Irrational and Angry Atheists
It took some doing to change my perspectives on religion, to be sure. As a teenager, like many other teenagers, I rebelled against what I thought was religion and openly abandoned faith in order to embrace a rationalistic, atheist creed. I thought I was embracing a philosophy devoid of silly superstitious nonsense and full of scientific, rational examinations of the truth. And, like most teenagers, I became openly hostile and angry towards most religions- especially Christianity. It should surprise no one that when I was taught about the Crusades in the 7th Grade, for instance, I was given the usual tropes about the Crusades being a massive, continent-wide campaign of conquest and unprovoked hostility against peace-loving Muslims in the Holy Land.
Yeah, let's just say that I've gotten a few things wrong in my life.
It took a long time for me to come around to the truth of God's power, wisdom, and grace. It took some serious personal crises for me to realise that I was not alone, that the Lord does indeed watch over His children, and that for better or worse, I am and always will be flawed and fallen. But eventually I realised that I was wrong and essentially woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and told myself, "face it, you believe in God". In the days since, I have prayed often to the Lord for forgiveness, wisdom, and grace. I do not know if He is listening- but I believe He is, and that, somehow, is enough.
One of the books that was most essential to this change of attitudes was of course Vox Day's The Irrational Atheist, which was my first introduction to his published works of non-fiction and remains to this day one of the reasons why I hold him in such high regard. Chapter Four remains an insurmountable obstacle for any atheist attempting to challenge Vox's ideas; as far as I'm aware, not one successful atheist rebuttal to its arguments has ever been issued.
So it was with considerable interest that I read Captain Capitalism's recent blog post on the subject of the Angry Atheist:
The Angry Atheist confuses and confounds your average conservative or even your average innocent bystander. Most people don't know where the visceral hatred Angry Atheists have comes from and are kind of shocked by it. Most people's thinking is:The Captain is himself the son of a preacher, and is an atheist, and his views on God seem to mirror my own shortly before I finally became a believer. Like me, he maintains no particular hostility towards religion and seems to seek only to be left alone. Unlike me, he does not take the final step and accept the existence of a Higher Power, but I'm hardly one to criticise him for that:
"Well, if you're an athiest, then what do you care about religion? Shouldn't you be some kind of easy, laid back, live and let live sort of guy? What's with all the hatred, mockery and ridicule of people who just happen to believe in a religion?"
Thus when an unsuspecting person breaches the topic of religion or mentions their particular faith, they are completely blindsided by the ensuing screed delivered to them by the Angry Atheist.
First, understand I have no skin in this game. I couldn't care less what people's religion is. If there's any problem I have with religion, it's that most participants of all religions do not participate in the religion for anything as noble and selfless as worship or a god, but rather for ulterior and selfish motives. Finding a spouse, socializing, business connections, belonging to a team, heck, even rationalizing taking over the world. Whatever the reason it isn't for "god." But for the few sincere and legitimate practitioners of religion, I respect them and leave them be. So whether you're a Jew or a Catholic or even an atheist, I don't care.This distinction is an interesting one, because it's very similar to what Vox does in his book. Vox drew a distinction between what he called Low Church and High Church atheists. Low Church atheists are the types of atheists that you and I know and associate with every day- one of them sits right next to me at work, another one went to university with me. They generally don't care much about religion, and simply don't want to have it forced down their throats. They seek to harm no one, and want nothing much more than to be left alone in their un-belief. And for these Low Church atheists, I have enormous sympathy.
Second, NAAALT (Not All Atheists Are Like That). I know the majority of atheists are the laid back, live and let live types. I have atheist friends and I am certainly no fan of religion. Remember, we're focusing on the ANGRY Atheists who feel compelled to foist themselves into people's personal religious decisions. Not Bob at the water cooler who doesn't go to church.
The High Church atheists are the types that get everyone annoyed- those like Richard Dawkins (whose book, The God Delusion, was so poorly written and argued that it turned out to be one of the reasons why I stopped being an atheist), Sam Harris (whose nonsensical arguments about religion being a source of war and suffering have been systematically shredded by Vox and others), and the late Christopher Hitchens. And this is what the Captain describes with uncanny accuracy:
It is no coincidence your average Angry Atheist is also a leftist. The reason why is that atheism is the easiest religion of them all, requiring no effort, thought, ponderance or work. You simply "declare" you're one and POOF! You're in the club and you now "belong."Spot on. The defining characteristic of High Church atheists is their absurd and completely unrealistic belief that without religion, Man is somehow perfectible. And this marks out their fatal conceit, their fundamental flaw. One of the absolute bedrock principles of Christianity is the conviction that Man is fallen and fallible, and that while perfection is no longer possible, it is possible to achieve a measure of redemption through the Light and Word of God. The belief in the redeeming power of the Lord's Grace is what sets Christianity apart from virtually everything else, as is the belief that God gave His children a truly priceless and awesome gift- the capacity for reason. This idea is not shared by Hinduism, for instance, which adopts a far more fatalistic view of things (well, depending on the Hindu; one of the defining features of Hinduism is that it has absolutely no central structure or belief system). Nor is it shared by Islam, which is less a religion and more a political ideology with a wrathful and contrary god at its centre. Nor is it a feature of Judaism, which embraces Man's Fall but not the view of a loving and caring God. And nor is it a feature of High Church Atheism, which believes that if only Man abandoned faith, he would abandon everything that holds him back from achieving his true potential.
In this sense, it's the epitome of irony, because the Angry Atheist is simply joining another religion. It's just not so much an "absence" of religion (as a true laid back atheist would be), it's an "ANTI-religion religion." They have a vendetta, they have a crusade, they (like all other religion people) now have a purpose and belong to a club - we must destroy other people's religion. If anything, it's a testament to the most cowardly (and borderline psychotic) mentality of a Crusader-Angry-Atheist because his/her "religion" is simply to destroy something others have built. They can't just let it be. And it is here we see the parallels between Angry Atheists and leftists because their psychologies are the same.
First, both are hypocrites. Leftists and Angry Atheists are such because the average liberal does not "care about the poor" nor does the Angry Atheist "really want to stop cultish and abusive religions." They are in it first and foremost for themselves. The leftist will ALWAYS trumpet and parade their ideology first thing in a conversation because that is CORE to their being. The Angry Atheist will as well. They claim membership to these groups FOR THEIR EGOS, not for anything as noble as "helping the poor" or "stopping abusive religion." They are crusaders, and most ironically (again) they are the most devout, zealous, and extreme of religious people. Their religions just happen to be godless.
Second, both are usually worthless people (I am reminding normal Atheists, this does not include you). They have no value beyond their religion. They are too lazy to go and develop a skill, a trade, a career, and develop themselves as a human and live an interesting and productive life. And instead of enduring or expending the effort, rigor, development, trials, tribulations and challenges in life that would give them a core and worth, they instead claim allegiance to a "holy and noble crusade" they really couldn't less about to fill that hole. The average leftist joins the Peace Corps and does nothing to help Africans while the Angry Atheist rips on religious people because their liberal arts degree isn't getting them a job.
The reality is that faith defines us, because through faith we accept our limitations and instead seek to work with and around them. Without faith, we are lost in a world of darkness. Faith is what gives us comfort, lets us stay the course when there is nothing left, nourishes our souls. Without faith, we are not human.
That, ultimately, is why I stopped being an atheist. I saw that atheism offered neither redemption nor grace nor nourishment. It offered only bitterness and anger, and endless suffering. It is no coincidence that the most destructive regimes in history were openly atheistic. Every Communist nation in history abandoned faith, and in the process abandoned humanity- embracing instead absolute and utter barbarity as the excuse for massacring and starving millions. The death toll associated with atheism is truly horrific- indeed, as Vox himself has said, perhaps his single greatest achievement in the endless debates between the faithful and the faithless is his utter demolition of the argument that religion is responsible for violence and war. Atheism ultimately leads to the destruction of the idea that the life of every man, woman, and child has value- and regardless of the low regard in which I hold most people I encounter daily, I certainly do not wish them harm and do not for one moment advocate debasing their humanity for the sake of creating a "perfect world".