The new spate of books declaring the glories of atheism charge that
religion in general and Christianity in particular have brought untold sorrow
and misery to the human race. What will set things right, in their judgment, is
a godless, religion-free civilization where peace and goodness will reign. Richard
Dawkins writes, “What matters is… whether atheism systematically influences
people to do bad things. There is not the smallest evidence that it does.” Atheistic
individuals may do bad things, but “they don’t do evil things in the name of atheism.” Once God and
religion have been banished from the planet, a reign of reason and science will
introduce a paradise far superior to any “pie in the sky” offered by ancient
mythology. Or so we are led to believe by people who boast that they are “brights,” as opposed to the ignorant
majority still clinging to religion.

Ah, but what does the atheist say about Hitler, Stalin, and Mao? They
were self-declared atheists, and they murdered more than 100 million people. And
then there was Communist Pol Pot, who killed as many as 2 million of his
countrymen in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. Fidel Castro and Kim Jong-il are
of the same bent. And how tolerant and benevolent were the atheists of, say,
the French Revolution or the Spanish Civil War? They were often killers, their
targets being Christians.

The way out of this problem for the atheists is to claim that the great
mass murderers of the recent past were not really atheists. Sam Harris claims
that Stalinism and Maoism were each “little more than political religion.” Christopher
Hitchens suggests that Stalin and Mao offered their followers a substitute
religion, and therefore one can’t blame atheism for their atrocities. Some
atheists claim that Hitler was really a Christian who never renounced his

This line of historical argument just won’t wash. Dines D’Souza, in his
book What’s
So Great About Christianity
, asks “Should religion now be responsible not
only for its own crimes but also for the crimes committed by atheists on behalf
of atheist ideologies?” In fact, Stalin and Mao made their atheism crystal
clear. Ask the millions of Christians who suffered at their hands. (Millions of
Christians are still in hiding in Communist China.) Hitler was intensely
anti-religious. Privately, he hoped that Germany would be “immunized against
this disease” of the Christian faith. Nazis cracked down on churches, the
clergy, and the faithful in every way, including murder, earning the
condemnation of Pope Pius XII. Check the record of the killing of Polish
Catholics at Dachau, including 4,154 priests, 2,365 religious, 283 nuns, and 13

The slaughter by atheist regimes was done in the belief that science and
materialism were so vastly superior that those who believed in the supernatural
and divine law had to be eliminated to sustain and increase human progress. The
Nazis employed the writings of atheist Friedrich Nietzsche, who hated
Christianity just as intensely as did Karl Marx.

Dinesh D’Sousa concludes, “Whatever the cause for why atheist regimes do
what they do, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put
together have in three thousand years not managed to kill anywhere near the
number of people killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades…. Atheism,
not religion, is responsible for the worst mass murders of history.”

Well, what about the crusades, the Inquisition, the witch trials? Looking
at the data carefully, D’Sousa concludes, “these deaths caused by Christian
rulers over a five-hundred-year period amount to only 1 percent of the deaths
caused by Stalin, Hitler and Mao in the space of a few decades.”

But aren’t human beings naturally good? And aren’t they capable of
acting reasonably in every situation once rid of the superstitions that thwart
their inclinations? Rousseau believed that, and a great many people on the Left
take the point of view with great seriousness. It’s a tragic error. The
Judeo-Christian teaching of the sinfulness of man is the beginning of wisdom
about the human race. History offers us an abundance of evidence.

Indeed, where exactly in the record of human conduct do we look for the
completely rational and scientific models that atheists contend will guide us to
utopia? How about university faculty meetings? There is your big laugh for the
day. Indeed, can anyone cite anything led by the “brights” that has produced
any approximation of the love, peace, forgiveness, joy, and hope enjoyed by
billions of Christians over the centuries?

Atheists want to run the world. What can they boast of their ideology’s
achievements beyond the Soviet gulags, the Nazi concentration camps, and the graves
of millions of others around the globe who stood in the path of their “liberators”?
Since so many atheists hold abortion to be a sacred right, they may well boast
of the tens of millions of babies “objective reason” has sentenced to death. Here
is a record to ponder.

Thomas C. Reeves writes from Wisconsin. Among
his dozen books are Twentieth Century America: A Brief History, and biographies
of John F. Kennedy, Joseph R. McCarthy, Fulton Sheen, Walter J. Kohler, Jr and
Chester A. Arthur.

Thomas C. Reeves writes from Wisconsin. Among his dozen books are Twentieth Century America: A Brief History, and biographies of John F. Kennedy, Joseph R. McCarthy, Fulton Sheen, Walter...