The Instigator
ArizonaAtheist
Pro (for)
Losing
28 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
35 Points

The Russian Communists Were Not Motivated By Atheism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/15/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,504 times Debate No: 8635
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (28)
Votes (10)

 

ArizonaAtheist

Pro

It is common for various theistic apologists now a days to argue that, yes, religion has caused many atrocities but atheism is responsible for far more. Therefore, it is said, religion is preferable to atheism because religion is what helps keep people in line and moral. Without religion societies will no longer have a moral compass and Russia is an example of what could take place if they listen to the "New Atheists" and leave their religious beliefs behind.

I argue that neither of these claims have any basis in reality and I offer the following evidence:

1. The basis of Communism was the abolition of private property and capitalism. These things were seen as evils that exploited the populace and must be abolished in order to better man's conditions. To Marx, it was man's conditions that caused a person to cling to religion and remain content in this life, however, with the realization of socialism, religion will simply fade away because people would no longer need its consolations because the loyalty and adoration of the state was to replace it; there would be no reason to ban religion because it would simply become unnecessary because the state would be there in its place. [1]

This was the motivating factor in Stalin's Purges and the mass killings that took place in Russia. The Communists were attempting to fit a round peg in a square hole. The people did not want to live in communal lands and give up their religion, as was required of Marx's doctrine. However, Marx did not approve of the violent means that were taken in trying to make his beliefs a reality. [2]

Even several quotes of the Communists themselves clearly explain their motivations, and they did not spring from atheism. Here is one:

"Economic slavery is the true source of the religious humbugging of man...The proletariat of today takes the side of socialism, which enlists science in the battle against the fog of religion and frees the workers from their belief in life after death by welding them together to fight in the present for a better life on Earth."

- Lenin, Socialism and Religion, 1905

2. Religion is also not needed regarding morality because of studies that have been conducted in Europe by sociologists which show that such countries such as Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark have the lowest levels of religious belief in the world and their countries are thriving. [3] Based upon the 2005 United Nations Human Development Report these, and other highly secular, countries are "the most healthy, according to life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate, and infant mortality." [4]

It was the Communist's attempts to force socialism upon the population by forcing religion out of the communities and gain this "classless society," and had nothing to do with atheism itself. [5] Based upon the several European countries it also appears that a lack of religion does not harm a society as is often claimed. Therefore, atheism had no part in the crimes of the Communists because we have identified their true motivations and it's been proven that a lack of religion does not cause societies to veer into a tailspin. Because of this, I argue that it was not atheism, but their Communist ideology which was the true motivating factor.

References:

1. Atheism: A Very Short Introduction, by Julian Baggini, pages 81-88
2. Ibid.
3. 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a god, by Guy P. Harrison, page 296
4. Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris, page 43
5. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, edited by Tom Flynn, page 621
Danielle

Con

Clarifications:

As is customary in a debate, the object of my position is solely to argue against the resolution as it stands: The Russian Communists Were Not Motivated By Atheism. I do not have to defend the notion that religion is necessary in legislating morality.

Introduction:

Pro's position in the debate requires that he prove that Russian communists were not motivated by atheism. Mine is to prove that they were. To debate Pro effectively, I will do two things: First, I will explain why Pro cannot win this debate via my own contentions. Second, I will provide a rebuttal to Pro's arguments that dismantle his points as well as use his own arguments to detail how atheism has in fact played a role in the communist agenda.

Contention:

Primarily, my argument rests upon the fact that my opponent does not know - and more importantly, has not proven - that communist Russian leaders were NOT motivated by atheism. In fact, he does not know what their true motivations were at all. Using public explanations of their goals does not prove anything; politicians hardly EVER reveal their legitimate intentions or goals.

Rebuttal:

1) My opponent begins by stating that the basis of communism is the abolition of private property and capitalism. While that may be true, he fails to address why communists hold these ideals. Obviously our political ideologies stem from our philosophies. Even if the intentions of communist leaders could be rightfully noted via their public sentiments, Lenin's explanation of why he supported Socialism (which differs from Communism, by the way) suggests that atheism DID, in fact, play a large role in why he believed what he believed.

Saying that "[socialism] frees the workers from their belief in life after death by welding them together to fight in the present for a better life on Earth" indicates that the atheist belief in there being no life after death (with the exception of some atheists who believe in naturalistic reincarnation, but I digress) most CERTAINLY influenced Lenin's ideals!!! Therefore, the resolution has been entirely negated using Pro's own source.

2) I agree that religion is not needed to legislate morality. As I've already outlined in the Clarification section of this round, arguing otherwise is not my obligation in this debate. However, I'd like to point out some holes in my opponent's logic regardless. He notes that highly secular countries enjoy the fruits of things such as higher literacy rates, infant mortality, etc. However whether or not an individual can read, or if more children survive infancy or not is highly indicative of a country's morality anyway.

Additionally, my opponent argues in his second point that "atheism had no part in the crimes of the Communists because we have identified their true motivations (which is forcing religion out of the communities, and gaining a classless society, according to Pro). Again, this doesn't seem to add up. If he argues that forcing religion out of the communities is part of the Communist agenda - which he does - than clearly atheism seems to be a motivating factor. Moreover, if communist leaders promoted atheistic ideals (valuing life over the after life) in order to achieve their goals of a classless society, then clearly atheism and some of its principles did, obviously, motivate the communists.

Conclusion:

Even if atheism wasn't the primary goal of Russian communists, to claim that it was not a motivating factor in achieving communist ideals would be FALSE. Likewise, the fact that an atheistic ideology might contribute to the philosophy of communism in general should not be ignored. Taking both of these points into account, the resolution has been successfully negated.
Debate Round No. 1
ArizonaAtheist

Pro

I'd like to thank theLwerd for accepting my challenge. I will allow her to refrain from arguing that religion is needed for morality since it is only a minor point to my argument.

Before I begin, allow me to quote her describing her intentions: "Second, I will provide a rebuttal to Pro's arguments that dismantle his points as well as use his own arguments to detail how atheism has in fact played a role in the communist agenda."

I strongly argue that my opponent has failed to achieve her stated goal. I will detail my reasons below.

She stated:

"In fact, he does not know what their true motivations were at all. Using public explanations of their goals does not prove anything; politicians hardly EVER reveal their legitimate intentions or goals."

It's apparent that my opponent doesn't seem to know much about the subject since I clearly explained the Communists' motivations. The quote I provided of Lenin's was not for the masses but was written for the Communists themselves. Therefore, I argue, this statement was not simply a case of a politician telling people what they wanted to hear. In fact, the propaganda the Communists did tell people was that there was no religious persecution going on at all in their country. [1]

If anyone has read about Communist ideology, it's very clear it was indeed their ideology which shaped their views about religion. They felt religion was "counterrevolutionary" and harmful because it blinded people from wanting to fight for a better place on earth (ie. socialism) and was used by the exploiters (the capitalists) in keeping the working man from seeing the reality of his exploitation:

"One of the ways that the rulers used the faith was to suppress the worst profligacy and debauchery of their class, thus hiding their true vileness. The elimination of religion would remove the wool from the eyes of the oppressed and expose the rulers to the wrath they deserved." [2]

This is the same belief Lenin was trying to get across in the quote used in my opening statement. Instead of fighting for a better place on earth, the working classes were content in their lives to be exploited by the capitalists since they believed that they would be rewarded in heaven after death [hence the phrase: "...frees the workers from their belief in life after death by welding them together to fight in the present for a better life on Earth."].

Another reason for the attempt at getting rid of religion, as stated briefly before, was that religion was used by the capitalists in keeping the working class subordinate. To quote Lenin on this point:

"Whoever consoles a slave instead of raising him up to an uprising against slavery, helps the slaveholder."

Lenin felt that the rulers' major weapons reinforced one another: illiteracy, exhaustion, and religion. Each of these things kept the working class from gaining knowledge of something better and wanting to better their social conditions, which the Communists believed, would be achieved by removing "the wool" from their eyes, and getting the masses to rise up against the ruling class and fight for socialism. [3]

Allow me to again quote Lenin regarding his motivations regarding religion:

"The combating of religion cannot be confined to abstract ideological preaching...It must be linked up with the concrete practice of the class movement, which aims at eliminating the social roots of religion...It means that Social Democracy's atheist propaganda must be **subordinated to its basic task - the development of the class struggle of the exploited masses against the exploiters.**" [emphasis mine] [4]

As you can clearly see, the goal of getting the people to give up religion was to "develop the class struggle of the exploited masses [the workers] against the exploiters [the capitalists]."

Even one of the very groups' slogans responsible for this "atheistic propaganda", the League of the Militant Atheists, was:

"The fight for godlessness is a **fight for socialism**." [emphasis mine] [5]

The above is further evidence proving my point that it was the Marxist ideology which motivated the Communists. Everything was viewed in relationship to the class struggle. Even morality! This is something my opponent doesn't seem to understand.

My opponent states further:

"Saying that "[socialism] frees the workers from their belief in life after death by welding them together to fight in the present for a better life on Earth" indicates that the atheist belief in there being no life after death (with the exception of some atheists who believe in naturalistic reincarnation, but I digress) most CERTAINLY influenced Lenin's ideals!!! Therefore, the resolution has been entirely negated using Pro's own source."

Materialism is actually the belief that there is no life after death; that there is no immaterial realm. Materialism is the basis of Marxism. In fact, even Lenin wrote in 1909 that "Marxism is materialism." [6] It must be remembered that all atheism is, is a lack of belief in god or gods and declares nothing else. This becomes very clear when you analyze it's Greek roots: "a" = without; "theos" = god. [7] It is a negative, and therefore, makes no positive assertions beyond a lack of belief in god/s. Now, most atheists do, in fact, disbelieve in life after death, but that is by no means an inherent part of atheism since it is purely a negative; it makes no positive assertions regarding anything. Therefore, logically, a person could very well have beliefs in supernatural things and still be an atheist as long as they lacked any beliefs regarding god/s.

My opponent tries next to point out "holes" in my logic about citing the studies Sam Harris provided to prove that a lack of religion is not bad for a society. I agree that morality has nothing to do with infant mortality, etc., however Harris also cited gender equality and homicide rate, which do have to do with morality. While on the same subject, Harris also shows how these countries are more charitable "both in terms of the percentage of their wealth they devote to social welfare programs and the percentage they give in aid to the developing world", [8] which also is related to morality. This was part of the argument I failed to cite. I find it odd that my opponent tries to discredit an argument by pointing out two things that were not related to morality and ignoring everything else that was said in order to claim an argument as illogical.

In conclusion, my opponent's original claim, that she will "provide a rebuttal to Pro's arguments that dismantle his points as well as use his own arguments to detail how atheism has in fact played a role in the communist agenda" has been successfully and completely refuted.

I have shown how each of her arguments have completely failed, from her incorrect interpretation of atheism, which has caused her to fall into error and ascribe to atheism something it does not claim to begin with, namely a lack of belief in life after death. I have also shown how Lenin's views were simply not a politician's propaganda campaign, since even the document I cited was for the Communists' very eyes and even the group responsible for the propaganda states the same motivation for the attacks upon religion: the fight for socialism.

Furthermore, my opponent has failed to provide one shred of evidence that atheism was, in fact, an influence, while I have explained the goals of Marxism by using quotes of the Communists themselves and a historian on the subject. Con, therefore, has failed to even begin to refute my argument that Marxist ideology framed their true motivations; not atheism.

References:
1. And God Created Lenin: Marxism vs. Religion in Russia, 1917-1929, by Paul Gabel; 325
2. Ibid.; 79
3. Ibid.; 79
4. Ibid.; 90
5.Ibid.; 326
6.Ibid.; 73
7. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, edited by Michael Martin; 1
8. Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris; 46
Danielle

Con

1. Re: Lenin's quote was not for the masses but was written for the Communists themselves... This statement was not simply a case of a politician telling people what they wanted to hear.

I never argued that Lenin was telling the people what they wanted to hear. What I said was that just because Lenin made no mention of atheism specifically does not mean that atheism was not a motivating factor. I maintain that my opponent does not know - and can never know - what his motivations or the motivations of others are, either in this situation or any, but especially a scenario with political aims. All we can do is use clues to make assumptions. Throughout the rest of the debate I will explain why it is plausible to believe that atheism, or atheistic beliefs, motivated communism or at least was used to promote the spread of communism.

2. Re: It's very clear it was indeed their [communist] ideology which shaped their views about religion.

Here my opponent is trying to use a Chicken and Egg argument: Which came first - the religion or the politics? In other words, were the political beliefs by communists motivated by their atheism, or was their atheism motivated by their political ideology? Pro acknowledges that communists felt religion was "counterrevolutionary," and mentions their belief that the elimination of religion would remove the wool from the eyes of the oppressed to expose the harms associated with such beliefs. In other words, supporters of communism (their idea that the working classes were being exploited/held subordinate by believing their real reward would be attained in the after life) came to their political conclusion because they believed that there was NO after life for them to be rewarded. In other words, this is a blatant example of how atheistic ideals influenced communism. Since they believed that there was no omnipotent God and/or Heaven, there could be no "real rewards" achieved other than the ones here on earth.

Additionally, because communism viewed religion as "the opium of the people," it was considered a threat to Marx's (and Lenin and Stalin's) goals. According to Marx, religion helped keep the masses passive, and the only way to free them from the "stupor" would be to eradicate the idea that God existed. In other words, the enforcement of atheism was a critical requirement for Communism's success, and thus it had to be implemented at all costs. This included taking oppressive measures, such as brainwashing in state schools, the closing of houses of worship and arresting countless religious leaders.

While Pro implied that *I* seem to not know much about the subject, I could just as easily say the same about my opponent -- The (Soviet) communists attempted to create a Utopian determination to substitute secular rationalism for what they considered to be an unmodern, superstitious world view; the result of this militant atheism was to transform the Church into a persecuted and martyred Church. They confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. In other words, they USED ATHEISM TO PROMOTE COMMUNISM. To believe in God was to believe in upholding religious teachings above state teachings. Because this would be detrimental to communism, according to the soviets, the only way they could successfully spread a Marxist ideology would be to promote atheism. Thus, I have explained how atheism DID motivate the communists; the resolution has been affirmed.

My opponent's strategy of the "What came first" or what influenced what argument is not only irrational but entirely irrelevant. I maintain that simply believing in communism doesn't necessarily mean that one must become atheist. However, atheism can be used to promote communistic ideals. To argue that a communistic ideology would be enough to deter people from believing in an omnipotent God (i.e. Pro's assertion that communism --> atheism instead of the other way around) is a bit of a stretch, especially because you can be a communist theist as well. In other words, my opponent is unsuccessfully trying to equate communism and atheism with capitalism and theism, where there is in fact no absolute correlation; one is a religious belief and the other is economic.

My point is the more rational one: I maintain that the belief that there is no God (atheism) is enough to convince people that implementing a communism would be most beneficial to them and to the state, whereas convincing a theist that an economic and/or political ideology here on earth is greater than their religious beliefs and an omnipotent God would be a much harder feat. In other words, without the promotion of atheism, the masses would not have accepted communism.

Further, my point that this "Which came first" argument is obviously irrelevant as it actually does not matter which came first; the point here is that atheism - the idea that there is no God - was promoted as the means to an end (Communism) and therefore the resolution is again obviously affirmed. My opponent's own quote supports this -- He says that we can clearly see that the GOAL WAS TO GET PEOPLE TO GIVE UP RELIGION, i.e. promote atheism. He also quotes "The fight for godlessness [atheism] is a fight for socialism." Pro claims that this quote is further evidence that Marxism influenced communism; I argue that while this may be true, it was atheism that motivated Marxism.

"Large numbers were killed for refusing to abandon their religious beliefs. A great many were sent to concentration camps... Large numbers were persecuted and killed for practicing religion, and for being interferences to atheist-communist expansion.lled for refusing to abandon their religious beliefs. A great many were sent to concentration camps... Militant atheism, therefore, was a major factor in the murder of countless millions, during the past century. Unfortunately, militant atheism, is still driven by some of the same extremist views reminiscent of atheist-communist regimes of old. They, like their predecessors, do not hesitate to admit that they hate God, religion and that they would like to see both disappear forever" [1].

3. Re: Atheism does not make any positive assertion beyond a lack of belief in a deity.

I will concede to my opponent's observation (note: I noted that some atheists are spiritualists who do believe in an after life). However, to acknowledge this point would be to eliminate my opponent's very own argument(s). Throughout this debate he has listed quote after quote explaining how it was upholding religious teachings above the state's which the Communists found dangerous, including the belief of an afterlife that rewarded people after death. So, communists promoted atheism to dismantle the idea that there was no afterlife.

4. Re: Lack of religion is not bad for society.

My opponent talked about Sam Harris and religion/morality again in R2, even after stating that he would "allow me to refrain" from arguing that religion is not necessary for morality (Thanks, but I did not need your permission to refrain from doing so -- it simply is irrelevant to the resolution and both of our arguments).

5. Re: Conclusion

Pro asserts that my misinterpretation of atheism helps to prove his point. I have not misinterpreted anything, actually; I merely discussed why atheism was PROMOTED (to discredit the idea of an afterlife) - something Pro himself discussed at length. He also notes that the document he cited from Lenin was "for the Communists very own eyes" which not only is non-sensical (it was a persuasive document meant to promote communism, i.e. not only for those who were already communist) but irrelevant, as he still has not proven that atheism was not a factor. Additionally, Pro's point that Marxism was the sole motivating factor for Communism fails, as Marxism was influenced by atheism.

[1] Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr; 1991. "The Gulag Archipelago." Chapter 2
Debate Round No. 2
ArizonaAtheist

Pro

I am thankful that my opponent has found time to post a reply.

1. "I never argued that Lenin was telling the people what they wanted to hear. What I said was that just because Lenin made no mention of atheism specifically does not mean that atheism was not a motivating factor. I maintain that my opponent does not know - and can never know - what his motivations or the motivations of others are, either in this situation or any, but especially a scenario with political aims."

I argue that Con did state this because she said, "...politicians hardly EVER reveal their legitimate intentions or goals."

Con was in essence saying that politicians almost never reveal their true goals, thus in order to hide them, they tell the people what they want to hear. It's done in politics all the time. For example, how many politicians does Con think might be atheists but claim a theistic position for fear of losing office?

I was trying to show that if Lenin was truly just a politician who wished to hide his goals, why would he write a book that he outlines his ideas about religion which was read by the communists themselves? Lenin was very wedded to Marxist ideas and wanted to preserve them and not distort them, which is why Lenin "broke up Russian Social Democrats into Mensheviks and Bolshevicks...[h]e was convinced that an effective revolutionary party would have to consist of *only* those who were totally dedicated to the case." [1] Therefore, there is no logical reason he would mislead the people he wanted to follow him in the fight for socialism.

As I've shown, the Communists did state their goals very clearly and we have their debates preserved about these goals. To quote historian Paul Gabel about Marxist ideology:

"...[W]orkers have to be free from the entangling web of religion *before* they can become effective fighters in the revolutionary cause. How could nonmaterialists even carry out such an uprising?....The settled-upon rationalization was that, since modern Christianity was inherently antirevolutionary, it had developed into a powerful roadblock to the path that history must eventually take." [2] This is explaining what I've stated before; that it was the Marxist ideology they were trying to force upon the populace.

2. "Which came first - the religion or the politics?"

It's obvious that the ideology came first, which is why all of the talk about revolution and doing whatever it took to ensure a socialist future, even if it meant killing priests, closing churches, etc. However, there is something Con doesn't tell you. It's the fact that the Communists actually supported churches as long as they were pro-Communist. [3] Now, if the goal was outright destruction of religion - because of atheism - then why would they support churches that advanced their cause? Because of their ideology, that's why. If it was purely atheism, as my opponent alleges, one would think they would brutally attack religion and never let up but this isn't the case by far. The relationship between the Communists and the churches were very complex, which is evidence of a much more complex reason than 'It was because of atheism' as my opponent claims. One also must understand the Communists' taking of church lands because it is, once again, tied in with their ideology. "...[C]onsistent with Marxist theory, the government was simply attempting to remove *all* private and corporate control of productive property. The church just happened to be the largest corporate owner of productive property in the tsarist system...Marxists were convinced that religion - especially Christianity - was a pillar upholding capitalism, and weakening this pillar would hasten the collapse of capitalist remnants..." [4]

Con states: "this is a blatant example of how atheistic ideals influenced communism. Since they believed that there was no omnipotent God and/or Heaven, there could be no "real rewards" achieved other than the ones here on earth."

Again, the basis of Communism, as even quoted by Lenin, was materialism, not atheism. Materialism is the belief in no afterlife and Con has once again failed to show how this belief comes directly from atheism. She even admits my definition is the correct one; with it being a negative and asserting nothing, though she seems to contradict herself because atheism holds no "ideals."

"While Pro implied that *I* seem to not know much about the subject, I could just as easily say the same about my opponent...they USED ATHEISM TO PROMOTE COMMUNISM."

I'm sorry, but despite Con's claims to the contrary, they promoted atheism *because* of their socialist ideology, as I've continuously explained. In order to pull the wool from their eyes, they must be materialists, as Marxist doctrine states. Clearly, the ideology came first.

I see Con has cited Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I would argue that his objectivity is seriously lacking since he was not only persecuted by the Communists (but later released) but he was also a theist thus obviously biased, [5] but like Con, never shows how this is the case with any clear evidence.

However, there are many unbiased scholars who have looked at all the evidence and come to the same conclusion I have, including renowned historian Robert Conquest, who never once mentions atheism as the cause. The same goes with Dr. Rudolph Rummel, who is well known for his research into what he calls "Democide", or the mass murder by governments, which include Soviet Russia. In a Q & A session he had this to say about it:

Q: Is atheism the principal factor in democide, such as that committed by the "Big Three," Stalin, Mao, and Hitler?

A: No. I find that religion or its lack -- atheism -- have hardly anything to do in general with wide-scale democide. The most important factor is totalitarian power. Whether a church, atheists, or agnostics have that power is incidental -- it is having the power that is a condition of democide. Incidentally, some ideologies, such as communism, function psychologically and sociologically as though a religion. The only distinction is whether the subject is a god or a man, such as Marx, Lenin, Hirohito, Hitler, Mohammed, Kim Ill sung, Mao, etc. [6]

3. "So, communists promoted atheism to dismantle the idea that there was no afterlife."

Yes, they tried to spread non-belief, but once again, it was *because* of their ideology. My opponent is trying to put the cart before the ox, when it did not happen in that fashion.

4. Con claimed that my quote had nothing to do with morality, when it actually did. I was simply pointing out her error.

5. "Pro asserts that my misinterpretation of atheism helps to prove his point. I have not misinterpreted anything, actually; I merely discussed why atheism was PROMOTED (to discredit the idea of an afterlife)..."

She has failed to show how atheism - a negative - asserts a lack of belief in an afterlife. She has also not shown why atheism was promoted; not for atheism's sake, but ideology. Wiping away a belief in an afterlife was done due to Marxist ideology, not atheism. It was done to advance socialism, not atheism itself.

Conclusion: Con has once again failed to show how atheism caused these atrocities. It was due to the Communists' ideology, which was framed by materialism, not atheism, as I've conclusively demonstrated. Simply asserting that a lack of evidence is somehow evidence ["...just because Lenin made no mention of atheism specifically does not mean that atheism was not a motivating factor."] is not a convincing argument and I argue that Con failed once again to provide one shred of evidence for her position. Because of Con's lack of evidence I kindly ask you to vote Pro. Thank you.

References:
1. And God Created Lenin: Marxism vs. Religion in Russia, 1917-1929, by Paul Gabel; 93
2. Ibid.;92
3. Ibid.;237
4. Ibid.;144
5. http://en.wikipedia.org...
6. http://www.hawaii.edu...
Danielle

Con

Thank you, Pro, for the timely response.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Introduction:

This debate has a very specific resolution, and therefore a quite simple object for the Con. Were the Russian Communists motivated by atheism? Motivated is defined as "to provide with a motive or motives; incite; impel." In other words, were the Russian Communists driven to move forward (impel) using atheism? The answer is, very simply, an overwhelming YES.

Pro has been trying to prove that the Russian Communists were not motivated as a RESULT of atheism. I never disagreed. On the contrary, I argued that they USED atheism to motivate others into following their political ideology. Pro has been misinterpreting my remarks throughout this entire debate as a result of ignoring this simple argument. So again, while I don't advocate that Communism exists because of atheism (in other words, I don't think that being an atheist will make someone Communist), I think it's quite clear based on both Pro's evidence and mine that atheism was used to propel the masses into accepting Communism. In other words, the resolution has been negated: they most certainly were motivated by atheism (even if atheism was not the cause behind their uprising).

Rebuttal:

1. Re: Lenin was very wedded to Marxist ideas and wanted to preserve them and not distort them.

Throughout the debate, Pro has consistently repeated that it was Marxism - not atheism - that influenced the Communists. What Pro failed to mention is that Marx was an atheist who promoted atheist ideals. Moreover, Marx explicitly promoted something called THEORETIC ATHEISM which is the consequence of three postulates: (1) metaphysical or dialectical materialism which considers matter as the supreme and unique cause of everything; (2) historical materialism, according to which the economic factor is the principal and decisive factor; (3) absolute humanism, which sets man at the summit of the cosmos: man is the supreme being [1].

In other words, Pro's meager citation of materialism as being the sole motivating factor is blatantly false. Marx was an avid atheist who not only believed that there was no afterlife, but that the belief in any deity was an abomination:

"For us religion does not constitute the foundation, but only the phenomenon of worldly limitation. For this reason, we explain the religious subjection of free citizens with their earthly subjection. We affirm that they will suppress their religious limitation as soon as they have suppressed their earthly limits" [2].

2. Communist Goals

Pro asks, "If it was purely atheism, as my opponent alleges, one would think they would brutally attack religion and never let up but this isn't the case by far." First of all, I never "alleged" that it was purely atheism which motivated the Communists. This is a blatant straw man (committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position) on Pro's part. Again, what I said was that atheism was used to MOTIVATE or propel Communism - NOT that atheism was the goal of the Communists.

The Communists did not give a hoot about the religion of their people, so long as their political ideology could be sustained. That's why they allowed Pro-Communist churches to exist. I never argued against that reality. Pro's continuous straw man arguments (i.e. when he said that I argued Communism exists "because of atheism" which I did NOT) is abusive. Rather, once more it seems I have to explain (since Pro has obviously missed the point) that it's clear an atheist ideology was used to motivate people into succumbing to Communist ideals. Pro's very own source cites:

"Marxists were convinced that religion - especially Christianity - was a pillar upholding capitalism, and weakening this pillar would hasten the collapse of capitalist remnants." In other words, promoting atheism would help to achieve Communism... meaning the Communists used atheism to motivate the masses... meaning the resolution has been negated.

3. Re: The basis of Communism, as even quoted by Lenin, was materialism, not atheism.

This is actually a false statement which I have clarified earlier in the round. In fact materialism was one aspect of what led to Marx's theoretical atheism.

4. Re: [Russian Communists] promoted atheism *because* of their socialist ideology... Clearly, the ideology came first.

Yep! This is what I have been advocating all along. Although it's obviously wrong to state that the Communist ideology "came first" (I think we're all intelligent enough to realize that atheism existed long before Communism), I agree with my opponent that the atheist ideology was used to support the Communist one. In other words, the Communists used atheism to MOTIVATE the masses, i.e. I have won this debate.

5. Re: Is atheism the principal factor in democide, such as that committed by... Stalin, Mao, and Hitler?

Once more, I have never argued in favor of these these claims. I myself am an atheist with libertarian ideals; I am not ignorant enough to think that it was a lack of a belief in a deity that resulted in the brutal impacts of the "Big Three." Pro points out that Dr. Rudolph Rummel continues, "Whether a church, atheists, or agnostics have that power is incidental -- it is having the power that is a condition of democide." I completely agree. Here we can see where the discrepancy between my opponent and I lies: He is arguing that the negative impacts of Communism or totalitarianism have nothing to do with atheism, whereas I am arguing that although atheism doesn't equate to these negative impacts, that atheism CAN be used to promote those ideals the same way almost ANYTHING can be used to promote those ideals. The fact of the matter is that the resolution is specific using Communist Russia, whom I have proven did, in fact, promote Communism via atheism.

6. Re: She has also not shown why atheism was promoted; not for atheism's sake, but ideology.

Why would I be trying to show that atheism was promoted for the sake of atheism? Clearly atheism was promoted for the sake of the Communist ideology. Again, the resolution has been negated.

Conclusion:

Basically what Pro has been trying to convey throughout this debate is the Cause and Effect fallacy. In other words, just because A and B regularly occur together doesn't mean that A causes B or vice versa. The problem is that I never appealed to this fallacy. I never argued that they were the cause for one another; simply that one MOTIVATED the other or was used to propel the other. That was my burden in terms of negating the resolution, and I have effectively stated my case.

"The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state" [3].

Communists were motivated by Marxists who were motivated by atheism. A lack of belief in a deity is not why people became Marxist or Communist; however, atheism was used to explain why these two political ideologies were preferable: they put the tangible State (man) above an intangible god.

Sources:

[1] http://www.ewtn.com...
[2] K. Marx. "La Questione Ebraica." Rome: 1966. Pp. 81-82
[3] http://investigatingatheism.info...
Debate Round No. 3
28 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ArizonaAtheist 7 years ago
ArizonaAtheist
"Semantics"? Not at all. There is a dramatic difference. Once again, it's a difference you don't seem to understand. There is a huge difference between *being motivated by* something (which was the entire point of the debate by the way) and someone *making use of* something. If I was arguing that atheistic propaganda played no role whatsoever then I would concede your point. But that wasn't what the topic was about. It's about *motivation*, not what the Communists make use of due to that motivation, which was their ideology. And as I have proven, all decisions were made through the filter of their ideology.

Again, thanks for the challenge and your participation, but I would argue you're incorrect.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
Semantics.

The Communists in power used atheism to motivate the masses to adhere to their goals. The masses turned Communists were then motivated by atheism. They kept the cycle going. And so on.

Basically I understand that Pro was trying to say "Don't blame atheism for Communism." In other words, it isn't plausible to assume that all atheists will become Communists, etc. However my point was that those with a political agenda could use ANYTHING to promote their cause. The Communists could have used Buddhism, for example. But they didn't. They used atheism. Therefore atheism played at least a small role regarding Communist Russia. Of course they aren't inherently linked, but the Communists using atheism as a motivating factor made it so they were.
Posted by ArizonaAtheist 7 years ago
ArizonaAtheist
Interesting...

Con seems to have missed the entire point of the debate. She concedes that atheism did not influence the communists:

"I am not ignorant enough to think that it was a lack of a belief in a deity that resulted in the brutal impacts of the "Big Three.""

But that's exactly what I was arguing against...

Then she says:

"...whereas I am arguing that although atheism doesn't equate to these negative impacts, that atheism CAN be used to promote those ideals..."

She basically just conceded my entire point. Her argument is that they *made use of* atheistic propaganda, which is a completely different subject. Con doesn't seem to understand that distinction. Making use of atheistic propaganda [for the benefit of socialism] is not the same as *being influenced by*, which was the entire premise of the debate.

I admire Con's willingness to argue something she doesn't agree with (playing devil's advocate so to speak) but every one of her arguments missed the mark because she was arguing against a strawman.

I hope voters note this error of Con's and vote Pro.
Posted by atheistman 7 years ago
atheistman
That is very true, even if the majority thinks something, it can still be false or even ridiculous.
Posted by ArizonaAtheist 7 years ago
ArizonaAtheist
Hi atheistman,

I completely agree, but we'll see what the voters think....

I believe I presented a very strong case, but again, it's up to the voters. But, no matter the outcome, numbers don't decide truth.
Posted by atheistman 7 years ago
atheistman
It's stupid to say the Russian Communists were motivated by atheism, there have even been communist ideals based off of religion.
Posted by ArizonaAtheist 7 years ago
ArizonaAtheist
Hi heart_of_the_matter,

Yes, the Muslims are who attacked on 9/11 but I was trying to show that religion does not stop people from harming others, and oftentimes religious beliefs are directly linked to harmful actions. The hijackers were religious and they murdered many people. Did their religious beliefs stop them from committing such atrocities? Not at all. That's the only point I was trying to get across.

Thanks for your support.
Posted by heart_of_the_matter 7 years ago
heart_of_the_matter
ArizonaAtheist thank you for starting this debate, I think it is interesting and I am glad Lwerd picked it up...your last posting tosses 9/11 into the mix which clearly was not motivated by Christianity...but it is also debatable if it was influenced by radical-Muslim also...that event seems to have a lot of ulterior motives that could be applied as to why it happened (ex: false flag operation). not sure why you tossed that one in there too, but thought i'd comment on it...I look forward to reading the debate!
Posted by ArizonaAtheist 7 years ago
ArizonaAtheist
Hi magpie,

Interesting...

You seem to be missing the point. People argue that these atheists killed *because* of their atheism, but I've shown it was their Marxist ideology and had nothing to do with atheism. In both cases, the communists and christians, killed *because* of some ideology. By the way, religion sure doesn't do anything to stop people from killing, now, does it?

"They had no compunctions about killing to achieve their goals. Christians don't do that. Atheists do."

Really...?

Inquisition...Witch trials...9/11...abortion doctors...need I say more?

"When Christians do wrongs, it is because of their their extremism, but when atheists (Stalin, et al) kill thirty million people, it is because of a political ideology of love."

And christians have murdered abortion doctors out of their "love" for a fetus...

It's not as if the communists' lack of religion is what caused them to kill because even theists kill.

It's hard to believe how this argument ever got off the ground in the first place...
Posted by magpie 7 years ago
magpie
"It was the Communist's attempts to force socialism upon the population by forcing religion out of the communities and gain this "classless society," and had nothing to do with atheism itself."
I think, I get it, now! When Christians do wrongs, it is because of their their extremism, but when atheists (Stalin, et al) kill thirty million people, it is because of a political ideology of love.
Wow! These people are a scary lot.
They were atheists! They had no compunctions about killing to achieve their goals. Christians don't do that. Atheists do. Stalin, Mao, P
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