Originally Posted by Earnest Hemingway
One could argue that in the totalitarian states I presume you are referencing, there was a state-sponsored "religion" in the form of a cult of personality or ideology, cf. Stalin, Mao, Juche.
Edit: to say nothing of the Islamist totalitarian regimes we see in the Arab and Persian world
argue that, and many have, in a desultory just-throwing-it-out-there
sort of way, but it's not an argument anyone seems to seriously want to commit to. The God of Lighthouse's comment- "people who answer to God are not as easy to control"- is the capital-'G' God- the supernatural, transcendent, ground-of-all-moral-value God- and not some arbitrary schmuck in the realm of the mundane and the contingent who has assumed the role of God-surrogate. Indeed, the fact that such schmucks inevitably pop up in the void left by God is only a confirmation of- not an undermining of- the claims of the monotheistic faiths.
As well, broadening the definition of "religion" to include any potentially authoritarian belief structure doesn't get you very far, since any
belief structure is potentially authoritarian ("Do you know how many people have been killed in the name of ideology
? More people have been killed in the name of ideology
than for any other reason! I dream of a glorious tomorrow for humankind where nobody believes anything!") If you grant that it is possible to have authoritarianism without religion, why would it not equally be possible to have religion without authoritarianism?
Furthermore, this attempt to pawn-off the nakedly bloody histories of atheist regimes onto some nebulously-defined rubric of "religion"- and to render their figureheads as God-surrogates- is simply a non sequitur when used- as it typically is- in defense of philosophical naturalism-qua
-atheism.Edited by tagutcow - 12/20/12 at 2:00am