Friday, September 17, 2010

Atheists Must Apologize for Hitler

 
The Catholic League has just posted this on their website [ATHEISTS MUST APOLOGIZE FOR HITLER].
Catholic League president Bill Donohue reacts to the way British atheists are handling Pope Benedict XVI's trip to their homeland:

The pope cited Hitler today, asking everyone to "reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century." Immediately, the British Humanist Association got its back up, accusing the pope of "a terrible libel against those who do not believe in God."

The pope did not go far enough. Radical atheists like the British Humanist Association should apologize for Hitler. But they should not stop there. They also need to issue an apology for the 67 million innocent men, women and children murdered under Stalin, and the 77 million innocent Chinese killed by Mao. Hitler, Stalin and Mao were all driven by a radical atheism, a militant and fundamentally dogmatic brand of secular extremism. It was this anti-religious impulse that allowed them to become mass murderers. By contrast, a grand total of 1,394 were killed during the 250 years of the Inquisition, most all of whom were murdered by secular authorities.

Why should atheists today apologize for the crimes of others? At one level, it makes no sense: apologies should only be given by the guilty. But on the other hand, since the fanatically anti-Catholic secularists in Britain, and elsewhere, demand that the pope—who is entirely innocent of any misconduct—apologize for the sins of others, let the atheists take some of their own medicine and start apologizing for all the crimes committed in their name. It might prove alembic.
The accommodationists are going to be all over this one. They'll rip Bill Donohue to shreds, right?

Waiting ....

Meanwhile, let's follow the logic. Atheists are people who don't believe in god. According to people like Bill Donohue, if you've failed to be convinced by any of the arguments in favor of superstition then you have to take the blame for the actions of everyone else who hasn't fallen for the common delusions of religion. (Including imaginary non-believers like Hitler.1)

Okay. Where does this sort of logic take us? Bill Donohue and the Pope don't believe in the tooth fairy. Neither did any of the people who flew airplanes into buildings on September 11, 2001. .... Do you see where this is headed?

Donohue's "logic"—using the word in its loosest sense—is based on a false premise. He assumes that atheists (those who haven't accepted religion) share a common moral and ethical position that makes them collectively responsible for the actions of every atheist. In other words, he thinks that atheism is a religion like Roman Catholicism or Voodoo. That's just plain nonsense.

Why is it so hard for believers to understand the absence of belief? After all, every single one of them doesn't believe in hundreds of Gods. The Pope doesn't believe in Thor or The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Neither did Hitler, Stalin, or Mao. When can we expect an apology from the Pope?


[Hat Tip: Why Evolution Is True]

1. PZ Myers has just posted a list of Hitler quotations proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hitler was a firm believer in God. Very likely the same God that the Pope and Bill Donohue believe in.

17 comments :

  1. This would be disturbing, but I maintain that Donahue must be viewing the world through his Catholic-coloured underpants again...

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  2. The Catholic Church is just practicing the sound strategy of every failing and/or disgraced business: ALL PRESS IS GOOD PRESS. I mean, if it wasn't for their embarrassing actions with regard to child abuse, family planning and the role of science in society, what exactly would be the Catholic Church's role in this world?

    You have to play to your strength, and for the (holy) See, that strength is to act as the raving blacksheep of the Western Civilization family. Business is booming.

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  3. How does this concern "accomodationists" at all?

    What does this have to do with the relationship between science and religion and whether scientists are contradicting science if they believe in the supernatural?

    Isn't Larry doing the same thing to "accomodationists" as the Pope just did to atheists?

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  4. McGovern: "Isn't Larry doing the same thing to "accomodationists" as the Pope just did to atheists?"

    Yes, when the pope tries to link atheism to Hitler he is actually using sarcasm. Just like Larry. In fact, Larry is the Pope.

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  5. Bill Donohue is the leader of a private organization, not an official of the Catholic Church.

    But I'm happy to say (as I've said many times before) that Bill Donohue is an asshole of the first magnitude. The Pope was also wrong to in any way lay the atrocities of the 20th century at the doorstep of atheism.

    But Michael McGovern's point is well taken. What does the stupid statements of some theists have to do with the issue of whether science and religion are "incompatible"? Do you really think atheists never make stupid statements? Would stupid statements by atheists mean atheism is incompatible with science?

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  6. In case some of you missed it, it's a fairly big issue in the science-religion debate.
    Accomodationist (atheist or religious) say that the "new" atheists are offensive by criticizing all magic-thinking. Accomodationists don't want to offend the "majority" of believers so as to enroll them against the big nuts in religion.
    So accomodationists are the first ones to roll over and apologize any time a religous person is offended. They ask for "respect" from all sides".
    I take Larry's "waiting" to be quite apt, but i wouldn't hold my breath for the usual suspects to deplore the lack of respect in the extremely offensive (as in lies, nonsense, and false-witness bearing) the comments of both the pope and billy.

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  7. Accomodationist (atheist or religious) say that the "new" atheists are offensive by criticizing all magic-thinking.

    Really? Just who among them have said young-Earth creationism should not be criticized? Which of them has been unwilling to criticize claims that "Darwinism" led to the Holocaust? I think you have your own private definition of what "accommodationism" is.

    My understanding of accommodationism is what was advanced in the NAS' Science, Evolution and Creationism, to the effect that "acceptance of the evidence for evolution can be compatible with religious faith." The accommodationist position is that there is no need to confront people's religious beliefs when it comes to evolution or other scientific theories (the evidence is good enough, IF we can get them to listen to it) and there is no particular reason to criticize good and even great scientists, who keep their theism separate from their science, simply because they share their religious beliefs.

    So accomodationists are the first ones to roll over and apologize any time a religous person is offended. They ask for "respect" from all sides".

    I'd be interested in seeing examples of "accomodationists" who have rolled over and apologize any time a religious person is offended ... just so I know who you are talking about.

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  8. Moreover I dare say there is a clear difference between the Stalin and Maoist ideologies and atheism in general. In modern ethics we generally divide things into two camps, utilitarianism and liberalism.

    One can be an atheist and be either of these (and certainly any others I left out of this restrictive dichotomy). As an atheist who firmly believes in liberalism, a rights based morality, I'll have nothing to do with the actions of atheistic utilitarians who would sacrifice the minority for the benefit of the majority... and if you haven't guessed that's exactly how I'd label each of these regimes. Hitler's was simply theistic utilitarianism.

    Thus, they should post a diatribe against utilitarians not atheists, not that I'd except entrenched religious figures (who get their rules from divine decree) to understand the finer points of morality.

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  9. Pieret: "The accommodationist position is that ... there is no particular reason to criticize good and even great scientists, who keep their theism separate from their science, simply because they share their religious beliefs."

    No, the accommodationist position is that good religious scientists should not be criticized, even if their arguments of the compatibility of science and religion are unsatisfactory.

    For accommodationists, the compatibility of religion and science is not a topic of discussion, it is a tactical axiom useful in selling science to the religious.

    Example:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/05/31/civility-and-the-new-atheists/

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  10. Matti K., "accommodatist" is simply the alternative label for "Neville Chamberlain atheist," and when Dawkins made his Chamberlain gambit, he was aiming it at people espousing a position like Pieret's or the NCSE. Chris Mooney wasn't even on Dawkins' radar yet, as he had yet to get involved in science-religion debates.

    Indeed, Moran's comments show just how misleading Dawkins' framing has been, since it implies that so-called "acommodationists" are far more accommodating than they actually are.

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  11. No, the accommodationist position is that good religious scientists should not be criticized, even if their arguments of the compatibility of science and religion are unsatisfactory.

    Ummm, unsatisfactory to whom? Should a scientist, qua scientist, be concerned with theology? As long as a scientist makes clear that s/he is speaking as a believer/theologian, the only criticism to be made is theological/philosophical. Of course, that is fine ... as long as the opponent makes clear that they find the argument theologically/philosophically unsatisfactory, as opposed to trying to wrap their metaphysics in the mantle of science. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.

    For accommodationists, the compatibility of religion and science is not a topic of discussion, it is a tactical axiom useful in selling science to the religious.

    Even if that is true (some of us think it has more to do with a good understanding of exactly what science is), just what is wrong about that? We frequently discuss good pedagogical methods versus bad pedagogical methods. And they often have little or nothing to do with scientific "purity."

    I still haven't heard any reason why "accommodationists" should somehow be duty-bound by their position to defend atheists from any and all attacks (though I am usually happy to do so on the general grounds that stupidity should be opposed).

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  13. "Donohue ... assumes that atheists (those who haven't accepted religion) share a common moral and ethical position that makes them collectively responsible for the actions of every atheist."

    That's indeed off-track. And Hitler was indeed not an atheist, nor was he a traditional theist. Don't believe everything you read by a demagogue?

    He had appointed Goebbels (IIRC) to concoct a new religion based on the Nordic spirit, when they were rather rudely interrupted by bombs falling on their heads.

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  14. In other news, conservatives think that moderate Muslims are responsible for denouncing radical Muslims' actions.

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  15. Pieret: "We frequently discuss good pedagogical methods versus bad pedagogical methods. And they often have little or nothing to do with scientific "purity."

    Many scientists don't think that science and religions are compatible. Naturally, they will also criticize scientists who think otherwise. That has nothing to do with pedagogics. Moreover, it is not good pedagogics to give an impression of a consensus when there isn't one.

    "I still haven't heard any reason why "accommodationists" should somehow be duty-bound by their position to defend atheists from any and all attacks (though I am usually happy to do so on the general grounds that stupidity should be opposed)."

    Accommodationists are nonbelievers (atheists or agnostics). Religious people often attack nonbelief and nonbelievers. In such situtations it is quite normal to defend one's own basic views. At best, the result is a honest discussion.

    Of course, one can withhold expressing one's personal views for tactical or opportunistic reasons. But that has nothing to do with honest discussion.

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  16. Theists take their theism seriously, so as an atheist I should take my atheism seriously too. So I plan to go to my achurch on Asunday to worship my agod as my asaviour. I'm hoping for guidance from His Aholiness the Apope in the Avatican on what I should not believe in. I hope my apriest will interpret the awisdom for me, without getting too close to my ahole.

    Now I must go and most some People Of Faith.

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