Egyptian Christians riot

It isn’t just Muslims who get upset.

Thousands of enraged Christians clashed with the police in Egypt on Thursday in response to a drive-by shooting the night before that left six Christians dead and nine wounded.

The attackers, who are still at large, had opened fire on several groups of Christians gathered to celebrate Coptic Christmas in the southern Egyptian city of Nag Hammadi, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The killings seemed to be an act of revenge tied to accusations in November that a Christian man raped a Muslim girl, the statement said.

Take religion out of the equation and there is no excuse for this violence. Not all violence disappears (despite the strawmen often drawn from the previous sentence), but there lacks a motivation for these type of attacks. Religion is largely what divides these Egyptians.

Clashes between Muslims and Christians have grown increasingly common in recent years, especially in Upper Egypt, where there is a large Christian population and a strong culture of vendetta killings. Those killings typically spring from unexceptional disputes that spiral into full-blown conflicts that have to be settled by security forces. There are no official statistics on the size of the Christian minority in Egypt, but the generally accepted figure is 10 percent of the population.

Again, that 10% share a number of commonalities with the 90%. The key dividing factor, as always, is religion. And if there was any doubt,

During a funeral procession on Thursday for the victims of the shooting, thousands of angry Christian protesters chanted, “With our souls, with our blood, we will sacrifice ourselves for the cross,” and pelted police cars with stones. The police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

“There is a prevailing atmosphere of sectarianism and religious incitement which has led to this behavior,” said Gamal Asaad, a Coptic intellectual and former member of Parliament. “People deal with each other now as Muslims or Christians, not as Egyptians.”

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22 Responses

  1. The problem with this logic is we have to many examples of atheists killing people. Lot and lots people – tens of millions actually. So removing religion isn’t the issue, but human nature.

  2. I thought atheism was a religion? But if it isn’t a religion, it would be interesting to know how it compels people to do anything. Is it a belief system? What inherently follows from atheism? What sort of doctrine do atheists follow? Atheist dogma? How can one identify an atheist in a group? How many atheists have killed to avenge the death of a fellow atheist?

  3. I thought atheism was a religion? But if it isn’t a religion, it would be interesting to know how it compels people to do anything. Is it a belief system? What inherently follows from atheism? What sort of doctrine do atheists follow? Atheist dogma? How can one identify an atheist in a group? How many atheists have killed to avenge the death of a fellow atheist

    Well considering that is has compelled you to start this blog, and Dawkins, and Harris, and Hitchens to write books and start organizations on the behalf of atheism, I would say atheism is capable of compelling people to do many things.

  4. So how did it do that? What is your evidence? Dogma, doctrine? How do you counter the fact that all the people you named are actually compelled by the evil of religion? And have any of the people you’ve named avenged atheist deaths? Has anyone avenged an atheists’ death in the name of atheism? How did atheism compel that/those person(s)?

  5. Jack, no one ever said removing religion would eliminate violence. Only that it would eliminate a major cause of violence.

    Not all violence committed by the religious is because of their religion. But there is a large portion of violence in the world that IS because of religion.

    Without religion, of course there would still be violence. But it would be lessened.

    The problem with this logic is we have to many examples of atheists killing people. Lot and lots people – tens of millions actually.

    The problem with this statement is just because an atheist commits violence, does not mean it is because of him being an atheist. You don’t see atheists shouting “I WILL SACRIFICE MYSELF FOR MY NON-GOD”.

    The point is that it IS evident that religion is causing violence. Not because there are christians causing violence, but because the violence stemmed from their religious belief. In order to show that atheism is a major cause of violence, you would have to show that the violence was because of their atheistic belief.

    I would not doubt that some people may have caused violence in the name of “atheism”… However, I would be willing to bet that it is very uncommon. There are sick people across all beliefs that cause violence. The problem is that it is much proportionally higher among the religious.

  6. Jack, no one ever said removing religion would eliminate violence. Only that it would eliminate a major cause of violence.

    Not all violence committed by the religious is because of their religion. But there is a large portion of violence in the world that IS because of religion.

    Without religion, of course there would still be violence. But it would be lessened.

    No Michael this has already been shown to be not true in the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and a number of other places; their isn’t less violence, their is much more violence, of the most horrific kind ever imagined. You are just wrong. Again.

    The problem with this statement is just because an atheist commits violence, does not mean it is because of him being an atheist. You don’t see atheists shouting “I WILL SACRIFICE MYSELF FOR MY NON-GOD”.

    Well in a sense you are right; they sacrifice millions of others for their non-gods.

    The point is that it IS evident that religion is causing violence. Not because there are christians causing violence, but because the violence stemmed from their religious belief. In order to show that atheism is a major cause of violence, you would have to show that the violence was because of their atheistic belief.

    Actually Micheal if it is true violence stems primarily (or even significantly) from religious belief, then one would expect that in places devoid of religious belief (North Korea for example) that their would be much less violence; instead you see large numbers of people being killed and imprisoned by the non-religious state. This contradicts your claims directly.

  7. So how did it do that? What is your evidence? Dogma, doctrine? How do you counter the fact that all the people you named are actually compelled by the evil of religion? And have any of the people you’ve named avenged atheist deaths? Has anyone avenged an atheists’ death in the name of atheism? How did atheism compel that/those person(s)?

    I was just contradicting the notion it doesn’t compel anyone to do anything. For more violent practioners we only need to consider Stalin and Mao and Pol pot, to name a few.

  8. (Double check who posted what.)

    I was just contradicting the notion it doesn’t compel anyone to do anything. For more violent practioners we only need to consider Stalin and Mao and Pol pot, to name a few.

    Again, the motivations of all you named (earlier, not just now) are entirely distinct from what you claim. All are motivated by a crusade for science and a distaste for what religion does (and more political reasons for Hitchens). None of that follows from atheism.

    And the motivations of those you just named are based in political ideology and power. One is a system of belief, the other is human nature. Neither have anything to do with atheism. The same goes for China and North Korea – it’s all about political power, not atheism.

  9. Again, the motivations of all you named (earlier, not just now) are entirely distinct from what you claim. All are motivated by a crusade for science and a distaste for what religion does (and more political reasons for Hitchens). None of that follows from atheism.

    The problem is everytime atheists are in power, they seem to act on their motivations in a most violent way. It’s actually quite consistent. They can be quite nice when they are merely criticizing the Christian societies which tolerate them.

    And the motivations of those you just named are based in political ideology and power. One is a system of belief, the other is human nature. Neither have anything to do with atheism. The same goes for China and North Korea – it’s all about political power, not atheism.</

    Actually we agree here; violence is rooted in human nature; but what you need to prove is that religion makes people more violent, and you have all but conceded this isn’t true.

  10. The problem is everytime atheists are in power, they seem to act on their motivations in a most violent way. It’s actually quite consistent. They can be quite nice when they are merely criticizing the Christian societies which tolerate them.

    “Seem” is the key word here. It only “seems” to you to be that way because Christianity demands that you view others that way. So is the irrationality of your religion.

    Actually we agree here; violence is rooted in human nature; but what you need to prove is that religion makes people more violent, and you have all but conceded this isn’t true.

    So because political ideology and power have made particular governments more violent, I’ve conceded that religion does no such thing? You have no logic.

  11. “Seem” is the key word here. It only “seems” to you to be that way because Christianity demands that you view others that way. So is the irrationality of your religion.

    No, it seems that way, because there aren’t any historical exceptions; atheists in power kill lots of people.

    So because political ideology and power have made particular governments more violent, I’ve conceded that religion does no such thing? You have no logic.

    No, because you acknowledge the reduction of religious belief has not made them less violent, your argument has no basis in reality. You can’t assess logic without a foundation in reality Michael.

  12. No, because you acknowledge the reduction of religious belief has not made them less violent, your argument has no basis in reality. You can’t assess logic without a foundation in reality Michael.

    I said other things can make people violent. That says nothing of religion.

    But the fact actually is that places like the Soviet Union have long supported churches. Stalin gave millions to the Russian Orthodox Church toward the end and after WW2. Napoleon long recognized the power of religion to reign in the masses. China currently gives support to religion as a means of promoting a sense of stronger Chinese culture. (Reader’s Digest has a DVD series Walks Around the World which takes time to especially expound on this.)

    But if you actually knew what the hell you were talking about, you would know that it was never atheism which was the motivator behind governments which officially supported it. It was that Marxism states that religion conflicts with a good economic system (i.e., communism) and should thus be squelched. That is, the motivation is that religion is evil. Of course, it hasn’t been missed that you ignored all the questions I posed earlier. You’re still welcome to counter my points by showing what doctrine atheists follow. What sort of dogma do they have? Have any of these atheist leaders or governments avenged an atheist death?

  13. But the fact actually is that places like the Soviet Union have long supported churches. Stalin gave millions to the Russian Orthodox Church toward the end and after WW2. Napoleon long recognized the power of religion to reign in the masses. China currently gives support to religion as a means of promoting a sense of stronger Chinese culture. (Reader’s Digest has a DVD series Walks Around the World which takes time to especially expound on this.)

    The reality is the Soviet Union and China have brutally suppressed religious expression; you can believe the propaganda, but if you really want to know what is was like there, I recommend reading something like the Gulag Archipelago.

    To be quite honest, I am really surprised to run into someone who defends Stalin in this day and age. Wonders never cease.

    But if you actually knew what the hell you were talking about, you would know that it was never atheism which was the motivator behind governments which officially supported it. It was that Marxism states that religion conflicts with a good economic system (i.e., communism) and should thus be squelched. That is, the motivation is that religion is evil. Of course, it hasn’t been missed that you ignored all the questions I posed earlier. You’re still welcome to counter my points by showing what doctrine atheists follow. What sort of dogma do they have? Have any of these atheist leaders or governments avenged an atheist death?

    It’s a simple thing Michael, for all your obfuscation; you are obligated to show that in places where there is less religion, there is less violence. The facts are, this isn’t true, so now you are trying to cart the goalposts to another part of the field. You lose this one.

  14. The reality is the Soviet Union and China have brutally suppressed religious expression; you can believe the propaganda, but if you really want to know what is was like there, I recommend reading something like the Gulag Archipelago.

    They have done these things. That goes to the point that their motivation is that religion is bad, nothing out of atheism. But they’ve also supported religion, as Stalin did, and as China currently does on a selective basis.

    To be quite honest, I am really surprised to run into someone who defends Stalin in this day and age. Wonders never cease.

    You mean to ask when I’m going to stop beating my wife?

    It’s a simple thing Michael, for all your obfuscation; you are obligated to show that in places where there is less religion, there is less violence.

    Denmark, Sweden, Japan, Finland. Done.

    Now what doctrines do atheists follow? Who is their central leader? What principles follow from atheism? Does Marxism not state that religion is an evil?

  15. They have done these things. That goes to the point that their motivation is that religion is bad, nothing out of atheism. But they’ve also supported religion, as Stalin did, and as China currently does on a selective basis.
    Stalin didn’t ’support religion’; the churches he didn’t raze were state run, and they were used primarily as a means to inform on those who were religious.
    China does much the same thing.

    The reality is there is little indication that the Coptic Christians in Egypt did what they did because they were motivated to do so by their belief in Christ, or religious feelings in general. In fact they were reacting to a drive by shooting in their neighborhood. It would be like saying that a riot in a black neighborhood over the lack of action by police on a drive-by resulted from them ‘being black’.
    And of course the US is overwhelmingly religious, and we don’t have people rioting in the streets because of their religious feelings.

    You mean to ask when I’m going to stop beating my wife?

    No, I am saying you should stop saying wife beating might be a good thing, or rather, that Stalin had somehow was favorable towards religious belief.

    Denmark, Sweden, Japan, Finland. Done.

    True, Denmark, Sweden and Finland haven’t been particularly violent since the Christians converted the Vikings. And two of them have state churches; in fact 81% of Danish belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, 80% of the Finns belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and 72% of Swedes belong to the Church of Sweden. Now I think one could argue they are largely agnostic in terms of personal beliefs, but by no stretch of the imagination are they overtly or officially atheistic.

    And our Christian country pretty much quelled Japan’s violence after the war.

    Now what doctrines do atheists follow? Who is their central leader? What principles follow from atheism? Does Marxism not state that religion is an evil?

    Well much the same can be said of the ‘religious’ – they don’t follow a particular doctrine, they don’t have a central leader, they don’t all follow the same principles. And Christians around the world don’t all act like the particular Coptic Christians in Egypt you cite. And the irreligious, as has been established, can be just as violent. So it comes back to the fact that humans can find motivation to be violent whatever their metaphysical or religious beliefs or lack thereof.

  16. Stalin didn’t ’support religion’; the churches he didn’t raze were state run, and they were used primarily as a means to inform on those who were religious.
    China does much the same thing.

    So is your argument now going to be that atheism automatically leads to support for churches?

    The reality is that the Russian Orthodox Church thrived under Stalin. This was done in an effort to help rise a stronger feeling of nationalism. China is currently doing the same, though also has interests in the internal promotion of more ancient Chinese culture.

    The reality is there is little indication that the Coptic Christians in Egypt did what they did because they were motivated to do so by their belief in Christ, or religious feelings in general. In fact they were reacting to a drive by shooting in their neighborhood. It would be like saying that a riot in a black neighborhood over the lack of action by police on a drive-by resulted from them ‘being black’.

    Christians are told they are right and others are wrong. That is a motivator that cannot be intrinsically ascribed to any race.

    But more importantly, religion acts as the divisive labeling force. Your poor drive-by analogy can be borrowed here because race also acts as a divider. The difference, again, is that there is no motivation one can say comes from skin color. And that’s where you fail. Your comparison could only work if religion was not a choice and had no doctrine as is the case with race.

    And of course the US is overwhelmingly religious, and we don’t have people rioting in the streets because of their religious feelings.

    That religion also is overwhelmingly singular. And where there is difference, much of it occurs in the form of people claiming no religious affiliation.

    No, I am saying you should stop saying wife beating might be a good thing, or rather, that Stalin had somehow was favorable towards religious belief.

    He did give money to the Russian Orthodox Church. A lot of it. That much is indisputable. But you seem to miss the next point. The reason he gave money to churches was due to the value of pulling together the masses. Many communist leaders have done that, including in North Korea today where they have transformed Kim Jong-il into a near-deity. Doing as much is a transgression against Marxist principles, but a hunger for power will do that.

    True, Denmark, Sweden and Finland haven’t been particularly violent since the Christians converted the Vikings.

    Haha.

    And two of them have state churches; in fact 81% of Danish belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, 80% of the Finns belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and 72% of Swedes belong to the Church of Sweden. Now I think one could argue they are largely agnostic in terms of personal beliefs, but by no stretch of the imagination are they overtly or officially atheistic.

    Church affiliation means nothing here. Attendance is extremely low and a lack of belief in God is claimed by upwards of 68%. But your final sentence belies your desire to change the goalposts now that you’ve been caught. It is no longer that I must “show that in places where there is less religion, there is less violence”, but those places now must be officially atheistic. It’s convenient that you’re trying to limit me to communist regimes (while denying that the ideology of communism has anything to do with all of this), but I’m not buying it. Atheism does not promote any particular action one way or another. You have still avoided showing how it even could do so.

    And our Christian country pretty much quelled Japan’s violence after the war.

    Haha. You’re one deluded chap. I mean, do you honestly thing that it was the righteousness of Christianity that motivated the U.S. to drop the bomb on Japan?

    Well much the same can be said of the ‘religious’ – they don’t follow a particular doctrine, they don’t have a central leader, they don’t all follow the same principles.

    They follow the Bible, the Koran, the Torah. First point defeated.

    The Pope, pastors, preachers, priests, Rick Warren. Point two defeated.

    No one said they all follow the same principles. Many groups follow certain principles, however. No two atheists can be said to follow the same principles as a result of atheism. Point three wrecked.

    And Christians around the world don’t all act like the particular Coptic Christians in Egypt you cite.

    I thought these Christians were just a group like black people? Why the sudden apologetics?

    And the irreligious, as has been established, can be just as violent.

    You’ve never bothered to establish how atheism leads to violence. All that has been established is that ideology and power often lead to violence. That has nothing to do with atheism.

    So it comes back to the fact that humans can find motivation to be violent whatever their metaphysical or religious beliefs or lack thereof.

    So then you concede that atheism is not a special motivating factor for Stalin et al?

  17. So is your argument now going to be that atheism automatically leads to support for churches?

    No, it’s not an ‘argument’, it’s a historical fact that Stalin used the church for propaganda purposes, and the Chinese use traditionalist feelings to support their government; it has nothing to do with ‘support for churches’.

    The reality is that the Russian Orthodox Church thrived under Stalin. This was done in an effort to help rise a stronger feeling of nationalism. China is currently doing the same, though also has interests in the internal promotion of more ancient Chinese culture.

    No, after killing or imprisoning almost all the church leaders and a number of adherents, the atheistic communists under Stalin appointed their own church leaders and used it as an organ of propaganda for the purposes of winning a war. Only an atheist would see this as the church ‘thriving’.

    Christians are told they are right and others are wrong. That is a motivator that cannot be intrinsically ascribed to any race.

    I didn’t attempt to ascribe it to any race; as you rightly point out, suspicion of authorities doesn’t have anything to do with religion at all.

    But more importantly, religion acts as the divisive labeling force. Your poor drive-by analogy can be borrowed here because race also acts as a divider. The difference, again, is that there is no motivation one can say comes from skin color. And that’s where you fail. Your comparison could only work if religion was not a choice and had no doctrine as is the case with race.

    Yeah, because there has never been racial division in the world and it never acts as a divider. Do you know how laughable that is?
    Atheism can act as a divider – being in a different country can act as a divider. Again we come back to human nature – humans, absent some motivation to the contrary, tend to utilize any difference as a reason to oppose another group. Religion isn’t anymore a factor than money, or power, or any number of factors that have divided humans.

    That religion also is overwhelmingly singular. And where there is difference, much of it occurs in the form of people claiming no religious affiliation.

    Michael, you keep saying that, but we already know it’s not true. America is one of the most religious countries in the world, and Christians and Muslims and Jews aren’t rioting in the streets against each other, and atheists are free to spout off on blogs without reprisal.

    He did give money to the Russian Orthodox Church. A lot of it. That much is indisputable. But you seem to miss the next point. The reason he gave money to churches was due to the value of pulling together the masses. Many communist leaders have done that, including in North Korea today where they have transformed Kim Jong-il into a near-deity. Doing as much is a transgression against Marxist principles, but a hunger for power will do that.

    Yeah, and if you want to feed the hunger for power, the best thing you can do is turn your country into an overtly atheistic country.

    Church affiliation means nothing here. Attendance is extremely low and a lack of belief in God is claimed by upwards of 68%. But your final sentence belies your desire to change the goalposts now that you’ve been caught. It is no longer that I must “show that in places where there is less religion, there is less violence”, but those places now must be officially atheistic. It’s convenient that you’re trying to limit me to communist regimes (while denying that the ideology of communism has anything to do with all of this), but I’m not buying it. Atheism does not promote any particular action one way or another. You have still avoided showing how it even could do so.

    I agree that Northern Europeans, who inherited fine institutions from their Christian forebears, have settled into a comfortable secularism without formally rejecting some semblance of Christian tolerance. They are also old mono-cultural societies with relatively small and shrinking populations which are currently being eclipsed by notably Islamic ones.
    Either way, my main point from the beginning which you have failed to disprove is that notably religious societies like the US aren’t particularly prone to religious based violence, and we have many examples of irreligious societies which are brutal and repressive. This means we have no reason to believe that religion in and of itself promotes violence.

    I mean, do you honestly thing that it was the righteousness of Christianity that motivated the U.S. to drop the bomb on Japan?

    Of course not; but I do think it was our imposition of Western style democracy on Japan that kept it from falling back into feudalism and war.

    They follow the Bible, the Koran, the Torah. First point defeated.

    Actually it makes my point – those are three different doctrines, none of which has a central leader (at least not an earthly one). You are trying to lump a religion together as one thing – you failed.

    The Pope, pastors, preachers, priests, Rick Warren. Point two defeated.

    No, the acknowledgement of thousands of leaders does not prove the point there is ‘one central leader’. You just conceded that point.

    No one said they all follow the same principles. Many groups follow certain principles, however. No two atheists can be said to follow the same principles as a result of atheism. Point three wrecked.

    I think you have all but proven here that if we consider the ‘religious’ as a group, they are much more diverse than atheists in their beliefs. Even if we consider Christians I would say that is so; there really is no substantive difference belief-wise between Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens and Harris.

    I thought these Christians were just a group like black people? Why the sudden apologetics?

    What an odd reading of what I wrote.

    You’ve never bothered to establish how atheism leads to violence. All that has been established is that ideology and power often lead to violence. That has nothing to do with atheism.

    I don’t think atheism necessarily leads to violence; It is simply factual that overtly atheistic societies (that is those who hold atheism as a central tenet of the basis of their political power) are historically among the most violent, starting with the French revolution.

    So then you concede that atheism is not a special motivating factor for Stalin et al?

    Actually I think I have been pretty clear that sinful human nature is the main motivator for human evil. When in power, atheism seems to exacerbate the condition; my theory is that is because atheist tends to deny humans have a corrupt nature, a belief central to the founding of our own nation.

  18. No, it’s not an ‘argument’, it’s a historical fact that Stalin used the church for propaganda purposes, and the Chinese use traditionalist feelings to support their government; it has nothing to do with ‘support for churches’.

    So does atheism automatically lead to propaganda? If so, how?

    No, after killing or imprisoning almost all the church leaders and a number of adherents, the atheistic communists under Stalin appointed their own church leaders and used it as an organ of propaganda for the purposes of winning a war. Only an atheist would see this as the church ‘thriving’.

    You’re confusing your time periods. The church was supported toward the end of the war, but more so long after it was all over.

    I didn’t attempt to ascribe it to any race; as you rightly point out, suspicion of authorities doesn’t have anything to do with religion at all.

    Do you just not understand what is going on here? I pointed out the difference between your analogy and reality. Christianity (and all religion) has the motivator of the assumption that it is right and all else is wrong. Race does not have that motivator, thus your analogy is extremely weak. The fact that you said you “didn’t attempt to ascribe it to any race” is precisely my point.

    Yeah, because there has never been racial division in the world and it never acts as a divider. Do you know how laughable that is?

    Again, do you just not understand the discussion? I specifically said “…race also acts as a divider.” I then pointed out the difference between race and religion, something you acknowledged just above (though you did so under the belief that this was the first time either one of us said there was a difference, despite that being the very point I was making).

    Atheism can act as a divider – being in a different country can act as a divider. Again we come back to human nature – humans, absent some motivation to the contrary, tend to utilize any difference as a reason to oppose another group. Religion isn’t anymore a factor than money, or power, or any number of factors that have divided humans.

    Religion is the only divider you mentioned that says “We are right, you are wrong”. Atheism does not do that (nor do any beliefs derive from it). National divides do not inherently do that. Power and money do not inherently beg for division. Religion is the only source which acts as an inherent labeling (of what you’ve mentioned; certain philosophies can do the same).

    Michael, you keep saying that, but we already know it’s not true. America is one of the most religious countries in the world, and Christians and Muslims and Jews aren’t rioting in the streets against each other, and atheists are free to spout off on blogs without reprisal.

    This argument would only work if the original claim was that religion is the only source of evil in the world, the only driving factor. That isn’t the claim. I freely admit that there are plenty of other sources which can exacerbate bad actions and ill will. Religion is merely the biggest one.

    Importantly, here, however is that democratic states tend to be more peaceful (no two democracies have ever fought a war against each other). Religion, by saying it is right and others are wrong and everything should be in such-a-such way, is anathema to democracy. Fortunately, we had plenty of founding fathers who despised Christianity and the institute of religion.

    Yeah, and if you want to feed the hunger for power, the best thing you can do is turn your country into an overtly atheistic country.

    So most power has been wrought by atheism? What of the thousands of years of power held by religions? What of all the theocracies of the world? How does atheism being one power? How does a desire for power inherently follow from atheism?

    You’re big on making claims, but you don’t seem to want to focus on the how, unlike I’ve done with religion.

    This means we have no reason to believe that religion in and of itself promotes violence.

    Yes, we have no reason to believe a strawman. We do, however, have reason to believe that religion acts as a divider and divisions lead to violence, as we have seen in Egypt. The difference with this sort of division, as has been pointed out to you after you failed to understand a couple straight-forward points, is that religion inherently says “We are right, you are wrong”, unlike race or geographical divide.

    Of course not; but I do think it was our imposition of Western style democracy on Japan that kept it from falling back into feudalism and war.

    Democracy is not built upon religion. At all.

    I don’t think atheism necessarily leads to violence; It is simply factual that overtly atheistic societies (that is those who hold atheism as a central tenet of the basis of their political power) are historically among the most violent, starting with the French revolution.

    Wait a minute. I thought you deluded into thinking the U.S. was built upon Christian principles, starting with our own revolution? And since the French Revolution was largely inspired by our own, doesn’t that mean Christianity, ultimately, is responsible? And what of the fact that you’re blatantly wrong that the citizenry of France ever collectively lost their faith?

    Actually I think I have been pretty clear that sinful human nature is the main motivator for human evil. When in power, atheism seems to exacerbate the condition; my theory is that is because atheist tends to deny humans have a corrupt nature, a belief central to the founding of our own nation.

    It’s nice of you to declare your theory at the end of the 17th response here, but it’s false. Atheism does not entail that humans are either good or bad, corrupt or not corrupt. But if it does, how?

  19. So does atheism automatically lead to propaganda? If so, how?

    Strawman.

    You’re confusing your time periods. The church was supported toward the end of the war, but more so long after it was all over.

    Again, only an atheist would consider a KGB infested state run ‘church’ to be support for the church. It may be that Uncle Joe was too busy killing Christians in the Eastern block countries to have time to kill even more in Russia; the governments under Khrushchev and Brezhnev took care of that problem.

    Do you just not understand what is going on here? I pointed out the difference between your analogy and reality. Christianity (and all religion) has the motivator of the assumption that it is right and all else is wrong. Race does not have that motivator, thus your analogy is extremely weak. The fact that you said you “didn’t attempt to ascribe it to any race” is precisely my point. Tell the Hutus and the Tutsis race isn’t that big a motivator.

    My point was simply that a riot against the police doesn’t have to be motivated by religion; in fact, what it is usually motivated by is perceived unfair treatment by authorities. In that sense this riot in Egypt and one in LA would be synonymous. So it isn’t even an analogy; they are the same motivation.

    Again, do you just not understand the discussion? I specifically said “…race also acts as a divider.” I then pointed out the difference between race and religion, something you acknowledged just above (though you did so under the belief that this was the first time either one of us said there was a difference, despite that being the very point I was making).

    I did misread that statement. Nonetheless it seems we agree on this – lots of things can divide people.

    Religion is the only divider you mentioned that says “We are right, you are wrong”. Atheism does not do that (nor do any beliefs derive from it). National divides do not inherently do that. Power and money do not inherently beg for division. Religion is the only source which acts as an inherent labeling (of what you’ve mentioned; certain philosophies can do the same).

    Well, atheists are obviously claiming to be right on something while others are wrong. So are Communists, and Democrats, and Hutus, and national policy tenets, and political philosophies. You are so wrong here that I don’t have the time to show you how wrong you are.

    This argument would only work if the original claim was that religion is the only source of evil in the world, the only driving factor. That isn’t the claim. I freely admit that there are plenty of other sources which can exacerbate bad actions and ill will. Religion is merely the biggest one.

    If it were, then we would expect more religious countries (like the US) to be more violent than countries where religious belief is practically absent (like North Korea for instance). It just isn’t the case. You keep trying to say notably irreligious countries are violent for ‘other’ reasons, but they are certainly no less violent than for religious reasons, which goes directly against your claim.

    Importantly, here, however is that democratic states tend to be more peaceful (no two democracies have ever fought a war against each other). Religion, by saying it is right and others are wrong and everything should be in such-a-such way, is anathema to democracy. Fortunately, we had plenty of founding fathers who despised Christianity and the institute of religion.

    Yeah, and modern democracies which respect pluralism tend to spring up in the Christian west. That is no coincidence.

    So most power has been wrought by atheism? What of the thousands of years of power held by religions? What of all the theocracies of the world? How does atheism being one power? How does a desire for power inherently follow from atheism?

    Actually, compared to Stalinism, Maoism, Pol Pot and the regime of the Ils (as in Kim Jong) most past Monarchs have been pussycats by comparison.

    I think this is a tendency of atheistic regimes because they, perhaps more than any other group, are capable of denying the inherent worth of humans while casting anyone who doesn’t fall in line as opposing reason and the advancement of mankind. They claim opponents are dangerous and delusional, and so must be at least marginalized, if not eliminated. It’s a typical means of dehumanizing those they oppose. I see the New Atheists do it, but thankfully they don’t have the power to follow these beliefs to their logical conclusions; hopefully they never will.

    Yes, we have no reason to believe a strawman. We do, however, have reason to believe that religion acts as a divider and divisions lead to violence, as we have seen in Egypt. The difference with this sort of division, as has been pointed out to you after you failed to understand a couple straight-forward points, is that religion inherently says “We are right, you are wrong”, unlike race or geographical divide.

    Well, again, the Coptics were plainly concerned about being treated fairly as minorities in Egypt – they may have gone about it wrongly, but that particular reaction can (and does) occur all over the world, for a myriad of reasons. You are just trying to appropriate it to serve your own ideas of right and wrong, which create divides as well.

    Democracy is not built upon religion. At all.

    Not true; in there is a close connection between the Protestant reformation and the rise of democratic republics.

    Wait a minute. I thought you deluded into thinking the U.S. was built upon Christian principles, starting with our own revolution? And since the French Revolution was largely inspired by our own, doesn’t that mean Christianity, ultimately, is responsible? And what of the fact that you’re blatantly wrong that the citizenry of France ever collectively lost their faith?

    Actually, as John Adams noted (and so rightly predicted it would fail) the French Revolution was also antagonistic to Christianity – in fact that was one of the purposes of the Reign of Terror, to de-Christianize France. I thought everyone familiar with history knew this.

    It’s nice of you to declare your theory at the end of the 17th response here, but it’s false. Atheism does not entail that humans are either good or bad, corrupt or not corrupt. But if it does, how?

    Well, in order to have a corrupt nature, human would have to have a ‘nature’ to begin with. Atheism is antagonistic to that idea, being a fundamentally materialistic belief.

  20. Strawman.

    A question isn’t a strawman. You said it’s a fact that Stalin and others have used churches to prop up their propaganda machines. Since it is also your position that Stalin was acting out of atheism in his other acts, it is reasonable to ask if it was atheism that led to this propaganda. If it wasn’t atheism, what was it? Could this alternative possibility also be a cause of his other actions? Why or why not?

    Again, only an atheist would consider a KGB infested state run ‘church’ to be support for the church. It may be that Uncle Joe was too busy killing Christians in the Eastern block countries to have time to kill even more in Russia; the governments under Khrushchev and Brezhnev took care of that problem.

    I guess it’s good that your specifying your times, but that just amounts to a bait-and-switch at this point. Religion was promoted under Stalin. His purposes (as I first acknowledged) had to do with state promotion, but it remains that the population of Russia was getting more and more religion put on their plates. In this instance, it was immaterial to the rise or fall of violence because it was communist ideology and a need for a strong central government to protect that ideology which caused certain increases in violence. The same goes for atheism, no matter how inconvenient to your ‘argument’ that fact is.

    Tell the Hutus and the Tutsis race isn’t that big a motivator.

    I can only explain this so many times before I’m going to just give up on you. I’ve said (long before you thought you had any original thought on the matter) that race is a factor in divisions. It is not, however, an intrinsic motivator. What follows from being white, Jack? What follows from being black or Asian or Inuit? Absolutely nothing. Nothing can follow from race as a result of race. That does not mean anyone has argued that race isn’t a divider. (It’s especially perplexing how you could think that when there are sentences on this very page which specifically read, “…race also acts as a divider.”)

    Being white does not mean greatness. It’s just an observable fact. Being Christian, for the Christian, does indicate a special status, something which can be attained by choice, and something which says “We are right, you are wrong.”

    Well, atheists are obviously claiming to be right on something while others are wrong.

    And so are deists. But the claim that X is true or false does not de facto mean Y and Z should or should not follow.

    So are Communists, and Democrats, and Hutus, and national policy tenets, and political philosophies. You are so wrong here that I don’t have the time to show you how wrong you are.

    With the exception of Hutus, those examples are correct. All those groups do claim to be right about certain things. But they make their claims based off belief systems. Some of those systems are not dangerous because of what they entail. The Democratic party, for instance, is predicated on the notion of democracy (as well as the Republicans). This largely takes away the promotion of violence that can be seen in certain communist countries, or even in certain philosophies – or religion.

    Yeah, and modern democracies which respect pluralism tend to spring up in the Christian west. That is no coincidence.

    Christianity hasn’t been given the same hold as Islam has been given elsewhere. It is often taken out of the democratic process (something it inherently opposes anyway). When it isn’t removed, the democracy is predicated on notions wholly separate from religion anyway (such as with the U.S.).

    Actually, compared to Stalinism, Maoism, Pol Pot and the regime of the Ils (as in Kim Jong) most past Monarchs have been pussycats by comparison.

    So how are you measuring this evil? Is it more evil to kill 3 people rather than 2? Was Kahn less evil because he killed fewer? If Hitler had have gained power 500 years earlier and thus had less capability to kill, would he thus be less evil? And where does your god expound this measurement of evil? You wouldn’t be making a subjective interpretation of what is evil, would you?

    I think this is a tendency of atheistic regimes because they, perhaps more than any other group, are capable of denying the inherent worth of humans while casting anyone who doesn’t fall in line as opposing reason and the advancement of mankind.

    What in atheism says humans have no inherent worth? What doctrine dictates such a thing? What logical pathway are you using to come to this conclusion? Why don’t most atheists support Stalin?

    They claim opponents are dangerous and delusional, and so must be at least marginalized, if not eliminated.

    Actually, that’s essentially an argument of Marxism, not atheism.

    Well, again, the Coptics were plainly concerned about being treated fairly as minorities in Egypt – they may have gone about it wrongly, but that particular reaction can (and does) occur all over the world, for a myriad of reasons. You are just trying to appropriate it to serve your own ideas of right and wrong, which create divides as well.

    You aren’t arguing against anything now. I started the discussion long ago by pointing out the different dividing lines that exist amongst peoples. Those existence of those lines, however, don’t say whether or not religion makes things worse. But given the tribalism religion promotes, it’s obvious that it does make things worse.

    Not true; in there is a close connection between the Protestant reformation and the rise of democratic republics.

    Religions are not in the business of helping other religions become popular or accepted. That’s how U.S. history has gone. It took a concerted effort to make the nation secular on the federal level to help safeguard democratic values.

    Actually, as John Adams noted (and so rightly predicted it would fail) the French Revolution was also antagonistic to Christianity – in fact that was one of the purposes of the Reign of Terror, to de-Christianize France. I thought everyone familiar with history knew this.

    John Adams would also classify you and virtually every other modern Christian (not to mention the Christians of his day and days past) as antagonistic toward Christianity. You can’t quote-mine (or, paraphrase-mine) the man; I don’t let creationist tactics slip through, even in historical matters.

    Well, in order to have a corrupt nature, human would have to have a ‘nature’ to begin with. Atheism is antagonistic to that idea, being a fundamentally materialistic belief.

    Define “nature” in this context.

  21. A question isn’t a strawman. You said it’s a fact that Stalin and others have used churches to prop up their propaganda machines. Since it is also your position that Stalin was acting out of atheism in his other acts, it is reasonable to ask if it was atheism that led to this propaganda. If it wasn’t atheism, what was it? Could this alternative possibility also be a cause of his other actions? Why or why not?

    It’s completely irrelevant to the point that Stalin used churches as a means of propoganda, not ‘supported’ them as you contend, whatever his motivation for doing so.

    I guess it’s good that your specifying your times, but that just amounts to a bait-and-switch at this point. Religion was promoted under Stalin. His purposes (as I first acknowledged) had to do with state promotion, but it remains that the population of Russia was getting more and more religion put on their plates. In this instance, it was immaterial to the rise or fall of violence because it was communist ideology and a need for a strong central government to protect that ideology which caused certain increases in violence. The same goes for atheism, no matter how inconvenient to your ‘argument’ that fact is.

    Religion was not ‘promoted’ under Stalin – state run churches were used as a means to advance the communist agenda; this after untold numbers of Christians were killed or imprisoned, innocents whose memories who denigrate with you defense of Stalin’s tactics. I have seen a lot of people desperately defend atheism, but not many have gone so far as to be apologists for Stalin.

    It is not, however, an intrinsic motivator. What follows from being white, Jack? What follows from being black or Asian or Inuit? Absolutely nothing. Nothing can follow from race as a result of race. That does not mean anyone has argued that race isn’t a divider. (It’s especially perplexing how you could think that when there are sentences on this very page which specifically read, “…race also acts as a divider.”)

    You know Michael, it’s like you almost follow your own logic, but then you fail at the last moment. Does it automatically follow that a Christian will be more violent? No. Does it follow that a Jewish person will be more violent? No. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say the mere fact a person is Islamic would incline them to violence per se. So violence doesn’t follow as a result of being religious. My point is that in the same circumstances (perceived and perhaps prolonged injustice as a minority) any people may act violently, whatever else they might be.

    Being white does not mean greatness. It’s just an observable fact. Being Christian, for the Christian, does indicate a special status, something which can be attained by choice, and something which says “We are right, you are wrong.”

    It sounds like you are saying it’s an observable fact that being white means greatness. I assume you don’t mean this.
    Well, being an atheist confers the same thing. So does being a Democrat. Whenever you choose what you are going to believe, you are saying something you choose not to believe is wrong. So what? I misses the point I was making anyway – it wasn’t ‘being Christian’ that angered the Coptic Egyptians, it was perceived injustice. There is no reason to believe this had anything to do with their theology.

    And so are deists. But the claim that X is true or false does not de facto mean Y and Z should or should not follow.

    Your claim is that when someone believes they are right and others are wrong they are prone to violence. It’s poppycock.

    With the exception of Hutus, those examples are correct. All those groups do claim to be right about certain things. But they make their claims based off belief systems. Some of those systems are not dangerous because of what they entail. The Democratic party, for instance, is predicated on the notion of democracy (as well as the Republicans). This largely takes away the promotion of violence that can be seen in certain communist countries, or even in certain philosophies – or religion.

    Again, there is no ‘religion’, there are various religious beliefs, some of which might advocate violence, some of which specifically speak against violence, and some of which I suppose could be described as neutral in that regard. It’s no different than political beliefs or philosophies, both of which you have acknowledged can be either.

    Christianity hasn’t been given the same hold as Islam has been given elsewhere. It is often taken out of the democratic process (something it inherently opposes anyway). When it isn’t removed, the democracy is predicated on notions wholly separate from religion anyway (such as with the U.S.).

    None of this responds to the point I made. No one ‘took Christians out of the democratic process ‘in the US – which would have been pretty difficult to do as the vast majority of the people in the US in its inception and today are Christians.

    So how are you measuring this evil? Is it more evil to kill 3 people rather than 2? Was Kahn less evil because he killed fewer? If Hitler had have gained power 500 years earlier and thus had less capability to kill, would he thus be less evil? And where does your god expound this measurement of evil? You wouldn’t be making a subjective interpretation of what is evil, would you?

    Well, yes, I think intentionally killing more people (tens of millions actually) by intentionally starving them, torturing them, imprisoning them in inhumane conditions, etc. is about as evil as it gets. It doesn’t make others less evil; it just brings evil to a whole new level not before imagined.

    What in atheism says humans have no inherent worth? What doctrine dictates such a thing? What logical pathway are you using to come to this conclusion? Why don’t most atheists support Stalin?

    Atheist deny intrinsic human worth (or can’t justify it) because it has no materialistic basis. Most don’t support Stalin for the same reasons most don’t any longer support eugenics – because the consequences of supporting them are now known to be disastrous.

    Actually, that’s essentially an argument of Marxism, not atheism.

    That is what Dawkins believes – and obviously if you believe the religious are more violent, you believe they are more dangerous.

    You aren’t arguing against anything now. I started the discussion long ago by pointing out the different dividing lines that exist amongst peoples. Those existence of those lines, however, don’t say whether or not religion makes things worse. But given the tribalism religion promotes, it’s obvious that it does make things worse.

    You used this incident specifically as an example of religions being prone to violence. Now what – it’s not?

    Religions are not in the business of helping other religions become popular or accepted. That’s how U.S. history has gone. It took a concerted effort to make the nation secular on the federal level to help safeguard democratic values.

    Well sure, but neither is atheism. The Democrats aren’t trying to help the Republicans become more accepted, Coke is trying to sell Pepsi. So what? In fact it’s this very action (different beliefs and interests vying for power) that is the foundation of our political liberty.

    John Adams would also classify you and virtually every other modern Christian (not to mention the Christians of his day and days past) as antagonistic toward Christianity. You can’t quote-mine (or, paraphrase-mine) the man; I don’t let creationist tactics slip through, even in historical matters.

    Oh, please, you don’t know Adams from Adam. You didn’t even know he opposed the French Revolution. By your standards Adams and the deists of his day were religious nuts. Don’t try to one up me on American history Michael.

    Define “nature” in this context.

    Inherent tendency, of the sort Acton talked about when he said power corrupts.

  22. It’s completely irrelevant to the point that Stalin used churches as a means of propoganda, not ‘supported’ them as you contend, whatever his motivation for doing so.

    His motivation is the entire heart of your argument. You’ve said his hostile actions toward religion came from atheism. Did he also earmark funds for churches out of atheism?

    Religion was not ‘promoted’ under Stalin – state run churches were used as a means to advance the communist agenda; this after untold numbers of Christians were killed or imprisoned, innocents whose memories who denigrate with you defense of Stalin’s tactics. I have seen a lot of people desperately defend atheism, but not many have gone so far as to be apologists for Stalin.

    So he gave money to churches, but no church leaders preached? No citizens attended church? No one’s religiosity was actually increased as a result of this?

    You know [sic] Michael, it’s like you almost follow your own logic, but then you fail at the last moment. Does it automatically follow that a Christian will be more violent? No. Does it follow that a Jewish person will be more violent? No. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say the mere fact a person is Islamic would incline them to violence per se. So violence doesn’t follow as a result of being religious.

    You’ve got a disconnect going here. No, it doesn’t follow that a person will be violent as a matter of religion. No one ever said otherwise. But that doesn’t therefore conclude that violence doesn’t follow from religion. Christians and Jews still claim to not only be right, but that their rightness should always be at the front of the bus – ya know, for the sake of everyone’s soul and all that jazz.

    My point is that in the same circumstances (perceived and perhaps prolonged injustice as a minority) any people may act violently, whatever else they might be.

    This doesn’t account for Ireland or Israel/Palestine where each side acts violently.

    It sounds like you are saying it’s an observable fact that being white means greatness. I assume you don’t mean this.

    I noticed that just now as well. It was poor syntax on my part. Being white (or black or whathaveyou) is an observable fact.

    Well, being an atheist confers the same thing. So does being a Democrat. Whenever you choose what you are going to believe, you are saying something you choose not to believe is wrong. So what? I misses the point I was making anyway – it wasn’t ‘being Christian’ that angered the Coptic Egyptians, it was perceived injustice. There is no reason to believe this had anything to do with their theology.

    Again, “Bob is white” is something believed to be true. “There is no God” is along the same lines. And just the same, “There is a God” is along the same lines. None of these things have any belief systems which follow from them (unless “God” is meant to specify a certain god). Religion, on the other hand, is a belief system and it does teach that one should impose ‘rightness’ on others. Certain things, like democracy, can make such conclusions less virulent.

    Your claim is that when someone believes they are right and others are wrong they are prone to violence. It’s poppycock.

    That isn’t the entire claim, hence my time spent on describing how nothing comes from the observable fact of being white or black.

    Again, there is no ‘religion’, there are various religious beliefs, some of which might advocate violence, some of which specifically speak against violence, and some of which I suppose could be described as neutral in that regard. It’s no different than political beliefs or philosophies, both of which you have acknowledged can be either.

    Religion is predicated on being right and allowing for a justification of being right (i.e., force), at least against other religions/non-believers. Theocracies best show what religion is all about because they are religion taken to its logical conclusion on a governmental level.

    None of this responds to the point I made. No one ‘took Christians out of the democratic process ‘in the US – which would have been pretty difficult to do as the vast majority of the people in the US in its inception and today are Christians.

    The constitution is not predicated on promoting one religion over another. It was specifically made to be as secular as possible.

    And as a minor point, it is a logical flaw to point out today’s Christian population in the U.S. The point you made does not depend on modern day demographics.

    Well, yes, I think intentionally killing more people (tens of millions actually) by intentionally starving them, torturing them, imprisoning them in inhumane conditions, etc. is about as evil as it gets. It doesn’t make others less evil; it just brings evil to a whole new level not before imagined.

    So then evil is measured in number of deaths caused? Does this mean Kahn is less evil than Hitler? Is Ted Bundy more evil than Jeffrey Dahmer? Does mental state play a role in evil? Was Bundy more evil for committing most of his sexual acts while his victims were still living? What if a person kills 5 people with single gunshots to the head but another kills 1 person over a span of 10 hours of torture? Can you point me to the parts of the Bible where God tells you what defines evil in all these instances? If not, how do you reconcile making claims of (objective) evil without having an objective source to which you can point?

    Atheist deny intrinsic human worth (or can’t justify it) because it has no materialistic basis. Most don’t support Stalin for the same reasons most don’t any longer support eugenics – because the consequences of supporting them are now known to be disastrous.

    If there is no materialistic basis for saying there is intrinsic worth, how is there a materialistic basis for saying there isn’t intrinsic human worth? You hint that there isn’t when you say atheists cannot justify it.

    In your second point you argue that the consequences are now obvious. Does that mean that Stalin did not realize the consequences? If he did realize them, then how did he still act out of atheism? That is, you’ve argued that atheists are essentially consequentialists. If this is the case, then Stalin simply must not have known what the consequences would be. Alternatively, he did know the consequences but decided to forego atheistic principles and act poorly anyway.

    That is what Dawkins believes – and obviously if you believe the religious are more violent, you believe they are more dangerous.

    That an atheist believes it does not make it an atheistic principle. It still remains a central piece of Marxism, not atheism. Honestly. Dawkins also believes obeying all motor laws while on a bicycle is proper, even when there is no direct cause for doing so (i.e., there’s a stop sign but it is known there are no cars for miles; he still stops). Does that mean all atheists believe that? Has he derived his stance from atheism? What of those who disagree (such as myself)? Did they also derive their stance from atheism?

    You used this incident specifically as an example of religions being prone to violence. Now what – it’s not?

    There simply must be a breakdown in communication on this one. I said the existence of other dividers does not mean religion is not also a divider.

    Well sure, but neither is atheism. The Democrats aren’t trying to help the Republicans become more accepted, Coke is trying to sell Pepsi. So what? In fact it’s this very action (different beliefs and interests vying for power) that is the foundation of our political liberty.

    Atheism also isn’t in the business of down-grading religion. Individual atheists, such as myself, may be, but not atheism as an inherent value.

    The Democrat/Republican comparison takes this off course a bit. Remember, the original point you made was the connection between religion and democratic ideals. Political parties themselves are premised on those ideals and thus cannot be used to support the notion that competing systems favor working together. Indeed, they are two pieces of the same system.

    Oh, please, you don’t know Adams from Adam. You didn’t even know he opposed the French Revolution. By your standards Adams and the deists of his day were religious nuts. Don’t try to one up me on American history Michael.

    I gained an interest in Adams for two reasons. First, the HBO miniseries on him is utterly excellent (and actually surpasses Band of Brothers in my opinion, incidentally). Second, his strong friendship with Jefferson in their later years naturally drew me to him just as a result of my adoration of Jefferson in the first place.

    His opposition to the French Revolution was based in part on its attempt at secularization, but that was itself based on his deep belief that government should embrace a class system, something he thought Christianity would help to promote.

    I’m not sure where you’re getting this rubbish about me not knowing his positions concerning the French.

    Inherent tendency, of the sort Acton talked about when he said power corrupts.

    So atheism dictates that humans don’t have inherent tendencies? This is false as atheism says nothing of the matter. However, atheism does allow for evolution which in turn says that, yes, humans do have inherent tendencies. We inherently tend to love and hate and fight and get angry and playful and all sorts of things.

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