So, there were some big name balls-out atheist tracts that hit the papers and the sales charts lately. The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. God is Not Great : How Religion Poisons Everything – Battle for the Longest Title :: Thunder Revolution Blue by Christopher Hitchens. This has led to the inevitable backlash of religious tracts which prove the “undeniable” or “indelible” case for religion as a pure and untainted and as human and natural as shitting between your ass cheeks and mortgage law. They bring up the same handful of points every time, and they are as true now as they are each time.
Here’s a big news flash : Hitler was an atheist. Through all I can be bothered to learn about the man, I have seen compelling evidence that he was raised a Christian, lost his faith at some point, and became convinced that religion was a palliative for the masses, a convenient way to herd the easily herdable. To this end, I agree with the man, in the same sense that I can look at a broken watch and agree it is displaying exact time twice daily. Of the mans many failings as a human being, a psychopath, a sociopath, a paranoid with delusions of godhood, a monster, a racist, a bigot, the singular voice which drove a screeching machine that threw innocent men, women, and children – screaming and afraid – into rooms full of carbon monoxide and then burned the corpses to hide the crime. I state this not to damn atheism, but instead to make clear that I understand what the man did, and address the issue without the dismissive hand-waving of Dawkins. I know Adolf Hitler was a monster. I also know he was an atheist. We have all our facts out in the open.
Where most of these case-for-god books and scholars and I get on opposite sides of the issue though is this: I don’t think that being an atheist led him to be a monster, and I don’t think that being a monster is directly linked to his atheism. Let me make the case with another monster, another clearly insane murderer. John Wayne Gacy. Gacy was by anyone’s measurement a monster. He was also a KFC manager, a Jaycee, and later, a painter of clowns. Or should we go with Jeffrey Dahmer, who was, amongst his crimes, a member of the US Army. In order to discuss these folks, one must state these facts. I do not, however, see a lot of folks casually tossing out the allegation that delicious original recipe combos, membership in entrepreneurial clubs, or service in the armed forces somehow precluded these folks to serial murder. Certainly, I don’t see a lot of books called “The Case Against The Three Piece” or “Cult of Murder: The Jaycees Break Everything Always”. The logic that links atheism to monstrous acts is roughly as powerful as the link between masturbation and blindness. (side note: Who was it that was always throwing around that masturbate and you’ll go blind line… I can’t remember)
But religion is a touchy issue, unlike reasonably priced fried chicken. So we have fights over religion, with, currently, the same two sides. “Religion is Bad” versus “Yeah, Islam is Totally Bad We Agree But Christianity is Really Really True and Important”. It’s amusing to me that there is always a compelling case for a white-bearded Christian God and Jesus Christ the Redeemer. No pastor goes to the books and comes back with compelling evidence, nay, a gaping rent in the human psyche that can only be filled with Frigg, or Buddha, or Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl. There’s always this wink-and-a-nod implication beneath the waves of a “case for God” essay that underlines each case for “religion” with “you know, WORSHIP OF THE ONE TRUE GOD, the real one, that CATHOLICS believe in”. That self-aggrandizing written sneer is what always leaves it’s greasy smear on these books, and levels them cleanly in the realm of thought free kneejerks like the banana delusion.