My Worries Regarding a Possible Antitheistic Future

Pax Christi, everybody!

To begin, this post isn’t some kind of an atheist hit-piece or anything like that. I just have my concerns regarding some forms of secular thought and their implications. Fair warning, this post reads like the poor man’s The Mysterious Stranger, so please tell me if I’m being melodramatic or illogical.

Now I’m sure many of you of all stripes have heard the whole “Murder isn’t wrong without God” spiel before, usually while entertaining the first 5 seconds of yet another brain-dead PragerU ad before skipping and having a good laugh with our atheist buddies, but I’ll admit that I’ve given pause and started to take something akin to this statement more seriously, specifically justifying bad behavior because of good intentions. I’m not saying that people who don’t believe in God are going to go postal. We’d be one to talk, considering that our side had Vlad the Impaler! But I’m just afraid that iconoclastic attitudes in secular communities might spark-or institutionalize- downright antitheistic behavior.

I have no qualms with the atheist. It is the antitheist/New Atheist that I genuinely fear. The frothing, raving polemicist who speaks of religion with the same fire and tactics possessed by The League of the Militant Godless; he is a threat to me and he knows and loves this. I don’t say this because I’m spooked that he might debunk my faith with FACTS and LOGIC or anything like that; God could be a superstition. I fear him because he sees me, as the religious extremist does, as an enemy until conversion, nothing but an unenlightened knuckle-dragging buzzword, as opposed to someone who is wrong. He fights giants that are in fact windmills and attempts to cure cancers the professionals never knew you had, because you could transform, you could metastasize and your tumors could spread like wildfire.

People cannot live without myth. And in the absence of the ultimate myth on which everything is grounded, the slate is swept clean. On one hand, this could be positive; no troublesome passages, no rigid dogma, no obligations! And yet the slate is clean and the distraught and damaged people, who have killed God their father and guide, are intrinsically religious; “we will find another myth,” they say," and if we cannot we shall make one". What is good and what is bad become things of our own design which fluctuate depending on who is in charge. One could still call himself a moral realist, but he must recognize where these morals came from and how little they really mean when they are an emergent property of a quirk of matter that’s convinced itself it knows what’s what. Values become mere things to help further the human species; there is talk about reduced suffering, but that will always ring hollow in the cruel, jeering faces of empty eternities and what constitutes as suffering. Doing good for the sake of good is a wonderful thing, but I believe that explaining why it is good will ultimately cheapen whatever acts of kindness are about to be performed. To me, giving to the poor because it helps the propagation of the species is just as soulless as saying you give to the poor because you want to go to Heaven. And if we are to define things that are evil as things which inhibit the progress of our human race, will the humanitarian suffer the debilitatingly handicapped to live, or at the very least function as they would with all the issues their condition entails? And what about the magical thinkers that refuse our ideas and harbor potentially cancerous ones of their own, running around and convincing people to stop growing and sit there sucking thumbs? What if these parasites spawn? Will these inconvenient people be treated like an illness? This is awful talk I know, but I’m just frightened that we might go down this path if we live the myth of relentless iconoclastic “progress”.

To the total nihilist damaged by a harmful narrative and possessed by a simplistic story of human progress, religion and tradition become wholly regressive and a threat to evolution itself. He thinks to himself "These people, who think it virtuous to incessantly breed and thus consume precious natural resources and selfishly doom us all, who translate their fairytale book of antiquated laws to or to indirectly inspire the abuse and slaughter of the sexually atypical, those who may very well reject science because their supposedly inspired texts know nothing, are a disease. Because their holy writ may potentially inspire wrong doing, they themselves are a threat. Their ancestors, alleged to have completely annihilated the progenitor secular revolution and set back, and continue to hold back human progress, must have their resting places desecrated, so to speak, and their children must participate if they are to truly be a part of the human race. They must repent in this manner because they are wholly complicit, criminals by proxy, and these once powerful mobsters’ time, as it was for the countless failed members of the human species, is over. I believe it was Hitchens who once said that “religion poisons everything”, and I believe that it is myths like this which inspire those like the vile Bolsheviks and Spartacists, not to mention certain fascistic strains and their perversions of Nietzsche, to sacrifice so many on their pyres of perverse Idealism, as the Inquisitors and zealots did before them.

In short, I fear that if the old myths fall away, the narratives that shall replace them will be so dreadfully shallow and ruthless it will make the 20th Century look like a bad joke.

What do you guys make of this?

Addendum, I should probably make it clear that I am not saying that all secular societies will lead to meat-grinder countries. That would be rich coming from my side, because that’s exactly what the deeply religious Russian Empire was, and it isn’t like there aren’t noxious Christians on the right or left trying to implement vile policies and hurt people through government. I’m just worried that the pendulum, instead of coming to a halt at equilibrium, is swinging to the other extreme, which came about in reaction to the religious folks and carries the same aggressive and resentful attitudes.

And I would like to apologize to any atheists who may have felt attacked by my words. I truly do not wish you ill will, and I am sorry if I offended anyone, and should probably delete this post and do some self reflection.

I feel this fall into the same box as racism.

We can say all we want to reduce someone else values and morality, it almost systematically fails when you actually meet those people.

It’s what we observe when a new population arrive in a area. Their is often a spike in bigotry but that often drops lower than what was their initially as the local and new populations mix and exchange and ultimately see that all the name calling is nothing but lies. That the reason that cities are almost systematically less racist than villages.

I think this is true for this as well. As long as we are good people, the lies will fail the moment people meet. As long as we are good people. That why in my opinion the biggest threat to Christianity is large number of bigoted “Christians” their is in particular in the American right.

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I guess I’d like data first to help establish how wide-spread the anti-theist views you describe are and also how densely saturated with these ideas the places are where these ideas are held. (Sorry, I lack the statistician’s proper vocabulary.) For example, where I have lived the last 20 years has really changed my perspective on what is “normal” because it’s what I see all the time. But when I talk to people who live elsewhere, I am reminded that “normal” here isn’t “normal” elsewhere.
An important question to keep in mind whether one’s understanding of a problem is more a matter of perception related to personal experience in conjunction with things like geography, interests pursued in groups (like the Biologos Forum, for example), exposure to repeated claims about reality (which may or may not be true) etc., or if the problem really is more widely spread or actually universal.
I know I didn’t come close to addressing your question, but I wanted to give you some things to consider (and maybe discuss) that could be behind the concerns you express in your questions. We are constantly bombarded with the message “Be afraid!” But my (limited) experience has shown me that there is often an agenda behind that message. I encourage you to check into it.

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I think it is a mistake to claim that our sense of morality or right and wrong stems only from religion. To be Christian for a moment the bible claims that God’s laws are imprinted in our being. Regardles of the existence of God, there does seem to be an innate concept of right , wrong, and justice. Sometimes our view of justice will override the innate idea that killing, but not for food, is wrong

A godless society will not automatically fall into anarchy. We know what selfish means. We know what charitable means. We know what compassion is. We even know what forgiveness is. It does not matter whether this is rooted in religion or some other “code” of existence.

I know many aethiests, but that does not mean I cannot trust them in any shape or form.

Our life depends on an element of mutual trust and acceptance. Just because that trust can and is broken does not make society endemically without moral or compass.

Richard

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I dunno. Are we really on a slippery slope that leads to the kind of hellish society currently seen in Scandinavian countries?

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Look at all the depreciating things you just managed to say - that is, mention - about religious believers in this long and rambling post, and on a forum where gracious dialog is the norm and the rule. Maybe I’ve just spent too much time on other kinds of forums but my hunch is that Poe’s law may apply here. Seems to me that starting a thread with a quick “Pax Christi” and reference to “us” is something even an anti-theist could manage for the opportunity to say such things couched as mention rather than use. When I used to post on atheist websites can you believe there were actually individuals who would start threads just to brag about such feats of daring-do. I know, seems kind of juvenile right? But it was common.

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Quite right, it’s in fact something that the bible says.

We ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and gained that knowledge. Now I wouldn’t say that its what happened literally, but it does state that humans know good and evil.

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You are being ironic, right?

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If only slippery slopes led to such ends.

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I’m completely atheist in the sense of non-theist, i.e. Nick Cave, but for Jesus and the Spirit. Like the earliest Church I’m communist (in my nice big house). I long for the day when Christianity rediscovers that and agitates for social justice. For the fullest possible taxation of wealth. How evil does that make me? How insecure does that make you feel?

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It’s only with great self-restraint that I manage to refrain from being ironic all the time.

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I know those are words you attribute to the nihilist. It does also seem to be one of the more arrogant faces of our modern intellect that we imagine our myths and narratives will resound through all geological time on that scale - and that our current intelligence or stupidity either saves or dooms the entire human race or even the planet. Whereas it is closer to the truth that it highly impacts us and our current planetary cohabitants. Yes - we very much impact the future too - for many generations in fact (and tragically so in many ways). But even that is a small blip over all of history.

I think you are correct that the house “swept clean” will do nothing but attract yet more wicked spirits to come in and make themselves quite at home in such a newly cleaned abode. There is no adult alive, no matter how nihilistic they may be, that does not live according to some myth. We have a death grip on such things. So it isn’t a question of “do you have a metaphysical ground?”, but rather “what kind or which one do you embrace?” We could no more live without one than we could physically live in a vacuum.

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You need to clarify what “this” refers to.

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Not evil in the slightest. I doubt you are authoritarian.

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Sorry, I’m a little confused about what you mean.

Not at all Charles. Coercion must be only through love.

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That’s pretty funny!

Thanks for this. Maybe I’m just overreacting. I just get caught up in online drama and hearing what the followers of particular New Atheists (some say some pretty nasty things, but it’s mostly the fans) have to say, none of which is good or logical and come from no one with the means of harming friends and family, yet it always bothers me. And I should watch myself; I just spewed a whole novella of awful things regarding people I disagree with, and surely that’s no way to begin to be a neighbor to anyone. I’m sorry.

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Was that sarcasm? Or should we be trying to figure out why you are saying that these countries have a “hellish society.”

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Definitely a sarcastic joke

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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