A useful way to think about faith and belief is to imagine a scale where at one end you have fanaticism and at the other end you have extreme skepticism. The Muslim wearing a suicide vest is down at the fanatic end, while H.L. Mencken was down at the other end with the extreme skeptics. Disbelief is not the opposite of belief. Skepticism is the opposite of belief. The believer is willing to accept, without evidence, the truth of some statement, while the skeptic is unwilling to accept statements without proof.
Atheists will argue that atheism is the opposite of religious belief, but that’s what is called a gratuitous assertion. The atheist believes there is no superior being. They have no proof of this as there can be no proof. In that regard, atheism is illogical as it is something that can never be proved. Christianity, in contrast, can be proved. Christ could show up and confirm the tenets of the faith. The same is true of Islam or Judaism. In other words, even though there is no proof now, there could be proof. That’s not possible with atheism.
My general impression has always been that atheists are a) mugging for attention, b) mostly opposed to Christianity in a subversive way and/or c) not well versed in religion or the role of religion. Bill Maher is a famous atheist because it makes him safely edgy. He gets to be controversial without any risk of controversy. A Penn Jillette, on the other hand, is just angry that his mother died and his prayers were not answered the way he wanted them answered. He’s also arguing from a position of ignorance. He’s just not that smart.
It’s why I don’t find atheists or atheism all that interesting. Most of it is just a pose from people who demand the right to say controversial things, but have nothing controversial to say. They are meta-rebels. These are people who talk about being rebellious and subversive, but never dare color outside the lines. Entertainers are fond of this style of edginess as it safely allows them to flatter their audience’s own egotistic need to see themselves as an avant-garde. Every modern TV comic falls into this category.
The other day I saw on twitter that Richard Dawkins went somewhere to insult Christians and was so proud of his efforts he was tweeting about it. Dawkins is more famous for being a public douche bag now, than he is for his book The Selfish Gene. I chalk this up mostly to the madness that results from trying to square the prevailing orthodoxy with the realities of biology. Dawkins wants to be a beloved public intellectual and an honest man of science. Instead he is an obnoxious provocateur and a public nuisance.
Dawkins claims to be a militant atheist, not just an anti-Christian bigot, but it’s hard to find any evidence to support his claims. He’s careful not to say bad things about Muslims, probably because he enjoys having his head attached to his neck. Similarly, he has been very careful not to upset the Jews. Christians, on the other hand, get no breaks and he seems to go out of his way to offend them. This is true of all atheists. Whether it is because Christians are a soft target or just anti-Christian animus is debatable.
The other day, someone asked me about this clip from the Joe Rogan Show that Cernovich was promoting. The point was to solicit an opinion from me on Cernovich. My reply was “I will not be shocked if one day we learn that Sam Harris has been strangling hookers and burying them in the desert.” I’ve never found Harris very interesting, so I never bothered to watch him. In that ten minute clip, I got the impression that Harris has a lot of demons. I was also reminded that atheist are almost always joyless dickheads.
I was also reminded that Vox Day used to give Sam Harris the business. I no longer remember the details, but I think a few of the alt-right people have taken shots at Harris, who in addition to being an atheist, is a hooting Progressive and an anti-Trumper. That’s a feature of atheism that goes unremarked. Most are Progressives and usually the hard thumping variety. They may not believe in God, but they are bubbling over with belief in the One True Faith. This suggests that maybe atheism is just another facet of Progressivism.
The Prog impulse to root around in the private lives of strangers, imposing their values on everyone, comes from public Protestantism. This is the general belief that societies are judged as a whole, so the faithful have a duty to root out sin and lift up sinners. In the same way, atheists seem to think that their sacred duty is to stamp out Christianity, as if it is a sin preventing mankind from reaching the singularity. It is excessive belief, manifesting as a hostility toward the more conventional expressions of belief.
To be clear, I’m not a believer. I’m down on the end of the scale with Mencken. I don’t know if the Christians are right about a God in heaven, but I don’t know they are wrong either. I don’t know. I can’t know. For all I know we could be a science experiment for some extra-dimensional species. That said, if religious faith brings you happiness, I’m happy for you and wish you the best with it, just as long as you don’t make a nuisance of yourself. In other words, indifference is my preferred position on your religiosity.
I do know I’d never want to live in a world ruled by atheists.