Setting aside the language used in Sherlock's article which betrays his anti-Christian bigotry; and setting aside his obviously abysmal knowledge of history; I would like to focus on three aspects of his article which I have found to be prevalent among atheists. The first are his claims regarding Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot.
Adolf Hitler Was A Christian
Was Hitler really a Christian? Although atheists have found it popular to say yes, the historical facts say no. Atheists are correct in saying Hitler grew up in a Roman Catholic family, however, all available sources seem to indicate he was not very interested in Roman Catholicism, nor any faith for that matter. His participation in the Roman Catholic church were due to his mother's insistence. Once he was away from home and out from under his mother's care, he abandoned the church, and was never again a participant in any Roman Catholic rites.
As he grew into adulthood, Hitler was known as an irreligious man, one who openly despised what he considered the weakness of Christianity. He was, in fact, more attracted to Islam than Christianity due to Islam's propensity for expansion into other countries, conquering as it did so. Albert Speer, a close associate of Hitler, stated that Hitler complained about Christianity, calling it meek and flabby; and saying he would have preferred Islam to be the common religion among Germans, saying it was “more compatible.”
Hitler was enamored with Friedrich Nietzsche, the German anti-Christian philosopher, and became friends with Nietzsche's sister, Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche. He was known to hold to Nietzsche's disdain of Christianity, and was quoted by his close associates calling Christianity and “absurdity,” and “an invention of sick brains;” similar to how today's anti-theists refer to Christianity. The same anti-theists who claim Hitler was a Christian
What atheists seem to forget, whether intentionally or not is a matter of speculation, is that Hitler was a politician and a master propagandist. He realized that Christianity was the common religion among Germans, and he considered Christianity, and religion in general, as something to be manipulated to achieve his goals, and that is precisely what he did. By 1933 he had taken control of the German Evangelical Church, requiring it conform to his ideology. When some from the German Evangelical Church broke away and attempted to re-instill biblical principles in the church, Hitler began brutally persecuting and suppressing them.
While Hitler was not an atheist, at least not in the sense of classic atheism, he did hold to and express ideas about religion, and particularly Christianity, that were similar to those found in atheism. More importantly, however, is the fact that Hitler's statements to his close associates, coupled with his extreme anti-Christian actions and behaviors, make it crystal clear that he could not, in any way, be considered a Christian.
Pol Pot Was Not An Atheist
Sherlock, and other atheists, claim that Pol Pot was not an atheist, but was actually a Buddhist. To the extent that as a young child he attended a Theravada Buddhist monastery, this is true. However, Sherlock, and other atheists, conveniently forget that Buddhism denies the existence of God, and is therefore, an atheistic religion. That, however, has no bearing on whether or not Pol Pot was actually an atheist, as by the early 1950's he had joined a communist cell and had become an ardent atheist.
By 1963, Pol Pot had become the leader of the Khmer Rouge. A position he held until 1997. From 1963 to 1981, he served as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, and as such, he became the leader of Cambodia in April 1975, serving as the Prime Minister of of Democratic Kampuchea from 1976 to 1979 when he lost his war with Vietnam.
During Pol Pot's four years as the leader of Cambodia, the formerly Buddhist country officially became an atheist country. As such, all religion was banned, and Pol Pot's persecution of all religions was both brutal and extensive. He harassed and repressed and executed all adherents of Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. He ordered the evacuation of Buddhist monasteries, the desecration of their pagodas, sacred texts and images, and he attempted to eradicate all vestiges of Buddhism from Cambodia, sending most of the monks into forced labor camps, and executing nearly 25,000 Buddhist monks.
As a direct result of Pol Pot's zealous atheism, upwards of 3,000,000 people died, according to U.N. sources. Yes, he was an atheist, and yes, people suffered and died because of it.
Although Stalin Was An Atheist, He Adopted A Christian Inspired Anti-Semitism
This position, which has been adopted by many atheists is, at best, anti-Christian propaganda; and, it is based on a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of Christianity and the Bible. If the atheists who propagate this nonsense actually took the time to read the Bible, and made even the slightest effort to understand what they were reading, they would realize there is absolutely no anti-Semitism in Christianity. Based on the mindset of most atheists, however, this will not happen. In order to support their claim of anti-Semitism in the New Testament and in Christianity, they point to a number of New Testament passages. These passages include:
John 5:16 - “For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.”
John 7:1 - “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.”
John 7:13 - “However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.”
John 8:44 (atheists claim Jesus was referring to all Jews) - “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
John 19:7 - “The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
John 19:12 - “From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, 'If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.'”
Matthew 27:24-25 - “When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, 'I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.' And all the people answered and said, 'His blood be on us and on our children.'”
Acts 7:51-52 - “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,”
Titus 1:10-11 - “For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.”
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 - “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.”
Revelation 3:9 - “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”
According to atheists, the passages in John and Matthew and Acts accuse the Jews, all Jews of that time period, of being responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. This conclusion can only be arrived at by cherry picking verses for the express purpose of supporting a presuppositional bias. If the reader goes beyond the specific passages, and reads them in context – just as any other non-fiction book is read – it quickly becomes clear these passages refer not to all Jews, but specifically to the Jewish political and religious leaders of the day who viewed Jesus as a threat to their power and authority, and therefore sought to eliminate Him. The “multitude” referred to in Matthew 27:24-25, is the crowd of rabble rousers employed by those same Jewish leaders. The fact that virtually all of Jesus' followers at this time consisted of Jews, it would make absolutely no sense for Jesus, or Matthew, to be referring to all Jews. In the Acts passage, all one has to do is look at the beginning of the chapter to see that Stephen is speaking to the High Priest, and is not referring to all Jews, but only to the Jewish leaders, just as Jesus and Matthew are doing on those verses. Clearly, the atheists who use these verses to support their false accusations of anti-Semitism in the New Testament, have done no research and have made no attempt to understand these verses properly. They simply want to find something, anything, to support their presuppositional bias.
The atheists claims the Titus passage refers to the so-called Christian anti-Semitic belief that all Jews are obsessed with money and must be stopped; however, the context clearly refers to those who are legalistic and impose their legalistic requirements on others, while not adhering to those same requirements themselves. In other words, the Apostle is referring to those who follow the Jewish leaders, and not the Jews as a whole.
They then go on to imply that Paul was stating the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was punishment from God for killing Jesus. The primary problem with their interpretation is that Paul wrote that epistle almost 20 years before Rome sacked Jerusalem! Again, the context of the passage provides the proper interpretation. The wrath Paul is speaking of is the wrath guaranteed for anyone who dies in a state of rejection of Jesus.
Finally, the atheists make a huge stretch, and claim the Revelation passage is claiming that the Jews were secretly demon-worshipers. If their interpretation wasn't so sad, it would be laughable. The passage clearly states they are not Jews! The context shows that those who were claiming to be Jews (people of God) but really were not, were those who had falsely converted to Christianity, were professing to be Christians, but were living in open sin; sin that included persecuting the true Christians.
Those who propagate these atheistic lies do themselves a disservice, as they are openly demonstrating their intellectual dishonesty, their ignorance of biblical understanding, and their wanton unwillingness to actually take the time to do the most basic research necessary to accurately understand the true meanings of these passage.
Now, back to Jozef Stalin.
Stalin was an atheist. In fact, he was an adherent of the Marxist-Leninist brand of atheism that gave birth to communism in the Soviet Union. To understand this communistic atheism, and by extension, Stalin's atheism, one need look no further than the comments made by Marx and Lenin themselves.
“The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.” – Karl Marx
“Atheism is a natural and inseparable part of Marxism, of the theory and practice of scientific socialism.” – Vladimir Lenin
“Religion is one of the forms of spiritual oppression which everywhere weighs down heavily upon the masses of the people, over burdened by their perpetual work for others, by want and isolation... Those who toil and live in want all their lives are taught by religion to be submissive and patient while here on earth, and to take comfort in the hope of a heavenly reward... Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man. ...Everyone must be absolutely free to profess...to be an atheist, which every socialist is, as a rule. ...We demand complete disestablishment of the Church so as to be able to combat the religious fog.... But we founded our association, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, precisely for such a struggle against every religious bamboozling of the workers.” – Vladimir Lenin
Clearly, atheism played a crucial role in the development of Marxist-Leninist communism, and just as clearly, Marxist-Leninist communism advocated the abolition of religion and the acceptance of atheism. But how did this view of atheist versus religion affect Lenin's protege, Jozef Stalin? While there aren't many Stalin quotes regarding atheism or religion, there is one, recorded in the Russian language daily Soviet newspaper, Moskovskie novosti. Stalin was quoted as saying,
One of Ivan the Terrible's mistakes was to overlook the five great feudal families. If he had annihilated those five families, there would definitely have been no Time of Troubles. But Ivan the Terrible would execute someone and then spend a long time repenting and praying. God got in his way in this matter. He ought to have been still more decisive!
Soviet Russia was an atheist state, one in which religion was not only pointedly discouraged, but at times, heavily persecuted. To help achieve the removal of all religion from Soviet Russia during Stalin's rule, the League of Militant Atheists was created. Headed by Emel'ian Yaroslavskii, the league operated between 1929 and 1947, with the express purpose of the promotion of atheism and the extermination of religion in all its manifestations.
During Stalin's atheist inspired communist reign, approximately 20,000,000 people died between the starvation of the Ukraine and forced collectivisation, the gulags, and the purges.
In addition to Pol Pot and Stalin, other atheist inspired communist leaders directly caused the deaths of millions more. Among them are:
Mao Tse-tung: 40 million
Mengistu Haile Mariam (Leader of Ethiopia, 1977-91): 1,500,000
Leonid Brezhnev (Afghanistan, 1979-1982): 900,000
Josip Broz Tito (Yugoslavia, 1945-1980): 570,000
Ho Chi Min (Vietnam, 1953-56): 200,000
French Revolution/Reign of Terror: 40,000
Vladimir Ilich Lenin (USSR, 1917-20): 30,000 (dissidents executed)
Fidel Castro (Cuba, 1959-1999): 30,000
Slobodan Milosevic (Yugoslavia, 1992-98): 28,000
and the Kim family of dictators in North Korea: close to 1,000,000
This leaves an approximate total of 67,298,000 people dead, who's deaths can be directly attributed to atheist inspired communism.
The atheists primary defense to this historical fact, is, that none of these people were killed because of atheism, but rather for political reasons. This defense simply doesn't apply though. As we have already seen, Marxist-Leninist communism was a direct result of, and heavily influenced by, atheism. If these atheist dictators were not atheists, then they would not have been Marxist-Leninist communists, and if they had not been communists, they would not have caused the more than 67 million deaths.
Atheists will invariably point to the “harsh reality of the brutality” of Christianity (to use Sherlock's words), claiming millions of people have died at the hands of Christianity. Is their claim true? It is estimated that 1,700,000 people died as a direct result of the Crusades which were instituted by the Roman Catholic church. In addition to this approximately 125,000 died as a result of the Roman Catholic Inquisition. Well, that is a grand total of 1,825,000 people dead at the hands of the Roman Catholic church. That's a far cry from the more than 67 million people dead due to atheism. Even if we just arbitrarily throw in another 1, 2, 3, 4, or even 5 million more just because we want to make the Roman Catholic church look really, really bad (which we don't actually want to do), that brings the grand total up to 9,825,000 dead, and that is still less than 15% the number of dead caused by atheism.
The second aspect of Sherlock's article (and the subsequent atheist arguments that subscribe to it) is this issue of who is actually responsible for those deaths ascribed to Christians. Were those 1,825,000 (or 9,825,000) people actually killed by Christians? And that we can definitively answer, no.
When attacking Christianity, atheists invariably fall into the Straw Man Fallacy. Because they do not understand Christianity, or the Bible, or God; they are unable to formulate a realistic argument against Christianity. Instead, they must rely on their misunderstanding of Christianity, and in doing so, they build a straw man based on their misunderstanding, and the result is a misrepresentation of Christianity. It is this misrepresentation they attack and refute, while at the same time, actually saying nothing about true Christianity.
Atheists will, when presented with this fact, almost always claim Christians are employing the No True Scotsman Fallacy. However, since Scripture provides an established objective definition as to what a Christian is and is not, we can legitimately say that no true Christian would or will engage Crusades or Inquisitions such as the Roman Catholic Inquisition; as both are antithetical to biblical Christianity.
And this brings me to the final aspect of Sherlock's article, and that is what is glaringly missing from it. While atheists and Christians can stand on opposite sides of the fence and point fingers at one another, hurling statistics at one another, it is an exercise in futility for both sides, for neither side will give a single inch for the other when it comes to the issue of which side has caused the most deaths. To illustrate my point, I will provide even more statistics:
How many deaths is Adolf Hitler responsible for? 12,000,000 (concentration camps and civilians deliberately killed in WWII plus 3 million Russian POWs left to die).
How many deaths is Hinduism responsible for? Millions
How many deaths is Islam responsible for? Millions
How many people have died as the result of war and torture and murder and neglect? Untold billions
Add all these totals together, and you have the total number of people who have died as a direct result of abandoning biblical Christianity – the one religion that garners the most vehement and vitriolic hatred among unbelievers. War, torture, murder, and neglect are all antithetical to Christianity because they are in direct opposition to the two greatest commandments of Jesus: to love the Lord God with all one's heart, mind, soul, and strength; and to love one's neighbor as oneself. This is what atheism, and Islam, and Hinduism, and every unbeliever is in opposition to. This is what atheists rail against. This is what non-Christian religions and unbeliever activist groups want to stamp out; all because they fervently believe that loving God and loving ones neighbor are horrible ideas to live by.
So all around the world, daily, they actively persecute us, regulate us, argue against us, lie about us, and kill us. With that much hate in their hearts, it's no wonder they can't stand the thought of true biblical love.
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