Freethinkers or Free-FARTERS?
Yes, the New Atheists are the new mystics of our modern age…
I don’t really talk much about my atheism because I don’t consider it a big deal at all. I don’t believe being an atheist will make a person more rational and more sensible. For me, atheism is not an end in itself. It’s never a guarantee for anyone to live as a rational human being. This is the reason why I don’t mingle with some people in these parts who label themselves as “Freethinkers” (whatever that term means).
There are several self-proclaimed godless people today— the so-called New Atheists—who band together like fanatical followers of a secular religious cult. They talk about their atheism as if it’s one of the means to achieve secular salvation. They exert so much effort to recruit believers to embrace godlessness as if it’s part of their secular duty on earth. Like the Catholic priests, protestant pastors and passionate televangelists, these New Atheists have been embarking on secular evangelism, hoping to recruit more people to their cultist fold. If the more than one billion Catholics have Pope Benedict XVI and the Muslims have Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, the New Atheists have Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens as the high priests of the global secular cult.
What then is the earthbound glue that binds these New Atheists together? Hatred of religion is the main reason why these New Atheists think and behave like most religionists do. They say they are advocates of reason, science, and secular principles, but are they? They have declared war on religion. They are engaged in an unusual religious war on all religions and religious sects which they decry as invalid, mind-thwarting, self-perpetuating, and deadly.
To validate their claim that religion causes misery and death, the New Atheists point out the crimes of religions, such as the Inquisition and Crusades and Witch Trials of early Christianity, the deadly Jihad waged in the name of Islam today, and so on. However, the defenders of religion rebut this claim by saying that there were more people killed by the atheistic regimes of the past century.
What most New Atheists failed to understand is that they share similar “code of morality” with the religionists whom they fanatically denounce. This “code of morality” that empowers the two destroyers of our civilization— Faith and Force— is Altruism. Yes, altruism is the morality that deeply polluted the minds of both the New Atheists and the religionists. This type of man-sacrificing ethical system conceptualized by Auguste Compte, states that it is the moral duty or obligation of individuals to serve the good and welfare of others and put their interests above their own.
According to Greg Perkins, atheism is not itself an ideology because “there is no such thing as an “atheistic mindset” or an atheist movement.” Thus he states the following:
“Atheism per se hasn’t inspired and doesn’t lead to anything in particular because it is an effect—not a cause—and there are countless reasons for a person to not believe in God, ranging from vicious to innocent to noble. The newborn baby lacks a belief in God, as does the Postmodern Nihilist, the Communist, and the Objectivist—but each for entirely different reasons having dramatically different implications. So lumping all of these together under the “atheist” label as if that were a meaningful connection is profoundly confused. Yet this is exactly what the New Atheists do and encourage: they talk about how there are so many atheists out there, and advocate their banding together into an atheist community to seek fellowship, foster cultural change, build a political voice, and so on. But what would a committed Communist and an Objectivist have in common—regarding what they do believe, why they believe it, how that leads them to live personally, the sort of social system they would strive for in government? Nothing. They are polar opposites in principle and practice, across the philosophical board.”
Perkins further states that the New Atheists will not be able to debunk the fervent apologists of religion “because they lack the objective philosophical perspective necessary to penetrate to the core of these issues.”
“In this case, their struggles reveal a failure to genuinely appreciate how religion is not itself the fundamental problem—irrationality is. Religion constitutes just one form of unreason, and the only thing that makes it particularly noteworthy and dangerous is that it has at its heart an explicit, committed, philosophical attack on reason: extolling faith as a virtue,” Perkins says.
In his article entitled “The Mystical Ethics of the New Atheists” published in The Objective Standard, Alan Germani says Hitchens may be adept at pointing out religious absurdities, the problem is that he fails spectacularly when it comes to providing a valid secular alternative to the moral guidance provided by religion, as he endorses essentially the same ethics as do religionists (altruism) and he arrives at this ethics by essentially the same means (mysticism). “If this is the best the New Atheists have to offer in their efforts to lure people away from religion, they should not be surprised to find religionists ignoring them,” he says.
Germani further states:
“Like Hitchens, Harris advocates altruism, the notion that being moral consists in living for the sake of others, or, more precisely, in self-sacrificially serving others. And although Harris acknowledges that “there are millions of people whose faith moves them to perform extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others,” he claims that “there are far better reasons for self-sacrifice than those that religion provides.”
“The best “reason” for self-sacrifice, says Harris, is that “the social feeling of love is one of our greatest sources of happiness; and love entails that we be concerned for the happiness of others.” This, he says, “suggests a clear link between ethics [by which Harris means altruism] and positive human emotions. The fact that we want the people we love to be happy, and are made happy by love in turn, is an empirical observation.”
“The happiness that Harris advocates is not the happiness that comes from the achievement of one’s own self-interested, life-promoting values. Rather, it is a “higher happiness,” which allegedly comes from sacrificing one’s own interests for the sake of others.”
It is true that it takes some amount of courage for anyone to disparage religions, particularly Islam, and the existence of an all-powerful deity. But like Germani states, “it takes greater courage to challenge the even more widespread belief that being moral consists in self-sacrificially serving others.” Criticizing faith and the existence of God is not enough to encourage people to forsake religion. Religion is not the very root of misery, ignorance, and mysticism on earth, and this is what most New Atheists fail to see. If they want to encourage believers to abandon their faith, they must muster the courage to discover reason and to reject and challenge the morality of altruism. Yes, the New Atheists are the new mystics of our modern age.
With this, let me quote Germani’s concluding statement:
“Fortunately for those who do have the courage to follow reason and challenge the validity of altruism, Ayn Rand has already discovered, demonstrated, and codified a morality based on and derived from the demonstrable requirements of human life, happiness, and coexistence: rational egoism. By first asking the question “Why does man need morality?” she proceeded to discover that man, as a being who must make choices, needs morality as a guide to life-promoting action. She discovered that man’s life is the standard of moral value—which means that actions that advance man’s life are moral and that those that retard or destroy man’s life are immoral.
“Unlike religion and secular altruism, rational egoism neither entails nor permits any claim on the lives of other men. It holds that each man should act in his own best interest and that each man is the proper beneficiary of his own thought and action. And because egoism recognizes that it is right for a man to think and act in his self-interest, it also recognizes that it is wrong for others to violate this right through physical force or fraud. Rational egoism not only serves to guide an individual’s actions; it also serves as the foundation for a rights-respecting, civilized society.
“It is beyond the purpose of this article to elaborate the ethics of rational egoism. But those who see the glaring need for a rational (i.e., non-mystical), life-serving (i.e., non-sacrificial) morality—a morality for living and achieving happiness on Earth—will find it elaborated in the works of Ayn Rand.”