Re: A lot of hostility here
Re: "... godly vs. godless appears to be a distinction without a difference"
While I'd agree homo sapiens don't require a religious framework to justify the perpetration of evil acts, is it not relatively rare for someone to do evil /in the name of/ atheism? For instance, of all those involved in preaching the sins of contraceptive use in AIDS-plagued sub-Saharan Africa, are there any likely to be doing so on the basis of a lack of belief in a deity?
On the Stalin question in particular, Christopher Hitchens had voiced a detailed reply:
"Until 1917, millions of Russians were taught for hundreds of years that the Tsar is the head of the church. Which he was, the Russian Orthodox Church. That the leader of the country should be something a little more than human, not a god but he's a little more than, -- he's not quite divine but he's a Holy Father.
If you're Joseph Stalin, you shouldn't be in the dictatorship business if you don't know how to exploit an inheritance like that: millions of credulous, servile people. And what does he do? Lysenko's biology, miracles.
We can have three harvests a year if we believe in Lysenko's biology. Inquisition, heresy hunt, orthodoxy, everything comes from the top and must be thanked for and groveled for, a complete replication of the preceding theocracy.
For your arguments to have any force at all, you'd have to point to a society that adopted the teachings of Lucretius, Spinoza, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Albert Einstein, and then fell into famine, dictatorship, torture, and genocide. And you won't, I think, be able to point to such. That's what you'd need for a level playing field."
(Interviewer: You truly wish to blame the crimes of Joseph Stalin on Christianity?)
"No, I was very careful to say, Stalin is gifted a legacy of backwardness, servility, and incredulity inculcated by Christianity and he replicates the conditions of political theocracy and he keeps the church in his corner all throughout the war and throughout the collectivization. Look it up. The church had to split on the question. Those who didn't like it had to leave for America.
And the religious mentality is very clearly shown in the totalitarian mass movements of leader worship and the Fuhrer Princip and their heresy hunts and proclamations of miracles. Yes, it's an allotropic form of the same thing."