequences.

      It is naive to pretend that any worldview can be held in intellectual isolation. Even the sycophants of blogger P Z Myers were treated to the following admission in a recent posting: "If there is no god, if religion is a sham, that has significant consequences for how we should structure our society". (You can read the quote in context at the start of a new paragraph about half way through Myers posting at

      Obviously, Myers posting is not addressing the subject we are discussing here, and I recognize that he would likewise argue in favour of your statement. But it is strangely convenient for him to suddenly admit that even a atheistic worldview CAN have ideolgical consequences, even if he would refuse to extend that link to the murderous atheistic regimes of history.

      - Lynn Ellis

    2. Lynn,

      If an ideology has evil consequences then you should criticize the ideology, not just some property it shares with a lot of other systems. Communism as put into effect was absolutely disastrous, although in theory it was commendable. Indeed, Rodney Stark in 'the Triumph of Christianity' noted that the early Christian communities were communistic, with a lot of care and support being given to fellow members in need, in contrast to the prevailing lack of care amongst the surrounding pagans.

      Communism in practice turned out to be a broken form of capitalism. People still had to use money to buy the goods they needed. State ownership of the means of production was just grossly inefficient, producing inadequate amounts of goods often not those actually wanted. Instead of using market forces to distribute goods, supply and demand determining prices, the communists used rationing and queuing to share the inadequate supply out. Except for the elites who received favored treatment.

    3. @bach:

      The most appropriate analogy to use for atheism is that it is like AIDS. It kills mainly by destroying a civilization's defenses against other diseases. It allows raw state power to go unchecked. It removes objective morality from political calculus. It shifts deference and worship from God to temporal power.

      You have yet to explain why it is that State Atheism has always been totalitarian. Why do we cringe when we hear "State Atheism"? Why doesn't State Atheism mean democracy, freedom, respect for human rights?

      Why is State Atheism always totalitarian?

      Your disinterest in the question is scandalous.

  3. Imagine the horrors the German armies might have inflicted if they hadn't had "Gott mit uns" on their belt buckles. Millions of lives were saved because those men hadn't forgotten God.

  4. Whenever someone points out the so-called horrors done in the name of religion, I'm always quick to point out the ever greater horrors resulting from atheistic faith. The latter greatly outweighs the former, despite atheists making up just a tiny fraction of humanity throughout history.

    I'm not religious myself, however, I'm immensely thankful to those who are for shielding humanity from atheism. Had atheism become the majority view, worldwide, I don't believe I would exist right now. I believe an atheistic planet would result in the self-destruction of humankind within a matter of centuries, if not decades.

    1. So humanity can only survive if people believe in ridiculous stories of magic guys in the sky? Humanity is screwed.