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Why leave the atheists out?

The violence and bloodshed of the religion of atheism

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Published: 3 May 2016 (GMT+10)
Updated 11 May 2016 to address quote attributed to Stalin.

Most adults no doubt, will remember 9-11, especially those living in the West. On that day in 2001 the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda conducted four coordinated suicide terrorist attacks on the United States, targeting symbolic American landmarks. News commentators declared that “the world would never be the same”; and they were right.

We now face a world with loss of freedoms once taken for granted. Just boarding a commercial airline flight now entails laborious checks and searches, and there are many more serious and less obvious changes than that.

… we continue to hear that “religion is the cause of all the wars of history and of these most recent tragedies”.

The years since 2001 have seen a succession of other suicide bombings which have affected how we see the future, and how people think about right and wrong. The media makes us vividly aware of the heart-breaking details in vivid colour. We weep and pray for those affected, but most concerning is the way we continue to hear that “religion is the cause of all the wars of history and of these most recent tragedies”. The Paris attacks of November 2015, where more than 130 people were killed in a coordinated assault at six locations in central Paris, are no exception. After these tragedies, the media seems strangely sloppy in the way they portray religion.

They seem quite happy to lump one religion which calls for “the death of infidels” alongside another which radically says we are to “love even our enemies”. However most serious of all, is their tendency to omit the most destructive of all religions—atheism.

Why would we include atheism as a religion?

Because atheism gives answers for life’s most basic questions, all of which are religious:

  • Where did I come from?
  • What happens after I die?
  • Why do good people suffer?
  • What’s the purpose of life?
  • How do I decide what’s right and wrong?

When people blame religion for bombings and wars in general, they seem to ignore the tragic history of the 20th century, which saw more deaths from acts of violence and oppression than all previous centuries put together. These were systematically inflicted on millions of people by their own governments. Names like Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot have become infamous.

In his historical novel on Stalin, Richard Lourie accurately portrays a significant turning point in Stalin’s life by having him say:

Joseph Stalin credited evolution with ‘freeing’ him from God.
“Reading Darwin had an enormous impact on me. It corroborated my defiance of God and inspired me to systematically break all the Ten Commandments, which I now realized were only chains. Though I had stolen and lied before, I now stole and lied with a higher purpose—freedom of self. And the effects on my political philosophy were equally lasting. Historians of the future may even conclude that Darwinism + Leninism = Stalinism.”1

Hitler too set out to make Germany conform to the theory of evolution:

“First of all Hitler embraced a world view that denied any personal God or transcendent moral standards.”2 
Secondly, since Hitler believed that nothing existed beyond nature, he tried to find his purpose in life in obeying the iron laws of nature. Finally, while spurning traditional moral standards, Hitler exalted evolution itself to the status of a moral absolute—everything that advances evolution is morally good and everything that hinders it, is immoral.”

We could add Mao, Pol Pot and, sadly, many others.

By the way, I am not saying that the Christian faith has not been linked with wars and the like, since every dictator knows that it has high emotive force in mobilizing and motivating people to make sacrifices. These however, are inconsistent with Jesus’ teaching. What I am saying is that we are being fed an incomplete picture. It is simply dishonest to treat every religion as if the beliefs were only marginally different.

A recent secular book “God is Back” by Micklethwait and Wooldridge3 researched the rise of religion in the modern world, reviewing particularly the European and American cultures in the past few centuries. Early in the book, they report attending a house church meeting in China which studied Romans 1:18–32 and note that at the conclusion of the meeting, the discussion:

“ … gives way to a passionate attack on Darwinism. Evolutionary theory argues Wang, breaking into English to reiterate his words, is ‘the biggest lie’, because it pretends to be rigorous science … .4
“The most remarkable part of the Bible study comes at the very end. In his summary, Wang brings many of the evening’s themes together—revelation, righteousness and false idols—and links them in a nationalist call to arms. Countries with lots of Christians become more powerful. America grew strong because it was Christian. The more Christian China becomes, the mightier it will be. If you want China to be a truly prosperous country, you must spread the Word to nonbelievers. If you are a patriotic Chinese, you have to be a Christian.”5

Micklethwait and Wooldridge identified the way that a link with political power is bad for religion (no matter what flavour) and laud those framing the American constitution. They rightly say that

“The founders understood the appeal of religion: they did not want to abolish or marginalize it. But they understood how dangerous it was when mixed with political power.”6
Hitler exalted evolution itself to the status of a moral absolute.

Isn’t that precisely what we observe in our world where the religion of atheism is being taught in our schools (in the name of not favouring one faith above another) and where the world view reflected by much of the media has the same ideological framework as well. Evolution, the atheists’ creation myth, is effectively government endorsed and sponsored. Here we have the dangerous situation of religion, atheism, mixed with political power.

Even Richard Dawkins wrote:

“There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”7

So what does this mean for us today?

Jesus said we are to judge by fruit. (Matthew 7:16) When we apply that criterion to evolution and atheism the results speak graphically. The religion of atheism which has been made intellectually fulfilling8 by evolution has brought a tragic legacy to the whole world.

The second issue we need to address is whether evolution is true. If evolutionary theory reflects the way things have always been scientifically we have to face the facts and make the best of a collapsing civilization. If on the other hand, the discoveries of science are increasingly showing that evolution isn’t true, we need to master the issues so we can bring hope to our friends and neighbours when we discuss it—but always with “gentleness and respect”. (1 Peter 3:15)

Finally there is a need for those with a Christian worldview to be informed and caring when interacting with those who have been affected by the half-truths and false image of evolution as real science when it’s not. That is the reason we have the creation.com website and first-class scientists working to provide well-researched answers, pointing the way to the One Who said “I am the truth”. (John 14:6)

So next time you hear the media say “religion causes wars and bombings”, etc., you’ll have an answer to share. And you can join me in praying God will open the eyes of the journalists and those in authority in the media. (Acts 26:18)

References and notes

  1. Lourie, R., The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin, Counterpoint, Washington D.C., p. 36, 1999. Return to text
  2. Weikart, R., The roots of Hitler’s evil, Stanislaus, 2007; web.csustan.edu; Weikart is Prof. of History, California State University. Return to text
  3. Lane, A., God is Back: How the global rise of faith is changing the world, An imprint of Penguin Books, 2009. Return to text
  4. Ref. 3, p. 2. Return to text
  5. Ref. 3, p. 3. Return to text
  6. Ref. 3, p. 368. Return to text
  7. Gledhill, R., Scandal and schism leave Christians praying for a ‘new Reformation’, The Times (UK), April 2010. Return to text
  8. Walker, T., What is there to celebrate about Darwin’s 200th birthday?, February 2009; creation.com/darwin-200. Return to text

Helpful Resources

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Readers’ comments

Charles P.
235 million people died during the great flood and no single act of human blood shed or violence has ever managed to outstrip that amount. I am struggling with this. What on earth was really, really that bad to justify such inhumane retribution?
Warren Nunn
That is an excellent question. But was it really inhumane retribution as you suggest?
One of the most important lessons of Noah’s Flood is the reason why it came on the earth. The Bible says:

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)
The Flood is a warning to all people that the Creator God cares about His creation. He cares how we behave and He will judge the earth. He will also save those who trust Him.

Everyone on the earth, except Noah, his sons and their wives, continued with their violence (Genesis 6:11) and corruption. So God judged them. Even though the punishment was severe, no one was without excuse.

We also see that God used the Flood as His way of purifying the earth—separating those who trusted Him from those who didn’t. All through history, as we see recorded in the Bible, God has used this pattern of judgment and purification in dealing with people.

So we need to obey God’s instructions and remember His dealings in history. Otherwise our lot will be to repeat the same mistakes and experience the same consequences, unless we heed the true history and understanding of the world as recorded in the Bible.
Edwin M.
Thanks CMI, a praiseworthy article that should along with *HIS* grace found in the John 17:20 jewel bring strength to many shot at by lying, deceiving spirits.
Christianity is *HIS*tory not a religion anyway.
*G*B`U`all daily.
Pure religion is this to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction and keep oneself unspotted by the world. Nothing wrong with this religion though. ALLELUIA *JESUS*.
Gian Carlo B.
Brendan was spot on and so is the author. Ken Ammi wrote an article regarding the same issue of religious vs atheist wars. Indeed, atheist wars have killed millions upon millions more than all 6.98% combined of religious wars. And atheists dismiss it because if they admit it, they not only have to give up the religious violence argument that is so uncogent; they'd have to concede that they have been intellectually hypocritical about it and they hate being exposed like that. :)
Ed R.
Thank you for a thought provoking article. I have some atheist friends I would like to discuss this with further.
But I'm curious: the Stalin quote comes from a novel called an autobiography. Are these Stalin's actual words, or the words of the novelist?
Thank you!
Warren Nunn
UPDATE: The quote is from a semi-fictional book about Stalin, Richard Lourie, 1999. The autobiography of Joseph Stalin. Counterpoint, Washington D.C., p.36. However, the quote did reflect Stalin’s life journey.
Francis R.
The religion of atheism is driven by arrogance, which finds no compromise with others, much less a love for their fellow man. Atheists by nature must be egotists as there can be no room for any other, even less God, since they are gods to themselves.

Atheism leaves only destruction in its wake. History is replete with numerous examples. Evolution is the other side of the coin of atheism since both preclude God in their belief system. The two go hand in hand and have a symbiotic relationship that feeds each other. I don't think the one can exist without the other.

Joseph M.
The most important point is that because atheism identifies with evolution, atheism justifies wars whether atheism has caused the wars or not. Why should an atheist complain about the brutality of war or the morals of evil, if that's the natural order of nature!? The atheists complain because they are borrowing from Christianity whose gospel message promotes spirit, peace and morality as a force of change which enriches and stabilizes society.

Any Christian identifying with evolution has the same problem as atheism i.e double standards.
Robert W.
Thank you CMI for these points of truth borne out in history as well as from The Word of our Creator YHWH.
The "rulers of darkness" and "spiritual wickedness in high places", spoken of by Paul in the letter to the Ephesians, (6:12), are prevalent in the minds and hearts of those that make war and oppress peoples.
The answer to these non-flesh principalities is of course faith that honors God and fights with the "full armor of God." Not war as evil men make war, where greed and world status are motives, but war against what makes humankind the lower class of all living things.
These pathetic and foolish individuals should be intelligent enough to see that they serve a god alright.
I pray many world leaders will figure it out and turn to Jesus Christ, who loves them and waits.
Dave R.
Brendan, you stole my thunder!
Yes, it's only a tiny fraction of the total number of wars which have been or may be reckoned to have been directly caused by "religion".
Jesus said, "You will hear of wars and rumours of wars..." and, indeed, He may have added, "and false rumours that wars have been caused by believing in Me."
Melvyne C.
An excellent short article.
The comment by Brendan J., on war statistics, is most revealing. Thank you.
Brendan J.
A while ago, I read of the study of wars through history by Philip and Axelrod in their 3 volume history of wars, In that study, 1,763 wars were chroncled and of these, they concluded that 123 (6.98%) were of a religious nature and Islam accounted for 66 of these leaving only 3.23% for all other religions.
They noted that most wars are in fact due to other factors such as trade routes, expansionism etc

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