“Mass murderers may not always be atheists, but that’s the way to bet.”
So says Frank R. Gunter, a professor of economics at Lehigh University, in an essay on the American Thinker (!) website. Herr Professor thinks that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was correct when he said the U. S. Constitution should favor religion over non-religion. (See previous column.)
Why? Because “two out of three of the worst mass murderers in all of history were atheists,” he says, “and the third might be described as pagan.”
He’s talking about Stalin (62 million people), Mao (35 million) and Hitler (21 million). He’s left out God, number one in our hearts and our scorebooks (umpty-zillion and counting), which is just as well, as we don’t know enough about God to say whether He’s an atheist.
Apart from the question of why a professor of economics is bloviating about Constitutional law, there’s the more important one of how anyone can make the leap from “no establishment of religion” to (quotation marks mine) “preference for those who believe in something, so as to prevent people from slaughtering one another.”
The good professor says that atheists are the way they are (more likely to be mass murderers) because they don’t believe in God the creator who has endowed us with certain etc., etc., so that it easier for them not to believe that people are created equal, and that consequently they “might value other people’s lives less.”
He says that while Christians and Jews can go along with the self-evident truths put forth in the Declaration of Independence because they “believe that everyone is endowed with an immortal soul,” atheists cannot, because they can’t get past the fact (a fairly self-evident one itself) that people are unequal in many ways.
In just one illuminating paragraph, Professor Gunter describes the slippery slope the atheist may hurtle down, from simple observation to the brink of mayhem:
“It seems a small step from the scientific observation that people differ in key aspects to the conclusion that some people, who we think are ignorant, malicious, or self-centered, should not be trusted with positions of leadership, influence, or even the right to vote. Based on personal observation, might one conclude that some people have value and others do not? Is it possible for an atheist to construct a morality based on the fundamental worth of the individual? And is such a morality sufficient to prevent mass murder?”
Our thinker then explains that there are “at least three motivations for a person to avoid doing something that he or she knows is wrong.” The first is the police factor (fear of getting in trouble with the cops). Next is the mom factor (fear of getting in trouble with your mother). Then there’s the God factor—“you avoid doing anything that violates your religionist beliefs of right and wrong.” The atheist, of course, having factored God out of the equation, has no basis for distinguishing right from wrong, and that being the case, he is more likely to ignore the police and mom factors. (My words, not Gunter’s, although it’s plain he would agree.)
In short, a religion person generally is moral because he’s afraid of not going to heaven, so we would respect that religion, to the point that we even make it part of the law.