Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Proper Way to Counter the "Hitler and Stalin Were Atheists" Argument

Alonzo Fyfe of Athiest Ethicist recently addressed the proper way to counter the tired "Hitler and Stalin were atheists" arguments. Fyfe correctly argues that finding evidence that Hitler and Stalin were actually theists is irrelevent. In reality, it's just the same flawed argument in reverse or like saying all theists are bad because of the Crusades and the Inquisition. Instead, Fyfe takes the following tack:

My sound-byte answer: "I'm sorry, but blaming me for the crimes of Hitler and Stalin is like blaming the Amish – or blaming you, by honorable adversary – for 9-11.”

If my opponent will grant me a few more seconds, I would add, “You would certainly object if I were to accuse you of being responsible for these crimes. You would scream that any who would make such an assertion is bigoted and unjust. You would be right. Such a person is, in fact, bigoted and unjust. So is the person who blames all atheists for the crimes of Stalin.”

It's an excellent read, and I encourage you to read it. It's probably the best counter I've ever found to the Hitler and Stalin argument.

1 comment:

Michael said...

I pretty much agree.

A person's belief or non belief is certainly relevant. If Stalin's evil deeds were motivated by his atheism then atheists have a problem.

There’s a big difference between saying that people who commit evil acts are atheists and that these people committed these crimes BECAUSE they were atheist.

Did Stalin kill because he was atheist? Stalin also liked to wear green trousers. Does this matter? No, of course not, we cannot assign blame to the wearing of green trousers.

However thousands of people kill and the justification of this killing is based on their religious belief.

We shouldn't excuse people from the atrocities undertaken in the name of their religion just as we should not excuse those that supported (and still support) Hitler.