Conversation with a Secular Humanist, Part Two
April 13, 2014 by Thomas Wictor
The conclusion of my Facebook conversation with the novelist Anne Rice.
Conversation with a Secular Humanist, Part Two
Christianity, with its belief in a fiery and everlasting Hell has waged battles and wars of genocide against other peoples throughout its long and bloody and cruel history because it believes ultimately that it has the only key to salvation from Hell. Atheists are not united and never have been by such galvanizing or poisonous or aggressive ideas.
Again, you cited examples of European societies that were temporarily controlled by fanatical ideologies. And though fascism and Marxism and Communism were responsible for millions of deaths in Europe during the twentieth century, their reign of terror was historically brief and the repudiation of their ideas and methods was swift and final. The persecution and killing of Jews by Christians went on throughout European history, and it has been well documented by scholars that Hitler’s Holocaust was built on the firm foundation of Christian European anti-semitism.
Actually the European hatred of the Jews is based more on class envy and xenophobia than religion. Antisemitism in Europe today is as rampant as it was prior to World War II. Despite paying lip service secular humanism, the Europeans still hate the Jews as much as they ever did.
The systematic genocide carried out by Christians against the indigenous populations of the Americas, the destruction of their culture, their values, their ideas —- all of this done in the name of Christianity and saving these people from Hell — went on for centuries and was still going on to some extent in native American schools in our country and Canada as late as the twentieth century. The Christian obsession with having the exclusive key to Heaven has caused blood shed for 2,000 years! —– What sickens me when I read posts like yours is what I see as the complete refusal on your part to take full responsibility for your belief system on every level.
I’ve told you several time that I’m not religious. I’m a theist, not a Christian. I never said that massive crimes weren’t committed by Christians. You’re singling out Christianity as especially vile, when in reality far more people have suffered at the hands of organized atheism—in the name of atheism—than any Christians ever killed.
Christianity is steeped in blood and gore, in horrors that are virtually unspeakable and almost too awful to describe. —- Again, atheists have never gathered anywhere on the planet ever — to commit such horrors in the name of atheism. It simply does not happen. And the peace in Continental Europe today is profoundly significant when viewed in comparison to other periods in European history. Europe is rejecting Christianity. Christian superstition is dying out in Europe, in the British Isles, in Australia and in part of North America. We are moving away from the fanatical Christian concern with “saving” the world that has fueled blood shed since the third century. This is a good thing.
There is no “atheist” enemy on the horizon. The future right now, for the West, is filled with hope. —– The great human rights triumphs of the 19th and 20th centuries which have so profoundly influenced the West — triumphs for the rights of black people, native Americans, women and children — were all forged in the face of bitter religious opposition which thankfully failed. —— I urge you, if you want to call yourself a Christian, to take full responsibility —– full responsibility —- for what your religion has done.
And no, European autocracies were certainly not simply nominally religious. That statement shows vast ignorance of European history.
I have a bachelor’s degree in history. The European autocracies were indeed nominally religious. They were not theocracies and in fact persecuted the church themselves on multiple occasions. Like atheist governments, European autocracies saw the church as a rival.
Another point: Catholicism’s teaching that all are made in the image of God is relatively recent. Even during the early twentieth century canon law held that only men were made in the image of God, not women. Women had to wear hats in church for this reason. I’m sure you know about this, I don’t want to presume that you don’t… but maybe you’ve forgotten. Google Gratian.
You’re changing the subject. At that particular time in history, ALL societies viewed women as inferior. The Decretum Gratiani was written in 1150. Do you know when the enlightened, secularly human Swiss gave women the vote? February 7, 1971. Nine years after I was born!
When I said that the Catholic church teaches that we’re all made in the image of God, I brought it up to refute the notion asserted in Welcome to the World, which says that Christianity teaches that we’re all born corrupt.
Catholicism doesn’t teach that. Neither does Methodism, Anglicanism, nor Eastern Orthodoxy. I’m a fan of truth. That’s why I’m posting here.
Well, I’m a fan of the truth too, and that’s why — Thomas — we must agree to disagree. I think you’re flat out wrong about history, and of course I think you’re uninformed. But I see you feel the same about me. And I’m not prepared to string out a whole series of bibliographical references here on the topic, and I cannot sum up a life time of research in history here. No, the governments you mention did not kill people in the name of “atheism.”
Except for when they did. Which was all the time.
They killed in the name of ideologies and there is a HUGE difference. And again, it is the record of the secular humanist West in the last two centuries that gives me the greatest hope for humanity. Thank you for your sincere posts.
Thank you for your engagement. I appreciate it.
Thomas — I suggest you do some research on Europe monarchy and history. Research King Louis of France and the expulsion of the Jews from France. Research the Crusades in European history and the response throughout Europe, research the Fourth Crusade in particular; research the Reformation, Henry VIII, Elizabeth, the Wars of Religion; research the Papacy; research France, with special focus on the extermination of Carthars, and the wars between Protestants and Catholics that led to the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. Focus on Spain, the rise of the Inquisition, the persecution and expulsion of the Jews; etc. I could go on but I think you get the point. Perhaps a BA in history is not sufficient in any one area. I honestly don’t know.
Ms. Rice, I know all about those things. As I said, I have a bachelor’s degree in history. Much of what you attribute to religion was caused instead by xenophobia, tribalism, and good old-fashioned secular lust for power.
The Crusades were a RESPONSE to violent Islamic expansionism. Henry VIII was about as religious as Miley Cyrus.
I’ve already researched everything you mentioned, and I’ve researched all the world’s major religions and political systems. Far more harm has been done to humankind in the name of secular power and stamping out religion than was done in the name of religion.
In enlightened, secular-humanist Europe today, they still hate the Jews. The friendly Norwegians are doing their best to drive them from Norway by adopting more and more laws that make it impossible for Jews to live there. But Norwegians aren’t religious. They just hate Jews.
The major problem facing humankind is tribalism, not religion.
Well, Thomas, obviously we must agree to disagree. Thanks for engaging. I posted a link at the top of the page this morning to a book by Keith Wright. You might want to take a look at it. It’s written for a popular audience, but it’s thoroughly researched and documented and makes excellent points about Christianity and the pernicious influence of its “exclusive” notions of truth and its belief in Hellfire, etc. Excellent book. Thanks again for engaging. I think you’re all wrong on all of this.
I can see why you’d have the urge to say that.
But good day to you.
Good day to you too.
It’s impossible to determine the number of people directly killed to further the aims of Christianity. In the New World, the overwhelming number of Native Americans died from smallpox. In addition, the Europeans colonized the Americas to plunder them, not to convert the residents to Christianity. And when Europeans fought the Native Americans, they had plenty of Native American allies, since everybody in both Americas conquered and exterminated each other as a matter of course.
But to prove a point, I’ll say all Native Americans who died of smallpox were killed by Christianity, a total of about 20 million dead in both North and South America.
For the following mass killings attributed to Christianity, I’ll use the highest estimated death tolls. The Thirty Years War killed 11.5 million, the French Wars of Religion killed four million, the Crusades—defensive wars but we’ll include them anyway—killed three million, and the Inquisition about five thousand. Again to prove a point, I’ll use data from a maniacally anti-Christian Website and say the Inquisition killed 10 million. That gives us a wildly inflated figure of 48.5 million killed by Christianity.
From the research of the late R.J. Rummel, we learn that categorically atheist governments have killed 126 million. And that figure is definitely low, since the governments in question are so secretive that the true number of deaths will never be known.
* * *
God fashioned the ship of the world carefully.
With the infinite skill of an All-Master
Made He the hull and the sails,
Held He the rudder
Ready for adjustment.
Erect stood He, scanning His work proudly.
Then—at fateful time—a wrong called,
And God turned, heeding.
Lo, the ship, at this opportunity, slipped slyly,
Making cunning noiseless travel down the ways.
So that, forever rudderless, it went upon the seas
Going ridiculous voyages,
Making quaint progress,
Turning as with serious purpose
Before stupid winds.
And there were many in the sky
Who laughed at this thing.
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