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Monday, June 4, 2012

When Atheists Rule Nations -- Update

My wife and I, and some friends, saw the movie For Greater Glory this weekend. My wife points out that the screenwriting/dialogue leaves a bit to be desired, but the overall story and other aspects of the film are really good. If you don't know it, it's about events in Mexico in the 1920s, when an atheist government came to power and decided that Catholics were agents of Rome (a foreign power) and so persecuted them. It's not so different from what some people say whenever Catholics attain to high office in our country, usually under the meme of "separation of church and state."

What happened next in Mexico was a bloody war that lasted for several years. Priests rounded up and lynched for saying Mass. Religious images desecrated, destroyed, burned. Faithful tortured and killed, even children before their parents' eyes, because they wouldn't say, "Death to Christ." Blessed José Sánchez del Rio was one such real young person, featured in the movie, who with his dying breath said, "Viva Cristo Rey!"

Can it happen here, in the good ol' USA? Hm. Well, it might take a while, but yeah, it could. All that really has to happen is atheists have to take control of the government for a long time, weed out people of religion from the Supreme Court, and then determine that being Catholic and in union with the Pope is an act of treason. "Separation of church and state" means, ultimately, that any religion that is subordinate to a foreign head of state is a threat to national sovereignty. The only kind of tolerable Catholicism would be one that is organizationally independent of Rome and, in some sense, subordinate to the US Government though technically independent of it, too, like the atheist government of communist China imposed on the church there. It can happen. Not for a while, perhaps. But give it time.

In the meantime, atheists resort to bullying and ridicule instead.

But it occurred to me that the movie seems to support what I said about atheism leading to totalitarianism in earlier posts. So: What happens when atheists rule nations? Besides Mexico 90 years ago, I mean?

Justice. Freedom.

Like the French Revolution. See also here, and here.

Like the Spanish Civil war. The movie There Be Dragons is a good one to watch for what the anti-religion forces were like.

Like Nazi Germany. (Yeah, Hitler was born Catholic but he hated the Church started persecuting Catholics when he ran out of Jews.)

Like the Soviet Union, especially Stalin.  Like Mao Zedung. If the numbers are right in the article in the link, Mao alone may have killed more people of religion than anyone in history.

But notice the trend. A political upheaval occurs. Atheists come to power. And begin killing priests, nuns, faithful.

This is one reason why atheism and ethics simply do not mix. Atheism brooks no opposition. If you oppose atheism, you are wrong and need to be silenced. If the nation is atheist, and you are not, you are a traitor and need to be killed. Atheism becomes the end toward which all good and right actions tend, and any action that tends toward it is by definition good and right. ANYTHING. Anything else is evil. And punishable.

Let us not forget, with separation of church and state, the United States of America is a secular nation. It is fast becoming an atheist nation. We have that pesky Constitution and First Amendment, though. But we also have a judiciary that likes to redefine what the words of the Constitution mean. People will be free to practice their religions as long as they keep it to themselves, hide it in their homes, and not let it out in public places like work, politics, and so on. Separation of church and state means that people of religion should not be allowed to hold high office, and if they speak out against the government, they are traitors.

Can't happen here? Oh, I think it can.

UPDATE: The wonderful, just, and ethical atheists in China, following in the footsteps of their leader Mao, are responsible for approximately 400 million -- FOUR HUNDRED MILLION -- deaths of their OWN people. That's more people than in the United States of America. Imagine the Chinese WIPING OUT every American on the planet, and most Canadians, too, just for good measure. That's how many of their own people they have eradicated through FORCED ABORTIONS due to their one-child policy. That's what atheism gets you, that kind of justice. The kind of justice where if you're pregnant and refuse to pay the fine (about $6000), they beat the crap out of you, kill your baby, and put your dead baby's mangled body next to you to make sure you got the point. The Mafia, they'll break your thumbs, put your favorite horse's head in the bed with you, frame you for murder so they can get your cooperation, kill your kids, and all that. But they got nothing on the Chinese. That's what atheism gets you.

Oh, and the USA owes them about a trillion dollars. If you get the crap beat out of you, a forced abortion, and a dead child for owing them $6000, I think we're in trouble if we can't pay back the $1,000,000,000,000 or so we owe them. (That works out to about 167 million forced abortions.)

Just something to think about this election year.


  1. You are aware the majority of the founding fathers of America were atheists and knew the danger of making this nation a theocracy? Theocracies have killed just as much as the countries you listed above or is your world history and current affairs a bit astray? Not to mention that religion alone has caused more death in the world than any other force. Modern Atheists tend to be logical and cherish life as much as the next person. Every life has value in some way. You group the leaders above as atheists simply because they were not of christian denomination. They were simply brutes, savages, and warlords that paved their ways to power with blood and ultimately fell because of it. It's not because they were godless. Hell I'd bet if they were of faith they would have been much more cruel and slaughtered innocents with even more fervor. On an ending note, I'm extremely glad and ever appreciative of our founding fathers for the wisdom they had when making our constitution and the choice to keep this nation secular.

    1. Hmmm. Thanks for your comments. You make a lot of assertions without any back-up. It is not my history that is "astray" if you think I'm wrong. Please provide statistics or links to some fairly reliable and neutral source for what you say. Because frankly, you seem to be saying things in the hope that asserting them makes them to be true.

      I'm not a big fan of Wikipedia, but at least I know they're not biased in favor of my argument. So why not see what they say, if they back you up or not.

  2. Actually, it's when communist atheists take power that things demonstrably get ugly. (Including in Mexico.) There are other strains of atheism than socialist, communist atheism. (All Abrahamic religions aren't tarred by, say, Islamist terrorism or the brutality of Arab legal systems..)

    Also, Hitler wasn't an atheist. He sure wasn't a traditional Christian, of course, but he was sort of a neo-Pagan quasi-Christian who explicitly rejected evolution and based his racism on the idea that the 'races' had been created separately. The Holocaust owed far more to the virulent strain of anti-Semitism that Martin Luther embraced and fostered. That was certainly the motivation for the majority who actually carried out the crimes in person.

    (As to the Communist states under Stalin and Mao - they also explicitly rejected neo-Darwinian evolution and embraced (and enforced) Lysenkoism instead. The resulting crop failures when reality failed to match up to "worker's science" killed a huge fraction - possibly the majority - of the millions who died under those regimes. Ironically, the people under Hitler, Stalin, and Mao would have been better off if their leaders had accepted neo-Darwinian evolution.)

  3. Interestingly, the Terror of the French Revolution was ultimately caused by the belief - common among theists - that some form of religion is necessary for most 'common people' to maintain order and civil society. The architects of the French Revolution were generally atheists, but they bought that notion completely.

    Which is why they instituted the "Cult of Reason" and persecuted other religions - they were perceived as competition.

    (Thankfully, it's entirely possible to be an atheist and not think religion or cult is necessary for ethics.)

  4. Thanks for stopping by. Of course, Marxist communism is inherently atheistic. The "cult of reason" also wasn't a religion per se. Obviously, it refers to natural human reason devoid of God. It was indeed set up as competition to the prevailing religion. What the communists did could be this or that error or planning -- or in the case of crop failures in the Ukraine, a tactic to clear the way for the ruling class to take over. Or it could be both.

    However, atheists who believe in some sort of objective moral standard aside from their own self-interest have not thought through the implications of their atheism. I maintain that it is vestiges of religiosity that make them think there is a possibility of objective ethics under in a truly atheist society. Yes, it's possible for atheists to claim otherwise and individuals or groups of atheists to have an ethical system that they choose or perhaps devise for themselves (the Ethical Culture Society, for instance). But ultimately all law (which is just ethics on the level of societies) and ethics appeal to a sense of "justice" that is above and prior to all human laws (and ethical systems generally), and to which all laws (and ethical systems generally) must conform in order to be valid legal/ethical systems. But if there is no God, it remains to be seen where that thing called "justice" comes from.

    You see this in atheists claiming it is unjust to have, say, a plaque of the Ten Commandments in a court room. But if there is no God, then I deny that any such sense of justice can be valid, because the Jews and Christians can make the opposite claim that atheism is being unjustly imposed upon them in having the plaque removed. If there is no God, then justice is the will of the majority or those who have the power of coercion to get their way.

    If some atheists believe that some sort of religion is necessary to keep people in line, then they use religion as an opiate of the masses, just like they might promote pornography or the use of alcohol among the people the would like to oppress. Way less bloody, but ultimately religion will remain an opposition to the atheists in power, and it will have to be wiped out altogether.

    At any rate, it is not simply a "Lawgiver" or someone to whom to be accountable that is the basis of religious ethics. After all, for an atheist, or at least if "I" were an atheist, I would maintain that I have a supreme lawgiver and a supreme someone to whom I am accountable -- namely, myself. "I" would be the sole determinant of what kind of cooperation I will engage in, and what I expect from others who want to cooperate with me. What is "just" will be determined by me. No one else knows my circumstances well enough to judge. In other words, why should I cooperate with someone else or in accord with the moral principles that person might propose, when he doesn't know me or cooperating in that way would not be to my advantage? Yeah, we need to get along, I suppose, but ultimately I would obey only those laws I agreed with or which the risk of getting caught for disobeying was too high. And that last part is where coercion comes in. Laws need the power of coercion to make people obey.

    Justice however keeps the powerful from coercing the weak even though they have the power to coerce. Justice keeps the majority from become tyrants. Our US Constitution does a pretty good job of that -- but it is subject to change. What if the First Amendment were to be repealed? Then it wouldn't be unconstitutional oppress religions, right? What if the First Amendment were changed to explicitly illegalize religion? Then it would be treason to have believe in a God that is higher than the Constitution. Would it be unjust to change the Constitution in that way? I think it would be, but why would an atheist? Truly if there is no God, then believing in God could only be subversive. Justice would demand the oppression of religion. But if there is no God, whence justice?

  5. When atheists deny the existence of God, they also deny the existence of any objective, universal Good, which includes Justice, because the very Good and the very Justice that is the basis of ethics IS God -- which isn't to say that God is an abstract idea, or that the words "Good" and "Justice" exhaust what can be said about God, the way the French revolutionaries exalted "reason" -- God is Reason, too. We could include other words like Freedom, and even Cooperation because a trinitarian theist I believe that God is also Cooperation in the most perfect and supreme sense.

    If I were an atheist, I would have an ethical system: My self interest in this material life. On the scale of nations, it works out to the self interest of those with the power to coerce others ("our" self interest).

    History has yet to provide an atheistic society where justice is defined as something that those in power have to subordinate their self interest to.

    1. I read your stuff. You could at least try to read mine. :)

      But hey, I'll give you a short version here.

      Consider chess. There are certain fundamental 'rules of the game' that define it. An 8x8 board, 8 pawns per side that move in certain ways, two rooks per side that move in other ways, castling, the initial configuration of the pieces, etc. Now, there is no rule that you can't sacrifice your queen in the first few moves of the game. It's illegal to move your king to a threatened square, but it's perfectly acceptable by the rules to stick your queen in front of a pawn at the start of the game.

      However, if you want to win the game, you shouldn't do that. There are almost no situations (at least, assuming evenly-matched opponents) where giving up your queen at the start will lead to your victory. Similarly, it's rarely a good idea to move your king out to the center of the board. It's usually a bad move.

      Note words like "shouldn't" and "bad". They are value judgments. They prescribe 'oughts'. They are not part of the 'rules' of chess. From where do they come? From the combinations of two things - first, the rules and structure of chess, and second, from the player's desire to win the game. They are strategic rules.

      We have physical laws, and we have human desires. "Oughts" - strategic rules - morals - arise from those two things. Some basic game theory, and voila - cooperation, etc. I contend that I am ethical and moral, that people in general are ethical and moral, because the alternative is running naked in the woods fighting over scraps of food. That's not an "subjective" at all.

    2. I did read your stuff and I didn't buy it.

      Why not cheat at chess (i.e., act immorally)? Because it's against the rules? Who makes the rules? What gives them the right? Is breaking the rules simply against the rules, or is it What happens if we change the rules -- does what used be called cheating (evil) now become good? Clearly so. Therefore, good and evil are not objective in the sense that rules should conform to what is good and avoid what is evil, but rather they are defined by those who make the rules, and the rules are changeable.

      Rules need enforcement. Chess matches need not only rules, but also officials, judges, referees or something. Because without them, you could still cheat. But with them, you would forfeit the game if you're caught. Rules get their authority from the power of coercion.

      Therefore, your chess analogy only affirms that rules/laws/ethics (in the absence of God) are defined by the people with the power to coerce obedience, and are changeable.

      You here draw a parallel between physical laws and the rules of chess. It's a false parallel.

      You contend that you are ethical and moral. Great. But your criteria for judging yourself ethical come from where? From yourself. You are the one who decides what constitutes "ethical and moral" and whether or not your choices measure up. You are also the one who decides when exceptions are justified.

      So, let's say you're right and that which you call ethics arises as you say. I go back to my first question: Why not cheat? Who says it's wrong to reject the resulting ethics? Why shouldn't I devise my own ethical system, and define for myself what is good and what is evil? Because "you" think it would not be to my advantage? Because "you" abhor the prospect of chaos? This isn't chess. It's life. It's "MY" life, not yours. A lot is at stake and a mindless, somewhat arbitrary, changeable, and historical and therefore archaic way of behaving seems a poor determinant of what I should do.

      You (as the recipient of the ethical system that arises as you describe) call it cheating -- but I call it innovating. I call it thinking outside the box. I call it experimenting. I call it evolution. I call it progressive.

      At any rate, you'd have a hard time proving it was, objectively speaking, wrong, unethical, immoral, or evil. You'd have your opinion. I'd have mine.

    3. Jeez, at least address the analogy on the merits. Note that I'm being polite to you.

      You can't disobey the laws of physics - or at least, I'll claim so until you can present me with a flying carpet. If there's an Official enforcing them, It's doing an excellent job. (Though I'll dispute that a 'lawgiver' is a useful or valid model there, I'm just going with your analogy.)

      So, back to the chess analogy. If you can't cheat at chess, then there are inevitable strategies that arise from the nature of the game and your desire to win. (And officials don't enforce strategies - they don't need to.) Similarly, if you can't break the laws of physics (I'm gonna repeat my contention that you can't), and you have goals you want to fulfill, then there are strategies that will arise, of necessity.

      And sure there will be disagreements over ethics - but get a couple chess theorists together sometime and see how acrimonious they can be. :) Even still, progress is made in chess strategies. A grandmaster from the 1800s would get creamed by most strong players today.

      On the other hand, we can and have made progress in ethics and morals, too. Slavery has turned out to be a demonstrable drain on any society that practices it. (Even the slavery-in-all-but-name of the Soviet Union killed their economic system enough that they couldn't compete with the 'free world'.) And lo and behold, it's turned out that women are people too, and just as capable as men!

      Chess is a zero-sum game, though. Life isn't, and in such situations it turns out game theory supports the idea that cooperation pays, big time.

  6. Sorry if came off as impolite, Ray. Really, I am. I was just being energetic, and after all, comboxes don't have tone of voice and facial expressions, huh?

    Um, what makes you think we've made "progress"? I happen to agree with the notion of slavery being evil, but people in times past did not, many people today do not, and people in the future may not. They are all more or less ethical as you define the term and acting in the world of physical laws. Is it merely a difference in opinion, or is one position right, and the other wrong?

    I need to think about it some more. But I think the main difficulty I have with your position is that it really isn't about morality but desirability of a particular action -- strategy is not morality. Wisdom is not morality. Wise strategies are employed by the evil and the good alike, and perhaps even more effectively by evil people than by the good.

    Cooperation is morally neutral. People can cooperate to a bad end.

    I will grant that codes of behavior seem to arise out of the dynamics you describe. But codes of behavior are not the same thing as morality. It has a flavor of right and wrong, but it seems to be strategy more than ethics.

    But as I said, I need to think about it some more.

  7. "Um, what makes you think we've made "progress"?"

    Well... this, for starters. :)

    But I admit we are getting ahead of ourselves slightly. I think we can both agree - now, anyway - that "fixed rules" plus "goals" leads to "strategies", in a non-subjective sense. Given the rules of chess, and a desire to win a chess game, then sacrificing your queen at the start of the game is an objectively bad strategy.

    So we move onto a second yes-or-no (or yes-but-or-no-but) question: Do you think there's such a thing as 'human nature'? Does it mean something to say, "that person is a human"?