In the 21st Century, with the advent of ‘New Atheists’ such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, atheism has witnessed a profound surge in popularity. Atheism has come to be regarded as extremely ‘cool’ among the millennial youth and religion, by and large, has acquired the reputation of being an obsolete relic from a by-gone era that is increasingly embracing the use of violence to maintain its relevance in a world that it does not recognize.
A trend has emerged where religious people are branded as fools by virtue of their faith and atheism has come to be regarded as the default position that one ought to endorse to be regarded as a credible intellectual worthy of admiration. It is rather unsurprising that atheists worldwide tend to align themselves with the Left of the political spectrum and often malign conservatives and misrepresent the conservative position on issues to come across as intellectually superior in a debate. Therefore, it is the time that we carefully investigate the modern atheist position and evaluate their claims for ourselves and check whether they are truly as close to reality as they claim them to be.
Modern atheists often claim that the world will be better off without the concept of God. However, there is no evidence for such a claim. The 20th century was the biggest refutation of such an assertion. Soviet Russia and Communist who slaughtered over 50 million people combined were atheistic regimes. While it is true that the regimes did not slaughter people to further the cause of atheism, the fact remains that absence of religion and Gods did not lead to a better society by default, it led to two of the biggest genocides in human history. And even today, the country that commits the greatest number of human rights violations, China, has a government set up that is atheistic in nature. Therefore, the assertion that negation of the concept of God will automatically lead to a more humane society does not have any basis in truth.
Atheists often claim that the most prosperous countries in the world today are those which have a large number of atheists. They cite the example of Western European countries and the USA as evidence of their claim. However, they conveniently ignore the fact that the foundations for the developed and prosperous Western Europe and the United States were laid when they were overwhelmingly Christian countries. And it is very dishonest of them to claim that atheism has been good for Western Europe. The countries in the region are now in turmoil and undergoing a massive demographic shift and internal conflict looks imminent in many of the regions with Islamic fundamentalism rapidly on the rise. And as for the US of A, the most powerful country in the world continues to have a rich tradition of Conservatism which has been undermined largely over the course of the past couple of decades and the country is more divided now than it has ever been in a century.
Atheists are inclined to claim that it is only theists who are in denial of science and that atheists are more rational than the theists. Of course, it is not as simple as the atheists make it out to be. The greatest attack on Science in the 21st Century have been made primarily by atheists. The Universities have been captured by postmodernists, who are overwhelmingly atheists, which are now organized in establishing banal propaganda as objective scientific truth. Evidence for claims such as “Gender is a social construct” or that “There are an infinite number of Genders” exists only in the gobbledygook of unscientific postmodernist literature and yet, these atheists want everyone to treat these fantasies as objective truth and want laws to be framed on the basis of such assertions.
The atheists also appear to suffer from the delusion that they cannot be religious. A careful examination of the conduct and mannerisms of modern-day atheists reveals that a majority of them are just as religious as the theists they denounce. The Progressives, a significant portion of whom are atheists and it could be argued that it’s a movement that is primarily driven by atheists, have an organized ideology which has uncanny resemblances to the orthodox religions they denounce.
They have their own clergy, that is, the Professors and the Media and the Hollywood celebrities, they have a ‘Great Other’ that they claim must be eliminated for the golden utopia of humanity to dawn, that is ‘Toxic Masculinity’ and ‘Patriarchy’ and ‘Traditions’ in general. They have their own peculiar rituals which often involve the public shaming and punishment of heretics, such as the attack on James Damore which eventually led to his dismissal from Google for a memo in which he had made factual arguments.
Like the clergy of the Catholic Church, even their clergy is regularly found to be involved in perverse activities which they claim to be fighting against. The only difference is that Progressives have replaced the concept of God with the deification of the ‘Self’. Therefore, if a person claims he is a woman despite having the biological anatomy of a male, then society must treat the words of the individual as gospel truth. The reason why we do not interpret Progressivism or Liberalism as religions is perhaps because we presume that the God-concept is integral for an ideology to be considered a religion. But it should be considered that for polytheists, the concept of a religion based on devotion towards a single god would have been equally bewildering as the concept of a religion without the concept of a god at all appears to us now. Atheists may find it difficult to accept but they are indeed just as religious as the theists they denounce. The only difference is, theists, hold sacred metaphysical beings and their diktats while the former indulge in the deification of the self.
The fundamental problem with the whole charade of putting atheism on a pedestal is that the answer to a single question cannot be the basis for a moral order. Therefore, when atheists claim that people are not being killed for the sake of atheism, they are being incredibly obtuse without realizing. People murder in the name of Allah or God because those entities represent a particular moral order and there are texts which promise rewards for engaging in such violence. And the authority of those texts flows from the God-head. Terrorists murder those they perceive as heretics because Allah or God sanction the act of committing murder of heretics as morally righteous. Atheism does not have the capability to inspire large-scale organized violence like certain religions do because such violence can only be inspired by a moral order, which religions are and atheism is not. Thus, you can have communism, which is atheistic in nature, perpetuate genocides but atheism is insufficient in and of itself to inspire any such actions. But atheism may pave the way for morbid ideologies to take root. For instance, Marx’s communism was firmly dependent on a materialistic interpretation of the world and atheism is fundamental to materialism. Thus, in many ways, communism is a morbid manifestation of an interpretation of the world based on atheism.
The positivist interpretation of history claims that humanity moved from animism to polytheism to monotheism and thus will eventually progress to atheism. However, the road from animism to monotheism wasn’t as simple as positivism assumes it to be, nor was the emergence of monotheism as the primary belief system in the world a foregone conclusion. There were moments in history when the pendulum could have swung either way and it was a series of coincidences and victories in certain wars that turned the pendulum in monotheism’s favour. Positivism assumes an inherent superiority of monotheism over polytheism and atheism over monotheism, however, these are ridiculous assumptions and after two thousand years of savagery inspired by the monotheism, attempts are being made to create an environment where all Gods are respected by every community which is an essential aspect of polytheism.
Steven Weinberg, the great American physicist and a Nobel laureate, once remarked, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil, but for good people to do evil – that takes religion.” Since then, the quote has been canonized by atheists. However, there are intrinsic contradictions within the statement. For instance, if a person commits a horrible act of pure evil, can he still be called a good person? Because as we are well aware, acts of evil are not born in a vacuum, it takes long hours of contemplation and planning and then comes the part where he acts it out. If a person does not realize that his actions are evil while he is contemplating and planning the event, is he a ‘good’ person? If a person does not realize that flying planes into the World Trade Center is wrong, is he a good person? If a person does not realize that running people over with his car is evil, is he a good person? Perhaps, what Weinberg means is it takes religion to make a person with good intentions commit acts which are unspeakably evil. But even then, he is off the mark. It is often said, the path to hell is paved with good intentions. A person with good intentions can very much embrace evil if he believes humanity will profit from his actions after it’s all over. Such quotes which have been canonized by atheists reflect a poor understanding of the ambiguous nature of good and evil and a lack of philosophical depth.
Modern atheism is very much based on the principles of Abrahamic monotheism. And as some philosophers argue, monotheism is atheism at its very core as they deny the existence of all Gods barring their own. The concept of the denial of the existence of certain Gods according to one’s own convenience arose with monotheism itself. Before the advent of monotheism, there was no such concept. Atheists certainly deal in absolutes. They fail to appreciate that some religions are better than others. Due to the veil over their eyes, they indulge in a sweeping condemnation of all religions without taking the time to study the philosophical differences between the major religions of the world and the foundations that they are built upon.
Despite what atheists might suggest, religion has been immensely beneficial for humanity. As Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and author of ‘The Righteous Mind’, says, “The very ritual practices that the New Atheists dismiss as costly, inefficient and irrational turn out to be a solution to one of the hardest problems humans face: cooperation without kinship.” He further says, “Groups create supernatural beings not to explain the universe but to order their societies.” Indeed, if there’s a single lesson that the 21st century has taught us, it’s that absence of religion does not directly translate into a better world.