CBS (Last) Sunday Morning

Sometimes you just luck into things. I have my Tivo set up to record anything with Groucho Marx in it. On Sunday I discovered that it had recorded CBS Sunday Morning, because it had a profile of the comedy legend. As I was fast forwarding to get there, I saw Julia Sweeney and Christopher Hitchens zip by. It turns out the show also had a story on atheism. That’s appropriate; both the Marx Brothers and atheism are about subverting authority.

I’ve been waiting for someone to post the segment to YouTube. The first copy was a crappy kinescope(!), but here’s a cleaner copy:


(YouTube page is here.)

In that video, Stephen Prothero made a common mistake. He claimed that atheism is just as guilty as religion for the world’s suffering. He claimed that “atheistic regimes” such as Stalin’s USSR are responsible for millions of deaths. Stalin murdered millions of people, but it had nothing to do with atheism.

Those millions of deaths were not done in the name of atheism. They were done in the names of paranoia, power-grabbing, and greed. When did Stalin ever say or imply that he was killing people because they believed in God?

Just because the USSR was officially atheistic doesn’t mean you get to blame all of their bad behavior on that. By that logic, religion comes off hundreds of times worse than it already does. After all, more than 90% of the population believes in God. That means we can blame religion for every murder, rape, and other atrocity committed by a theist. That’s millions per year.

That’s obviously a ridiculous claim. We only blame religion for the acts that are specifically committed in its name: Wars, murders, suicide bombings, fatwas, etc. It’s still a big list, and you religious people should be ashamed of it. All of those atrocities are the logical progression of your illogical beliefs.

Don’t try to squirm out of it, either. You label things with absolutes. “Right!” “Wrong!” You threaten people with extreme rewards (heaven, paradise) and punishments (eternal damnation in a lake of fire). It’s little wonder that some people get a little too wrapped up in this fantasy and start shooting abortion doctors or blowing up Israelis.

You religious people are responsible for creating an atmosphere in which this thinking can occur. Just because your particular flavor of fairy dust doesn’t do these things doesn’t get you off the hook. You created the mess. You’re responsible for it.

One Response to “CBS (Last) Sunday Morning”

  1. Jeremy White Says:

    I’m actually surprised that only 53% of respondents to the Gallup poll said they wouldn’t vote for an atheist for president.