The Effects of Radical Atheism

Question from SL:
Why do atheists always insist that radical theists will kill at worst but radical atheists will only criticize or make videos? I met Eastern Europeans and Tibetans who will say that is an outright lie. Atheist Soviet Union and atheist China did more than make videos. Why do atheists insist on saying that only theistic societies oppressed people when clearly the 20th century proved that atheist societies were not much better. Please do not tell me they were not truly atheist, Marx and Leninist writers clearly state that atheism was a central core to Marxism. I am not trying to be argumentative but, I only met a handful of honest atheists who say that bad mass murdering oppressors can be theist and atheist. Why is that?

Answer by SmartLX:
The distinction you describe is not the correct one to make for just the reasons you describe. Yes, communist regimes (and related ideologies, in case any you mention aren’t considered fully communist) are officially and proudly atheist, and have committed atrocities. The difference is that atheism does not drive them to these things.

Communist regimes do the horrible things they do to spread and maintain Communism, not atheism. They enforce atheism for the same reason. In his famous “opiate of the masses” passage, Marx wrote that religion needed to be removed to deprive people of its comfort, so that they would feel their pain and drive societal change. Atheism to communists is a tool, a means to an end. The likelihood of the existence of gods, or any other intellectual consideration of religious faith, is irrelevant. Additionally, national communism in practice tends to become a pseudo-religion itself (North Koreans actually pray to the deceased Kim tyrants, for instance) and thus religion is suppressed as a direct rival to it.

There’s never been a government regime determined to remove the oppression of religion without putting something similar in its place, and to build a free society based on the ideals of atheist figures like Voltaire or Thomas Paine. (Secular, pluralist systems are a different approach again.) There has never been a large enough concentration of atheists in a place with enough religious oppression to bring it about. If it ever happens, we’ll be able to compare its conduct with that of the world’s theocracies. Right now there’s really no basis for comparison at all.

As for independent radicals, there might well be some atheist loose cannons out there and we should consider their stated goals as available, but you’ve only provided examples related to communism. Know of anything else? Stick it in the comments.

2 thoughts on “The Effects of Radical Atheism”

  1. SL – Mass murders are mentally deranged. I dislike when people try to blame religion or atheism or any other ism or dogma for their actions. If someone didn’t have one thing to rile up their followers they’d find something else. Mass murder is first about control. Without it you can’t commit the crime.

    That’s why critical thinking and skepticism are good traits to have and to install in people. You are much less likely to get sucked in by nonsense if you can recognize it.

    LX is right about secular states like communist ones. They don’t want the competition from religions and gods (all of them I’d like to point out, not just whatever one you might be familiar with). They also outlaw other political parties, burn books….anything that might offer a different take on things. They aren’t atheists necessarily because they don’t believe, but they are systematically removing any challenge to the order they’ve installed. Gods fall under that threat.

    Whatever tool a mass murder uses, the ultimate goal is always power and control. That’s the end game, every single time…

  2. The difference is that atheism has no “sacred” works or dogma or indeed official texts of any kind that can be interpreted as requiring action of any kind.

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