Atheism and Stalin

Atheism is responsible for the deaths of 100 million people in the 20th Century.

Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot killed millions of people in the name of atheism.

Atheism is the cause of the most repressive, murderous regimes in history.

OK, everybody, raise your hands if you had one of the above quotes thrown at you by theists when debating the existence of god, or the relative merits of religion. One, two, three… one hundred twenty two…oh, no use counting. It looks like everyone has at least one hand raised, some have both up. OK, put them down.

I personally found myself dealing with this issue at least twice during the past week on different blogs. Most times it’s thrown at me as a response to an allegation that Christianity has been responsible for such horrors as the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition (the latter, a subject near and dear to my heart). Despite how ludicrous those statements are, and how unsupportable they are by evidence and history, theists continue to trot them out time after time. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the middle of a schoolyard spat: “Your mom’s ugly! Oh yea, well, your mom’s uglier!“. It’s as if they think that the only way to respond to the history of Christianity is by inventing a false history for atheism. It boils down to just another tu quoque fallacious argument, in an effort to avoid the real issues.

As most people (other that Christian apologists) know and understand, atheism is simply a lack of belief in the supernatural or the divine. It is not an affirmative statement of belief, it is a dis-affirmation of a belief in god(s). It is also not something people can join, like religion, nor is it a movement, though it does have social and cultural connotations when espoused in conjunction with other ideologies.

I can join Christianity by joining a particular Christian church, and by professing belief in the tenets of that church. There is, by contrast, no “church” of atheism for me to join. Even if there was, there are no beliefs that an atheist can profess, as tenets of this non-existent church. Atheists can belong to other organizations or ideologies (such as humanism) which may or may not have other beliefs, but generally one doesn’t join atheism. One simply makes a decision that he or she doesn’t believe in the supernatural.

Additionally, beliefs, being both personal and involuntary, are not something an atheist has much control over. Sure, outward signs of belief may be acted out by people who fear that not doing so will lead to harm, but their internal, actual beliefs are not changed – just masked. Atheism, like religious belief, cannot be imposed by others. A lack of belief in god usually is arrived at after careful scrutiny and balancing of the reasons pro and con, and a rejection of the pro. One really can’t force one’s beliefs on oneself, or talk oneself into believing. You either do or you don’t.

So when theists bring up famous atheists like Stalin, or Mao or Pol Pot, and then try to link their personal lack of beliefs in gods to the atrocities that are also attributed to them, they are just plain wrong. Such a link is disingenuous, and frankly assumes a level of ignorance on the listener that is both insulting and condescending.

Atheism is not a movement. No government or country effectuates policy in the name of atheism. Atheism is not even a a proper “ism”. It has no guidelines, rules, tenets, or practices. It has no rituals, dogma, holy books or scripture. It cannot replace religion, because it is merely the vacuum created when religion disappears from one’s personal beliefs.

Moreover, people don’t kill because of a lack of belief in something. If they kill at all, they do it because of a positive belief in something. If we accept the proposition that people kill because of their lack of beliefs, then by extension, there is more evidence to blame all murders in the entire world (except those done by children under the age of, say, 10) on the failure to believe in Santa Claus, than on any other reason, because that is something all murderers have in common. Obviously, their lack of belief in Santa drove them to kill, right?. Or, instead of blaming the “troubles” in Ireland on Catholic/Protestant antagonism, we should blame them on the Irish lack of belief in leprechauns. That sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? The reason for this is that there is a failure of connection, or a nexus, between atheism (or a-santaclausism or a-leprechaunism) and acts of brutality.

Yet, Stalin was an atheist. He was very clear about that. So should his subsequent actions as the dictator of Soviet Russia be pinned exclusively to his atheism? The answer is no. Why? Because there is no evidence for it, and if you are an atheist, evidence is important to belief, unlike the Christian belief system.

Why was he an atheist, and to what use did he put his personal atheism? He was a communist first, a devotee of Marxim, who was raised as a Christian, and even studied in the seminary to be a priest. He realized how important, and how intertwined, religion was in the lives of the Russian people. He also knew that for the communist state to succeed, it could have no competition for the hearts and minds of the people from any other source. In Stalin’s communism, the state was everything. Religion had to go. Why? Not because he didn’t personally believe in god, but because god (or more correctly, god’s institution here on earth) interfered with his ability to control Russia. So the state became officially atheistic.

The underpinnings of atheism are freethought. That’s FREE THOUGHT. Thought that is free. Free thinkers are able to make up their owns minds about their beliefs; beliefs are not imposed by the state on free thinkers. Atheism, as we know it and advocate it on blogs such as this one, is anathema to communism, Stalinism, Bolshevism, Polpotism (OK, I made that word up) or any other ‘ism” that relies on state centered dogma imposed from above. Atheism in Stalin’s Russia, then, was a mere tool used by Stalin, for the greater good of the state, imposed on the structure of society. It’s effect was to strip away the power of the church to oppose his power. It was not a mere lack of belief in gods. Stalin could care less about the individual beliefs of the peasant, his focus was on destroying organized religion. Religion still flourished unofficially in Stalinist Russia, he actually reopened the churches during WWII in order to motivate the people to fight, and religion continues to this day.

No one died because they refused to embrace atheism. Many died because they were deemed enemies of the state. Religious leaders may have been among the executed, but not because they refused to become atheists, but because they were viewed as holdovers of the old order that would try to oppose the state.

However, nowhere near the number of people claimed by theists actually died in Stalinist Russia. Historians have pored over the records once they were thrown open after the fall of the USSR, hoping to find evidence of mass executions. So far, the evidence points to about 3,000,000 total deaths by reason of execution, privation and resettlement. (Of those only about 7-800,000 were by execution.) Another 6-8 million died during the Famine in the Ukraine, but historians are unable to say whether Stalin caused the famine intentionally, or whether it was just an ill-conceived agrarian policy gone bad. In any event, it’s very hard to justify the claim that a famine was used “in the name of atheism” to kill people.

The entire allegation is a red herring. It is created by theists to divert your attention from the clearly historical basis of Christian horror. If you are debating theists and it’s raised as some sort of defense, point out that the issue being debated is not some trumped up historical claim about atheism, but the validity of the real historical religion known as Christianity. Is it true? Is it valid? Is it good?

The ultimate question is, are atheists correct? Does god exist?

(My personal answer is, if he does, he would have stopped Stalin from killing all those alleged victims of atheism. The horrors of Stalin are very good evidence for the non-existence of god. I don’t understand why theists keep pointing us to it.)

And if your theist still insists on his or her belief that Stalin killed 100 million people in the name of atheism, or even just three million, simply shrug your shoulders and understand where Dawkins got the third word in the title of his book, “The God Delusion“.

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54 thoughts on “Atheism and Stalin

  1. Thank you for this, it made my day; atheism is simply a lack of belief in the divine. As you said, it has no rituals or practices or rules – nor does religion imbue its followers with common morality. A murderer is a murderer, not because a church says so, but because they KILLED someone, in cold blood, in outstanding with the law. It doesn’t take someone of faith to understand good or bad, or evil.

    That being said, it is immaterial in these arguments that ‘so and so’ was an atheist, since they have their Yang in christianity. God or not, evil is committed out of a desire in pursuit of a goal.

  2. One could argue that Stalin, Mao, etc. were not atheists at all, even though they claimed to be. They set up a “religion” of the state, and required followers to have as much blind faith in their “god” as fundies do. What atheists reject is blind faith in ANYTHING. Using that definition, none of the examples apply.

  3. Great post. This tactic is probably the most egregious of all theistic rhetorical mendacity. I posted on this a few days ago:

    A more accurate view of the history of the 20th century would see its bloody dictatorships as state religions or as the penultimate evolution of the “divine right of kings.” State atheism dovetailed nicely with the desire of tyrants to make their cult of personality supersede all ideological rivals. Of these, traditional religion had been the most potent. Thus under communism or fascism, huge portraits and statues combined with incessant propaganda and even new scripture (Mao’s little red book, for example) to inculcate the masses with the image of the leader as god. The tendency of totalitarian regimes to deify their leaders continues to this day with North Korea’s Juche. As god-like figures demanding unquestioned obedience, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and Hitler have far more in common with Moses, Abraham, Jesus or Muhammad than with Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, or Voltaire.

  4. Very well argued, but I feel you skipped over one of the points usually implied when a Christian uses this argument against atheism. It has been my experience that they are not usually implying that Hitler, Stalin, et al perpetrated these atrocities in the name of atheism, rather, they are implying that these men were capable of perpetrating such atrocities because they were supposedly atheists but if they were Christian then none of it would have happened. Basically they are arguing atheist=amoral and Christian=moral.

  5. Your usual well-written, well thought out, well reasoned post.

    I have some further thoughts on it which I think I’ll blog on with a link back to yours, as I will make some specific references. I don’t want to take up your comments section with 500 words.

  6. Thanks, David.

    Very well argued, but I feel you skipped over one of the points usually implied when a Christian uses this argument against atheism. It has been my experience that they are not usually implying that Hitler, Stalin, et al perpetrated these atrocities in the name of atheism, rather, they are implying that these men were capable of perpetrating such atrocities because they were supposedly atheists but if they were Christian then none of it would have happened. Basically they are arguing atheist=amoral and Christian=moral.

    I did skip over that, because that’s really a different issue, and in the two cases I referred to in the post, it was not brought up. They both explicitly said “in the name of atheism”, as if it was the government policy to force everyone to stop believing, and if they didn’t they would die. So I stuck to the original line of argument.

    Your argument (well, not yours, but you know what I mean)is “Can atheists be moral?” and throwing Stalin into the mix of that argument is, again, a Red Herring. (Get it? Red herring. I crack me up again). I guess one could make a good argument that his actions were immoral, but did he cause them because he was an atheist, or because he was interested in preserving the power he had attained. I go with the latter, and the same evidence I mention above can be used to support it. Clearly his atheism was nothing like the atheism we espouse on these blogs. I’d say he wasn’t a true atheist, but I don’t want to fall into the one true Christian argument we also always seem to get when we point out that certain Christians don’t act “Christlike”.

  7. Ex.

    One could argue that Stalin, Mao, etc. were not atheists at all, even though they claimed to be.

    I was going to mention that also, but the damn thing was already too long. What I mentioned to David, about not being a true atheist, touches on that too. You’re right that you could make a good case that they were really not atheists at all. They probably didn’t believe in the then current crop of gods, but they sure had no problem deifying themselves for their own purposes.

  8. Pingback: The Will to Power - a response to Atheism and Stalin « Mere Humanity

  9. “Free thought” & “atheism” go hand in hand why?
    I know plenty of atheists who by no means think for themselves… they simply regurgitate Harris or Dawkins on every point imaginable. That’s not to say that I don’t have 1 or 2 atheist friends who do think for themselves, but the two are not by necessity related in any way.

  10. Much to my regret, I partially agree with saintlewis, although I would not have used the word “plenty.” But we’ve all stumbled across atheist blogs written by true believers in non-belief.

    However, saint, don’t go marching in and assume that everyone who makes the same points as Dawkins, Harris, et al., is merely restating something he or she read recently. Many of us were godless long before atheism hit the Best-seller lists. But in how may different ways can one say that religionists are deluded? People who think for themselves do sometimes arrive at similar, reasonable conclusions.

  11. There are only so many “talking points” to describe WHY one doesn’t live their life under one dogma or another. Certain ‘free thinkers’ have done a better job articulating these points than others. To “regurgitate” one or more of these points doesn’t mean you have failed to be a free thinker.

    Free thinking goes far beyond one’s default position of refusing to submit to dogma, which is only the starting point. Because we are constantly questioned on this default position, we are going to give the same, or similar, answers repeatedly.

    “Free thinking” should not be thought of as meaning one must come up with unique arguments each time the default position is assaulted. However, for an intellectually thought out atheist, free thinking is a natural outcome.

  12. If you look at the definition in the Wikipedia page I cited in the original article, you’ll see that what I meant by a person using free thought is someone who uses logic and reason to analyze assertions, rather than taking everything on blind faith, or even scrutinized faith (if that’s not an oxymoron). That is what Stalin, and his regime, tried to impose. He dictated, and expected the populace to accept atheism blindly. That is actually a contradictory way to come to atheism. It must come to the individual naturally, through intellectual scrutiny.

    And, I didn’t say free thought and atheism go hand in hand, I said free thought was the underpinning of atheism, which I maintain.

  13. Yes, I’m annoyed by this talking point as well, especially since Hitler had the backing of the church. I agree that Stalin did nothing in the name of atheism but rather atheism was a tool for his goals of power. I see this the same as when other leaders in history used the church for their goals of power, as the right wing in the US uses the christians today. Whatever works to get you the brass ring, that’s all.

    To saintlewis’ point I understand where you’re coming from and also exterminator’s counter. Here’s the double edged sword – you can come to your own conclusions (the epitome of “free thought”) but inevitably if you’re truly searching for truth, along the way you’re going to find other’s thoughts. Those thoughts may be oppositions from which we build ours to counter, they may be partially like ours and perhaps they can be fully formed and better articulated versions of thoughts we had or started to have. So I can see how someone can adopt another’s ideas in part or wholly, but yes, the number of those repeating the same ideas can be seen as merely regurgitation and no doubt there are those who simply do just that.

  14. PhillyChief (are you from Philly?)

    Yes. I understood StLewis to be saying that there are individual atheists who don’t use “free thinking” in deciding to become an atheist, they just follow the crowd, and I would be an idiot to say that never happens. I suspect that Geno (have you run into him?) who claims he was an atheist, then converted to Christianity, was probably that kind of atheist. But my original post was not about “atheists” in particular, but “atheism” in general.

    As a world view or mindset, atheism is marked and defined by freethought, i.e. the use of reason and logic. If individuals simply read books by atheists and say “That makes sense, I agree with that” and allow the Dawkins and the Harrises and the Hitchens of the world to do their deep thinking for them, what’s wrong with that? That’s not the same as accepting what they say as blind faith. There’s a process going on in their brains that follows logic and reason, so they are just as much an atheist as Dawkins.

    It’s far better than reading scripture, with all it’s nonsensical polemics, inherent contradictions, and clear mythology, and then blindly say it reflects reality, because your pastor says so. Or your parents.

  15. Spanish Inquisitor,

    Originally from KC (thus the “Chief”) but have lived most of my life in and around Philly and still do. I have no connection to the RRS who are in NE Philly nor do I know who “Geno” is.

    ” “That makes sense, I agree with that” and allow the Dawkins and the Harrises and the Hitchens of the world to do their deep thinking for them, what’s wrong with that? That’s not the same as accepting what they say as blind faith. ”

    Well, it could be. Look, I said both were possible. You could come across those guys’ ideas on your road to understanding and adopt them since they’re better defined, more robust, better articulated, or whatever but you could simply accept them blindly and declare your journey over. The latter would be a mistake and what I believe stlewis was complaining about and your assertion that this at least would be better than blindly accepting scripture is subjective. The root problem is blind faith and failing to question. I think we do a disservice to ourselves and the current atheist movement if we aren’t critical of ourselves, including guys like Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens. They have made great strides and advanced great ideas but we can’t make them the new infallible popes of atheism and dogmatically accept everything they say.

  16. I didn’t read all of the comments above, but in case no one has touched on it, an important point to remember is that in the case of Russia and China, these were countries that were traditionally ruled by authoritarian monarchies. There was no tradition of democracy or pluralism. Lenin, Mao, and Stalin grew up in places where autocracy was seen as the norm.

    Stalin’s idol was Ivan the Terrible, who considered himself a pious Christian while at the same time participating in acts of torture against those perceived to be enemies of the state.

  17. Great post.
    If a homicidal monster can possibly be portrayed as an atheist, they get presented as proof that atheists are killers. Homicidal people with religious beliefs are only seen as killing for their beliefs if they actively claim to be doing so.
    No one seems able to come up with anyone – no matter how crazy – who killed because No God told them to.

  18. What I wrote recently was essentially that you can’t look at the killer, regardless of whether he says he acted in the name of an idea or not but rather, you have to look at whether the idea in any way contributes to making killers. Anyone can argue that a killer wasn’t a “real” subscriber to a particular idea or that they were misguided in their interpretation of the idea, but what if the idea isn’t clear? What if there’s no definitive definition of the idea that makes it possible to determine what’s misguided and what’s not?

  19. Sorry I’m a tad late to this one Span, but it was a great post!

    I’ve said many times that this tactic from Xians is a real pet hate of mine. We need good refuations and this is one that I will definitely have to link to in the future.

    I’d say he wasn’t a true atheist, but I don’t want to fall into the one true Christian argument we also always seem to get when we point out that certain Christians don’t act “Christlike”.

    I think this is a really important point. I think the best tactic is to say look, yeah, he was an atheist – so what? Atheists are people, they do good and bad things. We all love to say that the great thing about atheism is that it’s so simple: if you don’t believe in God, you’re an atheist. We can’t then backtrack and start adding subclauses to exclude Stalin as “not a proper atheist”.

  20. “Atheists are people, they do good and bad things.”
    and same could be said for theists.. It’s really sad the constant bickering I see on forums re this topic. The fact is Atheist or Theist doesn’t really stop or cause anyone to be good or bad. There have been plenty of both on both sides of this debate. The fact is humans can be evil regardless of their belief or lack thereof in a ‘god’.
    To be honest that is the only way I would use this accusation (ie x genocidal nutball was an atheist). Not that being an ‘atheist’ make people evil, just that being an atheist doesn’t preclude someone from being a power hungry murdering tyrant.
    But as you say some xtians will blame the fact they were atheists on them being genocidal just as some atheists will blame religion for all wars and conflict in the world. Just a childish pissing contest that perpetuates factionalism..

  21. Pingback: Dinesh D’Souza blames atheism for genocide « Tom’s blog

  22. Well, the main point is that no matter what people believe or disbelieve there’s still gonna be shit that goes down.

    Stalin actually killed all priests (that he could find) and murdered any person who showed any belief in any God. This was after the closing of the churches. This was based on the Marxist belief that religion is the opiate of the people.

    Nao, this doesn’t reflect all of atheism (just how the crusades and inquisition didn’t reflect all of christianity), but it does reflect the beliefs of atheists who find Christianity to be an evil or mindless belief, since that was his reason for killing them all.

    as for Hitler, even though he did later turn atheist, i wouldn’t say his reasons for genocide were under any atheist belief. actually, his atheist rambles is what almost got him assassinated by his own men (along with other rambles).

    but really, even if you disregard all of that, it’s still safe to say that even without any religious influence, man will still do evil, because that is what man is.

    i don’t believe in God, but i don’t care about beliefs either…

  23. Moar

    Thanks for stopping in, albeit now. Better late than never. ;)

    I think you’re right, to a degree. Man has the capability of doing great evil, but also the capability of doing much greater good. There are conflicting forces at work in the brain, (nature v. nurture, etc) but I think Steven Weinberg said it best, when he said

    “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

  24. I too got tired of this canard being thrown at atheism. Since I have a graduate degree in Russian studies, I decided to give the topic a fairly scholarly rebuttal, which you can find here.

    You wrote,

    Another 6-8 million died during the Famine in the Ukraine, but historians are unable to say whether Stalin caused the famine intentionally, or whether it was just an ill-conceived agrarian policy gone bad.

    Actually, historians are pretty much in agreement that he caused it intentionally. The work of Robert Conquest is fairly definitive on the question.

  25. Atheists are not gunning down preachers in their homes.
    Atheists are not setting off bombs at churches.
    Atheists are not flying aircraft into Promise Keepers rallies.
    Atheists are not voting on legislation that tries to deprive millions of Americans of a fundamental right (ie, to marry)

    I do not believe one can state “there are good and bad atheists” as being equal to “there are good and bad Christians”, or any denomination for that matter. Atheists do not proactively impose atheism on others, and when they commit destructive acts, I think one would find it hard to conclusively say the act was informed, influenced, and committed both for and as a result of their atheism. You can not say the same for believers.

  26. A long argument which I believe could have been stated far simpler with the following key points.

    1. Both atheists and religious people do bad things for different reasons, all that matters in regard to this is when they do bad things for reasons based solely upon either atheism/religion.

    2. Atheism has no tenets other than “I believe there is no god.” As such any acts, such as killing religious people, or even simply lecturing about the ills of religion, are due to additional beliefs and ideas, that may be compatible with atheism, but are not directly caused by atheism.

    3. Religions on the other hand have tenets such as “If a man also lie with mankind… they shall surely be put to death”, or “fight them [disbelievers] until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah”, that encourage particular actions which have been responsible for murder etc..

    Conclusion: Atheism cannot be held responsible for atrocities and such like, Religion in some circumstances can.

    Would appreciate comments on this formulation.

  27. Pingback: Atheism and Stalin « SPANISH INQUISITOR « Nemi Jones

  28. No one died because they refused to embrace atheism. Many died because they were deemed enemies of the state. Religious leaders may have been among the executed, but not because they refused to become atheists, but because they were viewed as holdovers of the old order that would try to oppose the state.

    So, let me be sure I’m hearing you straight: when the religious kill unbelievers who won’t submit to religion, it’s okay to label it “killing in the name of religion,” but when atheists kill believers who won’t submit to a godless state, it’s not okay to label it, “killing in the name of atheism?”

    Is that what you’re saying?

    • Um, duh. You said so yourself, they’re killing in the name of the state.

      X refuses to obey the clergy, and is killed. That is killing in the name of religion. Y refuses to obey the state, and is killed. That is killing in the name of the state. How can this be difficult? You said the first three parts yourself, completely correctly, and then shot off into la-la-land on the last piece.

    • No. As usual, you’ve rephrased the point in a way that mirrors your own worldview. ToG and WS caught it, why couldn’t you? Nice try though.

      BTW, don’t you have anything better to do that troll through 2 year old posts?

  29. Here’s where people get confused, or make things up, one of the two: how can one kill in the name of atheism? There’s nothing to kill over. There’s no beliefs, no doctrine, nada. It’s a rejection of a claim.

    Stalin ordered people to be killed (yes, even atheists) because they disobeyed the states direct orders. You were killed even if someone /thought/ you were disobeying the state. You were killed because anything that opposed the state ultimately weakened it. It wasn’t even remotely about atheism. It was about a utopian vision of a country a man had and chose to kill for. That would be a belief. Atheism isn’t a belief. It’s a rejection of a claim.

    Beliefs are constructed in other ways for atheists, not through atheism.

  30. Bad day? Why the attitude SI? I’m not “trolling,” I’m trying to understand why you write and claim some of the things you do. The only thing that called my attention to the post was that somebody’d pinged it. So I read it. Though not persuaded, I found it at least more interesting and actually thought-out than anything you’ve written here in the past six months.

    By definition, the troll here is TOG, who – as usual – didn’t make a comment on the OP, preferring to accost other commenters on behalf of personal vendetta instead. Don’t you see that? Can’t you see that? I ignored TOG because I’m not here to talk to him, I’m here to talk to you; to see if in fact we can talk.

    Now, would you like to start over? If so, I’m interested in talking with you. Not TOG, or whoever else feels obligated to speak for you. Ball’s in your court.

    • “By definition, the troll here is TOG, who – as usual – didn’t make a comment on the OP, preferring to accost other commenters on behalf of personal vendetta instead.”

      Incorrect as usual, Uncle Friday. A troll is “someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.” If my comment wasn’t related to the topic, then neither was yours, and I do not post because I am trying to annoy you or because I want to disrupt topics. I post to correct you when you say things that are wrong. Stop saying things that are wrong and I’ll disappear in an instant.

      “I ignored TOG because I’m not here to talk to him, I’m here to talk to you; to see if in fact we can talk.”

      Hey, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    • Bad day? Why the attitude SI?

      Actually, as you now know, I WAS having a bad day. About 1/2 hour after my comment, I went home sick, but the symptoms had already started. So I apologize. I see you were pulled in by the ping.

      But I’m still wary of you cl, because under TOG’s definition, you are a troll. There are trolls like Gideon, and then there are the more subtle ones. Like you. I’m sure you don’t see yourself as one, but it’s quite clear to me that you are. You probably don’t intend to troll, at least not consciously, but actions speak louder than words. So as I say, I’m wary of getting into it with you. Too much history, too much water over the damn, as they say. It usually ends up in pointless argument about who said what, and that is not productive, not to mention a waste of time.

      I need to go back to work today. If I have the time, I’ll read more here and possibly respond.

  31. SI,

    I really would like to understand this position of yours. From where I stand, people are responsible for what they do, not the beliefs (or lack of beliefs) they hold. It’s unclear to me whether you agree with that, or see things differently.

    TOG,

    I post to correct you when you say things that are wrong.

    1) Please. We’ve already discussed that, and you are quite deluded I’m afraid. If you recall, to date it has been me who actually corrected “wrong” claims you’ve made, for example that Joseph Smith never claimed to have received revelation from God, or that there’s no difference between macro / micro and creationists just made it up, among others. Now, I’m sure I make mistakes like anyone else, but I have neither time nor patience for your unsubstantiated quips: can you show me one link to something that I’ve said that was factually wrong, as opposed to something you simply disagree with? IOW, can you put your money where your mouth is? When challenged previously on this matter, you’ve replied that you lack time, yet you always seem to find time to comment to me when in fact I was not commenting to you. How does that work? Such is undeniably consistent with trolling, and that is all I mean to say. OTOH, if you or anyone else were to ask me for links to things you’ve said that are factually wrong, I could pick and choose from the evidence I might use to support that claim! So, be real with yourself.

    2) The above was just a brief review of facts you seem to have forgotten. More importantly, if you only comment when I say things that are wrong, then what have I said **in this thread** that you allege is wrong such that would justify your initial comment to me? All I’ve done here is ask SI a question. Is it wrong for me to ask SI a question? If you can’t show that anything in my first comment was “wrong,” you effectively concede that you commented for something other than the stated reason, and I – for one – would not be surprised.

    Hey, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    Heat? Hardly. You haven’t shown anything I’ve said to be wrong here TOG; you’ve just disagreed with me that your remark is more consistent with trolling than mine. And there we agree to disagree.

    • “…for example that Joseph Smith never claimed to have received revelation from God…”

      That one was resolved in your favor, and yet you keep bringing it up. It really is all you have, it seems. “You were wrong once before, so now I’m going to bring it up every time you say anything to make you go away.”

      “…or that there’s no difference between macro / micro and creationists just made it up…”

      Kindly stop lying, cl, I posted just a few days ago (apparently asking you to read what I write is asking too much) that you’ve been poisoning the well on that one for ages. I never said creationists wholesale invented the term. I said that those terms as they use them are meaningless in a scientific context, and that they’ve co-opted the terms to mean something else. Much like when they try to say that evolution is “just a theory,” they are not using the same definition.

      “…can you show me one link to something that I’ve said that was factually wrong, as opposed to something you simply disagree with?”

      I really don’t know what to say to this. You’re responding to a post in which I outlined exactly why you were wrong with a challenge to show somewhere where I outlined exactly why you were wrong…

      Which, by the way, I’ve done numerous times. Your strategy of “ignore, ignore, ignore, deny, deny, deny” seems to be working pretty well for you.

      “When challenged previously on this matter, you’ve replied that you lack time, yet you always seem to find time to comment to me when in fact I was not commenting to you.”

      Why is that in the least bit surprising… you spout some nonsense on a thread, and I have time to challenge it, because that doesn’t involve combing through pages and pages of blog posts and comments looking for specific things. I do not have the time to do that, you are not that important. I DO have time to take a few minutes out of my sad, pathetic life, however, to point out when you are spewing garbage. Why that continues to confound you, I have no idea.

      “All I’ve done here is ask SI a question. Is it wrong for me to ask SI a question?”

      In a rhetorical way that implies that SI was being duplicitous or hypocritical in employing a double standard. I understand the idea of “plausible deniability,” cl, but really.

      • SI,

        I’m still interested in hearing you out, but for now I guess I’ll choose to address TOG since he’s so persistent.

        TOG,

        That one was resolved in your favor, and yet you keep bringing it up. It really is all you have, it seems.

        No, TOG, it’s one of about a half-dozen links I have to factually incorrect statements you’ve made on subjects ranging from evolutionary biology to history of religion to modern medicine, and I “keep bringing it up” because you keep pretending the reason you comment to me is to “correct the wrong things I say.” If that were true, we would expect you to be the one with links to factually incorrect things I’ve said. Yet, that’s not what we have, is it?

        Don’t make excuses that you don’t have the time to support your claims – “if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen” – right? You should be able to easily cite specific things I’ve said that were wrong. Yet, when asked for evidence of “wrong things” you consistently fail to include even a single link. And as we see in this thread, I’ve said nothing wrong at all: I asked SI a question because from where I stand his logic seems flawed. So, why did you really comment to me in this thread?

        You’re responding to a post in which I outlined exactly why you were wrong with a challenge to show somewhere where I outlined exactly why you were wrong…

        Right. Nice vague allusion there, TOG: IOW, you can’t even supply a link of evidence with your claim. I ask you for evidence, and you merely assert that you’ve outlined exactly why I was wrong.

        Which, by the way, I’ve done numerous times. Your strategy of “ignore, ignore, ignore, deny, deny, deny” seems to be working pretty well for you.

        What have you done numerous times? Show up and take snipes at me in 11 out of 12 comments? Show up and challenge my arguments via appeal to factually incorrect claims? I can honestly assure you that I’ve not seen one instance where you provided a link to something “wrong” I’ve said. Further, I do not believe you have any. As I’ve said before, you simply include link lists and assert those as evidence I’m wrong. But anybody can arguments from authority, right?

        Now, if you do actually have evidence of me saying something factually wrong in any argument here or elsewhere, I’d love to look at it, because you could be right: I may have stuck my foot in my mouth and said something factually wrong to you before. Prove it, else quit making baseless claims.

        I do not have the time to do that, you are not that important.

        Ah, I see: I’m not important enough that you’ll actually back your claims up such that reason might progress, but I’m important enough that you follow me around SI’s blog like a bad haircut such that your childish ego may be further indulged? As I’ve suggested before, why don’t you take the time you spend accosting me put it into **actually supporting** your claims? Do you really think rational people will fall for that?

        I DO have time to take a few minutes out of my sad, pathetic life, however, to point out when you are spewing garbage. Why that continues to confound you, I have no idea.

        I’m sorry you see your own life as sad and pathetic, really. That actually explains quite a bit: perhaps digging into me satisfies your need for accomplishment?

        It continues to confuse me because you make pretense to rationalism and logic, but in practice you’re just a little bug that follows me around taking potshots. You are correct if you mean to say that you point out when you think something I’ve said is garbage, but I don’t care about your opinions.

        And finally, getting back to the question of what I said “wrong” in this thread that you felt compelled to correct, we get:

        All I’ve done here is ask SI a question. Is it wrong for me to ask SI a question? (cl)

        In a rhetorical way that implies that SI was being duplicitous or hypocritical in employing a double standard. I understand the idea of “plausible deniability,” cl, but really. (TOG)

        Nice dodge. So, was it “wrong” of me to ask SI a question? Yes? Or no? If yes, please explain how. If it was not wrong for me to ask SI a question, why did you comment to me?

          • I’m starting to feel like you seem to at the moment… gonna quote Barney Frank and say that trying to argue with cl would be like arguing with a dining room table, and that I have no intention of doing it.

            • Fortunately, I’m not at the age where it kills me. Though I gotta admit it certainly beat the stuffing out of me. I feel like the Scarecrow after the flying monkeys got a hold of him.

  32. Then consider me done in this thread until you return, SI. I’m not here for TOG and he can have the last word.

    However, I really would like to just have a normal discussion with you about this post. One not unlike one you might have with a stranger on the subway. I want to see what you see that allows you to hold the conclusions you hold.

    Eat garlic. Bask in sunlight. Keep warm and avoid intellectual over-exertion where possible. One thing I’ve found particularly helpful for sore throats and mucus is to take a lemonade first thing every morning. Juice one whole lemon, add a tablespoon or 2 of pure maple syrup, fill the rest of your glass with preferably distilled water and you’ve got yourself a first-rate cleanser. Add a dash of cayenne for an extra kick.

  33. Hey there, I know it’s eons later, but given that everyone in the atheist blogosphere has to keep saying the same things over and over, I figure we ought to recognize and link back to instances of people saying it well in the past. Thanks for writing this! You saved me about a thousand words in the post I’m currently working on (to go up tomorrow).

  34. Pingback: Bad arguments for agnosticism | No Forbidden Questions

  35. Pingback: Atheists are a lot of fun - Rantings of a New Yorker

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