Ok, now for the other side of the argument. Why do Christians pull out Stalin as a prima facie example of atheism and all atheist beliefs? Like the Hitler example, Christians assume that if you are not Christian (i.e. atheist) you must automatically be a violent, unethical tyrant. Read this article from Books and Culture in which the author asks the question,
if all religions are fundamentally mistaken about the thing that most concerns them, then why are human beings everywhere and in every time so overwhelmingly religious? Why is this mistake—which many, perhaps most, atheists think catastrophic—so nearly universal?
It’s a good question, however, one that’s easily answered. Humans universally turn to religion because humans are communal animals. They fear being alone. So when humans are truly alone, without a community, they turn to a Being that will never leave them. It’s the perfect imaginary playmate. (Read Feuerbach please). This Being fills our needs and does whatever we want or perceive. Our minds provide the parameters. But that’s not the point I want to make. I want to take issue with something Alan Jacobs says later in the article:
So here’s where I’m headed with this thought experiment: if the evolutionary account of religious belief that many atheists are now promoting is correct, then atheists don’t have much of a future. Their own arguments, plus some elementary demographic data, show that their position cannot become dominant. The only real chance that atheism has to flourish is if it’s wrong. If the Christian anthropology, for instance, happens to be true, then we will expect people to rebel against God, to act in violation of his will. But we will also expect them not to want to admit that that’s what they’re doing. So they will try to argue that their actions, however sinful, however violent, intolerant, and cruel, are somehow in keeping with God’s will. But eventually the cognitive dissonance of that position is likely to become too much for them, at which point they might find—like that one-time Russian Orthodox seminarian Josef Stalin—that the easier path is simply to deny the existence of the God who otherwise would be their Judge.
Did you catch that? Atheists are automatically geared toward violence, intolerance, and cruelty according to Jacobs. Say what???? Notice he doesn’t say if some atheists act like this, because frankly I know of many Christians, Muslims, and Jews who act violent, intolerant, and cruel, no he ASSUMES atheists will act like this. It’s this automatic assumption on both sides of the argument about how the other will act that really convinces me that this type of straw man attempt has to stop. Jacobs thinks he’s got atheism by the short hairs by asking, “What’s the evolutionary reason for atheism?” (paraphrase mine) But that’s the absurd position always taken by believers in a deity. It’s not up to people who don’t believe in the supernatural to prove that there is nothing there. We are all born WITHOUT beliefs in the supernatural. Religion’s dogmas and doctrines have to be taught. It’s not automatic. So, it’s basically up to those who see such phenomena to prove that there is something there, specifically gods or “God.” Just like UFOs, Bigfoot, and other things that people claim to see but can’t back up with tangible evidence, the religious are not exempt from proving that the gods exist no matter how hard they scream to the contrary.
I contend that the supernatural cannot, nor will it ever, be proven. I disagree with atheists who claim religion is evolutionary. I believe faith is evolutionary, as all emotions are. Faith is an emotion we all need (like hope and love) to cope with circumstances beyond our control in the environment. It’s a defense mechanism against the accumulated cruelties of disasters, murders, and other life events. On the other hand, religions are merely social institutions created by people who are basically social creatures and want to congregate together for safety. Religions are no more necessary to our survival than grocery stores are. But I digress. Using single incidents of aberrant nature (i.e. Stalin, Hitler) to extrapolate outward and prove a point about social groups is absurd. (For example, using a heterosexual marriage as THE only model for society, etc.) Single instances of persons gone wrong is much more complicated than such band-aid theories provide as explanation and involves genetics, socialization, psychology, and brain chemistry. A sociopath does not make the entire family crazy or murderous. A Hitler who claims to be Christian doesn’t negate Christianity, an Osama bin Laden doesn’t negate Islam, and Stalin certainly doesn’t negate atheism. Let’s get off it already!!!