Atheism vs. Theism email debate part 1

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So a couple weeks ago, someone commented on my true story, Middle Finger Justice (a story about someone from my childhood who kinda went a little crazy over someone flipping off her kids). Here was his first comment:

Saying that these individuals were motivated by “Christ” (the guy who said “love your enemies”) is ludicrous.

So I responded by saying,

What are you basing your theory on? If they were not motivated by their religion and spiritual perspective, then what was their motivation? Can you give examples of non-religious individuals behaving this way?

So then he wrote me this email, but for some reason didn’t post it as a comment:

Question #1:

I’m basing my “theory” (more like my thoughts) on the fact that that lady (your childhood friend’s mom) absolutely does not have an accurate knowledge of “Christ-ian” teaching (both in theology and practice) and probably should be admitted to the psych ward. For her to say crap like “if someone is giving my kid the middle finger, they’re cursing them to hell”, she’s seriously deluded.

I agree with you, you certainly do know some “interesting people”.

Question #2:

Her motivation sounds like extremist, quasi-Christain militia BS. I would say she came from either an ultra abusive or ultra conservative (probably no less abusive mentally, emotionally or physically) background. SO, most of her motivation would come from the anger/abuse that she’s been “discipled in”. Her view of God/spirituality/life has all been misconstrued/twisted by the lack of love (or even sanity) that she’s experienced in her life. I’d guess that’d most likely be her (and his) motivation. And obviously!… they (or at least he) needed to go to the psych ward because of the “voices in his head” telling them to do evil things.

Question #3:Have you read any historical books, the newspaper or watched tv? There’s tons of people motivated to do evil things that aren’t “religious”. Take Stalin for example (or any other atheistic/communistic dictator), he was motivated by his atheism (even Darwinism) to view people as mere animals (no intrinsic worth), and ensure systematic genocide of millions people. Atheism/nihilism asserts that there are no moral absolutes, no meaning to life, the universe is just one big mistake (and we’re extremely insignificant mistakes within it), and thus, we’re ultimately just clumps of cells/matter. No more, no less. What’s the difference between killing one million ants as I step on an ant hill or one million people – in the end they’re both just bunches of matter (that we subjectively value differently). And this universe is just going to fizzle out into nothingness, so what’s the big deal if people die a little early, in the end it won’t matter anyways. Stalin (and anyone who takes atheism/nihilism seriously) knew this and I think it can motivate people to do evil things.

Now, that’s one (probably poorly argued) example of how a dogmatic atheism can bring about tremendous evil. I think there’s tons of irreligious people that do evil things everyday as well.

So, my answer is: yes. Charles Manson. Joseph Stalin. (people either “irreligious” or outright atheist) ect…

Though I obviously don’t agree with everything (or a lot of stuff) on this site, here’s a graph to sort of get perspective on “religiously” motivated violence vs. “non-religiously” motivated violence:

And I replied with:

Hey, thanks so much for replying. Some interesting stuff to think about. Do you mind if I post this as a new blog entry in the next couple days and respond a little more in depth? Obviously I’ll leave your name/email off.

The Charles Manson thing is easy, just do a Google search for “charles manson religion” and you find a bunch of theories about his Scientology and believing he’s Jesus and whatnot. Stalin, and some of the other points you made, are gonna be a bit more complicated to talk about 🙂

Now, he wrote me a few more emails and I actually responded to those. I intend to post those as well, but I kinda got distracted with moving apartments (I moved across town to avoid the 40 minute drive) and with his other emails and it’s taken me some time to get back to this, but I’ll put up a response to this in my next entry.

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