When I discuss the harm done in religion's name with my sister, who is Moslem, she inevitably brings up the harm done in atheism's name, including Stalin in the process.  I am not sufficiently well informed about history to know whether or not she is right that harm has been done in atheism's name.  (I know that Marx thought that religious belief would simply vanish once people ceased to live under oppressive economic conditions, so that he didn't see the need to actively combat religious belief, but I also know that the USSR was an officially atheist state.)  What sort of reply would you give to someone who contended that while harm has been done in the name religion, it has also been done in the name of atheism, so that the look-at-the-harm-religious-belief-does argument isn't effective?

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I'm not entirely sure you can use Stalin as an example of an evil atheist, simply because no one's 100% sure what his own beliefs on the matter were.  He came into power in an officially atheist state, I know, but he was known for quoting the bible, something that I've seen very few atheists do.  I'll admit, I don't much about the USSR, but I do remember reading something where someone suggested that Stalin would most likely have been a Deist.


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