48 COMMENTS

  1. Having been brought up in an British colony, at first I found Gervais a little difficult to take but, like eating olives, he is an aquired taste. Must say, the views he expresses here have greatly elevated my estimation of him.

  2. For an American Atheist theres nothing quite as refreshing as listening to two English gentlemen discussing atheism in a logical setting. I wish Americans would extract their heads out and start thinking.

  3. Sigh.  I do wish Professor Dawkins would stop saying that agnosticism is a position of equiprobability.  For some it may be, and I think they’re intellectually lazy for taking such a position.  For me, however, it’s a matter of recognizing the practical irrelevance of something defined to be supernatural.  (Yes, I’m talking about NOMA; have at me.)

    Those who make testable claims deserve challenge, but my experience has been that the quieter majority of theists do not make such claims – I am married to such a person and find no grounds on which to quarrel with her over her faith.   What is, is.  Whather it “just is” or “is because god made it so” is irrelevant. 

    If it helps, I think that Professor Dawkins got it right in TGD when he offhandedly remarked that agnostics would refuse to be considered on the 1-7 “belief scale.”  Yup.  It’d be like putting myself on a scale quantifying how much I believed that the most common digit in the decimal expansion of Pi is seven.  Or three. Or whether there even is a most common digit.  I don’t know, I don’t believe I can know, and I really don’t care.  (In fact, I think there is a greater possibility that the commonality of seven in Pi  more knowable than whether a deity exists.)

    Applied more broadly, my desire is for a secular society rather than a theist *or* an atheist one.  Believe what you like, but keep it out of science or law unless you can back it up with something demonstrable. “God say so” doesn’t qualify.

    Where I part company with the usual atheist argument is in the assertion that the existence of a deity is a scientific question.  It would appear to be* defined* to escape testability, and so I think it absurd to argue about it.  Moreover, to limit such an unrestrained infinity to either “exist” or “not exist” is a false dichotomy; that I can’t comprehend other possibilities doesn’t disprove them.  To believe that it does would be the flip side of the usual argument from incredulity.

    Obligatory sound bite version: ” Trying to demonstrate the nature of god using science or logic is like trying to fix a syllogism using a pipe wrench.  It’s not merely the wrong tool, it’s absurdly wrong, and neither a positive nor a negative result will ever hold water.”

  4.   James Martin –
    Really?

     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U..

    The USSR anti-religious campaign of 1928–1941 was a new phase of anti-religious persecution in the Soviet Union.
    The campaign began in 1929, with the drafting of new legislation that severely prohibited religious activities and called for a heightened attack on religion in order to further disseminate atheism.
    This had been preceded in 1928 at the fifteenth party congress,
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬  where Joseph Stalin  criticized the party for failure to produce more active and persuasive anti-religious propaganda.

    Did you miss the point of atheism being coincidental to the ideology of Stalinist Communism competing with religion?
    The attacks were by Stalinists!

  5. @ James Martin
    You link to the example of the persecution of the religious under the Stalinist regime in USSR. I’m no expert on this, but it seems to me that this was the action of one extreme ideology against another in order to maintain an absolute dictatorial power. It wasn’t done primarily because the communists had no religious belief, it was done because they had another kind of fanatical belief in a different kind of ideology, and they couldn’t tolerate any dissent. I don’t think the Stalinists were particularly bothered by the fact that the religious had beliefs in the supernatural, they were mainly concerned about the threat to their own beliefs. There were plenty of other groups and individuals that they persecuted for holding conflicting or threatening ideologies.

  6.  James Martin

    “Really”  – in reference to soviet persecution of religion in Russia under Stalin.  No one is saying Stalin didn’t persecute the religious.  What they are saying is he didn’t do it because he was atheist, he did it  because he was pushing the Dogma of Communism down the throats of the Russian people and he had no desire to share power with the Russian orthodox church. 

    He also banned the belief in evolution on the basis that it was ideologically opposed to communist principles (smacked of capitalism) and supported Lysenko in a failed attempt at Lamarkian  evolution.  Resulting in the starvation of many thousands of Russians.  

    Communism under Stalin was hardly founded on principles of free though and rationalism.  Disagreement with Stalin was likely to end with a bullet in the brain or a one-way trip to Siberia. 

    There is no link between not believing in a god, and wanting to eliminate a huge proportion of your society.  I would also point out that Stalin did not stop people believing he just stopped people being able to talk about it, practice it in public etc. in much the same way Christianity did by torturing and burning people alive who were heritics.  I’m sure there where people who didn’t believe in god during the inquisition but unless they were very brave or very stupid (or both) they probably didn’t talk about it.

    I would note now that Putin is cooperating with the Russian orthodox church hence situations like the Pussy Riot incident.  Do you doubt for a second that if the Russian orthodox church started to protest against Putin they would be given the freedom they currently enjoy?

  7.  @rdfrs-98f11de5240ba02cf9907bb2e8fc9b1c:disqus

    It would appear to be* defined* to escape testability, and so I think it absurd to argue about it.

    Yes, but you can’t let them get away with that because the vast majority of believers also believe that their god actually intervenes in their life and in the world generally, otherwise they wouldn’t pray. So, as far as I am concerned, they invalidate their own “outside science” defence. But, of course, they want to have their cake and eat it.

  8. Don’t you people think there’s some danger that Atheism could become militant and start killing people? It seems to be human nature to conquer & kill for a religion/ideology. I’ve heard some pretty nasty rhetoric coming from atheists, and my impression is that you have an unusually high number of sociopaths. With the right leader and circumstances, I have no doubt that you could be just as nasty as many religions.

  9. Come on! Can you point to any atheists who engage in rhetoric like: “You’re gonna burn in hell!” Yes, we may ridicule religion, but it deserves it. Sociopaths?? I think you are projecting here. 

  10. Darth Imperius
    Don’t you people think there’s some danger that Atheism could become militant and start killing people? It seems to be human nature to conquer & kill for a religion/ideology.

    It would seem unlikely;-  given that there is no unified “atheist ideology”, and that atheism is a religion in the same sense as not collecting stamps is a hobby ! 
    A unified militant ideology of non-stamp collectors, is hardly a credible concept!

    With the right leader and circumstances, I have no doubt that you could be just as nasty as many religions.

    Such speculative whimsical projections, have very little relationship to reality!

  11. Ah ha James, engaging in a spot of  ‘Quote miners R Us’… as has been pointed out, Stalin did what he had to do to garner complete control and that included wiping out competing world views to his communist ideology. He even did for fellow communists when they threatened his rise to power.

    ” Stalin, as head of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, consolidated near-absolute power in the 1930s with a Great Purge of the party that was justified as an attempt to expel “opportunists” and “counter-revolutionary infiltrators”. Those targeted by the purge were often expelled from the party, however more severe measures ranged from banishment to the Gulag labor camps to execution after trials held by NKVD troikas”

    But he re-instated the Orthodox church when the need for its support was greater than the need for its demise.

    ‘During World War II, the Church was allowed a revival as a patriotic organization, and thousands of parishes were reactivated until a further round of suppression during Khrushchev’s rule. The Russian Orthodox Church Synod’s recognition of the Soviet government and of Stalin personally led to a schism with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.’

    ‘Stalin established a ‘Cult of Stalin Worship’ from a desire to be seen as autocratic & retain absolute power. It developed from a sense of Paranoia – he needed people to worship him & if he had to achieve it by terror then he would.’  (John D Clare,  http://www.johndclare.net/Word… )

    Please make yourself aware of the subject to which you rely on for evidence, it helps in the saving of loss of face in debates. This is high school stuff.

  12. Thank you for your excellent understanding of history. Perhaps your reading should have gone beyond ‘high school stuff’. At least you didn’t play the ‘Stalin trained as a priest’ card. So numerous campaigns to impliment state atheism actually had nothing to do with atheism? Well, I never.  So are you going to have a bash at explaining the anti-religious campaign during the Russian Civil War (1917–1921), the 1958–1964 anti-religious campaign and the 1970s–1987 anti-religious campaign? 
     Don’t tell me: ‘Well, Marxism was like a religion bla bla bla’.

  13. Don’t you people think there’s some danger that Atheism could become militant and start killing people?

     

    Nope, why would we? Perhaps we should be more concerned about the moustached in society becoming militant and killing people. How ridiculous would that be? Yep, very. I’m not sure you fully understand the definition of Atheist, why would a lack of belief in supernatural governing entities orchestrate a militant grouping in order to kill folk? The only scenario I could ever imagine such a scenario occurring would be under severe persecution from those that despise unbelievers and a need to defend…like what the religious have already done in the past…but it wouldn’t be Atheism that ‘s the driving factor, more a case of self preservation and a will to live.

    It seems to be human nature to conquer & kill for a religion/ideology.

    Partly true, but so what, Atheism is neither a religion nor ideology.

    I’ve heard some pretty nasty rhetoric coming from atheists,…

    You might well have done, some people can say nasty stuff, some people just take the piss and the holy rollers can’t handle it and call it nasty stuff…they want undeserved respect for woo woo nonsense and when its not forthcoming the toys get chucked out of the pram….so what…whatever happened to “sticks & stones”….words as opposed to chopping heads off…get real sunshine.

    ..and my impression is that you have an unusually high number of sociopaths.

    What? Like religions ya mean? Your impression is a bit skewed and not worth a fig with some examples. We don’t do wishful thinking on this site.

    With the right leader and circumstances, I have no doubt that you could be just as nasty as many religions.

    And I have no doubt that if I fed on clay and had a square arse, I could crap out house bricks [sarcasm].  You do talk some clay house bricks.

  14. Thank you for your excellent understanding of history.

    Your welcome.

    Perhaps your reading should have gone beyond ‘high school stuff’.

    There’s no need. The basics lay waste to your claim.

    At least you didn’t play the ‘Stalin trained as a priest’ card.

    There was no need. Though he did, and I’m sure he gained from it for his future endeavours.

    So numerous campaigns to impliment state atheism actually had nothing to do with atheism?

    Ya see, this is the point at which you are faltering. Atheism is a state of mind. It can’t be ‘implemented’  by anyone,  Stalin ‘implemented’ state communism…which is not the same thing.

    Well, I never.  So are you going to have a bash at explaining the anti-religious campaign during the Russian Civil War (1917–1921), the 1958–1964 anti-religious campaign and the 1970s–1987 anti-religious campaign?

    You are having problems getting this Atheism thing….I can tell. How many times do you need it explained…the label ‘Atheism’ is a non sequitur. Stalin and subsequent despots persecuted ANYONE who was a perceived threat, including fellow communists with differing views. 

    Don’t tell me: ‘Well, Marxism was like a religion bla bla bla’.

    Jesus wept!

  15. I don’t think you really understand much of what you are on about. 

    “Atheism is a material and inseparable part of Marxism, of the theory and practice of scientific socialism”. V.I.  Lenin, Religion.

    If atheism was never an important issue as you claim, then why did the Soviets build museums dedicated to “Scientific Atheism?”

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/n

    From 1932-1937 Stalin declared the ‘five year plans of atheism’ and you still feel this had nothing to do with atheism?

    Try reading Dimitry V. Pospielovsky, A History of Soviet Atheism in Theory, and Practice, and the Believer. Might not be available in high school libraries, but I’m sure you will find it eventually.

  16. If atheism was never an important issue as you claim, then why did the Soviets build museums dedicated to “Scientific Atheism?”
    From 1932-1937 Stalin declared the ‘five year plans of atheism’ and you still feel this had nothing to do with atheism?

    Atheism is the rejection of someone else’s belief or ideology based on superstition. That is it. It is not an ideology in itself. So it is not possible to do anything either good or bad in the name of atheism.

    The soviets were defined by their own extreme ideological beliefs. They may have labelled some of their plans and institutions as “atheist” but the true content of these enterprises revolved around their own ideologies.

    An atheist museum would be a completely empty building. An atheist 5 year plan would consist of nothing except not believing in someone else’s beliefs for 5 years.

    The Soviets persecuted the religious because they wanted to impose their own ideologies on their people. I guess they may have labelled some of their enterprises as “atheist” just to ensure they usurped the traditional religious ideology.

    Look at it this way. If noboday in USSR was religious, would the Soviets still have labelled any of their enterprises as “atheist”. It was only to mark them out as wanting to do away with a competitive ideology, which just happened to be religion.

  17. @James Martin –   Don’t tell me: ‘Well, Marxism was like a religion bla bla bla’.

    You need us to explain that Stalinist ideology was dogmatic like a religious ideology ??

    Next you will be needing us to tell you that Tsarist anti-communist troops and their foreign allies who  the revolutionaries were fighting, were following a royalist, religious ideology.

  18. “Scientific Atheism”

    This is an oxymoron. “Science” is the study of the realities of nature in the universe. Conversly “Athiesm” is a total lack of a belief in the lie of a deity. Religion is the catalyst for these lies. Most who accept the athirst moniker are intelligent enough to accept scientific proofs but, one has absolutely nothing to do with the other.

  19. To the best of my knowledge, non-stamp collectors aren’t forming organizations to militate against stamp collectors, so I find this analogy rather bogus. I’m just pointing out the nasty, negative, partisan side of New Atheism, and where it could lead, but you guys seem to want to deny it.

    There’s a dark side to your brand of atheism, and a cost to society if it were widely adopted, that I think you’re glossing over. See, for example, the criticisms of atheists like Camille Paglia and Alain de Botton.

  20. Dath Imperius “There’s a dark side to your brand of atheism, and a cost to society if it were widely adopted,…”

    Really, for brand of atheism read atheists who speak out publicly and clearly.  Those who are not afraid of offending the religious extremists who have made much of the world a hell hole, who threaten our freedom and education system every day. 

    None of the New Atheists wish to militate non-belief.  They don’t suggest death sentences for belief or burning in lakes of fire after death, they simply and courageously argue against those impose their beliefs on the rest of us, and yes I’ve seen Alain de Botton’s talk about new atheists and while I like the guy, and own several of his books on philosophy he came up with no substantial arguments against new atheism short of  there are some nice things about religion and don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  Dan Dennett has said as much himself. 

    Now that is summarising his position but if there is anything more substantial he said (quite possible it was months ago I watched his talk) then why don’t you make some specific arguments here and let’s have the dialogue.  Don’t give us vague feelings, and accuse us of non-specific motives, make an actual point.  What is the cost to society which you refer? How are new atheists militating any specific belief system?  Where is new atheism going to lead (independent thought? Billions of dollars more taxes from churches? improved educational outcomes?  More money spend on medical research and scientific exploration? Better public understanding of science and all that that entails)?

  21. Darth Imperius
    To the best of my knowledge, non-stamp collectors aren’t forming organizations to militate against stamp collectors, so I find this analogy rather bogus.

    Perhaps that’s because stamp collectors are not trying to inflict weird dogmas on the rest of us.

    I’m just pointing out the nasty, negative, partisan side of New Atheism, and where it could lead, but you guys seem to want to deny it.

    So you keep saying, but apart from confusing atheism with political ideologies, you have produced no examples and no evidence.  

    I really don’t see how taking a moral stand against nasty  mindless dogma doing people damage , could be other than beneficial.

    There’s a dark side to your brand of atheism,

    Really???
    There is a darkside to speaking out to support honest scientific methods and  evidence??? -  and speaking against dishonest  nonsensical perversion of information taught to children – and the conning of people by various faith-healers, astrologers and other quacks ?

    and a cost to society if it were widely adopted, that I think you’re glossing over.

    I think you would need to list any such cost claims.
    Vague insinuations means noting!

    The evidence is that European secular societies are of much greater benefit to their citizens, than the confused superstitious, muddled theocracies, and religion dominated states.

  22. There is also evidence that European secular societies are going extinct, and will be eclipsed by religious barbarians. It’s difficult to explain or even understand, but there seems to be some intangible “spirit” that makes societies flourish, but which extreme atheism and rationalism destroys. I’m not a theist, but I do see the need for a spiritual revival in the modern world, both to reduce the appeal of traditional religion and to prevent a new global Stalinism. I also see glimmers of such a “cosmic religiosity” in some of the better New Atheist sermons, so maybe you guys have the right stuff after all. I guess we’ll see.

  23. I find Gervais entertaining when he’s making fun of the bloated egos in Hollywood at awards ceremonies or when pointing a satirical finger at some silly, deluded, religious believers on Twitter, but he’s so utterly incongruous with the intellectual calibre of Dawkins. This is not academic snobbery here, just receptiveness to nuances in the discourse… 

  24.  Darth Imperius – ” but which extreme atheism and rationalism destroys.”

    There is no such thing as being an extreme atheist.  Atheism is an absence of belief in a deity once you’ve decided one doesn’t exist it cannot get any more extreme than that.   So there are no extreme or militant atheists just outspoken ones.

    Atheism doesn’t destroy any sense of spirituality at all.  You need to get that yourself by doing something, or learning something. 

    Want to feel good about the world study it, it won’t disappoint.  Want to feel good about yourself and others, do something for someone else.  If there is no god then what gave people these feelings in the first place?  It must all come from us.  It stands to reason therefore that atheism cannot destroy “spirituality” (for want of a better word) , it can only destroy bad reasons for feeling it.

  25. I don’t think you really understand much of what you are on about.

    I don’t think you really understand much of what you are on about.

    You are conflating two terms…Atheism and Anti-theism.

    All Anti-theist’s are Atheist’s, but not all Atheist’s are Anti-theist’s…neither makes one a mass murderer, although being Anti-theist allows for such.

     An Atheist doesn’t believe in gods. An Anti-theist thinks other people shouldn’t believe in them either. 

    Atheist: Someone who does not believe in God. 

    Anti-Theist: Someone opposed to the practising of religion or spirituality of any kind, for moral, political and/or social reasons.

    “Atheism is a material and inseparable part of Marxism, of the theory and practice of scientific socialism”. V.I.  Lenin, Religion.

    Yes, yes, yes…whatever, but what has that got to do with Stalin murdering millions of his own people….a lot of them Atheists?

    “Discrimination among citizens on account of their religious convictions is wholly intolerable. Even the bare mention of a citizen’s religion in official documents should unquestionably be eliminated.” V.L. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 10, pp. 83-87

    If atheism was never an important issue as you claim, then why did the Soviets build museums dedicated to “Scientific Atheism?”

    WTF does “Scientific Atheism” even mean? And WTF has any of this got to do with Stalin’s reasons for the wiping out of millions of his own people…many of which were Atheists?

    From 1932-1937 Stalin declared the ‘five year plans of atheism’ and you still feel this had nothing to do with atheism?

    Strawmen and non sequitur’s all over the place. I’m saying that he didn’t kill or incarcerate millions of his own people because he was Atheist, but because he was fucked-up-in-the-head,  tyrannical despot.  Unlike the long history of Popes who have caused the death of untold millions because of their religion.

    Try reading Dimitry V. Pospielovsky, A History of Soviet Atheism in Theory, and Practice, and the Believer. Might not be available in high school libraries, but I’m sure you will find it eventually.

    I see it’s referenced in my University library…I might take a perusal, time permitting, but why don’t you just cite where it states, with evidence, that Stalin murdered millions because he was an Atheist. So that those readers with no access to the work can see for themselves.

    The argument that despots of the 20th century murdered their own people because of Atheism is both fallacious and getting very boring.

    ” Atheism itself isn’t a principle, cause, philosophy, or belief system which people fight, die, or kill for. Being killed by an atheist is no more being killed in the name of atheism than being killed by a tall person is being killed in the name of tallness.”

    “People were killed in communist nations for a lot of different reasons. Some were communists who disagreed with those in power and were killed because of that. Some were anti-communists opposed the government and were killed for that. Some were simply in the way or inconvenient and were killed for that. These are political disagreements that people were being killed over, not murder in the name of atheism.”

    http://atheism.about.com/od/is

  26. Darth Imperius
    There is also evidence that European secular societies are going extinct, and will be eclipsed by religious barbarians.

    The religious memes will always fight back against rationality, but surveys show increasing numbers of the non-religious – especially in the younger generation.

    It’s difficult to explain or even understand, but there seems to be some intangible “spirit” that makes societies flourish, but which extreme atheism and rationalism destroys.

    There is a false myth (put about by preachers keeping their flocks dependent), that without religion,  atheists cannot appreciate art, music, emotional feelings, or be considerate members of communities.
    It is utter rubbish, put about by the preaching manipulative ignorant, who are trying to claim a monopoly of such responses for their own organisations, while making personal attacks on those who criticise their destructive dogmas.

    I’m not a theist, but I do see the need for a spiritual revival in the modern world, both to reduce the appeal of traditional religion and to prevent a new global Stalinism.

    Even  the Russians and Chinese have long rebelled against Stalinist Communism.

    In the UK,  the deputy prime minister and the leader of the opposition are both atheists – leaders of opposing political parties!
    -  Demonstrating that atheism does not equate with any particular political ideology.

  27. There is also evidence that European secular societies are going extinct, and will be eclipsed by religious barbarians. 

    I’d love to see evidence of that assertion. Now remember, being secular does not necessitate being non religious, there are plenty of religious secularists.

    “Defenders of traditional religion and theism sometimes counter observations about the growth of secularism and atheism by pointing out that there are religious revivals occurring all around the world. It’s true that such revivals are occurring — and, in fact, they always seem to be occurring. What isn’t always occurring, however, are secular backlashes against militant religion and religious groups demanding ever more special privileges in society. There finally seems to be enough secular atheism in some places that people are willing to say “No,” religions, religious beliefs, and religious organizations don’t deserve to be treated better than everyone else.”

    http://atheism.about.com/b/200

  28. Do you really think that giving this stupid god character an intentionally slippery definition on a whim increases the chances of it existing in reality? Claiming in the definition that logic does not apply to this particular definition is simply playing with words. Not good enough.

  29.  @rdfrs-4a2dcbdbd245f176c09d80ac3f56f340:disqus  Then there is phase 2:
    Having defined some vague gapologist’s mysticism, with no properties, invisibility, no detectable interaction with the physical universe, and the other features of non-existence, and non testability:

    THEREFORE :- The Biblical Jesus cannot be refuted!

    (I wonder why atheists spot that one????)

  30.  Indeed. Also, what seems to be being ignored is that
    Stalin (and others) perpetrated a great many evils in the name of Communism
    whilst the system they were implementing had little-to-nothing to do with
    Communism – at least not as envisioned in the Communist Manifesto.

    So, ‘Communism’ and ‘Atheism’ (or ‘Anti-Theism’) were merely
    convenient banners under which atrocities aplenty were carried out. I don’t see
    the difference: He wasn’t a Communist, and he wasn’t an Atheist.

    {Pedant mode}[BTW, there's no apostrophe in either 'Anti-Theists' or 'Atheists']

  31.  Agreed,  thanks for pointing that out.  Communism has never actually been tried to my knowledge.  I think human nature makes it extremely unlikely to be every tried either, and it probably wouldn’t work if it did.  Probably the closest is some hunter gatherer societies.

  32. I am not a scientists or even a learned philosopher. I’m just a rational thinking human being who is sick to the teeth of religious zealots thinking I am morally bankrupt because I don’t believe in fairy tales!

    And frankly, stating that we atheists, “have an unusually high number of sociopaths” is moronic!  How many MILLIONS of people have been murdered because they did not share the religious beliefs of their murderers!?  Please do share who these atheist sociopaths are? I’m curious.  Because I can assure you that for every single name you come up with, there is a list of names, and bodies they are responsible for, that is a 100 times longer.

    And btw…atheism doesn’t need a capital A.

  33. And btw…atheism doesn’t need a capital A.

    You are right of course….but then why should all the pish (religions) be entitled to capitalisation? Fuck’em…I like the capitol red “A” symbol. It represents Atheist just fine…not atheist…so I’m gonna keep it…but it’s just a personal thing. The word christ is just a translation for  messiah (or mashiach), it only gets capitalised when it is given undeserved respect by the deluded…well two can play at that shite. Why is Muslim capitalised? Why is Mormonism capitalised ? Marxism? ..it’s just my own idiosyncratic personal foible….like my Igtheism…no biggy and very pedantic I know, but the badge is defo a scarlet capital ‘A’. 

    I do note that you seem to have the same foible though EnthusiasticAtheist.
     

  34. {Pedant mode}[BTW, there's no apostrophe in either 'Anti-Theists' or 'Atheists']

    Good call…just being able to think after an all night session was a challenge, let alone accurate grammar…it was probably harder to put the bugger in than omit it, but I accept your observation and stand suitably corrected. Cheers.

  35. Tenacious, aren’t we?

    Now, I’m going to try to explain all of this very slowly. Militant atheism was central to the ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and a high priority of all Soviet leaders who were convinced atheists were considered to be more virtuous individuals than those of religious belief. Marxism-Leninism has consistently advocated the control, suppression, and, ultimately, the elimination of religious beliefs. A significant part ofMarxist ideology as interpreted by Lenin and his successors, including Stalin, dictated putting an end to all religion and replacing it with atheism.

    All of this is covered in:

    Dimitry Pospielovsky A History of Marxist-Leninist Atheism and Soviet Antireligious Policies (New York: St. Martins Press, 1987)

    Bohdan Bociurkiw, “Religion and Atheism in Soviet Society,” in Aspects of Religion in Soviet Society by Richard Marshall (Chicago Press. 1971)

    Arto Luukkaiicn, The Party of Unbelief  (SMS, 1994)

    James Thrower Marxist Leninist “Scienfific-Atheism” and the Study of Religion and Atheism in the USSR (Berlhi-Ainsterdam: Mouton Publishers, 1983)

    In the first five years after the Bolshevik revolution, it was estimated that 28 bishops and 1,215 priests were executed. However, recently released evidence indicates over 8,000 were killed by 1922. Some actions against Orthodox priests and believers along with execution included torture being sent to prison camps, labour camps or mental hospitals. Many Orthodox, along with peoples of other faiths, were also subjected to psychological punishment or torture and mind control experimentation in order to force them give up their religious convictions (for example see activities at Pitesti Prison in Romania).

    Also have a read of:

    Richard Pipes. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. (Vintage Books, 1994)

    Anti-Communist Priest Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/

    Dumitru Bacu, The Anti-Humans: Student Re-Education in Romanian Prisons, Soldiers of the Cross, (Englewood, Colorado, 1971).

    Specific anti-religious propaganda publications began in 1922, such as Yemelyan Yaroslavsky’s Bezbozhnik (Atheist), which would later form the basis for the League of the Militant Godless. Public institutions worked to remove religious views from intellectuals and academia. Lenin called the struggle to disseminate atheism ‘the cause of our state’. Lenin’s unequivocally hostile intolerance towards religious belief became a distinctive feature of Soviet Atheism. As Lenin said:

    ‘militancy and irreconcilability towards all forms of idealism and religion. And that means that materialism organically readies that consequence and perfection which in the language of philosophy is called—-militant atheism.” William van den Bercken, Ideology of Militant Atheism in The SovietUnion (New York:1989). 123.

    Stalin merely continued the militant atheist cause left over from Lenin. Formed in 1926, the League of the Militant Godless (LMG), also known as the League of Militant Atheists, was the main instrument of Stalin’s anti-religious campaign and it was given special powers that allowed it to dictate to public institutions throughout the country what they needed to do for the campaign. After 1929 and through the 1930s, the closing of churches, mass arrests of the clergy and religiously active laity, and persecution of people for attending church reached unprecedented proportions. The LMG employed terror tactics against believers in order to further the campaign. Official propaganda at the time called for the banishment of the very concept of God from the Soviet Union. These persecutions were meant to assist the ultimate goal of eliminating religion. From 1932-1937 Stalin declared the ‘five year plans of atheism’ and the LMG was charged with completely eliminating all religious expression in the country. The LMG aided the Soviet government in killing clergy and committed believers. The League also made it a priority to remove religious icons from the homes of believers. Under the slogan, “the Storming of Heaven,” the LMG pressed for “resolute action against religious peasants” leading to the mass arrest and exile of many believers, especially village priests.

    A good book on LMG is

    Daniel Peris. Storming the Heavens: The Soviet League of the Militant Godless. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998)

    Also see

    Theodore R. Weeks , Across the Revolutionary Divide: Russia and the USSR, 1861-1945 (Blackwell 2011)

    http://books.google.co.uk/book

    Exact figures of victims are difficult to calculate, but during 1937 and 1938, church documents record 168,300 priests and bishops were arrested. Of these, over 100,000 were shot. By 1940, many others died in Soviet prisons and the Gulag. Some have come up with figures of 200,000 dead.

    For some stats have a look at

    Alexander N. Yakovlev A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia. (Yale University Press 2002)..pp. 165.

    http://books.google.com/books?….

    But, of course, none of this could have had anything to do with atheism.

  36. James Martin
    Tenacious, aren’t we?

    Now, I’m going to try to explain all of this very slowly. Militant atheism was central to the ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and a high priority of all Soviet leaders who were convinced atheists were considered to be more virtuous individuals than those of religious belief.

    Now, I’m going to try to explain all of this very slowly.

    Militant COMMUNISM was central to the ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and a high priority of all Soviet leaders who were ALSO convinced atheists –
     - and hence were not committed to, or associated with, the religious/ royalist opponents of the revolution or embroiled in alternative theist ideologies.

    Many communists/Marxists/Stalinists were atheists and many were male!

    IT IS ILLOGICAL TO TRY TO PRETEND THE CONVERSE IS TRUE! 
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    … . .who were convinced
    atheists were considered to be more virtuous individuals than those of
    religious belief.

    ATHEIST – lacking belief in gods and dogmatic religious ideologies.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    Mmmmmm!  Why would someone purging alternative ideologies prefer atheists who (miltantly??!!) did not possess such ideologies ??? – Not a hard question really!
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    Exact figures of victims are difficult to calculate, but during 1937 and 1938, church documents record 168,300 priests and bishops were
    arrested.

    .. and non of these were friends, relatives, associates,  or political supporters of the aristocracy or opposing the revolution or preaching against the communists ???????

    … or just caught up in Stalin’s psychotic purges of the establishment, the military, and the citizenship???

    The concept of “militant non-stamp-collectors”, comes to mind!

  37. Hi James,

    That is an interesting article (split into several in order, or so it would appear, to avoid Wikipedia’s standards procedures).  Note the two warnings on the first article:

     - “This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source” (unresolved since October 2012)

     - “The neutrality of this article is disputed” (also unresolved since October 2012)

    I’m someone who strongly refutes some of that article.  My Wife was born in the Russia of the former Soviet Union and was brought up a Christian.  She has described to me how her Mother and most of her village was also brought up Orthodox Christian.

    That would mean religious liberty was commonplace in the Soviet Union at least as far back as 1940.  The claim that an anti-religious campaign continued until 1991 is a gross falsehood.

    In addition, we should note that the Orthodox Church was highly politicised and attempts to separate out attacks against churchmen during the revolution (which was not brought fully to a close until the mid 1930s) and label them specific attacks on religion are highly likely to be inaccurate.

    Finally; I owned an Atlas published in the 1970s that listed Communism as a religion.

    Communism is a very good religion in many ways: Dogmatic, an emphasis on in-group / out-group psychiatry, jealous of rivals, holy books (Das Capital, The Communist Manifesto, etc.), a claim to be greater than any one nation (The International: “the working class has no country” & “Proletarians of all countries, unite!”), coercive, a privileged congregation (the Party), a priesthood (the apparatchiks), saints (dead former leaders), angels (heroes of the Soviet), claims to be the root of all morality, and a godhead (Chairman & President – only one short of a Trinity), violent tendencies when in the ascendant (Gulag, the ‘Disappeared’, etc.), controlling (complete control of the press, blasphemy laws, everything is forbidden until allowed by the anointed, KGB, no personal ownership, etc.) and a claim to be transcendent.

    On that basis any disputes between those of a Christian or Muslim faith and Communists would appear to be inter-religious – not anti-religious.

    Peace.

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