With the rise of the “new atheist” movement, an argument has come to the forefront. Which belief, atheism or Christian theism, has a bloodier history. Atheists gleefully use the Catholic inquisitions, the Crusades, and the several hundred years of war between the various flavors of Christianity as ammunition. The Christians point to the avowed atheism of the world’s communist regimes, Hitler’s Third Reich, and the slaughters these governments have perpetrated against their own people and others. However, the appropriateness of contrasting faith to non-faith by comparing histories is questionable. Religion has been one of the greatest rationalizations for violence in history, but it has rarely been the true cause for the violence perpetrated. The various inquisitions conducted by the Catholic church had as much to do with the church acquiring property and wealth from its victims as it did with religious hearsay. The Crusades provided a handy excuse for a clever Pope to rid Europe of quarrelsome knights and their warriors and give them some quality make work in the
Whatever issues that exist legitimately between theists and non-theists, disputing atrocities is in the end meaningless. No one will be “saved” and no one will be converted by comparing body counts collected through history.