I have three best friends in this world. They are all my age, they are all highly intelligent people, and they are all non-believers. They also happen to be the best people I know.
Last week one of them, fed up with my incessant rants against atheism (of which he wrongly considers himself a part) sent me an email berating me in a way that only a best friend can. Here’s the relevant excerpt, with some minor edits for the sake of flow:
You spend a lot of energy criticising the new atheists for grouping all religion into one basket and vehemently and hatefully attacking them as one. Then you go and group all atheists into one group and vehemently and hatefully attack them, as one.
I don’t understand why you are so angry. Just because someone doesn’t believe in your God doesn’t mean you have reason to criticise them and attack them, again and again and again. When you say things like you write “with an anti secular rhetoric” (Which I am pleased you have at least toned down from your previous phrasing) you head straight down the same path of those you despise most by insulting people who are doing nothing wrong, other than not sharing your beliefs.
I can only suppose you get so vicious as you feel that people have wronged you and what you believe, and I suppose to a certain extent that fight is with them and you and no one else, and if others get offended along the way, then so be it – collateral damage?
Regardless of your thought process, my point was – though badly made, don’t become that which you despise.
When someone who actually loves you tells you something like this your ego gets out of the way and you really think about the merits of it. For the last few days I have been pondering deeply the issues raised and the answers to them.
Why am I so angry? What is it that infuriates me about atheism? And is this simply about them not sharing our beliefs, or is it something greater?
There was a time that atheism simply meant you didn’t believe in God. Putting five atheists in a room together meant the only thing they were certain to have in common was their non-belief in a deity.
Today, despite any and all claims to the contrary, this is no longer the case. With the rise of new-atheists and new-atheist leaders such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late and great Christopher Hitchens, atheism has come to take on a more universal, cult-like existence. What was once a group bound by a non-belief in God has become a group bound by common principles of a so-called ‘alternative morality’.
New-atheists today share an extreme dislike of all religion. It’s no longer enough to simply argue that God does not exist; it is now essential to argue that religion is evil, and that the religious are fools and hypocrites.
Atheism has become about the freedom to be morally flexible. It has become about extreme liberty and unnatural equality. Atheism has rather ironically evolved from a word into a quasì-religion, which is distinguished from actual religions only by the absence of a belief in something more superior than the Atheists themselves.
To verify my point, here is a shortlist of atheists I follow or have followed on Twitter. There are so many of them that this list took me little more than three minutes to put together. Have a look at some of their tweets and tell me their tone is not malicious and destructive:
There are two things I can’t help but notice with the new-atheist presence on Twitter. Firstly, compared to Christians they are significantly less likely to use their real names and images, which I can only imagine is because of the absolutely shameful shit they say. I messaged a few of them a while back asking why they hide behind false aliases only to receive silence or, in the most ridiculous case, a response of, “I tweet when I’m supposed to be working, so I choose to be anonymous” (@secularbloke).
Secondly, they all feel the need to use the word ‘atheist’ in their handles. They clearly identify themselves with more than a non-belief in God. They all tweet damn-near identical statements, they all hate religion, and they all spend their days condescendingly berating the religious. They will vehemently deny it because of their hatred of religion, but atheism has become the counter-religion.
So when my best friend becomes angry at me for attacking atheists – which I do – he is mislead by his belief that he is one. It is no longer possible for any of my friends to qualify themselves as atheists. The only thing my friends share in common with this morally deprived group is a non-belief or an uncertainty in the existence of God. They lack the destructive hearts of atheists. They don’t care about religion or religious practice. People like my best friends give renewed meaning and importance to the word agnostic. Whereas agnostics were once referred to as atheists without balls, they are now, in a manner of speaking, the old-atheists.
So why am I so angry? To address that allow me to present a comparative perspective. Imagine if you will a future in which we know that God exists, we know that Jesus Christ is his son, and we are all effectively good practicing Christians. Here are a few important points beyond disputing:
- The poor would be loved, respected and taken care of, such that there would be no poor.
- There would be no divorce or adultery. Families would stay united. Children would be well adjusted.
- We would love and respect the unborn, which is to say there would be no abortion and no infanticide.
- Life would have a uniform meaning, so there would be no psychological/psychiatric problems.
Welcome to Christian utopia.
Now consider the same points in a perfectly secular future:
- Only the most intelligent would be truly respected. Following the evolutionary principle of ’survival of the fittest’, the poor would likely be left to die as they are already, but worse.
- Anyone can marry anyone, and as many times as they want. ‘Family’ no longer has a meaningful definition.
- The unborn would continue be treated as less than pigs.
- The meaning of life would be at best subjective and at worst non-existent, leading to massive global psychological issues.
Welcome to Christian distopia. And you ask why I’m angry?
The late Christopher Hitchens used to love to say:
Name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.
I only wish someone had retorted by asking:
Name one ethical action obligated to be performed by
a non-believera new-atheist.
There is not one. Literally not a single one. This is the way they want it. This is the way they like it. And this is what they are asking us, societies still prevalent religious base, to give them. They want to have the right to do whatever they want and still be respected for it. Well, I do not hesitate with my response. “HELL. NO!”
We Christians will not give an inch. We won’t succumb to your new-atheistic attempts to woo us into your self-centred way of being. We value something greater than ourselves, and it’s not just God. We value the moral foundations of our society more than you do. We value our children more than you do (see point 3). We value marriage more than you do. And we value each other more than you do.
What do these new-atheists value above all else? Themselves.
So to those who, like my best friends, are non-believers and tend to agree with Christian values, I say this: God bless you, for you are strong. You may well be stronger than us as you recognise moral truths without God’s guidance. Just don’t fall into the trap of Self because that is the one thing that distinguishes you from your extremists.
To the new-atheists I say this: You will lose. Not because we will fight you (which we will). We fought you in France and we still lost. No. You will lose because you will self-destruct. You will achieve your secular utopia and it will not be what you expected. You will arrive and realise that your ‘alternative morality’ is nothing more than immorality. You will long for truth and the warmth of a moral embrace, and on that day, it will be a Christian who gives it to you.