Were those "incredible sound minded atheists" once christian? Were they born and raised in a mostly christian culture or country where christian symbolism was everywhere (maybe not anymore, in this mostly secular age)
Many were, many weren't. It all depends.
It is my personal prediction that the next generation of atheists will be mostly wild nihilistic, crazy anarchists,.........etc.
So far, it seems to me that most of the wild and crazy anarchists in the U.S. claim to be Christian of one sort or another, not atheist. Just check out our recent political happenings to see the reality of that.
Most "soft atheists" (or hard agnostics however one wants to phrase it) are in fact not nihilistic or crazy anarchists at all. It seems to me, most true anarchists (like the Joker in the Dark knight movie) in history were either mentally ill in some fashion, or were in fact quite religious in one form or another. (Bin Laden)
The more consistent an atheist gets, the more ideas and culture in general must change. A true consistent atheist must not believe in free will. For if the material world is all that there is, and if we are made of only material stuff, then all our choices must be determined, and all our choices must be 100%ly predictable.
How did you come to such a strange conclusion about atheists and free will and everything being pre-determined? Did an atheist tell you that, or is that your conclusion as to what must be the "logical" outcome? As I know many atheists who strongly disagree with such an assumption. In fact, most atheists would find it odd that a religious person would accuse atheism is believing in and unchangeable "destiny".
If you are consistent, then you must believe that there is nothing wrong in herding people like animals, and nudging them, and killing them.....or doing whatever with them as you see fit.
You mean like good Christians did for much of Christian history? Or how the Holy Orthodox Church empowered the Eastern Roman Empire to put down the dangerous "heretics" by torture, warfare, excommunication, dragging people through the streets, skinning pagan philosopher's alive, stuff like that? Or Do you mean how the Church/State union took away Jewish land and rights? Told Christians it was a sin to go to Jewish doctors? Or how Orthodox countries like Russia had things like the pogroms, and in fact DID "herd people like animals" (as long as the people were Jews or Poles) into specific areas. Or do you mean how countries like Greece were ruled by dictators in the 20th century? I remember being told by someone at Church on Pascha night before the service while they were roasting the lambs...how "during the war of Independence from the Turks, when we rose up against our oppressors"....yada yada yada.......the story went on for awhile and then ended about how the villagers took a Turkish soldier, skewered him like a lamb and roasted him alive over an open spit, just like they were roasting the lambs outside the Church that night....the story ended with everyone getting a big laugh over this story because of course, the evil Turks deserve to be treated like...well, like animals I suppose.
Do you mean "atheist" ideals like that?
I need not go into all the evil Western Christians have caused towards our fellow man because every good Orthodox Christian already knows all that those "Westerners" have done. But the Orthodox are in no wise clean in these ideas you assume are particularly "atheist". (and yes I know all the good and unquely Christian values the Church both East and West has brought about too, but it doesn't really apply to my point here)
Thus, there are consequences to a belief.....or lack of a belief.
I think rather there are consequences to our ACTIONS....now granted you or I might say "well Christians that beat slaves, burned pagans alive, and rioted in the streets were not behaving like "true Christians" should behave...and so weren't following "true Christianity"" . . . . and yes, I'd definitely agree with that. That is my take on it because Christ's teachings are so clear that these things are in fact quite evil, not "ok to do because I'm saved/in the Church". With that said, there are atheists who would use a similar argument about institutional atheism like the Soviet Union, as not really be "atheism" at all, but itself a religion, or at least a religious styled philosophy used for political gain and power. They would, and have argued that a "true thinking atheist" would not do such horrible things.....because, well it's irrational and actually goes against atheist ideals. Like, the idea that we only have one life to live, and we should make the best of it, which includes helping people in need, feeding the poor, and creating a better world for all humanity. Yes atheists believe in these Christian values too.
Indeed, if all atheists were like Richard Dawkins, then I'd agree with you that atheism is a dangerous philosophy because Dawkins and his group harbor a pseudo religious hatred toward, well religion. (ironic isn't it..lol!) However Dawkins seems to simply be doing what religious people have been doing for a long time. I don't see these problems as really "religious" or "atheist"....these are human problems. Call it original sin, ancestral sin, or some scientific name, for a "selfish gene", but it's a human issue. Granted extreme atheism and extreme Fundamentalist religious beliefs empower people to do evil things they might not otherwise do, however throughout human history, religious Fundamentalism has the far longer track record in doing awful things. "Atheism" with the Soviets and China caught up quickly in numbers, however the fact that these are really the extremes of both sides doing the exact same things shows to me that these are HUMAN problems.
I'm certainly not down playing the role of religion in particular (after all most religions believe in an "after life" and so if we "go to heaven" when we die, then what's the big deal if we kill a bunch of people....ie they're not really dead only "in the hereafter".....and so religious extremism I find a bit more unsettling than atheist extremism, however extremism is extremism and is dangerous no matter what. And in the end, it's a "human" problem.
Beliefs of course are important, but atheists typically do not raise their children to believe in "nothing"....however in the U.S. (heck and in Greece where 98% of everyone is Orthodox) people raise their children with "Christian values" and yet young people, raised Christian are the ones who typically believe in "nothing".
Anyways, I fear I've derailed the thread here with "bigger" questions to ponder which was not my intention. I just felt like atheists/agnostics were getting a bad wrap and an "us vs them" theme was beginning to play out, which has been happening since the Enlightenment which kind of set up the idea we're all "seperate" peoples.....there, we can blame the Enlightenment as opposed to each other for the woes of the modern world...much better...LOL!