Thursday, September 04, 2008

Doggerel #162: "Our Side Killed Fewer People!"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

One of the classic evasion tactics is to claim that one philosophy, theory, or whatever killed more people. Like most everything woos say, this is a subject change. Whether you like it or not, it's quite possible that truth is harsh. Whether or not that truth ends up encouraging people to kill doesn't change its truth value. That's the main point, but I feel like some elaboration.

I have a hard time conceiving of a hypothetical truth that demands such violent action beyond the usual raging deity in need of pacification. Yet fundies are quite eager to assign that sort of thing to us skeptics/atheists/scientists/whatever with cries of "Communists!" "Hitler!" and the like. Of course, they'll have a hard time finding anyone in my circle sympathizing with Stalin, and more than one who'll compare Creationism to Stalin's favorite woo, Lysenkoism. Heck, I'm sure all my readers have stories where they tried and failed to convince a fundie that murder, torture, slavery, etcetera are wrong, and even more handy quotes from fundies who denounce atheists as evil for allegedly endorsing all those things one minute and calling for them in the next breath.

Of course, there are not-psychotic religious people out there, and I recommend they save their harshest words for the fundies, since abnormal tolerance for the people who act like the Inquisitors of old tends to undermine claims to moral high ground. In the unlikely event you bump into someone on my "side," calling for equally psychotic action, tell me. I've got some harsh things to say to them, myself.


Anonymous said...

I've only met a few like that. Historically there are a few examples of those who are atheist and also happen to be murderers. There's a difference in causation, in that no atheist that I've heard of has run around killing people in the name of no-god. (Though, I think Stalin did kill those who professed a faith rather than the state atheism, I guess that's the closest it comes, and of course it's still evil.) All it shows is being an atheist makes one no MORE moral than a religious person, in and of itself, but also no less moral.

These days, the extremely small number of atheists I meet or read stuff from online who have what I'd call a reprehensible moral outlook are almost invariably Objectivists of some flavor or another.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, forgot to add my name to that above.