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Are atheists responsible for atrocities?

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It is an often heard refrain among less well informed Christians that Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin (those slightly more knowledgeable sometimes add Pol Pot and Mao Zedong) were atheists and that their atheism led them to commit atrocities resulting in the deaths of millions of people, others might also add seconardy characters such as Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung, and Enver Hoxha that banned religion. These claims are demonstrably false.

It is contested that many of these historical figures were atheist in the first place. See:

Even if it is uncontested that many of these people were atheist. There is no evidence to indicate their lack of belief in God motivated their behavior. The primary influences that led to their atrocities were not atheism but their dogmatic Marxism and other political and social ideas.

Using theist logic, Hitler and Stalin had mustaches. So perhaps having a mustache may indicate someone is a genocidal maniac? No. Correlation does not equal causation.

We see that in none of these cases could atheism be made to "take the blame" for the atrocities committed by these men.

  • There is no "atheist doctrine" which would dictate, suggest or condone any such immoral activities
  • There is no evidence whatsoever to indicate any of these historical figures' atheism had any bearing whatsoever on their actions

See Also


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