Originally Posted by Fat Brain
I hate to break it to you, but libertarianism, individualism, anti-statism and free market economics have been argued by many people, many of which religious, many of which irreligious. John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, Friedrich August Hayek, Ludwig Von Mises, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, were all agnostics or atheists, and they certainly contributed a lot to your philosophy of choice. To deny their contribution and place all atheists, or even a majority of them, in some sort of statist basket is crass, ignorant and disingenuous.
Most of these people, with few exceptions, were fully tolerant of religion, and I certainly expect nothing less from anybody who supports individual freedom. Many also held a positive view of religion and Christianity, even though they did not personally think there was any truth there. None derived any morality from religion.
Look, I'm going to be very blunt here. If this is really the way you think, you are either dangerous or insane, and thus you either belong to a prison cell or a mental asylum. (But for the record, what I actually think is that you're confused).
What you have to realize is that you can very roughly split humanity in two groups: normal people, and sociopaths. In the absence of any kind of checks and balances, normal people will tend to act morally and sociopaths will take advantage of them. When you say "a burning desire to control other people", that is very telling to me, because the truth of the matter is that I have no such desire. When you say that "humanity is incredibly cunning and opportunistic", that's not an observation you can generalize to every individual. I am neither cunning nor opportunistic. Many people are neither cunning nor opportunistic. For sure, this doesn't paint you in a flattering light.
The argument that you gave is essentially the sociopath's argument for religion. I always read it as the plea of a monster who is desperately trying to keep their instincts in check, and mistakenly transposes their own flaws to everybody else. But you are mistaken in two ways. The first mistake, of course, is that you think everybody needs this. Well, I'm sorry, I am not a sociopath. I don't need anything external to keep myself in check - wronging others makes me feel bad, seeing them happy makes me glad, what else do you think I need? The second mistake is thinking that religion actually works. It doesn't. You said so yourself, when you mentioned that the Church did terrible things when it was the government (by the way, only a government can be powerful enough to do evil on a large scale, and blaming the "government" for anything is like blaming a fist for punching you). Clearly, belief in a higher power failed to keep them in check. It's also failing to keep radical Islamists in check. It's failing to make you argue like a civilized man.
Long story short, the problem is not Christianity, and it is not atheism either. The problem is sociopaths who take out their "burning desire to control people" in whatever way they can, be it communism, religious fundamentalism or espousing ideology with neither intelligence nor nuance. This has absolutely nothing to do with any particular religion or ideology: the problem comes from all sides. That's what makes it so frustrating for the reasonable man who, in addition to fighting opponents to his ideology of choice, has to fight the bullshit and extremism spouted by the sociopaths who happen to agree with him.
Now, to their defense, there is no denying that sociopaths get shit done. They are the people most likely to be leaders - of any side. Thus, we will be stuck with this problem for a long, long time :(