It is said, that the atrocities by atheists were not committed in the name of Atheism.
We must remember that Atheism did not have a ‘name‘ to exploit until recently. The name of Religion is useful to incite passion among people. Atheism lacked that ability. So the name was not used.
What we should watch out for, really, is how much atrocities are created because of the ideology in question.
And there Atheism fails miserably. It gained importance only in the last century. Within all the frameworks where Atheism was a part of the idea, they failed in terms of morality and stability, as I have pointed out before (in part I).
It is also argued that we can derive morality from sources other than religion.
My answer to that will be: Unless morality becomes obligatory, by good faith, people will choose to find easy way out. They will find excuses to avoid the hard straight path. “It matters little what we believe, unless we believe in them fully.”
Atheistic point of view has time and again resorted to violence to impose morality it perceives as correct. Religion, on the other hand, can impose the same values without force: just by talking of the consequences of good and bad deeds. Of the Heaven and the Hell. Religion can easily create a resonance in peoples’ hearts. Moralist Atheistic arguments had hard time imposing their view of equality, for example, in USSR.
There are exceptions when religion is imposed by force. That does not undo the fact that religion has far more ablity to go into hearts.
These other sources of morality, on the other hand, tend to depend on the current social order. Or in other words culture, customs and traditions. Aristotle was not horrified by the then practice of killing children, because that was common practice. (Atheist or not is immaterial, he was one of those who reasoned. Unfortunately the practice was so common that he perhaps could not even think of applying reason there?)
The Atheists despise the more obviously incorrect traditions. Yet, no doubt, on a larger picture, their idea is going to only help customs and traditions take over the control of morality.
We are horrified now if we hear of children being buried alive. If we were born in Aristotle’s times, we will be least bothered about it. On the other hand, our idea of giving women freedom will be horrifying to the Greeks,who were discussing whether women have soul or not during the same period, if they were presented with any such.
UPDATE (Clarification): This is to debunk a myth that Atheism is a great thing, and no atrocities has been committed in it’s name. It is not to say that all Atheists are killers or anything of that tone.