I’ve gotten to know people with an incredible variety of beliefs regarding God’s existence. I cherish those friendships and conversations that I’ve had. If you sense a “but” coming, you’re wrong, generally speaking. One of those people is Derek Colanduno of the Skepticality podcast. While he and I don’t know each other particularly well, we’ve had some interesting conversations. Recently he posted a picture on his Facebook wall:
As you can imagine, an interesting conversation was had. There were bombs thrown, naturally. But I got to thinking about this whole “Hitler was a Christian!”/”Mao/Stalin/Pol Pot was an atheist.” meme that tens to show up early in these games. There’s an old saying “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” The duck test applies here. Christianity, the Bible itself, uses this sort of inductive reasoning.
Jesus says, speaking of prophets, “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” Paul in Galatians 5 says “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law… 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” If you fail this Christian duck test then no one will have any reason to believe that you’re a Christian, or so I thought.
Derek is quick to jump on the notion that Hitler was a Christian supposedly because he said that he was one a sufficient number of times. That strikes me as bad logic. If Hitler was a crazy as a fruit bat (a rabid, insane, Jew-hating fruit bat), then why should we accept that he was what he said he was? Particularly when he had a habit of tacking on all manner of non-Christian religious tradition to his worldview, politics, etc. I can’t think of any other reason than it suited his purpose to paint Christianity as a force for evil.
Something else Derek said jumped out at me, referring to Hitler and the rest, “As for the rest on the list, they were not Atheist, they just wanted to make sure the citizens who they ruled had no one above themselves as the leader. They were more like hard-line slave owners, had pretty much zero to do with actual Atheistic views.” I’m curious as to what those “actual Atheistic views” are. I asked him, but he didn’t answer other than to say “Basically he was not an Atheist, in any way, shape or form.”
Now, I don’t know what Hitler’s true religious views were. He pandered to the German people and add his fruit bat-ness on top of that and I don’t think it matters. These men were crazy. That much we can be relatively certain of. If you wipe out large portions of your population to make others toe the line in service to some half baked ideology cobbled together from your own insecurities then I honestly don’t think a religious belief or lack thereof can be the root cause.
I would like to know what “actual Atheistic views” are, outside of a lack of a belief in God. If I were to take the views of the Atheists (I capitalize the A to denote people who are “militant”) in that Facebook post and elsewhere:
“You do not talk to god. You do not have a personal relationship with an imaginary being. This delusion of yours is an exaggerated sense of your abilities.”
“I’m sick of being told by society that I have to “respect others’ beliefs.” No I don’t. ”
“Religion is child abuse.”
and the responses of some Atheists to Phil Plait’s admonition to not be a dick, then I would have to come to the following conclusions. If you’re an Atheist then you believe that you’re a better person than anyone who believes in a god of any stripe. You believe that your worldview will ultimately lead to the betterment of mankind through the casting off of the ancient morality most religious people stick to. In general, you know more about the universe and your place in it than your theistic counterparts. You’re essentially a mirror image of that which you hate.
Now, I won’t paint all atheists with that brush. I know some of you are capable of respectfully disagreeing. We can have discussions without despots being brought up as examples of anything other than despotism. We won’t tell the other person what they believe. We will express love for the Other as best as we are humanly able.
I do want you to know though, that if you are an Atheist (or a Theist) and your waddle gives you away as a dick, you’re not going to convince anyone of anything, religious or otherwise. I suspect that most people of this stripe are okay with that. None of them actually seem to want to do much more than beat their chests and feel awesome about themselves. I seriously doubt that any of those sort will comment here, and I also recognize that this post may well bounce back in my face. It needed to be said for my piece of mind though at least.