Wednesday, March 17, 2010
To continue with a theme:
Melanie Phillips at The Australian on the gathering of atheists down under:
Some of the worst horrors in human history - the French revolutionary terror, Nazism, communism - have been atheist creeds. And although terrible things indeed have been done in the name of religion, the fact remains that Christianity and the Hebrew Bible form the foundation stone of Western civilisation and its great cause of human equality and freedom.
[Dawkins] referred to the Pope as a Nazi, which managed to combine defamation of the pontiff with implicit Holocaust denial.
Then there's Anthony Frosh at Galus Australis: Jewish Life in the Antipodes:
'Evangelical atheists' claim that most wars have been fought in the name of religion. When people point out Nazis, Soviets, etc, then people like Richard Dawkins say that those atheists didn't commit their atrocities in the name of atheism.
There are two main problems with Dawkins' argument. Firstly, Dawkins is plain wrong when he asserts that no atrocities were ever committed in the name of atheism.
Obvious examples are the regimes of Mao and Stalin, who destroyed cultures they perceived to have had a religious basis. Thus their atrocities and human rights violations were clearly committed in the name of atheism.
Secondly, by putting up the defence that those atheistic regimes didn't commit their atrocities in the name of atheism, this assumes that religious entities that have waged war and committed atrocities have done so in the name of theism. This has rarely been the case. Most wars described as religious wars are actually about tribalism and ideology, and not at their core about theology.
Frankly, I think both sides are wrong about religion and/or the lack of it. Neither is the source of great evil nor a protection against it. The fault dear Brutus is not in your stars but in ourselves.
* P.S. Dawkins has said he wasn't speaking of the current Pope but of a past one.