Post Author: Bill Pratt
There is no doubt that religious people throughout history have killed people, at least partly because of their religious beliefs. Even Christians have been guilty.
But many prominent atheists accuse religion, and especially Christianity, of mass killings and argue that if the world could rid itself of religious belief and turn to atheism, we would create a true utopia. If only we could escape the fairy tales of religion, society would vastly improve and the killing might stop, or at least greatly decrease.
But wait a second. There have been atheist governments who believed in science and reason, and looked with scorn upon organized religion. What was their track record? Instead of guessing what the results might be, let’s look at history. Following is a book excerpt from The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible by Robert J. Hutchinson, that I found at Truthbomb Apologetics:
Religion the greatest danger to world peace? Think again
Contrary to what anti-religious zealots such as [Sam] Harris assert, throughout history far more lives have been snuffed out by faith-hating fanatics than by religious believers.
Historical demographers estimate that, in the 350 years between 1478 and 1834, the Spanish Inquisition was responsible for the execution of between 2,000 (Encyclopedia Britannica) and 32,000 people (Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, 1987.)
That works out to about ninety-seven people a year- a ghastly number, to be sure, but a far cry from the “millions” routinely cited by secular fundamentalists.
As for the “witch hunts,” another example Harris and others give as irrational religious fanaticism, the British historian Norman Davies estimates 50,000 people, primarily women, were executed as witches over a four-hundred year period-an average of about 125 a year.
Yet as horrible as these examples of religious intolerance may be, they pale in comparison with the single-minded, bloodthirsty, satanic fury unleashed upon the innocent by secular fundamentalists-those militantly atheistic regimes that sought to expunge religious belief and “bourgeois” morality represented intolerable obstacles to social progress.
According to research conducted by the political scientist Rudolph Rummel at the University of Hawaii, the officially atheist states of the Communist bloc committed more acts of genocide than any societies in governments in the twentieth century-communist, socialist, fascist-equals about 170 million.
- USSR: 61 million people murdered 1917-1987
- Communist China: 35,2 million people murdered 1949-present
- Mao’s army: 3.4 million people murdered 1923-1949
- Nazi Germany: 20 million people murdered 1932-1945
- Communist Poland: 1.6 million people murdered 1945-1948
- Communist Cambodia: 2 million people murdered 1975-1979
- Communist Vietnam: 1.6 million people murdered 1945-1975
- Communist Yugoslavia: 1 million people murdered 1944-1987
- Anti-Christian Mexican Revolution: 1.4 million people murdered 1900-1920
- Turkey:1.8 million people murdered 1900-1918
- Pakistan: 1.5 million people murdered 1958-1987
- Japan: 5.9 million people murdered 1936-1945
…Rummel’s conclusion is as shocking as it is inescapable: War wasn’t the most deadly evil to afflict humanity in the twentieth century. Government was! And not just any government, but atheist government.
As a result, ordinary people-whether religious or not-might be forgiven their general skepticism when today’s secular fundamentalists talk about the “intolerance” and “violence” of biblical religion or the people who believe in it.
In terms of raw numbers-which is the only kind of evidence that rationalists such as Harris claim to accept-the evidence is incontrovertible: Freed of any moral restraint, believing that the ends justify the means, scoffing at the notion that they will ever answer to a power higher than themselves, the murderous dictators of atheistic regimes feel little hesitation in committing mass murder if they believe it will advance their more “rational,” more “scientific” social aims.
Now, I don’t believe that an atheistic government is always going to cause this kind of bloodshed, but I think it is time to drop the argument that Christians, in the name of religion, commit mass murder, when the evidence squarely rests on the other side.