August 7, 2008 11:35pm
They're not really Atheists, and they committed the same sorts of atrocities as religions for the same underlying reason: Fundamentalism. Politics is the second worst thing mankind has come up with, because not a single system works. At least not by itself. Actually Stalin is the only Atheist regime ruler you've named there, really.
As for medical advancements, not so much my friend. Most pre-medical science medicinal and medical advances came from non-christian, non-monastic groups. Although I suppose you lumped all organized religions in as one, pagan religion quite as organized as modern monastic faiths.
Up until maybe 90 years ago hospitals were unsanitary barbaric places with high death rates. Christians sure didn't make the revised versions of hospitals with better sanitation. Hell, the christian church was responsible for the explosion of some of the worst epidemics in history INCLUDING the Black Plague.
How, you might be thinking? Well, The plague was spread by rats and the fleas they carried. The rats had a huge population because garbage was strewn about the streets to rot away on its own, as trash removal is fairly recent (circa 1930's). The church regarded cats to be witches familiars and instruments of the devil and blamed them for the plague. They held mass cat burnings. Due to their lack of scientific advancement (Of which the church has always been the biggest opponent, hence the claim that the church is responsible for significant medical advances is a crock.) they didn't know that cats are genetically unable to contract, carry, or transmit the plague. Cats are also natural predators of rats and other rodents, so the lack of cats caused the population to explode, hence the disease spread farther even more rapidly.
Also, as for the death rate, I hope you're talking cumulatively. The Crusades still caused more deaths, and given the church's involvement in the spread of the plague, I'd still say organized religion has done worse no matter HOW you cut it, especially Monotheistic, Abrahamic faiths.
IF it wasn't for the church, there'd have been no dark ages. When Emperor Constantine made Catholicism the official religion of the Roman Empire, the empire split in two. This was the beginning of the end of one of most advanced and widespread empires the world has ever known, and the shining light of civilization at the time. When The empire fell, the dark ages began.
Marcus Aurelius was never as bad of a warmonger as the church, and anyone who's persecuted Christians did so for plenty of reasons. It was a threat to the established religions with which governments kept people in line (Which is all religion is for, to make people mental slaves and have them behave a certain way.), as well as the fact that there was so much propaganda against anyone who wasn't a hebrew.
I fail to see what the church had to do with the Industrial Revolution. That was the result of engineering/science, not the church. Abolition of slavery being the churches idea, or the result of religion, is a crock. Abolishment of slavery in most countries was done for political gain more than anything else. Especially for Abraham Lincoln, who, himself owned slaves.
As far as charities go, Charity organizations are all underhanded and corrupt. They pocket most of the donation money and church-based charities are the biggest offenders in that regard.
It's a moot point. The church has always done whatever it could to block medical science, especially today. Embryonic Stem Cells could have cured hundreds if not thousands of diseases and ailments by now but of course the church had to screw that up with its flawed and outdated system of "morals." Morals are a religious construct and a lot of times are pretty unethical.
In regards to the fact that I quoted Marcus Aurelius, the truth and wisdom of a quote such as that oftentimes transcends the actions of those who say them, especially when they're as dead on as that.
Religion still hasn't done much to benefit mankind. Especially when you consider how severely corrupt the church is and has almost always been, and how fast its branching organizations become and stay corrupt until they are no longer under the influence or control of the church.