The War of the World: History's Age of Hatred, The Guardian ... Tristram Hunt discusses The War of the World: History's Age of Hatred by Niall Ferguson, Saturday June 3, 2006 ...
[Graphic: Penguin Books. See also: "A century of slaughter," The Times, May 27, 2006. In my comments below I do not claim to reflect Ferguson's views.]
At a time when more and more history is focused on less and less, one has to admire any totalising attempt at the 20th century. Tying in with a new Channel 4 series, Harvard professor and Sunday Telegraph columnist Niall Ferguson has delivered just that: a deftly paced, continent-crossing account of the last century's "age of hatred". But how much of it is new? His thesis is clear: what makes the 20th century remarkable is its exceptional violence. "The hundred years after 1900 were without question the bloodiest century in history, far more violent in relative as well as absolute terms than any previous era." ... [It must be close to the supreme irony when atheists blame "religion" (whatever that is) in general, and Christianity in particular, for the evils of the world, and in the words of John Lennon's "Imagine," fantasise that if "there's no heaven .... And no religion too" then there would be "Nothing to kill or die for" and "all the people" would be "Living life in peace"!
Well, the world has now had the 20th century when the modern, secular, atheistic state emerged and, as a result, as Christian evangelists D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe point out in their book, "What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?," more than 170 million people were killed," and of these "About 130 million ... died because of atheistic ideology" (the other ~40 million were killed by the secular State's wars-see below):
"No era has been like the twentieth century in terms of man killing his fellow man. Easily more than 170 million people were killed by other human beings in this century. And that is a `conservative estimate.' About 130 million of these died because of atheistic ideology-whether it was Hitler's racism that viewed Jews as human bacteria or Mao's attempt to liquidate Christianity in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). While modern technology helped make all these deaths possible, for the most part the atrocities of the twentieth century happened because modern man rejected God. As one wag put it: `In the 18th century, the Bible was killed; in the 19th century, God was killed; in the 20th century, man was killed.' Faith in the Bible began to be undermined in the so-called Enlightenment three centuries ago. Then, one century later, faith in God was undermined; for example, Nietzsche was the first to say `God is dead.' In the twentieth century, this wrong thinking came to full fruition, and the bitter harvest saw more people killed than ever before. Interestingly, someone spotted graffiti that declared: `God is dead' and was signed `Nietzsche.' Under it were the words `Nietzsche is dead' and was signed `God'! The frightening thing about a humanist and atheistic state is that there is nothing beyond man to which one can make an appeal. The founders of this country said that men have been created equal and have been endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Therefore, our rights are not given to us by the State, which can extend or withhold them as it pleases, but rather they have been inalienably given to us by God. We have an appeal beyond man, beyond the State, to God Himself, whereas in the humanist state there is nothing but man. The humanist state inevitably leads to tyranny and despotism. As Dostoevsky said, `If God is dead, then all things are permissible.'" (Kennedy, D.J. & Newcombe, J., "What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?: The Positive Impact of Christianity in History," , Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville TN, Revised edition, 2001, p.225)
And that is not counting "Worldwide, the present number of abortions ... estimated to be a staggering 65 million per year."
Now, "Using the most exaggerated criteria and numbers, one could come up with no more than 17 million people killed by professing Christians" (my emphasis) "`in the name of Christ' in twenty centuries of Christian history":
"Now let's add up these figures: Mao killed about 72 million human beings from 1948 to 1976. When we add the 40 million Stalin is responsible for, we come to a number of 112 million. Throw in Hitler's 15 million (not counting the devastating war he started) and we come to about 127 million. Add other killings by other atheistic and totalitarian states-as a result of their atheistic ideology-you come up with a number of more than 130 million. If we were to add those dead from the wars of the twentieth century, the number would easily jump to 170 million; but in order to compare apples with apples, we'll stick with the 130 million figure. Using the most exaggerated criteria and numbers, one could come up with no more than 17 million people killed by professing Christians "in the name of Christ" in twenty centuries of Christian history. So when compared with the top estimate of 17 million allegedly killed in the name of Christ, we see a huge difference with the estimated 130 million killed by atheists. Thus, the number of those killed in the name of the secular state in the twentieth century alone is about eight times more than our estimate of the number of those killed in the name of Christ in all centuries of the Christian era. An interesting point about our comparison is that we're only talking about those born. The unborn are not even taken into consideration. It's no secret the Church has always been opposed to abortion. There are millions alive today who would have been aborted were it not for the Christian stance on this issue. Worldwide, the present number of abortions is estimated to be a staggering 65 million per year. This means that approximately one billion people have been killed by abortion alone just within the last twenty years. Thus, if we added up the aborted unborn to the total picture the number of those killed by professing Christian perpetrators `in the name of Christ' would appear microscopic compared to those killed by the ideas and practices of atheism. The next time someone tries to say that old lie that more people have been killed in the name of Christ, correct them with the facts. As Paul Johnson- the great historian-says, the twentieth-century State has "proved itself the great killer of all time. Columnist Joseph Sobran writes about the secularist who repeatedly looks to the crimes of the past committed in the name of religion, ignoring the crimes committed in the last century in the name of `irreligion': `They will keep their eyes fixed in horror on wrongs committed centuries ago, because, as a friend of mine puts it, they haven't noticed the twentieth century. But that century [was] one of mass murder, genocide, and institutionalized terrorism, the fruits of that phantom faith in the secular state that persists in promising `liberation' even as it attacks the most fundamental human attachments. '" (Kennedy & Newcombe, 2001, pp.236-237. Emphasis in original)
As former atheist and molecular biologist turned theologian Alister McGrath in his book "Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life," Soviet atheistic communism alone killed "between 85 million and 100 million" (an average of well over a million a year for Soviet Union's ~70 year existence from 1922 to 1991). McGrath notes that "Even his most uncritical readers should be left wondering why Dawkins has curiously failed to mention, let alone engage with, the blood-spattered trail of atheism in the twentieth century":
"Everyone would agree that some religious people do some very disturbing things. But the introduction of that little word `some' to Dawkins' argument immediately dilutes its impact. For it forces a series of critical questions. How many? Under what circumstances? How often? It also forces a comparative question: how many people with antireligious views also do some very disturbing things? And once we start to ask that question, we move away from cheap and easy sniping at our intellectual opponents, and have to confront some dark and troubling aspects of human nature. Let's explore this one. I used to be anti-religious. In my teens, I was quite convinced that religion was the enemy of humanity, for reasons very similar to those that Dawkins sets out in his popular writings. But not now. And one of the reasons is my dreadful discovery of the dark side of atheism. Let me explain. In my innocence, I assumed that atheism would spread through the sheer genius of its ideas, the compelling nature of its arguments, its liberation from the oppression of religion, and the dazzling brilliance of the world it commended. Who needed to be coerced into such beliefs, when they were so obviously right? Now, things seem very different. Atheism is not `proved' in any sense by any science, evolutionary biology included. Dawkins thinks it is, but offers arguments which are far from compelling. And yes, atheism liberated people from religious oppression, especially in France in the 1780s. But when atheism ceased to be a private matter and became a state ideology, things suddenly became rather different. The liberator turned oppressor. To the surprise of some, religion became the new liberator from atheist oppression. Unsurprisingly, these developments tend to be airbrushed out of Dawkins' rather selective reading of history. But they need to be taken with immense seriousness if the full story is to be told. The final opening of the Soviet archives in the 1990s led to revelations that ended any notion that atheism was quite as gracious, gentle, and generous a worldview as some of its more idealistic supporters believed. The Black Book of Communism, based on those archives, created a sensation when first published in France in 1997, not least because it implied that French communism - still a potent force in national life-was irreducibly tainted with the crimes and excesses of Lenin and Stalin. Where, many of its irate readers asked, were the `Nuremberg Trials of Communism'? Communism was a `tragedy of planetary dimensions' with a grand total of victims variously estimated by contributors to the volume at between 85 million and 100 million - far in excess of the excesses committed under Nazism. Now, one must be cautious about such statistics, and equally cautious about rushing to quick and easy conclusions on their basis. Yet the basic point cannot really be overlooked. One of the greatest ironies of the twentieth century is that many of the most deplorable acts of murder, intolerance, and repression were carried out by those who thought that religion was murderous, intolerant, and repressive - and thus sought to remove it from the face of the planet as a humanitarian act. Even his most uncritical readers should be left wondering why Dawkins has curiously failed to mention, let alone engage with, the blood-spattered trail of atheism in the twentieth century - one of the reasons, incidentally, that I eventually concluded that I could -no longer be an atheist." (McGrath, A.E., "Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life," Blackwell: Malden MA, 2005, pp.112-114. Emphasis original)
Quite clearly Dawkins' (and his ilk's) attacking of Christianity as "The Root of All Evil" is not rational. He (and they) should consider (but probably won't) that, "One of the greatest ironies of the twentieth century is that many of the most deplorable acts of murder, intolerance, and repression were carried out by those who thought that religion was murderous, intolerant, and repressive - and thus sought to remove it from the face of the planet as a humanitarian act"!
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
`Evolution Quotes Book
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