This essay was inspired by a discussion on Dan Riehl's excellent blog that veered into a discussion of atheism.
Almost all of the "atheists" I know and have heard of are not "anti-religion"; they are anti-christian. It's amazing how America's atheists, for example, will spend their hours rationalizing mythic cults, and bending to favor judaism -- yet another group tyrannized by christians -- and cheering islam. But christianity? The mother of all evil.This comment and the one to which it responded describe the difference between principled atheists, whom I would term Nietzschean atheists, and populist (reactionary, socialist, scientistic, or hippy) atheists. The difference between the two types of atheism is as stark as the difference between Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism. One is for the dedicated seeker who follows a rigorous, mystical, philosophical path. The other is scientism for the masses. The principled atheist will follow the same moral codes as churchgoers because he realizes it is the right thing to do. The populist atheist will have a Darwin bumper sticker on his car.
For the rest of this essay I will focus on populist atheism. Principled atheism is rare, it is difficult, and each principled atheist is self-defined and unique. Principled atheists do not reproduce. They have populist atheist children. This is not the case with populist atheists. They reproduce true, or produce polytheists.
Populist Atheism, Scientism, or Atheism for short, is just as much a religious ideology as any other word that ends in "ism." In particular Atheism as it is followed in Europe and the Americas is an exclusive Polytheism. It borrows its exclusivity from Christianity, which it opposes. It borrows its Polytheism from teutonic, norse, greek, roman, and celtic Paganism, which Christianity opposed and overcame in Europe.
Exclusivity, in religion, is the belief that one knows the only Truth that is to be known, and that all others who believe their religion gives them the Truth are sadly deluded, or agents of perdition. This fits Atheism with respect to Christianity. But it does not fit the populist Atheist with respect to polytheistic and alien religions, because mainstream Atheists are polytheists. They are polytheists who will adopt any belief that will help them oppose Christianity.
Polytheism is the belief in lots of gods, each with their own sphere of control. The greeks had gods of lightning, the sea, horses, archery, the sun, cities, meadows, rivers, and mountains. Atheists have scientific and scientistic laws, for that is what they call their gods, that rule over physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, computation, and even pseudo-sciences such as economics, sociology, and psychology. These laws can provide mastery of domains of knowledge to those who worship and learn with sufficient fervor. The atheist's sacred laws are continually challenged by their children (real scientists call them hypotheses) until inevitably each law is overthrown by a hypothesis that becomes the new law.
Atheists are also led to polytheistic forms of belief by the examples of great scientist heroes, such as Oppenheimer, who famously quoted the Bhagavad-Gita, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." If Oppenheimer could so identify with Vishnu, then atheists, who idolize scientists like Oppenheimer, could follow him to explore the Hindu scriptures, transcendental meditation, various other yogis, and incorporate these and other polytheistic beliefs and practices in their atheistic religion. For another example of polytheistic influences on Atheism, see the Gaia hypothesis and its direct effect on global warming beliefs and even the Kyoto protocols.
All religions have a creation story to explain how the universe came to be, and another to explain the beginning of life, and human life. All religions have heroes who accomplish great things by means of their sacramental powers. All religions draw a distinction between things that are sacred, and those that are profane or mundane. All religions teach something about the structure and meaning of the natural world, and of man's place in it. And all religions have some explanation for what happens to people when they die.
Their creation story is the big bang, where a miracle occured to create the universe. Life happened as a result of chemical reactions guided by the laws of chemistry and physics. Humans descended from apes. Atheist heroes are scientists, with Darwin the mighty smiter of the Christian creation story, Einstein the enigmatic riddle-maker, and Galileo the martyr who founded their creed in the face of fierce opposition from the Catholic church. Atheists believe that learning is sacred and ignorance is profane. They believe the world exists to support life, and man's place is to be its caretaker. And finally, they believe that people die and their consciousness ceases to be, while their bodies decompose and become part of the world they live on. Materialism is the ultimate message of atheism.
Like Satanism, Atheism in Europe and the Americas is defined by its opposition to Christianity. Like Satanism, at bottom its message lacks hope. Satanists eventually realize they are serving the forces of disorder and chaos. Atheists eventually realize their belief system leads to nihilism. For if in the final tally each man is nothing more than compost, then what distinguishes a man from an animal, or from a sack of guts and bones?
Once upon a time Christianity was the guiding creed for an empire. This empire opposed pagan polytheism and destroyed it or drove it into the deep forests and wild mountains. In Arabia, the empire of Islam destroyed its own polytheist competitors before it took on other religions. Christianity is no longer the sort of religion that will crush and persecute pagans, or even atheists and satanists who set themselves directly in opposition to Christian moral teaching. Islam still is such a religion. It is every bit as fierce as it was in the 7th century A.D, when it slaughtered, converted or enslaved millions and conquered half the Christian world.
Atheism has become the official belief system of the European intellectual and taste-making classes, and to a somewhat lesser degree their American counterparts. Certainly it is the belief system of the New York Times, Reuters, all Ivy League faculties, the UN, and other NGO's.
I hope it does not happen. But it is possible (probable if not inevitable) that some day Islam will dominate the government of some European countries, or even of America. At that point, all atheists will be told they must accept Islam or die. When they are given a choice between death within a religion that tells them they are no better than a pile of compost, and life under a religion that tells them they are slaves of Allah, most will choose a life of slavery over death and compost.
They will turn to Islam and join the Jihad. Or they will pretend to believe in Islam and their children or grandchildren will be true believers who join the Jihad.
What does that do for the rest of us, the ones who actually believe in something? The ones who will not submit? The ones who will not become a slave, or allow their children to live in slavery to Allah or to his slaves? It's like a zombie movie, where the next door neighbor becomes another one of the monsters who wants to eat your brain.
And that is why we must oppose Atheism. Because it teaches believers that life has no meaning it is a weak belief system. If we build our society on a base of Atheism, our society will fall when the storm comes. And the storm doesn't even have to be Islam, though that is the storm we expect to face first.