Email Us My Blog



Added to on February 19, 2008

Recent attacks on the Catholic Church by people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchins have been accompanied by claims that all evil in the world is caused by religious belief. Thus the replacement of religion by science would lead to an earthly paradise. The obvious response to that theory is to point to the atrocities of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot and ask what had religion to do with these. But Dawkins friends are not lost for a reply. They say that Hitler was not an atheist. He was in fact a Christian!

The following is adapted from Michael Dibdin's article "Why I've Lost Faith in Richard Dawkins" (The Guardian (UK) on 30 October 2006) and Comments attached to the online version.

Rory Connor
18 February 2008

Michael Dibdin on Dawkins and Religious Belief

"It's hard to know what to believe, but the basic argument will be familiar to anyone who has ever been doorstepped by proselytising atheists. The evolution of the species and the origins of the universe are now essentially understood and agreed upon by the competent authorities. Belief in any God is therefore almost certainly false and quite certainly redundant. Even if such a being did exist, it would be an irrelevance, a Holy Ghost in the machine. To adapt Whistler's retort to the woman who compared him to Velazquez, why drag God into it? Worse still, religious belief, like so many addictions, is not only foolish, but bad. Just look at all the horrors that have been perpetrated in its name. Now contemplate the infinite wonders of a God-free universe. Enjoy!

Okay, here's an equally trite response. Try telling the victims of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot that the world would be a better place if it were run by atheists. Try telling Samuel Beckett he should be happy to be here. Compare Edward Gibbon's cynical view that the various forms of worship in the Roman empire "were all considered by the people as equally true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful". Unless Dawkins can demonstrate that religious believers necessarily and consistently behave worse than anyone else - and he can't - then on this point his case collapses."


(A) Hitler, Stalin, Mao Were Not Atheists

JonP, Comment No. 281837 October 30 2006 16:51

Do stop dragging up the Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot line. Stalin originally trained as a priest; he, Mao and Pol Pot all built quasi-religious cults. Hitler explicitly in Mein Kampf saw himself as doing God's will, the Nazis drew on Christian anti-semetic tradition (as well as being avowedly anti-Enlightenment) and enjoyed friendly relations with the Catholic church. And, besides, first one to mention the Nazis loses the argument.

It's not the world is better run by atheist per se, but the world is better run if religious belief is an essentially private, personal matter. Dawkins latest amply demonstrates that the leading religions - especially the Christian/Judaism/Islam tradition - propound dubious morality on the basis of demonstrably false claims about the world. Believe it or not, but he's got you bang to rights.

(B) Remove Funding From Religious Schools
Pecybish, Comment No. 282110 October 31 6:47

Hard to believe that Mr. Dibdin did any more than leaf through this book. Does he really think that the systematic perpetuation of all the loony religious ideas in the world does no harm?
Time to remove all state funding from religious schools. It's not much, but it's a start.
I applaud Dawkins.

(C) Hitler Was Not An Atheist
Lacanian, Comment No. 282190 October 31 9:40

I second that complaint about the use of Stalin, Hitler, etc. If the author of this article had actually read Dawkin's book, he would have arrived at the chapter in which Dawkin's refutes these claims against secular dictators (Hitler was not an atheist).

Everyone seems to be bashing Dawkin's book for some reason - i suspect they don't like having their irrational beliefs challenged. Ah, the weakness of man.

(D) Hitler Was a Christian
Corporateho Comment No. 283893November 1 15:24

Erm, Hitler was a Christian.

Surely the Guardian should get people with a basic grasp of history and theology to write on here.

(E) Hitler was NOT a Christian
Redafiya63 Comment No. 284318 November 2 2006 9:12

Jon P wrote that Hitler enjoyed good relations with the Catholic Church -- this is frankly untrue, and shows a poor grasp of history. Indeed, Hitler did court SOME Catholics and SOME Catholics agreed with him -- But the noted historian Michael Burleigh's expansive and authoritative studies on the subject show there were many many cases when Catholic clergy and lay people stood up against the nazis, at great risk to their very lives. Read his study on the Nazis, "The Third Reich, a New Study" which will support my challenge of your assertion.

He writes in the Daily Telegraph too (22/02/2006) that too many people make casual, false generalisations , too long taken for granted as truth, about Nazi /Catholic alliances ,whilst in his view , history should "query such vulgar, anti-Catholic presumptions as the alleged culpability of Pius XII for his supposed silence during that ( Hitlerian ) period."

Also, Lacanian mentions that Hitler wasn't an atheist ( and Coporateho goes as far as to make the staggering assertion that Hitler was - a Christian, ( ! ) then slags off those who have a poor grasp of history ! ) -- can you expand some more please, because there is no way on earth he was a Christian of any sort whatsoever -- even though he most certainly, most definitely flirted with Xtian metaphor, aspirations,goals and imagery for his own ends -- from what I have read, he despised nearly everything about Xtianity,with a vengeance : he despised its "weakness" , its compassion, its care for the underdog, care for the "Loser", care for the weak, and its Jewish origins -- but I will grant you, he certainly did flirt with it, much in the same way he flirted with other ideologies and manipulated their deeper motivations and drives when it so suited him to do so. If Hitler did believe in a God -- I think there is very very little evidence, if any evidence at all,that his ?belief? had much to do with a genuinely Xtian understanding or definition of that word.

To state he was a Christian in any acceptable sense or understanding of that term, conventional, orthodox or "progressive" -- is plain and simple -- wrong.

The book Hitler's Secret Conversations 1941-1944 published by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc.first edition, 1953, contains definitive proof of Hitler's real views. The book was published in Britain under the title, "Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944", which title was used for the Oxford University Press paperback edition in the United States.

All of these are quotes from Adolf Hitler:

Night of 11th-12th July, 1941:
National Socialism and religion cannot exist together.... The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.... Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things. (p 6 & 7)

10th October, 1941, midday:
Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. (p 43)

14th October, 1941, midday:
The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.... Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse.... ...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.... Christianity the liar.... We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. (p 49-52)

19th October, 1941, night:
The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.

21st October, 1941, midday:
Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer.... The decisive falsification of Jesus' doctrine was the work of St.Paul. He gave himself to this work... for the purposes of personal exploitation.... Didn't the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, faggots? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it's in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St.Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea. (p 63-65)

13th December, 1941, midnight:
Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery.... .... When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let's be the only people who are immunised against the disease. (p 118 & 119)

14th December, 1941, midday:
Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don't believe the thing's possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself.... Pure Christianity-- the Christianity of the catacombs-- is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics. (p 119 & 120)

9th April, 1942, dinner:
There is something very unhealthy about Christianity (p 339)

27th February, 1942, midday:
It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors-- but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie. Our epoch Uin the next 200 years will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.... My regret will have been that I couldn't... behold ." (p 278)

In fact, calling Hitler a Christian, is similar to calling Pol Pot a Buddhist.

Indeed, like nearly all men in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar do, Pol Pot did train as a ( temporary ) novice monk when he was a young man -- but there is nothing whatsoever in his actions which in any way, shape, form or manner is Buddhist.