One argument trotted out by theists, ad nauseam, is the old “Stalin was an atheist who killed more people than ,insert genocidal theist here>”. It’s a paltering justification of theist crimes against humanity, as if pointing out that Stalin was a genocidal lunatic somehow negates the blood soaked lunacy of religions.
It’s plainly silly, because not only are such theists treating atheism as if it’s a belief system, but they are also admitting that the activities of the various theistic murderers are criminal and immoral acts.
Stalin exploited a populace already well used to bending the knee to a theistic overseer, by setting himself up as something only slightly short of a god on Earth. His every word was law, he decided what was canon and what was heresy, he declared miracles and he ended up condemning over 26 million Russian people to death.
In effect, Stalin made communism into a religion.
The other boring claim is made regarding the religious convictions, or lack thereof, of Adolf Hitler, another quasi-religious dictator, who, whether he remained a Catholic or not, was more than happy to set himself up as an ultimate authority on Earth, and to exploit the servility of a predominantly Christian population.
As the late, great, Christopher Hitchens said in his later years, fascism and Roman Catholicism were largely indistinguishable from one another across Europe in the 20th century.
So, both Hitler and Stalin were religious figures, whether or not they were atheists, they acted like theistic dictators, I suspect that atheism for them was simply born of a desire not to have any competition for the affection and loyalty of their people.
Small wonder, then, that theists, particularly Christians, are swift to try to distance their belief systems from such monstrous men, and why Christians will often insist that Catholics are not Christians, which makes me crack a smile every time, they worship the same deity, same prophet, have a holy book that’s pretty much the same damn thing, and both spring from the same toxic root, the Old Testament.
Judaism is no more true or just than any other mythology, and I strongly object to the mutilation of the genitals of children.
I am in agreement with Hitchens on this point too, indeed, it was a video where he criticises circumcision for religious reasons that snapped me out of my theism, adults can have their foreskin cut off any time they like, they have the right to have their wedding tackle sawn away with the blunt end of a toothbrush for all I care, but to surgically remove a baby’s foreskin, for no good reason, is a disgusting act and should be stopped.
This is not the point where I begin denying the holocaust, or the various pogroms and anti-Semitic massacres inflicted upon the Jewish people, it’s a justifiable criticism of what I regard as child abuse in the name of religion.
That digression aside, back to genocide.
The point of using Stalin, or Hitler, as an example, is to insinuate that atheism is not only a belief system, which it clearly is not, but one which is no better than a religious belief. As if this somehow illustrates that theism makes you a better person.
If this were the case, then we would not have seen the Hutu of Rwanda massacre their Tutsi neighbours in one of the most Christian countries on the African continent, or the extermination of Serbs, or Saddam Hussein’s attacks on Kurds and Marsh Arabs.
In every case, theist forces have acted no better than the most bloodthirsty atheist dictator, so that the best you can say for theism is, that it doesn’t make you any worse, except that it can.
Delving just a little way into history will reveal theistic depravity, violence and prejudice, perpetrated by otherwise decent people, at the behest of vile religious leaders, many Germans were horrified at what their nation had done to Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and the disabled after WWII, but they had been swept along with the crowd, it’s what religion does.
It is also why atheist dictators get away with what they do, not by rejecting theism, but by learning from it, and exploiting its techniques to achieve their depraved goals.
With or without a supernatural deity, theism is a diseased meme, one which can be used by priest or unbeliever alike to garner power, control, wealth and to plumb the depths of depravity.
No gods required.