I’ve heard the claim by atheists lately that while atheism has never caused anyone to kill someone else religion has. The problem with this statement is that it is purposely (I believe) engineered to produce that result. You see, they will say that atheism has not beliefs therefore it can’t cause someone to kill. And they are correct (sort of). Granting them that atheism has no beliefs at its most basic level it should not be compared to a religion. Not even religion in general as really that’s just a collection of groups with very specific beliefs. If atheism truly has no beliefs it isn’t truly a group except at the highest level. So we must then go to the highest level on the other (religious) side which isn’t “religion” but theism being defined as a belief in a deity of some sort be it Christian, Hindu, whatever.
At this level theism really has no particular beliefs either. There is an acceptance at that level of a higher power but no particular tenants about that power. So at that level theism also has no beliefs that would lead someone to kill.
Once you want to start talking about a particular religion you’ve moved from the very general (atheism/theism) to the more specific. That means if you want to compare acts committed by, for example, Mormons, you would also have to pick a specific subset of atheists who have a belief that is informed by their atheism.
You see, theism (the belief that a god or gods exist) in and of itself won’t cause someone to do anything just as a belief in no god won’t. But once you build a worldview informed by that belief then it’s a different story.
Stalin killed many people. His worldview consisted of many things, and at his core he desired power. He saw religion as a threat to this power. This is as far as the atheist would like you to go. They never ask the question why he saw religion that way. This belief was informed by his atheism. Since religion was not true (to him) they were ok to eliminate. His atheism put no ultimate value on human life. His atheism made his plans ok.
You might argue that if that was true then Christians would never commit atrocities. The main difference here is that a Christian who murders someone is acknowledged to be not living up to his or her worldview. The atheist that murders is not breaking any fundamental tenant of theirs.
Before anyone screams that I’m saying all atheists are immoral, I’m not. Actually for an atheist morality is irrelevant. There is no moral or amoral. Atheists are generally as moral as their Christian counterparts. However their morality has no authority behind it. Is murder wrong? I have a commandment saying it is. What does the atheist have? Nothing. The atheist must borrow it’s morality from another worldview.
So if an atheist wants to say that atheism has no tenants that lead to misdeeds. Tell them they are right, but neither does theism.