I was thinking last night about one of the most common complaints against atheists.
We're fond of trotting out the argument that religion is responsible for more death, misery and destruction than any other force on earth. I'd say it was the greatest rationalization for death etc., but not the cause. It's always been about power, and if you can say that god's on your side, well, that's pretty powerful.
In response to this strawman, the theists pull out their own paper tiger: the atheists are worse. Look at Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot, they say. And I must agree, those were bad dudes. However, while Stalin (certainly) and Pol Pot (probably) were atheists, they simply replaced religious fanaticism with "communist" fanatacism.
And Hitler was a Christian. he called himself one, his master race was Christian, and he learned well from the Catholic Church. In addition, while the Vatican didn't exactly express solidarity with the Fascists (though in Italy and Spain they were pretty tight), there was a lot of winking, nudging and know-what-I-meaning going on. In fact, I heard a rumor that the current pope was an HJ. Shouldn't that be a flag on your résumé if you're going to lead a church?
But that's not the argument I wish to make. First of all, evil comes from people. Religious and atheist evil comes from people. Goodness comes from people. Religious and atheist goodness comes from people. It's as simple as that. We have all kinds of ways to justify being douchebags, but it simply comes down to whether or not you are a douchebag. NOT your particular flavour of douchebaggery, in my opinion. That's why I can understand Christian Humanists (in fact, if you'll pardon the vulgarity, I'm fucking one). Humanism makes me smile. It's Darwinian, its nice, and it's friendly. Go be nice to somebody. If you had a soul, it'd be good for it.
I also want to point out that the nastiness that theists place at the feet of atheists took place in the 20th century. What does that mean? It means that people had discovered and invented all kinds of new and improved ways to do all kinds of things: travel, communicate, and kill each other, and continued to find new and improved ways to do all these things. We're still looking for great new ways to travel, communicate and kill each other. I expect people to keep doing that for the foreseeable future.
What I'm saying is that when these Atheist douchebags got control, they had better ways to kill. And that's the point. They weren't more evil than the religious douchebags who came before, they just had better douchebag technology. In fact, religious douchebags were using biological warfare on "heathens" as recently as the 18th century, here in Canada, but more notably in Pennsylvania at the seige of Fort Pitt.
When killing the Natives with smallpox, measles and the flu didn't work, white, Christian folks did our best to breed them out and kill their language.
These atheist assholes did more killing not because they were worse men, is what I'm saying. They did more killing because we've gotten better at it. It's as simple as that. And if Islamofascists or a crazy Christian sect or a fundamentalist Buddhist temple (seems ridiculous, but I've heard stranger) got their hands on a nuclear weapon, then religious nuts would take the lead once again.
So, theists and atheists, please. Stop saying the other guy is worse. We're all assholes to varying degrees. Our success or failure as an asshole has more to do with our technology than our ideology.