[Via Pharyngula] Christian groups must be getting more and more aware of the rise of atheism and agnosticism. Now, they’re mounting television commercials to attack those beliefs.
New Commercial Refutes Atheism!
American Vision is launching a relentless and systematic response to militant atheism. We’ve produced a brilliant 2-minute commercial that we plan to broadcast globally via the Internet and Television. Atheists present themselves as enlightened and civil. But this new commercial will reveal the shocking truth to viewers. The French Revolution, Communism, Nazism, etc. have taught us that the atheistic worldview will inevitably lead to the persecution of Christians and the killing of anyone who gets in the way. What’s worse is that atheism is paving a wide road for Islam to advance in our nation and around the world.
(American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry)
We’ll they’ve convinced me that people who use words like “reason”, “rational”, and “real” are anything but. Thank goodness I can trust Martin Luther: “Reason is the whore of the Devil. It can only blaspheme and dishonour everything God has said or done”
Let’s do a quick check on the information presented in that video:
(1) Robespierre – A major figure of the French Revolution which involved the overthrow of the French royalty. The French Clergy has supported the monarchy, and, as a result, had gained the ire of the French people. Robespierre opposed the atheists of the day, and according to wikipedia:
Robespierre’s desire for revolutionary change was not limited to the political realm. He sought to instill a spiritual resurgence in the French nation based on Deist beliefs. Accordingly, on 7 May 1794 Robespierre had a decree passed by the Convention that established a Supreme Being. The notion of the Supreme Being was based on ideas that Jean-Jacques Rousseau had outlined in The Social Contract. In honor of the Supreme Being, a great celebration was held on 8 June. Robespierre, as President of the Convention, walked first in the festival procession and delivered a speech.
In this speech, Robespierre made it clear that his concept of a Supreme Being was far different from the traditional God of Christianity.
Robespierre intended to establish the Cult of the Supreme Being as the French state religion after the revolution. (Rotten.com has a good summary of the Cult of the Supreme Being.)
The fact of the matter is the Robespierre was not an atheist or agnostic, and putting him (a bloodthirsty deist supporting a national religion) in with modern day atheists (who write books) is nothing but propaganda.
(2) The pictures shown in the latter half of the commercial involved:
(a) Racism against Blacks in America What does this have to do with atheism and agnosticism? Nothing. These acts were carried out by Christians. The KKK has always maintained and supported the idea of the United States as a Christian nation. See also the Curse of Ham.
(b) Nazism. For a long time, Christians have attempted to tie atheism to the crimes of Nazism. Sometimes, I think Christians merely see the world as “Christian” and “Non-Christian/Not-Real-Christian” (lumping together Nazis, Muslims, Atheists, and everyone else into one monolithic group). The fact of the matter is that many Nazis were Christians (Hitler didn’t put “God with us” on the belt buckles of Nazis soldiers for nothing). Hitler referred to God and Jesus on numerous occasions:
“My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter.”
“Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith … We need believing people.”
“We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit … We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press … we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess.”
In many ways, Hitler’s views about Jews mirrored Martin Luther’s – the very same Martin Luther who was a former Catholic turned Protestant reformer in 16th century Germany.
He argued that the Jews were no longer the chosen people, but were “the devil’s people.” They were “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.” The synagogue was a “defiled bride, yes, an incorrigible whore and an evil slut …” and Jews were full of the “devil’s feces … which they wallow in like swine.” He advocated setting synagogues on fire, destroying Jewish prayerbooks, forbidding rabbis from preaching, seizing Jews’ property and money, smashing up their homes, and ensuring that these “poisonous envenomed worms” be forced into labor or expelled “for all time.” He also seemed to sanction their murder, writing “We are at fault in not slaying them.” (Link)
(c) Stalin appears briefly in one picture. He was an atheist. Communism is a bad economic system, and seems to favor dictatorial control. Some atheists consider communism to be a kind of state religion, and a great deal of harm has been caused in the pursuit of this type of utopian dream. I consider communism to be the cause of these evils, and the atheism favored by communism is somewhere between a historical accident (reflecting Marx views) or was a means to clear away people’s allegiance to anything other than the state. Christians like to argue that communist atrocities are what happens when you kick God out of the country, but I think it’s a lesson in what happens when you subjugate everything to one ideology – regardless of whether it’s name is “Communism”, “Christianity”, “Islam”, etc.
(3) Richard Dawkins thinks that “parents who teach their children about God should be arrested”. This goes back to a petition that Dawkins signed and then retracted his signature on. Dawkins stated:
I did sign the petition, but I hadn’t thought it through when I did so, and I now regret it. I have asked the organizer to remove my name.
I signed it having read only the main petition: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make it illegal to indoctrinate or define children by religion before the age of 16.” I regret to say that I did not notice the supporting statement with the heading, “More details from petition creator”: “In order to encourage free thinking, children should not be subjected to any regular religious teaching or be allowed to be defined as belonging to a particular religious group based on the views of their parents or guardians.” If I had read that, I certainly would not have signed the petition, because, as explained in The God Delusion, I am in favour of teaching the Bible as literature, and I am in favour of teaching comparative religion.
Specifically, Dawkins reacted to the word “indoctrinate” in the heading of the petition, and also believed it was wrong to refer to children as “Muslim”, “Christian”, or some other religion if they were under 16, since they didn’t really have any opinions of their own – they are merely parroting the religion taught to them.
I can assure you that atheists do not want to make teaching religion illegal. It’s much better that people come to atheism and agnosticism through their own experience. Having governments encourage or coerce people into any belief is the wrong way to go about it – and atheists agree.
(4) “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted” This is a quote attributed to Dostoevsky (although it’s actually a paraphrase of an idea expressed by one of the characters of Dostoevsky’s book The Brothers Karamazov). Dostoevsky was a Christian, and that makes the phrase not the statement about atheism from an atheist, but rather a statement about atheism by one of it’s opponents and detractors. It is describes the fear that religious people have of atheism and atheists – that “godless” does not merely describe a lack of belief in god, but also a moral depravity.
While I’ve talked about the source of my morality in earlier posts, most atheists/agnostics believe that conscious beings have certain inalienable rights simply based on the fact that they are conscious beings – we have no inherent superiority or inferiority to anyone else, and we feel no need to derive these rights by divine fiat. It makes us all equals, and from that equality comes morality – i.e. the legitimate ways of interacting with each other.
Additionally, when we look at the world, we find that atheistic countries (like Scandinavian countries) have lower crime rates than the US. If atheists truly believed “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted”, then we should see much higher crime rates. Polls in the US have also shown that religious people are more likely than atheists to support the death penalty and torture. If atheists believed that “everything is permitted”, then the approval rates for torture should be much higher among atheists.
Abrahamic religions are essentially a big “might makes right” system of morality where God is defined as the ultimate “might” and is described as good – therefore, everyone needs to do good because that’s what the most powerful guy in the universe says. (And when there are cases of Old Testament atrocities – Christians cannot object to them because God approved them.)
(5) “atheism is paving a wide road for Islam to advance in our nation and around the world” This was not in the commercial, but was in the summary of the commercial. It’s an odd thing to say that rejecting the idea of God existence can lead people to Islam. The only thing I can say about this is that some people will reach a point in their life when they will search for meaning and purpose in their lives through cults and religions. It’s an unfortunate fact of society that people will look to religion’s empty promises for meaning and purpose. Atheism does not offer meaning and purpose (you have to find that on your own), and so people will probably always look to religious leaders offering up big, empty claims and easy pathways to life’s meaning.
In Christian societies, those people will tend to look to Christianity for those answers. In places where religion has been cleared away by atheism, a person might look in more diverse places for that “meaning and purpose” – they might look at various cults (e.g. Scientology, Aum Shinrikyo, Falun Gong) and major religions (Christianity, Islam, etc). So, I think there may be a grain of truth in the statement that atheism can lead to a diversification of religious views – even if the actual number of religious people is shrinking. I also think that atheists and agnostics should make sure they are addressing the failure of Islam as a religion. (We tend to point out the problems with Christianity first because most atheists are in Western, Christian countries, and we know a great deal about Christianity from personal experience. Foreign religions, on the other hand, are a little harder for us to criticize simply because we are less familiar with them.) I dislike Islam more than the other major religions – primarily because of the dictatorial aspects of Islam (apostates are to be killed, unbelievers are considered inferior Kafir, there are many verses in the Koran advocating violence, Islam has failed to create modern scientific societies, it advocates a marriage of government and religion, many fundamentalist Muslims consider democracy to be against the teachings of the Koran, etc). Islam would brings all the problems and backwards ideas of 7th century Saudi Arabia and attempts to entrench them in modern society. If atheists and agnostics can make any religion falter, I think we should work towards making Islam the first one eliminated.
The unfortunate thing is that Christians can put out this kind of disinformation about atheism and agnosticism, we’ll never be able to fully blunt the propaganda effects because they are much more numerous and have more money. Unfortunately, in the minds of many people, their disinformation will become fact.
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