The Literally Unbelievable post (concerning the test questions asked of potential religion teachers in Ireland) prompted the inevitable Godwinian comment:

Everyone, knows Hitler was a athiest, only a non-believer could possibly single out one group of ppl based on their religous beliefs…..

Which in turn prompted this depth charge from Broadsheet commenter Jon Pierson late last night:

I’m sorry to disappoint you but Adolf Hitler was raised a Roman Catholic. You may also be surprised to hear that Joseph Stalin was not only a Roman Catholic but actually a seminarian. DO NOT trust Wikipedia or religious propaganda but go to original source material to confirm these facts.

The Nazi Party were, fundamentally, a reaction against the perceived ‘sell-out’ by Bismarck of the German people in the Treaty of Versailles. The anti-Semitism came, not from any belief or non-belief system but from a need to ‘blame’ someone for Germany’s economic woes following the First World War and to rally ‘der volk’ to believe that, without some random factor (the Jews) everything would be better.

Stalin was not going after ‘the religious’, he was a megalomaniac attempting, and succeeding to, consolidate his power over the masses who, when seeing what fate befell those who failed to toe the line, er. toed the line.

I have no idea why otherwise rational individuals believe the rubbish spouted by the religious to justify their existence other than the fact that, even today, children as young as four are subjected to recognised methods of mind control and hypnotic techniques to indoctrinate them to ‘believe’ in something that, had you been born in, say, Iran, you would have believed in the polar opposite of the same reason.

I know that it’s difficult for the religious to manage more than just the one book and, even then, only the edited highlights, but have a go at actually reading ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ by William L. Shirer and, also ‘Mein Kampf’ by Adolf Hitler.

Now, don’t just pick out random bits that ‘fit’ your religiously formed opinions – like you do with your bible – read the whole of the books from start to finish. In fact, read the whole of your bible from start to finish because, if you do (and have the ability to do so from a neutral stance) you will discover the violence of your god, his inability to deal with iron chariots and the alarming difficulty he has, in the modern era, to do all that smiting he did against his enemies. You will also discover that, in much the same way that tens of thousands of others have since, your Jesus figure was actually preaching the end of the world within the lifetime of those to whom he was allegedly preaching… in much the same way that Harold Camping has predicted the ‘end of days’ so many times I hear that he has now given up.

You see, just because there may, or may not, have been some bloke preaching the ‘end of the world’ and ‘judgement day’ two thousand years ago – and someone made notes – does not make it any more valid than me telling you that you will ascend to your idea of heaven tomorrow.

‘Faith’ is only a trust that what someone tells you is true. Trust me, there neither is, nor ever will be, any evidence, whatsoever, that there is some old bloke sitting in the clouds controlling everything. I actually have a science degree and a law degree. Both degrees required me to read more than just one book, please open your mind to the rationalism of reality and close it to superstition and supernaturalism. You only have one shot at life, make the most of it and waste no further time on imaginary beings. (Anyway, if your god is so cool, if you live your life without harming others, maybe even helping others, and adopt an ethical and moral attitude to life, surely he will reward you whether you claim belief or not.)

81 thoughts on “Ash Wednesday

      1. Shane

        Thank you to the Relevance Police. Besides, best to have the facts so the Godwinian can’t poke holes in it.

        All the same, very self serving post to Broadsheet in my opinion.

    1. well

      Hitler was the catholic one,

      “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord..”- Adolf Hitler

    2. Jon Pierson

      You are, of course, correct. I was writing this rather late at night and, not for the first time or, probably, the last, I forgot which one of many hundreds (thousands?) of ‘Christian’ faiths an individual followed. There really are a bewilderingly large number of Christian faiths, that is to say that the believers have been instructed that Jesus Christ was the son of their god on earth, etc., etc., etc. As a by-stander, I really do not understand why there are so very many of these faiths, all of which are the only true faith, that appear to believe in the same things.

      I have to say that I have come across a huge number of scientists who disagree with each others’ theories but never about the basics.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      His ghost may have attended the Treaty. The fact it didn’t do much to scare the others is a clear “sell-out” of his country.

    2. Minderbinder

      Couldnt take the post seriously after that. That and thinking Stalin was Roman Catholic.

      If your knowledge of history is below that of most 6th year students then your subsequent points are somewhat undermined, sadly.

    3. Jon Pierson

      Again, you are correct. A mix up caused by the lateness of the hour and no small amount of English real ale (I write this from the UK). I of course meant Paul von Hindenburg – whilst I read ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ by William L. Shirer some time ago, I neglected to memorise it. Also, the last history lesson I had was in 1969 and I do not recall us having reached World War II by 5th year – it had only been over for 24 years. In addition, I didn’t study it that hard because I was not taking that subject in my ‘O’ levels – I attended secondary school in England.

      It is indeed unfortunate that some believe that a couple of errors, such as those that I have responded to, negate the whole piece. The main thrust of the argument I was making in both cases – Stalin and Hitler – was that neither f them were atheists.

      Personally, I could care less whether people want to worship and believe in fantasies. The fundamental issue is do the religious have the right to dictate to others, either of other religions or no religion, that, for example, they must swear to a god that they don’t believe in if they wish to serve as president, a judge or a member of the Council of State? I say that they do not.

      1. GarPublic

        Excellent arguments and very eloquently put! But if you attended secondary school in England then you definitely shouldn’t have started your last paragraph with THAT!

    1. Hello, I'm Frilly Keane

      Now I wouldn’t be much of a War / History buff. But it is my understanding that it was Jewish ‘free-masonry’ that Nazis set out to destroy, as they believed it was this behaviour led to the impoverished many.

      Happy to be corrected btw.

  1. kerryview

    “I actually have a science degree and a law degree”. Literally. A degree in stretching and padding a point would be more appropriate. Literally. Actually.

  2. Sido

    Whatever the truth about Hitler’s religious beliefs or for that matter Mao or Pol Pot.
    To justify your existence by purporting to be “less horrid” than these individuals and their supporting regimes is a bit of a non-starter.
    Clearly the Roman Catholic Regimes of the past,would have enjoyed being able to exterminate and generally put to the sword, on a twentieth century scale. They just lacked the technology.

  3. peetur

    I think the person who made Fair City may have been an Atheist Humanist. So, essence, the answer to this question is ‘True’.

  4. Lou

    Why are some atheists so vitriolic about people’s personal faith? The religious education aspect is nonsense, but on a personal level what’s it to him if I want to ‘waste my time on imaginary beings’? I don’t think believing in a god and making the most of life are mutually exclusive ideas. Live and let live, kumbaya etc etc

    1. Tommy

      The question is why are some christians so vitriolic about a persons lack of faith as displayed in the original broadsheet post? These same people are employed in state schools to children of all faiths in what is supposed to be a secular nation.

      1. Lou

        Your question does not negate mine. Both are valid points, and specifically I wondered why, schools/public life /harming others aside, some people are not happy to let others believe what they want.

        1. woesinger

          The problem, Lou, is that most religions claim absolute and exclusive rights over the truth, as revealed to them by their god (as opposed to truth as supported by evidence from observation). It’s their way or you’re an evil unbeliever.

          Now most believers are perfectly nice people. These believers generally don’t take what their religion of habit says too seriously. They find the idea of a higher power comforting, but don’t get too much into the fine print of the faith.

          And that’s great – athiests will take the piss out of them for believing in fairies; believers will call atheists shrill and nasty; we’ll fill up a comment thread or two hundred, but at the end of the day, it’s all just the healthy knockabout of living in a pluralistic society.

          That is, so long as neither side gets in a huff about having their beliefs mocked and attempts to shut down the debate. That’s not nice. Unfortunately, religious people pull that shit more often than atheists do, usually because atheists recognize that their sacred cows – Dawkins or Darwin or what have you – are/were just people and not the Creator of the Universe or his exclusive spokesman).

          But if that were the sum of our problems with the faithful, we’d be laughing.

          The real problem is the small, but significant fraction of believers who *do* take what their religion says seriously. This is a problem because religions often contain a lot of stuff that ranges from the simply wrong to the outright barbaric (seriously, read the Bible – there’s some hatstand stuff in there). And, because they believe that their way is the only way because the Creator of the Universe Said So, they do anything to impose their way on everyone else.

          It’s these take-religion-seriously people that atheists and secularists really don’t like.

          And moderate believers shouldn’t be too keen on them either, because if the crazy people get their way – they will impose their crazy-ass beliefs on everyone, not just the godless.

          1. Jon Pierson

            Well, woesinger, you hit the nail on the head, I couldn’t have said it better myself… and didn’t.

            There are problems, in Ireland, for those who are not Roman Catholic. 93% of National Schools are controlled and run by the Roman Catholic church. Their “Alive-O” religious indoctrination course uses recognised (by a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a therapeutic hypnotist) methods of mind-control and hypnotic techniques. The whole of the teaching day is infused with religious explanations in what is openly acknowledged as an ‘integrated curriculum’. Whilst there is a constitutional right (Art. 44.2.4°) and a legal right (Education Act, 1998, S.30.2.(e)) to withdraw children from the specific religious indoctrination periods, in practice, this is not an option because schools refuse to supervise such children and refuse to leave the children unsupervised. Such children – and their parents – are also stigmatised for being ‘different’.

            In addition, our employment ‘equality’ legislation makes discrimination on religious grounds, when it comes to schools and hospitals, perfectly legal.

            Our constitution mentions the word ‘God’ on no fewer than seven occasions and, of course, the preamble tells us that: ‘In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
            We, the people of Éire,
            Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial…’. Oh, and don’t forget that Art. 6.1 tells us that ‘All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God…’, and Art. 44.1 tells us that ‘The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion’. Now that last one’s a peach. It doesn’t say that it’s OK to worship God, it says that God has a right to be worshipped! And, given the text of the preamble, it could be argued that the god referred to is the Roman Catholic version of god but, even if it isn’t, it can only be the Christian version of god.

            It is as plain as the nose on your face that Ireland discriminates against non-Catholics and non-believers and, if you don’t believe me, at least believe the United Nations Human Rights Committee. In their report on Ireland (CCPR/C/IRL/CO/3) the committee states, at paragraph 22, “The Committee notes with concern that the vast majority of Ireland’s primary schools are privately run denominational schools that have adopted a religious integrated curriculum thus depriving many parents and children who so wish to have access to secular primary education. (arts. 2, 18, 24, 26).
            The State party should increase its efforts to ensure that non-denominational primary education is widely available in all regions of the State party, in view of the increasingly diverse and multi-ethnic composition of the population of the State party”.

            The report is a good read (there aren’t any ‘bullet points’ or an ‘executive summary’, you actually have to take the effort to read the whole thing) and it gives a very diplomatically written overview of how our successive governments have decided to treat our, as citizens, fundamental human rights against the background of international human rights best practice.

            One issue that I have, with my “IT degree and law degree” is that of the evident illogicality of adopting the European Convention on Human Rights in our European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003, making those rights subordinate to our constitution, as opposed to adopting those rights directly into our constitution and, therefore, making them inalienable within our State. Also, of course, successive governments have chosen to, firstly, refuse to implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – either as primary legislation or as fundamental rights embodied within our constitution – and, secondly, continue to maintain reservations against parts of the Covenant.

            I know, who gives a shit and where are the bullet points?, ‘you’re keeping me from my shoot-em-up game on my PlayBoxStationXWhee’. Well, I think it’s important that some people do give a shit about human rights. If you want to stick your head up your arse and find yourself in prison for saying something out of line, I say ‘go for it’, sit on your arse (with or without inserted head) and let it all wash over you. Me? I do give a shit and that’s why I’m fighting for my own freedoms and rights – and others’, whether they like it or care about it or not.

            Authoritarian States, past, present and future, have been, are and will be capable of being formed mainly due to the acquiescence of a people, the majority of whom just let it happen to them. But when the real oppression kicks in, those people wonder how it happened. Whilst I can tell, from a number of the posts, especially the ‘what are the bullet points?’ type of posts, that the ‘I don’t care’ brigade are alive and well and living in Ireland, maybe, just maybe, if their rights were suddenly restricted, under pain of severe punishment, they might bother their arses to actually wake up. I, on the other hand, want to prevent the imposition of such human rights abuses in the first place.

            Yes, I’m selfish, I care about my rights and those of my family and friends. If it so happens that others’ rights are protected – whether they like it or not – along the way, so what?

  5. Spaghetti Hoop

    Oul Bissers was well dead by the time of the Great War and the subsequent Treaty. The German Emperor of the time was Wilhelm II – and he could hardly be accused of “selling-out” his country at the Treaty of Versaille as he didn’t have a place at the table. Negotiations were controlled only by the Allies and they were designed to come up with the strictest and harshest penalties to impose on Germany.

  6. Micheál

    Brilliant post, but it has to be said, the original poster was being sarcastic.

    Religion is a tough thing to talk about. The people who read the post above will either be religious and disagree with it or not religious and agree with it. It’s not generally an argument where reason and logic. As they say, it’s not easy to reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Couldn’t detect any decent sarcasm there – only rage and intolerance. (And some factual inaccuracies of course).

    1. Karlo

      This demonstrates perfectly why atheists get so riled up about other peoples beliefs. The fact is that in Ireland Christianity is forced upon you. Whether its the Angelus before the 6 o’clock news or the basic law of the land.

    2. Sarah

      Christ. That’s depressingly deluded. A friend of mine’s mum got her arm broken by a nun in her school when she was 6 (60 yrs ago) and her parents actually dragged her back to the school with them to APOLOGISE to the nun for distressing her enough, which caused her to BREAK THEIR DAUGHTER’S ARM!!!!! Point being, religion is counter-intuitive fear-mongering crap that exploits peoples fears of death and failure.

  7. Odockatee

    Religon is based 100% on Geography. But I still think everyone should believe in something spiritual. That is all

  8. Kenneth Purtell

    Thankfully somebody will always be a Barney to the Homer. It lets us move forward with less shame.

  9. bisted

    nomnom….a bacon sandwich….one of life’s little pleasures! All the more pleasurable today because you can cause affront to all the all the major religions with one bite.

  10. Cian

    I don’t think it helps to be a dick when you’re making a point. Just saying, it doesn’t do anything to foster reasonable debate and makes you seem like the atheist version of a Fox News reporter. (Which is a shame when you have good points to make)

  11. Paul

    I don’t think the worst horrors the world has witnessed has anything to do with belief or non belief in a supernatural deity. It has do with the conflicts over things like power, wealth or land. Humans are violent. End of story.

  12. Having a giraffe

    Eehhhhhhhhhhhhh…. I thought that the whole point of this was to highlight how ridiculous the original question was? Ye know, that religion doesn’t matter a fook if you’re just a horrible evil b@stard…

    But now it’s turned into Stalin was an Orthodox Christian / No he wasn’t he was an athiest / Hitler was a Roman Catholic / No no no he was into Nuwaubianism with a bit of Hindu thrown in in his spare time… Blah blah blah


    1. Joe

      well said sir. Doesn’t matter what religion a person, religion doesn’t make someone evil. It’s a persons nature if they are evil.

      1. Homerus

        I cant say I agree with that,

        ´Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.´- Steven Weinberg

  13. Jockstrap

    Where are all these God fearing young Catholics on a daily basis in Ireland? I never hear them speak out in public and defend their faith.

    They do it via internet fora and through deeds in their jobs, particularly the civil service, meddling in policy in the service of Rome.

    Many of them firmly believe the victims of child abuse are awful people for speaking out and upsetting the status quo.

  14. Diabhal

    So, to sum up:
    a) Believers are bad (or good)
    2) Atheists are worse (or better)
    iii) In order to participate in this debate, a degree and an ability to read is necessary (or completely unnecessary)
    Uimhir a ceathar) The state-funded indoctrination of our children is an abomination (or just, like, totally awesome).

  15. Serv


    I am the OP.

    I was taking the p1ss. Why would an athiest single out a group of ppl based on their religion ffs, hence hitler couldn’t be an atheist for that reason.

    Jesus (you know, yer man that never existed) when did this place turn into

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      So everything in your original post (OP?) you now profess to be fake / false?

      Why write it then?

      1. Serv

        No, i said i was taking the p1ss ie a joke. Why would an athiest single out ppl for religous reasons, hence hitler couldn’t have been an athiest. Ha ha ha lol

        Never realised there were so many touchy, trigger finger, dumbass athiests out there. Looks like i can’t be a smug athiest anymore.

  16. Jamie

    Ah here, if you’re going to be that sanctimonious at least get your facts right. Seriously like, Bismarck and the Treaty of Versailles? He was dead 21 years before it was signed. I’m also pretty sure Stalin wasn’t Catholic.

    And for those that say it doesn’t matter. It does. When valid points are backed up by (incorrect) facts and delivered like a sanctimonious douche it dilutes the argument.

    Maybe Mr. “I actually have a science degree and a law degree” should go back to college and do history.

  17. Sarah

    Said this earlier as a reply to another comment for this post – A friend of mine’s mum got her arm broken by a nun in her school when she was 6 (60 yrs ago) and her parents actually dragged her back to the school with them to APOLOGISE to the nun for distressing her enough, which caused her to BREAK THEIR DAUGHTER’S ARM!!!!! Point being, religion is counter-intuitive fear-mongering crap that exploits peoples fears of death and failure.
    Spirituality should be a private and personal thing, it shouldn’t be imposed on individuals or whole populations.

  18. Jon Pierson

    Oh dear! I’m not sure who you have been talking to, Blánaid, but you are mixing up a lot of conflicting ideas.

    Firstly, the universe came into existence, about 14.8 billion years ago, give or or take a few million. Around 4.5 billion years ago, the earth was formed and, not long after that, maybe 6 or 700,000,000 years, life came into existence.

    Homo sapiens evolved into a separate species around 120,000 to 150,000 years ago.

    These, and many, many other facts about our universe, life on earth and physical laws, have only been looked at, scientifically, for around 2-3,000 years with the greatest scientific discoveries being made in the last 2-300 years, not least Darwin’s theory (which is now established scientific fact) of evolution in the 1800s.

    Before and, sadly, since, science started to provide answers to so many questions regarding our origins and the structure of the universe, man, having no scientific knowledge on which to base answers about scientific problems, invented things called gods to provide these answers. Lot’s of them. All sorts of gods to explain how things happened, why things happened and, if you truly believe and pray hard, how you can get the god of your choice, as opposed to all those pesky false gods, to influence your life.

    So, Blánaid, gods are the invented delusions of man. Like Father Christmas, fairies, leprechauns, ghosts, zombies, etc., they do not exist. People say they don’t exist. Because some people say they do exist does not make them exist anymore than a mother and father saying Father Christmas exists makes Father Christmas exist.

    So, no something does not have to exist in order for people to say it does not exist. Nor does it have to exist for people to believe it exists. People around the world believe in all sorts of gods and creation stories. There are around 3,500 to 4,000 belief systems around the world today, each and every one of them is the only true religion and people who are not a member of the one and only true religion will suffer the consequences. The problem is that you have to pick only one so, if you want to believe in an imaginary being, invented by man, you only have a 1 in 3,500 to 1 in 4,500 chance of picking the ‘right’ one to get your ultimate reward.

    If you examine your religion carefully and explain to yourself why the three and a half to four thousand religions that you do not believe in are so terribly wrong, you will then understand why others, like me, think that believing in your religion is so terribly wrong. All believers are atheists when it comes to belief in other people’s gods, I just happen to believe in one less god than you do.

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