People with Gods

Each day on Twitter, I post my quote of the day tweet. The other day, the quote I posted was, “Gods don’t kill people. People with Gods kill people.” – David Viaene. One of the responses I got to this quote was, “people without Gods hold it down in the killing dept just as well. It’s a human problem.”

While I take no issue with the fact that there have been many killings done at the hands of people without Gods, the problem I have with the above statement is with the phrase, “just as well”. I decided to do a little research on the subject and here is what I came up with.

While there is really no way to tally the amount of individual murders committed by individual atheists, there are some numbers to be found when one looks at State Atheism, for instance in Mexico, under President Plutarco Elias Calles, there were at least 40 priests killed between the years 1926 and 1934. In the Soviet Union, Marxism-Leninism ideology sought to eliminate religion from the state entirely. In the period between 1922 and 1926, 28 Russian Orthodox Bishops and more than 1200 priests were killed. In Cambodia, under the Khmer Rouge, the estimated death toll is between 740,000 and 3 million. In the Mongolian People’s Republic, the Soviets launched a full-scale attack on Buddhism in 1936 where between 30,000 and 35,000 lives were lost. In North Korea, in the late 1940’s 166 priests and religious were killed or kidnapped. Using the high estimates, the total adds up to 3,036,434 deaths. Which, is a very substantial number.

On the side of people with Gods, I am only including the tally of one  mass killing.  The Holocaust, which took place between 1938 and 1945. Christians like to tell you that Hitler was an atheist, but, by all accounts, Hitler was a Catholic raised, Christian who espoused his belief in Jesus Christ (albeit an Aryan Jesus Christ), which makes him a man with a God. “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.”- Aldof Hitler  There were 5.9 million Jews, between 2 and 3 million Soviet POWs, 1.8 to 2 million Poles, between 220,000 and 1.5 million Romani, 200,000 to 250,000 disabled people, 80,000 Freemasons, between 20,000 and 25,000 Slovenes,  5,000 to 15,000 homosexuals, and between 2,500 and 5,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses killed in the Holocaust. Even using the low estimates, the death toll is 10,227,500 or more than 3.3 times the number killed by Atheist States in 5 different instances.

The reason to only include the Holocaust on the side of men with Gods was because, all of the Atheist State examples I used were from the 20th century and I didn’t want anyone crying unfair if I used examples like the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Thirty years War or the French Wars of Religion, which all took place in  different eras, when people were not as enlightened as they were in the last century.

I do agree that killing is part of human nature, and I am positive that, even without a belief in any sort of deity, people would find something to fight about on a mass scale. My point here is that belief in a god seems to be a pretty popular reason to kill people. Here’s a question to think on… is God the reason, or the excuse?

13 thoughts on “People with Gods

  1. If we’re going to count, we need to include the 3,000,000 people killed under Josef Stalin, either for political crimes or in the Gulags, but fundamentally, I agree with the idea that it’s a human problem. People kill because they’ve decided it benefits them. They will always find some reason to justify it to themselves. If they were raised with the idea of a very judgmental God, then God’s a convenient excuse. If they weren’t, they’ll find something else.

  2. Okay, let’s include them. This would give us 6 instances of atheist state killings a total of 6,036,434 which is still 1.69 times less than the one example of people with gods killings. I love math.

    1. Fair point, and I certainly don’t mean to sound like I’m defending any of it. The idea that people can take my religion and decide that “Thou shalt not kill” is negotiable makes my heart sick.

      1. The truly sad part is that any we, as human beings needed any religion to tell us not to kill each other. But that brings up another set of questions, Is killing instinctual? Can we evolve beyond it? We are, after all, part of the animal kingdom and we do kill in order to feed ourselves. Even vegans kill plant life to feed themselves. Why is it that killing is wrong only when it involves those highest on the food chain?

  3. I’d say it’s definitely the excuse, in most cases, rather than the reason. Such an easily invoked excuse, though. Just issue commands in the name of some being that people have been conditioned from birth not to question, and people seem to be willing to kill or die in that name of that being (almost always promoted as a god of love and unity) without the slightest piece of evidence to show that the being did, in fact, issue those proclamations. Or that the being even exists, come to that. Crazy!

    Tribal mentality at it’s most basic. ‘They,’ the others, heathens, apostates, infidels, unbelievers, are lower than ‘us,’ the True People who follow the True Creed of the True God. ‘They’ can be killed and tortured with all impunity, for they are less than Truly Human.

  4. The difference i think is that religious doctrine is a motivator to kill people, especially when you consider the capricious nature of their Gods and the acceptability of violence in their scriptures. Atheism is just expressing a belief in no Gods. Therefore you cannot be motivated to kill people in the name of atheism. Stalin and chairman Mao- Mao being the biggest killer of the 20th Century, were not motivated by atheism, even if they were themselves atheists. They had their respective doctrines, which you could say were followed by them religiously. No genocide has been committed in the name of secular humanism, in fact many have been stopped- to use Libya as the latest example.
    However you also missed out the uncountable number of deaths as well as forced conversions of indigenous people committed by missionaries in the various colonies around the world. The genocide in Rwanda, where priestesses as well as priests advocated genocide. Franco was catholic… Not to mention the crusades… Most conflicts known to man have been religiously motivated. Not of course that it is a competition. Unfortunately If it was, religion would lose

    1. We could also argue that the cult of personality; Stalinism, Maoism and the like, has no difference in essence from a religion. It merely places the all powerful leader on earth, instead of in a heaven of some sort.

  5. In most cases I believe it is a human issue using religion as an excuse. I don’t believe many of the world’s religions teach the kind of violence that we often see.

  6. Of all people in the world, the religious people have committed the most “crimes” on humanity. The things that the “Body of Christ” has done in the name of God is just outrageously insane. The bigger picture of war is that it is waged in order to cause peace as an end result. However, that means that it is “forced” peace. As far as I understand the Bible, God doesn’t like to force things on people, so waging war in the name of God is a stupid idea, but many religious people, as history has explicitly shown us, do not understand that whatsoever. Religion literally makes people dumb, and therefore, it’s easy for Christians to use God as an excuse for their malicious acts.

  7. People who kill and use religion as an excuse would kill even if they didn’t have their religion to hide behind. Killers kill.

    At any rate, I don’t see why we need to make this into any kind of a competition to see which side is morally superior because they butchered fewer people…BOTH SIDES BUTCHERED. Both are guilty. The lesson I get from studying such events is that sometimes, human nature is an ugly thing, and that it doesn’t need any help from religion to do so. Religion doesn’t make people kill. Lack of religion doesn’t make people kill. Being a soulless sociopath who has an agenda to push and no conscience is what makes a person kill.

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