Convinced of religious hatred? Yes, if you ignore the numbers

Christopher Hitchens once said this in a presentation:

Now, I am absolutely convinced that the main source of hatred in the world is religion and organized religion. Absolutely convinced of that.

He got a round of applause for that (perhaps from an audience that had already convinced itself as well). But Jonathan Sarfati (debating a Hitchens-like opponent in another context) mentioned this:

You must have forgotten the atheistic/evolutionary regimes that were responsible for more deaths than all ‘religious’ wars put together: 77 million in Communist China, 62 million in the Soviet Gulag State, 21 million non-battle killings by the Nazis, 2 million murdered in the Khmer Rouge killing fields. This was thoroughly documented by Rudolph Rummel (b. 1932), Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii, who coined the term democide for murder by government (see his book Death By Government).

 My two cents

English: The replica of the hut that was used ...
The replica of the hut that was used by Mgr Joseph Chhmar Salas during until 1977 when he died of exhaustion under the Khmer Rouge Regime. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hitchens has garnered a grudging intellectual respect from his opponents, but his statement here is nothing special. I would have expected an evidentialist to be more persuasive than that—even if he has convinced himself, that doesn’t make it true. I’m therefore glad that Sarfati has countered that type assertion (with something beyond personal feelings). It’s not like the fact of death-by-atheist-government is an obscure fact—I would have thought it was fairly well-known—and a fact we must never forget. The Crusades and the Inquisition are often associated with mass death, yet atheist government is swept aside—even when far more people died. On that basis, being “absolutely convinced” doesn’t carry much weight with me. Quote sources

  1. Anon. (n.d). Transcript for Best of Christopher Hitchens. Available: Last accessed 28th May 2013.
  2. Sarfati, J. (2012). How did all the animals fit on Noah’s Ark? Available: Last accessed 28th May 2013.

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