Hitler was not a true scotsman

I was surprised to see somebody write that Hitler was an atheist; I had never even thought about what he believed in, and assumed he was a Christian.

To be associated with Hitler through your believe, or lack thereof, is, of course, a bit of a disgrace and it was unsurprising, for me, to see people debate the issue.

Let's investigate the issue objectively by asking three important questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Does it matter?
  3. What are the consequences?

Is it true?

Hitler was a documented Christian and a catholic. He wrote about it in his book "Mein Kampf" and there are other evidences that he was, in fact, a catholic. For instance, he was never excommunicated.

On the other hand, people claim he didn't act Christian and therefore in reality, he was an atheist. This is a 'no true Scotsman' logical fallacy.

There is, in fact, evidence he worked against the church, so the 'atheist' proponents have a certain case. At any rate, for the duration of this post, let's assume he was an atheist.


Does it matter?

The truth is, it doesn't actually matter is Hitler was or was not an atheist. Nobody knows what goes on in the mind of other people. But we do know that Hitler used Christian anti-Semitic sentiment, Christian propaganda in Christian countries, the majority of the Nazis were Christians... All that Christian sentiment was used by Hitler to eliminate, murder, six million Jews.

He also used his propaganda and military machine to eliminate, gipsies, homosexuals, communists, black people...

Who really cares if Hitler, himself, was an atheist, a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu or a Christian? He appealed exclusively to Christians, and they responded!


What are the consequences?

Saying that Hitler was an atheist, implies that *all* atheists are genocidal maniacs with an uncontrollable murderous impulse. Saying that Hitler (Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao) was an atheist, implies that *all* atheists are immoral.

How can people even start to believe that? It's utter nonsense. Penn Jillette said it very eloquently: "The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero." Source

Atheists are just as moral as religious people and questioning our morals based on Hitler's (Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao) actions is absurd.

Vlad Dragul was a hero of Christianity and he impaled 20.000 Turks in 1462. Nobody accuses Christians to be immoral based on his exploits.

Update:
About the truth of Hitler being an atheist. He was decidedly against atheism. Thanks for the image @Dragonblaze.

About 'atheist' dictators; It's an error to think that dictators commit crimes against humanity because they are atheists, rather than because they are dictators. The Spanish dictator Franco, or Chilean dictator Pinochet were Roman Catholics and they eliminated their political opponents without any mercy. IMO. Thanks @AndrewGraham

Update: PZ Myers wrote a blog post about Hitler’s views on evolution.

Comments

  1. Hi Hans, nice post!

    One thing I would add is the lack of any "atheistic" motivation behind the actions of these despots - I often hear religious apologists claiming that these were "atheist regimes" - while it's true that some used atheism as a policy to prevent any groups other than the government having power (i.e. churches), there certainly isn't anything inherent in atheism which motivates these.

    And while I would say there is nothing inherent in atheism that would prevent atrocities, the same could be said for religion. In fact, religion can be a driving force for them or a passive bystander, whereas atheism can only be a passive bystander.

    Andrew Graham

    ReplyDelete

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