Irreligion/religion and war

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Countries with high levels of atheism, such as North Korea, have not necessarily been the most peaceful countries.[1]

Louise Ridley, assistant news editor at the Huffington Post UK, wrote in her article entitled Does Religion Really Cause War - And Do Atheists Have Something To Answer For?:

But academic studies consistently challenge the link between religion and war. Research published in October from the New York and Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace looked at all of the wars that took place in 2013. It found no 'general causal relationship' between religion and conflict.

In fact, religious elements played no role at all in 14 (40%) of the 35 armed conflicts in the research, and only five (14%) had religious elements as their main cause, the report showed. All of the wars had multiple causes, and the much more common motivation was opposition to a government, or to the economic, ideological, political or social systems of a state, which was named as a main factor in nearly two thirds of the cases studied.

The Encyclopedia of Wars, an extensive study published in 2008, chronicles 1,763 wars throughout human history. It names just 123 as 'religious in nature' – a little under 7%.

The Institute for Economics and Peace report also found that having less religion in a country doesn’t make it more peaceful. The proportion of atheists in a country had no bearing on levels of peace.

Countries with the highest levels of atheism – mainly communist or former communist states like Russia and the Czech Republic – were not necessarily the most peaceful. North Korea, which has one of the lowest rates of people practising religion, was one of ten 'least peaceful' countries in world last year, according to the report.[2]

Britain's thinktank Theos notes: "For the first, two academics (Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod) surveyed 1,800 conflicts and found that less than 10% involved religion at all."[3]

The book The Irrational Atheist notes:

It’s also interesting to note that more than half of these religious wars, sixty-six in all, were waged by Islamic nations, which is rather more than might be statistically expected considering that the first war in which Islam was involved took place almost three millennia after the first war chronicled in the Encyclopedia, Akkad’s conquest of Sumer in 2325 B.C.

In light of this evidence, the fact that a specific religion is currently sparking a great deal of conflict around the globe cannot reasonably be used to indict all religious faith, especially when one considers that removing that single religion from the equation means that all of the other religious faiths combined only account for 3.35 percent of humanity’s wars.[4]

The abstract for the academic paper Empirical Perspectives on Religion and Violence by Joshua David Wright and Yuelee Khoo indicates:

The ‘religion as cause’ argument implies that religious faiths are more inherently prone to violence than ideologies that are secular. Following an evaluation of the scientific literature on religion and violence, we argue that wherever evidence links specific aspects of religion with aggression and violence, these aspects are not unique to religion. Rather, these aspects are religious variants of more general psychological processes. Further, there are numerous aspects of religion that buffer against aggression and violence among its adherents. The most distinct feature of religion, supernaturalism, is not often the focus of researchers of religion and violence. Despite this, the paucity of research that has been conducted on this key feature suggests that supernaturalism is associated with reduced aggression and violence. There appears to be very little support for the notion that there is something uniquely religious that causes violence among followers.[5]

In Foreign Policy atheist Scott Atran indicates religion is not a major causal factor for wars

Theodore Beale wrote in his article entitled Atheists abandon "religion causes war" argument:

"Scott Atran is the first atheist to publicly come out and admit the historical nonexistence of the oft-claimed connection between religion and war in Foreign Policy:
Moreover, the chief complaint against religion -- that it is history's prime instigator of intergroup conflict -- does not withstand scrutiny. Religious issues motivate only a small minority of recorded wars. The Encyclopedia of Wars surveyed 1,763 violent conflicts across history; only 123 (7 percent) were religious. A BBC-sponsored "God and War" audit, which evaluated major conflicts over 3,500 years and rated them on a 0-to-5 scale for religious motivation (Punic Wars = 0, Crusades = 5), found that more than 60 percent had no religious motivation. Less than 7 percent earned a rating greater than 3. There was little religious motivation for the internecine Russian and Chinese conflicts or the world wars responsible for history's most lethal century of international bloodshed.
Not only does Atran accept the argument I originally presented in a WND article before refining it in The Irrational Atheist, but his article is actually much less of a Fighting Withdrawal than the misleading subtitle - What we don't understand about religion just might kill us - would lead the casual reader to believe."[6]

Atheism and mass murder

See also: Atheism and mass murder and militant atheism

The brutal atheist Joseph Stalin was greatly influenced by the work of Charles Darwin.[7]

It is estimated that in the past 100 years, governments under the banner of atheistic communism have caused the death of somewhere between 40,472,000 to 259,432,000 human lives.[8] Dr. R. J. Rummel, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, is the scholar who first coined the term democide (death by government). Dr. R. J. Rummel's mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that communism caused the death of approximately 110,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987.[9]

Theodore Beale notes concerning atheism and mass murder:

Apparently it was just an amazing coincidence that every Communist of historical note publicly declared his atheism … .there have been twenty-eight countries in world history that can be confirmed to have been ruled by regimes with avowed atheists at the helm … These twenty-eight historical regimes have been ruled by eighty-nine atheists, of whom more than half have engaged in democidal162 acts of the sort committed by Stalin and Mao …

The total body count for the ninety years between 1917 and 2007 is approximately 148 million dead at the bloody hands of fifty-two atheists, three times more than all the human beings killed by war, civil war, and individual crime in the entire twentieth century combined.

The historical record of collective atheism is thus 182,716 times worse on an annual basis than Christianity’s worst and most infamous misdeed, the Spanish Inquisition. It is not only Stalin and Mao who were so murderously inclined, they were merely the worst of the whole Hell-bound lot. For every Pol Pot whose infamous name is still spoken with horror today, there was a Mengistu, a Bierut, and a Choibalsan, godless men whose names are now forgotten everywhere but in the lands they once ruled with a red hand.

Is a 58 percent chance that an atheist leader will murder a noticeable percentage of the population over which he rules sufficient evidence that atheism does, in fact, provide a systematic influence to do bad things? If that is not deemed to be conclusive, how about the fact that the average atheist crime against humanity is 18.3 million percent worse than the very worst depredation committed by Christians, even though atheists have had less than one-twentieth the number of opportunities with which to commit them. If one considers the statistically significant size of the historical atheist set and contrasts it with the fact that not one in a thousand religious leaders have committed similarly large-scale atrocities, it is impossible to conclude otherwise, even if we do not yet understand exactly why this should be the case. Once might be an accident, even twice could be coincidence, but fifty-two incidents in ninety years reeks of causation![10]

Atheism and the issue of world peace

See: Atheism and world peace

World War I, World War II and Darwinism

Historically, the most prominent and vocal defenders of the theory of evolution which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists or agnostics.[11]

The founder of Darwinism, Charles Darwin, was an agnostic/weak atheist (see: Religious views of Charles Darwin).

Charles Darwin's ideas on the white race exterminating other races which he claimed were inferior

See also: Evolutionary racism and Social Darwinism

Charles Darwin wrote in his work The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex:

At some future period not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes...will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest Allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.[12][13]

WWI and Darwinism

See also: World War I and Darwinism

Historian Jacques Barzun observed how Darwinism caused the horrendous brutality of the wars leading up to World War I: "Since in every European country between 1870 and 1914 there was a war party demanding armaments, an individualist party demanding ruthless competition, an imperialist party demanding a free hand over backward peoples, a socialist party demanding the conquest of power and a racialist party demanding internal purges against aliens — all of them, when appeals to greed and glory failed, invoked Spencer and Darwin, which was to say science incarnate."[14]

According to Annika Mombauer, senior lecturer in history at the Open University in London and the author of numerous books and articles on World War I:

Many of the decision makers and, in fact, many ordinary Europeans did feel that war would eventually come. You have to think of another "-ism" -- social Darwinism, this belief that nations and peoples are subject to the same biological laws as animals and that they are going to either rise to the top or they are going to be eliminated in a vying for power."[15]

For more information please see: Darwinism and World War One and Darwinism and the Nazi race Holocaust and Social effects of evolutionary ideology

WWII, Nazism and Darwinism

Charles Darwin, Nazi ideology development and eugenics

In a Creation Ministries International article entitled Darwin and eugenics: Darwin was indeed a ‘Social Darwinist’, Bill Muehlenberg writes:

‘Darwin’s work is filled with references to the work of those involved in creating a radical new “scientific” justification for labeling races, classes, and individuals as “inferior”. … Darwin writes in The Descent of Man that “a most important obstacle in civilized countries to an increase in the number of men of a superior class” is the tendency of society’s “very poor and reckless”, who are “often degraded by vice”, to increase faster than “the provident and generally virtuous members”.’[16]

In addition, Dennis Sewell declared cornering the Darwin family:

[In the] years leading up to the First World War, the eugenics movement looked like a Darwin family business. … Darwin’s son Leonard replaced his cousin Galton as chairman of the national Eugenics Society in 1911. In the same year an offshoot of the society was formed in Cambridge. Among its leading members were three more of Charles Darwin’s sons, Horace, Francis and George.” [17]

Evolution and Nazism: Some key historical figures

See also: World War I and Darwinism

The March 9, 1907 edition of the NY Times refers to Ernst Haeckel as the "celebrated Darwinian and founder of the Association for the Propagation of Ethical Atheism."[18]

The staunch evolutionist and agnostic Stephen Gould admitted:

Haeckel was the chief apostle of evolution in Germany.... His evolutionary racism; his call to the German people for racial purity and unflinching devotion to a "just" state; his belief that harsh, inexorable laws of evolution ruled human civilization and nature alike, conferring upon favored races the right to dominate others; the irrational mysticism that had always stood in strange communion with his brave words about objective science - all contributed to the rise of Nazism. - Stephen J. Gould, "Ontogeny and Phylogeny," Belknap Press: Cambridge MA, 1977, pp.77-78).[19]

Adolf Hitler wrote the following evolutionary racist material in his work Mein Kampf:

If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such cases all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.[20]

Hitler also wrote in Mein Kampf:

The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel, but he, after all, is only a weak and limited man; for if this law did not prevail, any conceivable higher development (Hoherentwicklung) of organic living beings would be unthinkable.[21]

Dr. Robert E.D. Clark also wrote:

“Adolf Hitler’s mind was captivated by evolutionary teaching — probably since the time he was a boy. Evolutionary ideas — quite undisguised — lie at the basis of all that is worst in Mein Kampf — and in his public speeches.”[22]

Dr. Josef Mengele's evolutionary thinking was in accordance with social Darwinist theories that Adolph Hitler and a number of German academics found appealing.[23][24] Dr. Joseph Mengele studied under the leading proponents the "unworthy life" branch of evolutionary thought.[25] Dr. Mengele was one of the most notorious individuals associated with Nazi death camps and the Holocaust.[26] Mengele obtained a infamous reputation due to his experiments on twins while at Auschwitz-Birkenau.[27]

B. Wilder-Smith wrote the following regarding Nazism and the theory of evolution:

One of the central planks in Nazi theory and doctrine was …evolutionary theory [and] … that all biology had evolved … upward, and that … less evolved types … should be actively eradicated [and] … that natural selection could and should be actively aided, and therefore [the Nazis] instituted political measures to eradicate … Jews, and … blacks, whom they considered as “underdeveloped”.’[28]

Pulitzer Prize winning author Marilynne Robinson wrote the following regarding Hitler's racism in the November 2006 issue of Harper’s Magazine:

While it is true that persecution of the Jews has a very long history in Europe, it is also true that science in the twentieth century revived and absolutized persecution by giving it a fresh rationale — Jewishness was not religious or cultural, but genetic. Therefore no appeal could be made against the brute fact of a Jewish grandparent...

There is indeed historical precedent in the Spanish Inquisition for the notion of hereditary Judaism. But the fact that the worst religious thought of the sixteenth century can be likened to the worst scientific thought of the twentieth century hardly redounds to the credit of science."[29]

As noted earlier, evolutionary ideas significantly influenced the thinking of the nineteenth and twentieth-century Communists.[30][31] Karl Marx wrote in a letter the following, ""Darwin's book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history." Darwin's ideas also influenced the thinking of Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and Joseph Stalin.[32]

WWII, Benito Mussolini, atheism, Darwinism and violence

Italy was on the Axis powers in WWII and an ally of Nazi Germany.

Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was the Fascist dictator of Italy. A life-long socialist intellectual[33] and self-proclaimed "socialist heretic", he was nominated prime minister by Vittorio Emanuele III di Savoia, King of Italy, in the time of World War II. He was head of one of the strong forms of government seen in Europe in this time. He created the political structure Fasci Italiani di Combatimento, which is what later would be known as Fascism, a term which was later used to describe the merging of government and corporation. He was responsible for several war crimes in Ethiopia and Yugoslavia.

In his work entitled Mussolini Denis Mack Smith wrote:

From his father he [Mussolini] had learnt to be a thoroughgoing anti-clerical. He proclaimed himself to be an atheist and several times tried to shock an audience by calling on God to strike him dead. He forcibly denounced those socialists who thought religion a matter for individual conscience or had their children baptised. [In Mussolini's opinion] Science had proved that God did not exist and the Jesus of history was an ignorant Jew whose family thought him mad, and who was a pigmy compared to the Buddha. Religion, he said, was a disease of the psyche, an epidemic to be cured by psychiatrists, and Christianity in particular was vitiated by preaching the senseless virtues of resignation and cowardice, whereas the new socialist morality should celebrate violence and rebellion."[34]

Dr. David N. Menton wrote about the effect Darwinism had upon Mussolini:

Benito Mussolini, who brought fascism to Italy, was also greatly influenced by Darwinism, which he thought supported his belief that violence is essential for beneficial social transformation. Mussolini repeatedly used Darwinian catchwords in his speeches and ridiculed efforts at peace because they interfered with natural evolutionary process.[35]

Irreligion/religion and love/peace

See also: Atheism and love

From a metaphysical, moral and spiritual perspective, atheists have an inability to satisfactorily explain the existence of love.[36][37] See also: Atheism and morality See also: Atheism and love

Jesus Christ and his apostles taught a gospel of love.[38]

Jesus Christ and his apostles taught a gospel of love.[39] For example, the New Testament teaches that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). See also: Agape

In his article The Triumph of the Gospel of Love, Monk Themistocles (Adamopoulo) wrote:

It is generally agreed by scholars and saints that the teaching of "love" and charity represent one of the essential dimensions of the Gospel of Jesus and the Gospel of Paul. Accordingly, from the extant words and parables of Jesus many concern themselves with the message of love. For example on the Sunday of Meat Fare, from the Gospel of Matthew, we hear Jesus identifying Himself and in solidarity with the destitute, the suffering, the rejected and the oppressed, calling for and rewarding altruistic philanthropy:

"... I was hungry and you fed me, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, when I was a stranger you took me in, when naked you clothed me, when I was ill you came to my help, when in prison you visited me ... I tell you this anything you did for one of my brothers here, however humble, you did it for me." (Matt 25:35-36, 40)...

Christians undertook a great deal of almsgiving to the poor not only to fellow believers but to pagans as well. So amazed was the anti-Christian pagan emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363 AD), with the sheer benevolence and excellence of Christian philanthropy that he was forced to admit in wonder their superiority over paganism in matters of charity:

"These godless Galileans (ie. Christians) feed not only their own poor but ours: our poor lack our care" (Ep. Sozom. 5:16).[40]

Christian worldview concerning resolving conflict among Christians

See: Christian worldview concerning resolving conflict among Christians

Economic instability, war, economic development, charity and religion/irreligion

Beggar in Calcutta, India.

Per capita atheists and agnostics in America give significantly less to charity than theists even when church giving is not counted for theists. See: Atheism and uncharitableness

Economic instability is a causal factor for war.[41]

The Christian relief organization World Vision Australia notes that out of the 150 or more major conflicts since World War II, 130 of these were in poor countries.[42] And economic instability was one of the causal factors of WWII.[43]

In terms of economic development, biblical Christianity has historically had a positive affect on countries.[44] Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson declared: "Through a mixture of hard work and thrift the Protestant societies of the North and West Atlantic achieved the most rapid economic growth in history." (See: Protestant work ethic and capitalism).[45]

See also:

Charity: Religiousness vs. irreligiousness

See also: Atheism and uncharitableness

Per capita atheists and agnostics in America give significantly less to charity than theists even when church giving is not counted for theists (See: Atheism and uncharitableness).

Dr. William Lane Craig points out that the social science research indicates that atheists who have family/social contacts with religious people give more to charity than atheists who do not have such an influence.[46]

Atheist arrogance/anger/quarrelsomeness

See also: Atheist bullying and Atheist movement and Internet atheism

The Apostle Paul taught that arrogance and easily provoked anger are antithetical to love (1 Corinthians 13: 4-5). The atheist population has a significant problem with pride, anger and quarrelsomeness (see: Atheism and arrogance and Atheism and anger and Atheism and social intelligence and Atheist factions).

Picture of Greta Christina in 2010.

(photo from Flickr, see: license agreement)

The atheist and lesbian Greta Christina told the journalist Chris Mooney on the Point of Inquiry podcast, "there isn't one emotion" that affects atheists "but anger is one of the emotions that many of us have ...[it] drives others to participate in the movement."[47]

Blair Scott served on the American Atheists board of directors. Mr. Scott formerly served as a State Director for the American Atheists organization in the state of Alabama. On December 1, 2012 he quit his post as a director of outreach for the American Atheist due to infighting within the American atheist movement.[48]

Mr. Blair wrote:

I have spent the last week mulling over what I want to do at this point in the movement. I’m tired of the in-fighting: at every level. I am especially tired of allowing myself to get sucked into it and engaging in the very behavior that is[49]

The atheist Brendan O'Neill wrote in The Telegraph in an article entitled How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet: "These days, barely a week passes without the emergence of yet more evidence that atheists are the most irritating people on Earth."[50]

For more information please see:

See also

External links

Notes and references

  1. Does Religion Really Cause War - And Do Atheists Have Something To Answer for? by Louise Ridley, assistant news editor at the Huffington Post UK
  2. Does Religion Really Cause War - And Do Atheists Have Something To Answer for? by Louise Ridley, assistant news editor at the Huffington Post UK
  3. Religion: A Cause of War or a Means of Peace?
  4. - Abbreviated free copy on the book The Irrational Atheist PDF
  5. m/gzspe/ Empirical Perspectives on Religion and Violence by Joshua David Wright and Yuelee Khoo, Contemporary Voices: St. Andrews Journal of International Relations, December 10, 2018
  6. Atheists abandon "religion causes war" argument
  9. Atheism,
  10. Multiple references:
  12. The Descent of Man, chapter VI
  13. Making a monkey out of Darwinism
  14. World War I Anniversary: Five Historians, Two Questions, Radio Free Europe
  15. [ Darwin and eugenics: Darwin was indeed a ‘Social Darwinist’ by Bill Muehlenberg]
  16. Eugenics: “a Darwin family business”
  22. Darwinism and the Nazi Race Holocaust
  23. Herero Genecide
  24. The Darwin–Hitler connection
  32. Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg, Page 31
  33. "Mussolini", by Denis Mack Smith, Vintage Books, 1983, page 8.
  34. The Religion of Nature: Social Darwinism by David N. Menton, Ph.D.
  35. How do atheists define love? by Dr. Taylor Marshall
  36. What is love? how materialist atheism fails to have a satisfactory answer, July 9, 2014
  37. The Triumph of the Gospel of Love by Monk Themistocles ((Adamopoulo)
  38. The Triumph of the Gospel of Love by Monk Themistocles ((Adamopoulo)
  39. The Triumph of the Gospel of Love by Monk Themistocles ((Adamopoulo)
  40. BMJ. Feb 9, 2002; 324(7333): 0. Inequality and poverty cause war
  41. War and Poverty by World Vision Australia
  42. The Great Depression and and WWII
  43. Random House, New York, 2005] by Lael Weinberger
  44. The Protestant Work Ethic: Alive & Well…In China By Hugh Whelchel on September 24, 2012
  45. Christians Give more to Charity than Atheists (YouTube video featuring an audio clip of Dr. William Lane Craig)
  46. Mooney, Chris (May 14, 2012). "Greta Christina—Why are you atheists so angry?" [interview of Greta Christina] Point of Inquiry website. Retrieved on October 6, 2014.
  47. Former 2012 web page at website entitled "An Open Letter from Blair Scott"
  48. Former 2012 web page at website entitled "An Open Letter from Blair Scott"
  49. Brendan O'Neill, The Telegraph, How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet, August 14th, 2013