• Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Militant Atheism

Sorry, but that is anti-theism, not atheism... Sure, and again that is not atheism.

Adding the adjective militant modifies the word atheism. Now you can argue that anti-theism is a superior term, but most people in society (not here) don't focus on these issues enough to carefully differentiate to that degree.

They see an atheist presenting their views in a forceful and confrontational manner and term this person a militant atheist.

Militant atheism is a nonsense. There is no such thing. Nobody is motivated to violence by a belief they do not have.

As a concept, militant atheism is far from nonsensical, and it does exist because we are talking about it and words gain meaning from context. It's probably not a term that I would use purposely, but it conveys a pretty clear concept.

'Militant atheists' are motivated by a belief they have; the belief that religion is harmful to society. Religious parents are even characterised as 'child abusers', and few labels are more likely to incite hatred than that.

The militant atheist projects their atheism as part of a political ideology, and political ideologies may well lead to violence now or in the future.


Yes,,,,, but he is doing it standing up against fanaticism in an academic manner.

Dawkins' atheism academic?

In general, it is polemical and far from academic.
 

Bunyip

pro scapegoat
Adding the adjective militant modifies the word atheism. Now you can argue that anti-theism is a superior term, but most people in society (not here) don't focus on these issues enough to carefully differentiate to that degree.
No, not a superior term - the correct term. As opposed to atheism.
They see an atheist presenting their views in a forceful and confrontational manner and term this person a militant atheist.
No. ISIS are militant. The IRA are militant. Being forceful and confrontational is not being militant.
As a concept, militant atheism is far from nonsensical, and it does exist because we are talking about it and words gain meaning from context. It's probably not a term that I would use purposely, but it conveys a pretty clear concept.

'Militant atheists' are motivated by a belief they have; the belief that religion is harmful to society.
That is anti-theism. I am an atheist and do not think religion is necessarily harmful.
Religious parents are even characterised as 'child abusers', and few labels are more likely to incite hatred than that.

The militant atheist projects their atheism as part of a political ideology, and political ideologies may well lead to violence now or in the future.




Dawkins' atheism academic?

In general, it is polemical and far from academic.
But hardly militant.
You are equating those maniacs beheading professors in Palmyra with a kindly old professor who wrote a book you dislike. That is not militancy. If you think Dawkins is a militant, you don't know what 'militant' means.
 

Laika

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Prophets claim God as the authority, Communism claim science is the authority.

I personally don't this is true of either case. However in this case, it is a battle over the authority to determine morality?

Got it in one! :) Communism believed that paradise on earth was the result of a scientific understanding of history, and that scientific understanding excluded the possibility of god's existence that would have thrown a spanner in the works. basically if god exists, it means man could not be master of nature or society as there is a 'higher power' interfering with the five year plan.

None of whom acted in the name of atheism, communism opposes religion because religion gets in the way of absolute adherence to the state, which communism requires. In fact, Joseph Stalin reopened the churches and used them late in the war. It's not atheism involved here at all.

Atheism is lack of belief in the existence of god. It does not ential ANY commitment to protect the civil liberties of believers or an ethic of non-violence, nor a commitment to the secular seperation of church and state or perscription against an offical state ideology. Communists were Atheists and there atheism cannot be seperated from their communism.

"It is our duty to destroy every religious world-concept... If the destruction of ten million human beings, as happened in the last war, should be necessary for the triumph of one definite class, then that must be done and it will be done." (Yaroslavsky, 1929, Second Congress of the Union of Belligerent (or Militant) Atheists).

The anti-religious campigns conducted by the state were a question of degrees rather than an absolute prohibition of religious belief within the USSR. no-one thought they could pass a law or decree that religion was banned and that it would work (unless they pretty much killed all the believers). rather they would fight it, both by scientific discovery advacing the understanding of nature and by widespread atheist education ('scientific atheism' courses were mandatory at universities in the 1950's in the USSR), and the social struggle against the church and the ruling class. there were periods of more intensive anti-religious campigns (the 1930's and the league of militant atheists is a good example) and periods of 'thawing' in offical policy such as during world war II.
 

Bunyip

pro scapegoat
Got it in one! :) Communism believed that paradise on earth was the result of a scientific understanding of history, and that scientific understanding excluded the possibility of god's existence that would have thrown a spanner in the works. basically if god exists, it means man could not be master of nature or society as there is a 'higher power' interfering with the five year plan.



Atheism is lack of belief in the existence of god. It does not ential ANY commitment to protect the civil liberties of believers or an ethic of non-violence, nor a commitment to the secular seperation of church and state or perscription against an offical state ideology. Communists were Atheists and there atheism cannot be seperated from their communism.

"It is our duty to destroy every religious world-concept... If the destruction of ten million human beings, as happened in the last war, should be necessary for the triumph of one definite class, then that must be done and it will be done." (Yaroslavsky, 1929, Second Congress of the Union of Belligerent (or Militant) Atheists).

The anti-religious campigns conducted by the state were a question of degrees rather than an absolute prohibition of religious belief within the USSR. no-one thought they could pass a law or decree that religion was banned and that it would work (unless they pretty much killed all the believers). rather they would fight it, both by scientific discovery advacing the understanding of nature and by widespread atheist education ('scientific atheism' courses were mandatory at universities in the 1950's in the USSR), and the social struggle against the church and the ruling class. there were periods of more intensive anti-religious campigns (the 1930's and the league of militant atheists is a good example) and periods of 'thawing' in offical policy such as during world war II.
Why then did Stalin establish the Russian Orthodox Church, 25, 000 of them i think? And why does the Chinese People's Party support religious observance? (Heck, the PRC have been building Churches over the last few years).
 

Laika

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Why then did Stalin establish the Russian Orthodox Church, 25, 000 of them i think? And why does the Chinese People's Party support religious observance? (Heck, the PRC have been building Churches over the last few years).

The Only country that openly banned religion in the communist bloc was Albania. (and possibly cambodia)

Article 37 of the Albanian Constitution of 1976 stipulated, "The State recognises no religion, and supports atheistic propaganda in order to implant a scientific materialistic world outlook in the people", and the penal code of 1977 imposed prison sentences of three to ten years for "religious propaganda and the production, distribution, or storage of religious literature."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Albania#Communist_Albania

1936 Soviet Constitution under Stalin.

ARTICLE 124. In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of antireligious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.
http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/36cons04.html#chap10
http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/36cons04.html#chap10

"Freedom of Religion" means something very different under a communist system to a western liberal one. This is because the notion of 'law' is not political neutral and is used as an instrument of class struggle. It is better to think of a communist system as dictatorial system of rule by law rather than the rule of law. The states actions, whatever they are, are rationalised in a legal framework. The state is assumed to be neutral in political conflicts under liberalism and so can therefore take a neutral position regards religious belief or non-belief. Under a Communist system, the state is not neutral but is consciously committed to a particular ideology- the law then becomes an instrument to further that ideology. So persecution of religion was 'legal' whilst at the same time it was 'legal' to have religious belief. (This is what Orwell meant by "doublethink" in 1984).

Liberal conceptions of law and right are based on 'natural law' in which our rights originate from a 'higher law' derived from human nature. As communists didn't believe in a higher power or human nature, the origin of law was wholly physical You didn't have "inalienable" rights "endowed by our creator". Soviet Legal theory stipulated that the law and a person's rights originated from the state and that it was up to the state to decide what rights people had.

The People's Republic of China continues to persecute religious believers whilst also gauranteeing them freedom of religion in the constitution. Just because the Communist Party has eased relations with churches and religious institutions does not mean they have given up the goal of an atheist society. To my knowledge, people continue to be sent to psychatric facilities for professing religious beliefs. This was widespread practice in China during the Cultural Revolution under Mao but has subsided. It still goes on though. Communist ideology does not make a hard distinction between "freedom" and "unfreedom" because freedom is relative to what the state can provide. crudely, freedom is the common property of society and therefore of the state- it is not the property of an individual as we would understand in terms of 'self-ownership'.
 

Bunyip

pro scapegoat
The Only country that openly banned religion in the communist bloc was Albania. (and possibly cambodia)

Article 37 of the Albanian Constitution of 1976 stipulated, "The State recognises no religion, and supports atheistic propaganda in order to implant a scientific materialistic world outlook in the people", and the penal code of 1977 imposed prison sentences of three to ten years for "religious propaganda and the production, distribution, or storage of religious literature."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Albania#Communist_Albania

1936 Soviet Constitution under Stalin.

ARTICLE 124. In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of antireligious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.
http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/36cons04.html#chap10

"Freedom of Religion" means something very different under a communist system to a western liberal one. This is because the notion of 'law' is not political neutral and is used as an instrument of class struggle. It is better to think of a communist system as dictatorial system of rule by law rather than the rule of law. The states actions, whatever they are, are rationalised in a legal framework. The state is assumed to be neutral in political conflicts under liberalism and so can therefore take a neutral position regards religious belief or non-belief. Under a Communist system, the state is not neutral but is consciously committed to a particular ideology- the law then becomes an instrument to further that ideology. So persecution of religion was 'legal' whilst at the same time it was 'legal' to have religious belief. (This is what Orwell meant by "doublethink" in 1984).

Liberal conceptions of law and right are based on 'natural law' in which our rights originate from a 'higher law' derived from human nature. As communists didn't believe in a higher power or human nature, the origin of law was wholly physical You didn't have "inalienable" rights "endowed by our creator". Soviet Legal theory stipulated that the law and a person's rights originated from the state and that it was up to the state to decide what rights people had.

The People's Republic of China continues to persecute religious believers whilst also gauranteeing them freedom of religion in the constitution. Just because the Communist Party has eased relations with churches and religious institutions does not mean they have given up the goal of an atheist society. To my knowledge, people continue to be sent to psychatric facilities for professing religious beliefs. This was widespread practice in China during the Cultural Revolution under Mao but has subsided. It still goes on though. Communist ideology does not make a hard distinction between "freedom" and "unfreedom" because freedom is relative to what the state can provide. crudely, freedom is the common property of society and therefore of the state- it is not the property of an individual as we would understand in terms of 'self-ownership'.
Which demonstrates that the link between atheism and communism is tenuous at best.
 
No, not a superior term - the correct term. As opposed to atheism. No. ISIS are militant. The IRA are militant. Being forceful and confrontational is not being militant. That is anti-theism. I am an atheist and do not think religion is necessarily harmful. But hardly militant.
You are equating those maniacs beheading professors in Palmyra with a kindly old professor who wrote a book you dislike. That is not militancy. If you think Dawkins is a militant, you don't know what 'militant' means.

Militant is commonly used in regard to 'forceful/confrontational/aggressive support for an idea' - a militant feminist for example. It is not limited to paramilitary style violence.

Don't blame me for that, blame common usage.

I wouldn't use the word due to it's unnecessary strong connotations of violent tactics or direct action, as you point out, but the word is not being used out with a common usage. Anyway, no point in quibbling about a word I wouldn't use.

The more important point was that many atheists want to have their cake and eat it by denying any legitimacy to any point that seeks to link atheism with any form of ideological belief. The 'atheism is only.....' argument. When atheism becomes an important tenet in an ideology, as per anti-theists, 'new' atheists, French Revolutionary members of the 'Cult of Reason', etc. it is legitimate to highlight atheism as a driving force behind their behaviour. Just as it is legitimate to highlight religion as a driving force behind behaviour.

The term Christian doesn't really convey anything more specific than atheist in terms of political outlook or worldview [I'm not talking normatively, but positively re those who self-identify as Christians], yet people are happy to use Christianity as a term of reference when criticising religion.

Passive, 'internal' atheism may arguably be apolitical. When it becomes expressed though it is a statement about the nature of the world, an opinion. The expression of atheism is, to some extent, an ideological statement. It is therefore reasonable to use atheism with a qualifying adjective, to highlight a certain political worldview.
 

Laika

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Which demonstrates that the link between atheism and communism is tenuous at best.

It depends on how you define atheism, but only if you include qualifications to atheism as "lack of belief" in god. Ludwig Feuerbach was an atheist and wrote The essence of Christianity which attempted to demonstrate the man created god. Feuerbach's arguments were materialist and was an atheist.

Religion is the relation of man to his own nature, – therein lies its truth and its power of moral amelioration; – but to his nature not recognised as his own, but regarded as another nature, separate, nay, contra-distinguished from his own: herein lies its untruth, its limitation, its contradiction to reason and morality; herein lies the noxious source of religious fanaticism, the chief metaphysical principle of human sacrifices, in a word, the prima materia of all the atrocities, all the horrible scenes, in the tragedy of religious history.


The contemplation of the human nature as another, a separately existent nature, is, however, in the original conception of religion an involuntary, childlike, simple act of the mind, that is, one which separates God and man just as immediately as it again identifies them. But when religion advances in years, and, with years, in understanding; when, within the bosom of religion, reflection on religion is awakened, and the consciousness of the identity of the divine being with the human begins to dawn, – in a word, when religion becomes theology, the originally involuntary and harmless separation of God from man becomes an intentional, excogitated separation, which has no other object than to banish again from the consciousness this identity which has already entered there.

Hence the nearer religion stands to its origin, the truer, the more genuine it is, the less is its true nature disguised; that is to say, in the origin of religion there is no qualitative or essential distinction whatever between God and man. And the religious man is not shocked at this identification; for his understanding, is still in harmony with his religion.


Karl Marx was not satisfied with Feuerbach's explanations and went on to develop a different form of materialism which was more logically consistent. It remains atheist inspite of the complex relationship between materialism, atheism and communism. I'm being selective as I want to try to show how you get from one position atheism/materialism to communism.

IV

Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the world into a religious world and a secular one. His work consists in resolving the religious world into its secular basis.


But that the secular basis detaches itself from itself and establishes itself as an independent realm in the clouds can only be explained by the cleavages and self-contradictions within this secular basis. The latter must, therefore, in itself be both understood in its contradiction and revolutionized in practice. Thus, for instance, after the earthly family is discovered to be the secret of the holy family, the former must then itself be destroyed in theory and in practice.

VI


Feuerbach resolves the religious essence into the human essence. But the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual.


In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations.


Feuerbach, who does not enter upon a criticism of this real essence, is consequently compelled:


  1. To abstract from the historical process and to fix the religious sentiment as something by itself and to presuppose an abstract – isolated – human individual.
  2. Essence, therefore, can be comprehended only as “genus”, as an internal, dumb generality which naturally unites the many individuals.

VII

Feuerbach, consequently, does not see that the “religious sentiment” is itself a social product, and that the abstract individual whom he analyses belongs to a particular form of society.



VIII
All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.

X
The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society, or social humanity.


XI
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.


In the early 20th century, Lenin challanged a view of communism that attempted to reconcile it with religion known as the "God-Builders" in his Materialism and Empiro-criticism. This book became the basis for Soviet Philosophy and was applied (rightly or wrongly) as the ideological basis to Soviet Science in order for it to be consistently materialist and therefore atheist.

"Marx and Engels were partisans in philosophy from start to finish, they were able to detect the deviations from materialism and concessions to idealism and fideism in each and every “new” tendency. They therefore appraised Huxley exclusively from the standpoint of his materialist consistency. They therefore rebuked Feuerbach for not pursuing materialism to the end, for renouncing materialism because of the errors of individual materialists, for combating religion in order to renovate it or invent a new religion, for being unable, in sociology, to rid himself of idealist phraseology and become a materialist."


Granted. Marxism is a very alien form of atheism to liberal traditions of scepticism and free thought, but it is atheism.
 

Bunyip

pro scapegoat
It depends on how you define atheism, but only if you include qualifications to atheism as "lack of belief" in god.
Correct. That is how I understand the term. And yes, that is the usage I am employing. I think that resolves our difference here right?
Ludwig Feuerbach was an atheist and wrote The essence of Christianity which attempted to demonstrate the man created god. Feuerbach's arguments were materialist and was an atheist.

Religion is the relation of man to his own nature, – therein lies its truth and its power of moral amelioration; – but to his nature not recognised as his own, but regarded as another nature, separate, nay, contra-distinguished from his own: herein lies its untruth, its limitation, its contradiction to reason and morality; herein lies the noxious source of religious fanaticism, the chief metaphysical principle of human sacrifices, in a word, the prima materia of all the atrocities, all the horrible scenes, in the tragedy of religious history.


The contemplation of the human nature as another, a separately existent nature, is, however, in the original conception of religion an involuntary, childlike, simple act of the mind, that is, one which separates God and man just as immediately as it again identifies them. But when religion advances in years, and, with years, in understanding; when, within the bosom of religion, reflection on religion is awakened, and the consciousness of the identity of the divine being with the human begins to dawn, – in a word, when religion becomes theology, the originally involuntary and harmless separation of God from man becomes an intentional, excogitated separation, which has no other object than to banish again from the consciousness this identity which has already entered there.

Hence the nearer religion stands to its origin, the truer, the more genuine it is, the less is its true nature disguised; that is to say, in the origin of religion there is no qualitative or essential distinction whatever between God and man. And the religious man is not shocked at this identification; for his understanding, is still in harmony with his religion.


Karl Marx was not satisfied with Feuerbach's explanations and went on to develop a different form of materialism which was more logically consistent. It remains atheist inspite of the complex relationship between materialism, atheism and communism. I'm being selective as I want to try to show how you get from one position atheism/materialism to communism.

IV

Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the world into a religious world and a secular one. His work consists in resolving the religious world into its secular basis.


But that the secular basis detaches itself from itself and establishes itself as an independent realm in the clouds can only be explained by the cleavages and self-contradictions within this secular basis. The latter must, therefore, in itself be both understood in its contradiction and revolutionized in practice. Thus, for instance, after the earthly family is discovered to be the secret of the holy family, the former must then itself be destroyed in theory and in practice.

VI


Feuerbach resolves the religious essence into the human essence. But the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual.


In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations.


Feuerbach, who does not enter upon a criticism of this real essence, is consequently compelled:


  1. To abstract from the historical process and to fix the religious sentiment as something by itself and to presuppose an abstract – isolated – human individual.
  2. Essence, therefore, can be comprehended only as “genus”, as an internal, dumb generality which naturally unites the many individuals.

VII

Feuerbach, consequently, does not see that the “religious sentiment” is itself a social product, and that the abstract individual whom he analyses belongs to a particular form of society.



VIII
All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.

X
The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society, or social humanity.


XI
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.


In the early 20th century, Lenin challanged a view of communism that attempted to reconcile it with religion known as the "God-Builders" in his Materialism and Empiro-criticism. This book became the basis for Soviet Philosophy and was applied (rightly or wrongly) as the ideological basis to Soviet Science in order for it to be consistently materialist and therefore atheist.

"Marx and Engels were partisans in philosophy from start to finish, they were able to detect the deviations from materialism and concessions to idealism and fideism in each and every “new” tendency. They therefore appraised Huxley exclusively from the standpoint of his materialist consistency. They therefore rebuked Feuerbach for not pursuing materialism to the end, for renouncing materialism because of the errors of individual materialists, for combating religion in order to renovate it or invent a new religion, for being unable, in sociology, to rid himself of idealist phraseology and become a materialist."


Granted. Marxism is a very alien form of atheism to liberal traditions of scepticism and free thought, but it is atheism.
 
Last edited:

Laika

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Correct. That is how I understand the term. And yes, that is the usage I am employing. I think that resolves our difference here right?

Communists were atheists, and 'atheism' is a necessary feature of materialist philosophy. However, Marxism represents a philosophical tradition so alien to liberal scepticism that a theist has no right to draw a comparision between the two. They are two different atheist ideologies, which whilst having common origins in the Enlightenment, do not have common results. So "sceptic" atheists don't face the ethical questions that are raised by "marxist" atheists.

Would that be fair?
 

Jumi

Well-Known Member
Stalin would be bad as an example of a militant atheist since his relationship with religion was complex, Lenin might qualify. I wouldn't like to be associated with either especially not Stalin who caused plenty of unnecessary death in my country and others and made Xs on my family album.
 

Bunyip

pro scapegoat
Communists were atheists, and 'atheism' is a necessary feature of materialist philosophy.
Materialism is a different topic, and no not all communists were atheist. As I said, Stalin established 25,000 Dhurches.
However, Marxism represents a philosophical tradition so alien to liberal scepticism that a theist has no right to draw a comparision between the two. They are two different atheist ideologies, which whilst having common origins in the Enlightenment, do not have common results. So "sceptic" atheists don't face the ethical questions that are raised by "marxist" atheists.

Would that be fair?
No, Marxism and atheism are not related.
 

Revoltingest

Pragmatic Libertarian
Premium Member
Materialism is a different topic, and no not all communists were atheist. As I said, Stalin established 25,000 Dhurches. No, Marxism and atheism are not related.
There is an historical relationship in the old USSR.
But philosophically, economically, & politically, I agree with you.
 

The Neo Nerd

Well-Known Member
Although I believe militant anti-theists can be detrimental, generally it is to combat what they consider immoral practice and they don't generalize to the extent many claim they do.
Calling out a murderer and acting as if they represent the anti-theist population is just like how some not so bright atheists generalize about all Christians or all Muslims. Although I don't agree with the morality of militant atheism, they are essentially just paralleling the way religious extremists have been acting for centuries.

What moralities of anti-theists are you talking about?
 

The Neo Nerd

Well-Known Member
Stalin was a jerk who had no respect for life. That would not have changed had he been religious, therefore it is not an "atheist militant" issue. The only thing that may closely regard as atheistic militancy is hate crime done to religious people intentionally due to their religious beliefs that are performed by atheists, and i'm not even sure those really count. Those hate crimes are also not comparable to religious militancy in any way, as there is no intended long term goal based on their belief-set.

edit: spelling.

Whilst Stalin did enforce atheism in Russia his tolerance of churches, as long as they towed the official government line, and his support of theistic regimes in other places in the world, indicate that his actions where not so much anti-theistic as anti-any group that argued against him.
 
Top