Friday, December 17, 2010

No, This is About Power

Ever since Pope Benedict XVI gave his September 2010 speech in Europe, his words about atheism have been on my mind. Particularly these words here:

Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a “reductive vision of the person and his destiny”

I've seen plenty of arguments for and against this notion. And I've personally been in a few on-line arguments with other people over this issue.

I hope that when I share my opinion here, that I don't come across sounding as though I'm completely "right" and any opposing viewpoint is completely "wrong". Rather, I hope that my opinion can at least be thought provoking or perhaps even stir up a meaningful dialog on the subject matter.

And, my opinion may very well be met with silence. That's OK, too. I feel the need to get this off my chest at the very least. Writing helps me to do that-- even if no one comments or even reads this post.

Let us assume that Hitler was unquestionably an atheist and that the Nazi regime was undeniably--without debate-- the result of an atheistic philosophy and world view though and through.

Even with such an assumption, can we still not think of other large scale crimes against society that were committed in the name of God?

And can we still not see that many people who subscribe to the wold view of atheism can still do good and make great contributions to society?

I have slowly come to the opinion that arguing the level of religiosity found in either Hitler or the Nazi regime alone cannot completely help us learn the dire lessons that we need to grasp from history.

I personally think that it's clear that Nazism was not about atheism-- not when the belt buckles of some soldiers would read: Gott Mit Uns.

Nazism was not about atheism when religious imagery was mix in quite well with the propaganda of the Nazi party.

But, I'll dare say that Nazism was not necessarily about theism, either.

No, in my opinion, this is about power.

Anyone that wants to control how you think, how you live, who you consider your enemies, who you worship, and who you may not worship is only seeking power. A person seeking absolute power can come heralding the name of Christ or come denying the existence of God. And followers of either ideology can find themselves mindlessly supporting such a wantonness drive for human control.

I admire the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. They tried to fashion a government that allowed belief in God without imposing religion upon anyone. After fleeing from a monarchy, they understood well that mindlessly following any ideology is the truest danger of society. We need to be free to argue, disagree, live our own lives, and state opinions that are unpopular. We need to learn to do this and still respect each other's humanity and refrain from resorting to violence to resolve ideological disputes.

When force is used to impose an ideology on others, then the moral tenants of the ideology in question are probably only an afterthought.

Because in the end, it's all really about power.

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