Gods Don’t Kill People… June 18, 2008

Gods Don’t Kill People…

A bumper sticker I hadn’t seen before:


How much truth do you think is in that statement?

Certainly, you don’t hear about many openly atheist killers.

But not all murders occur in the name of God, either.

It’s easy to argue that people who kill, while most may be theistic, weren’t particularly “Godly” at the time of their crime.

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • TXatheist

    Yes they were “godly” if your god is the bible god and he certainly kills people for ridiculous things. I’m tired of the connotation of acting “christian/god-like” is supposedly being well behaved….bull.

  • Todd

    If I recall correctly from my Old Testament, gods DO kill people!

  • Herb

    The first half of the sticker is undoubtedly true!

  • Tracy

    Someone will complain about it…but hey, the truth hurts eh?

  • Cafeeine

    This is one of the few times we can mention the USSR and Stalin and not be off topic. It is evident that even atheists can succumb to dogma and organized killing.

  • Colin M

    Gods don’t kill people. MY God kills people!

  • To quote Paul Provenza:

    “You never hear about the atheist who goes on a multi-state killing spree because no god didn’t call to tell him not to.”

  • Polly

    Reminds me of Happy gilmore, a guy had a T-shirt that read:

    Guns don’t kill people, I kill people.

    Technically, I think “Gods” should be singular. It’s the monotheists for the most part who do the killing nowadays.

  • I think the whole discussion is an exchange of cheap shots, on both sides of the debate. It is only the most extreme of religious fanatics (or, in the case of your Stalins and Pol Pots, political fanatics) who actually go out and actually kill in the name of their beliefs. More than 99% of all religionists (or atheistic political advocates) are able to keep the literal rhetoric of their doctrines separate from their behavior at least to the point that they don’t engage in murder. Religionists and atheists both have the potential to become deranged fanatics and it’s unfair to paint the majority of either group with the actions of a tiny and unrepresentative minority within their ranks.

  • Jennifer

    I think it’s fair. It doesn’t try to say that only it’s the only reason that people kill other people.

    It’s totally irrelevant that atheists kill people, too. The point is that theism is a cause, while atheism is not. Sure, anyone can go crazy and hear voices telling them to kill people, but only theists would see that as a virtue. And atheists can have other philosophical or ethical beliefs that make them think it’s okay to kill people, but they aren’t a direct result of their atheism.

    It’s also a good way to explain to people why atheists care about religion if they don’t believe in gods.

  • monkeymind

    How about:

    “People who dehumanize other people and rationalize their own aggressive people impulses kill people.”

    That seems to cover the whole religious to secular spectrum of mass murder inspiration/justification.

  • Stephanie

    I think you don’t hear about atheists killing only because the topic doesn’t come up. I think when religious motivation is cited, it’s only as an excuse to get the public or the jury to look more favorably on the person committing the crime. Any atheist with a lick of sense is going to be aware that announcing his lack of faith isn’t going to gain him sympathy. IMHO, the difference between a believer and an atheist is that one has faith in a god of some sort. Doesn’t change our DNA or our morality any. By proportion there are probably just as many good and bad people in and religious faith as there are in atheism. There is as wide a diversity in tolerance levels both within and without religion. While I generally find these reactionary slogans amusing, it doesn’t stop them from being exactly the same kind of rationale that some believers use to demonize us.

  • Airi

    I think Jennifer is completely right. Think of the original slogan “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Thats not implying that ALL people kill people, or that all people with guns kill people, or even that people with guns are more predisposed to kill people. Its only stating that sometimes it happens, and that its the person that should be held accountable, not the gun. Its the same thing with the God version.

  • Ian

    This too me is as accurate (that is true) as the original “Guns don’t kill people, people with guns do.”

    You can say not all people with guns kill other people (some hunters will never shoot a person), and not all murders are committed with guns.

    Since we (being the majority here) don’t believe in god(s), they can’t kill, but people who use those beliefs can. That’s not to say all theists kill, but like some pointed out, its a cause.

    The final issue is for people to think (rationally) before acting, whether they have guns or gods.

  • Ian

    Dammit, Airi said it just before I finished, and slightly more eloquently I think.

  • You have to qualify this bumper sticker so many ways that in the end it’s essentially not saying much of anything at all. But of course, it is just a bumper sticker after all. If the extent of one’s thinking on the subject of religion and violence can be summed up in nine words, that’s probably a clue as to how worthwhile or accurate such thoughts are.

  • “Deaths in the Bible. God: 2,270,365 not including the victims of Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc. because no specific numbers were given. Satan: 10”
    –From Unreasonable Faith

  • A.

    If I look at this like a math equation, then it doesn’t seem to work. If people with gods kill people, and I am a person with a god (I named him Gandhi the Destroyer, in case anyone is interested), then I kill people. Which I don’t. As far as you know. (I really don’t.)

    Since I don’t kill people, then it does not stand to reason that people with gods kill people.

    By the way, my cat is making stranger thoughts in her throat and looking murderously at me. I think she would take me down if she could. I also think that she doesn’t have a god. This is a second strike against the possibility of your bumper sticker being true.

  • valhar2000

    But not all murders occur in the name of God, either.

    Even though one gets that impression strongly from the bumper-sticker, it does nto actually say that. At leats not literally. What it says is that any and all killing supposedly done by gods is actually done by people, in their name. And this, barring natural disasters attrbiuted to homophobic deities, is certainyl correct.

  • Brian E

    It’s genius. It should be translated to Arabic, Kurdish, and Hebrew and distributed throughout the middle east, and placed on every American military and U.N. vehicle.

    Yeah, that’ll happen.

  • Justathought

    If the extent of one’s thinking on the subject of religion and violence can be summed up in nine words, that’s probably a clue as to how worthwhile or accurate such thoughts are.

    Brevity is the soul of wit.
    Shakespeare’s Hamlet

  • Brevity is the soul of wit.

    So I guess it depends on whether your purpose is to say something intelligent or simply to make a joke. If the latter, a bumper sticker will certainly suffice.

  • Darryl

    This shows the difficulty with making simple statements that are also true. You have to be more comical than this, or else, if you’re serious, be a genius.

  • thought_police

    I think it’s safer to say:

    “God’s don’t kill people. Abortion Clinics do!”

  • No God…Know death!

    Know God…no death!

  • Richard Wade

    Jason, you’re illustrating the very thing that people are concerned with here, religious folks who try to intimidate others with threats of death or with actual killing. Your statement “No God…Know death!” sounds like a death threat from you, a death at your hands if I do not accept specifically your god specifically on your terms. Then you follow with “Know God…no death!” which sounds like your promise that you will not kill me if I do accept specifically your god on specifically your terms.

    You may deny that this is your meaning and assert the Biblical admonitions that we have all heard so many times, but whether you mean it will be at your hands or those of your loving god, it’s still a death threat, a stronger version of “When my Daddy comes home he’s gonna beat you up.” This intimidation technique associates you with the jihadists who stand in the street chanting “Death to the infidels!” Even though you may not employ guns, strap-on bombs or passenger planes, you are still trying to use fear as a recruiting technique for your religion. It’s an obsolete method and most of the world is growing sick and tired of it.

  • I am just wondering what Jason was trying to achieve.

  • Richard Wade

    Matt, you’re a decent guy so you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but what’s there to wonder about? As ugly and primitive as it is, it’s obvious. He’s practicing religious extortion: “Believe in my God or He will kill you.”

    Believers’ concepts of God reveal much about their character.

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