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?