Am I responsible for Stalin?

Because I’m an atheist?

OK, I’ll step up and claim responsibility for denouncing Stalin, and Pol Pot, and other genocidal lunatics who extended their own atheism into unacceptable actions. I won’t try to persuade anyone that lunatic atheists should not be considered atheists at all, but only as lunatics, and I will accept that this is where atheism goes wrong, when it forces itself onto believers in a harsh and unyielding manners.

Doing so will make me consider my own beliefs, and where I need to temper them in the service of being tolerant to others.

Personally, this isn’t hard, mainly because as strong as my atheism is, I don’t see any point in trying to persuade people to embrace atheism, or any system of thought at all. I think atheism will prevail, but only gradually, several generations from now at the soonest, and probably not until many, many generations from now, when people will look at religion at go, “Wow! Primitive humans actually believed in that nonsense? Unbelievable.” So why try to force my beliefs (or lack thereof) on you?

But by the same token, I think it is the responsibility of all believers to denounce every religious belief-system more extreme than theirs. I’m tired of Christians (for example) telling me how they personally don’t believe in gay-hatred, anti-evolutionary thinking, xenophobic literalist fundamentalism, so I should give them a free pass. Bullshit. Such Christians have, in my view, a positive affirmative responsibility to denounce and actively criticize any hateful group calling itself “Christian” WAY before they do the same to atheists.

Instead, it’s all too often the other way around. “Well, they may have some small issues here or there, but since they believe in Christ, or read the Bible, or acknowledge God’s power, or whatever, I’ll give them a pass.”

Why do they think so? In my view, it’s because they recognize how close they are, personally, to sharing such exterme beliefs. Usually, they have friends or family members who are part of the ignorant, hatred-spewing crowd, so to denounce them means to denounce these friends and family–they may even themselves have broken away from such beliefs but can’t bring themselves to act with hostility towards the extremists whom they’ve broken with.

Atheists on the other hand are strange and frightening and threatening to them personally. If atheists are right, then they have wasted a lot of time and energy devoted to–well, nothing. All their hours attending church, thinking about and fearing God, scrutizing the Bible–wasted. This is why I think so many religionists are so offended by atheists–it’s not that atheists are particularly rude, or obnoxious, or strident, but that they exist. The possibility of atheism is a huge slap in believers’ faces, representing wasted years and wasted lives, of believers’ and believers’ friends and family. I think a lot of this anger that I see from believers expended in my direction, and NOT towards the people who might have brought them up in lies, is personal rather than political, in the sense I’m using those words. This anger has very little to do with the specific beliefs I hold or denounce, but simply results from the sense that I CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT ABOUT ANYTHING, because if I were, that says terrible things about the values they’ve been brought up in, whether they’ve denounced them or not.

So–atheists are the primary target of believers, despite the pointlessness of such targeting, while believers give other believers a free pass.

Sure, why not?

I believe Stalin’s parents are responsible for Stalin.

But if we find out you played a role in it then you’ve got a lot to answer for as well.

I think we’ve gone overboard with the entire denouncing concept. You’re not responsible for the beliefs of people you have nothing to do with. Demands that people denounce someone else are usually just attempts at guilt by association.

Unless you support and/or endorse what Stalin did, then no, of course not.

I’ve got a better idea. We’re all responsible for our own beliefs and actions, and no one has to denounce anyone else. They can if they want to, but no one has to.

In the OP’s world, most people would spend half their time doing research to figure out who they had to denounce and who they didn’t. No thanks. Life is too short to spend so much time focusing on negative things. All that denouncing would just turn into so much noise anyway. I can’t imagine that very many people give two shits about who any of us denounces.

I will, however, sign up to denounce all my fellow-atheists who spend so much of their time whining about being persecuted by the mean old Christians.

It depends. Did you name your cat Stalin? If so, yes, you are responsible for his feeding and veterinary care. Why did you name your cat Stalin, by the way? That’s just weird.

“I’m sorry I caused all that Stalin” ?

It may be worth pointing out that the kind of people who seemed to really piss Jesus off—the people he spent his time denouncing—tended to be the religious people.

My point is that instead of Christians so vehemently denouncing atheists, they should be denouncing those Christians who give their faith a bad name. Denouncing atheists is a very safe choice, psychologically, because then they never have their examine their own thinking.

I’d be okay with no denouncing at all, but if you need to do it, start there.

Stalin made abortions illegal, so Republicans have to apologize for Stalin.

That’s reasonable, yes. If you’re going to get into the denouncing game in the first place, you should be consistent.

I think we’ve gone overboard with the entire “Here’s nine paragraphs about me that you should all read” concept.

Here’s your arm back. Sorry I twisted it off.

I named my cat Mikhail, after Gorby. Does that make me responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union?

No, the vague unnamed people you’re trying to argue with would probably say that atheism caused you and Stalin.

So you don’t think society would be any better off if people were more atheistic? Or just less religious? Then none of it matters. Don’t worry about it.

Couldn’t we make God responsible for Stalin?

Let’s add Hitler and Pol Pot for good measure, so maybe She’ll show a grain of remorse.

Pol Pot was an atheist? Really? Maybe not a monotheist, but I’m not convinced you want to use his kind of beliefs as typical of irreligion.

He was a Marxist, studied in France and was a member of the French Communist Party. There is no question that all these 3 guys were missing a few screws.

Anyway, for some time after WW2, there is no question that if you got the urge to kill a lot of people, you got the best mileage out of being a Communist.