Sunday, February 22, 2009

Motivations of Contemporary Atheists

You know, I've spent a lot of time since the election thinking about the godlessness and moral relativism of the contemporary left.

So many - note that, many - of them extoll their atheism and they readily attack "
Christianists" for their traditional values. Modern leftists excoriate traditionalists as blithering idiots or backwood hicks, or worse. Especially in the context of same-same marriage, where the debate is so intense, even violent, the more you listen to these people, the more clear it is that today's radicals want a wholesale revolution in society's moral regime, so they can "have it their way."

In any case, Dinesh D'Souza explains all of this perfectly in his interview at
Salvo Magazine:

Atheists spend a lot of time thinking about the motives for belief. Why do religious people believe these ridiculous things? When you turn the tables on atheists and ask them why they don't believe, they will answer, "Because we don't have enough evidence. We don't believe because there's no proof." But if you think about it, this is an inadequate explanation, because if you truly believe that there is no proof for God, then you're not going to bother with the matter. You're just going to live your life as if God isn't there.

I don't believe in unicorns, so I just go about my life as if there are no unicorns. You'll notice that I haven't written any books called The End of the Unicorn, Unicorns Are Not Great, or The Unicorn Delusion, and I don't spend my time obsessing about unicorns. What I'm getting at is that you have these people out there who don't believe that God exists, but who are actively attempting to eliminate religion from society, setting up atheist video shows, and having atheist conferences. There has to be more going on here than mere unbelief.

If you really look at the motivations of contemporary atheists, you'll find that they don't even really reject Christian theology. It's not as if the atheist objects to the resurrection or the parting of the sea; rather, it is Christian morality to which atheists object, particularly Christian moral prohibitions in the area of sex. The atheist looks at all of Christianity's "thou shalt nots"—homosexuality is bad; divorce is bad; adultery is bad; premarital sex is bad—and then looks at his own life and says, "If these things are really bad, then I'm a bad guy. But I'm not a bad guy; I'm a great guy. I must thus reinterpret or (preferably) abolish all of these accusatory teachings that are putting me in a bad light."

How does one do that? One way is liberal Christianity—you simply reinterpret Christian teachings as if they don't really mean what they say. The better way, of course, is to ask where morality comes from. Well, it comes from one of two places. It either comes from ourselves—these are the rules that we make up as we go along—or it comes from some transcendent source. To get rid of God, then, is to remove the shadow of moral judgment. This doesn't mean that you completely eliminate morality, but it does mean that you reduce morality to a tool that human societies construct for their own advantages. It means that morality can change, and that old rules can be set aside. You can see why this would be a very attractive proposition for the guy who wants to live his life unmolested by the injunctions and prohibitions of Christian morality.
Hat Tip: Hot Air.

9 comments:

Philippe Ohlund said...

Great post, Donald! :-)

I think most atheists in fact believe that there is a God, and I also think they understand they will be judged on judgment day.

They only try to make an excuse for their ungodly beliefs or lifestyles by formally rejecting the presence of God.

Donald Douglas said...

"They only try to make an excuse for their ungodly beliefs or lifestyles by formally rejecting the presence of God."

I think so too, Philippe. Thanks for commenting.

Philippe Ohlund said...

You are welcome, Donald! :-)

The Vegas Art Guy said...

Good post, if you have not read his book "What's So Great About Christianity?" you really should. But it's a pretty complex book so be forewarned.

Donald Douglas said...

Vegas Guy: I have read it, about half or so actually.

Thanks for commmenting.

JBW said...

I am not "most atheists" Philippe but I nonetheless reject your blanket characterization in kind. I am more afraid of venereal disease than I am your god but as I say, perhaps that is just me (and my decadent, godless lifestyle, of course).

repsac3 said...

If I am an atheist at all (& this post kinda intimates I am), I must be the kind of atheist Phillippe's talking about; that special kind of atheist that believes in God. (Of course, that doesn't mean I believe in the same concept of Judgement Day that Phillippe does. My concept of a "day of judgement" is closer to this: Unitarian Universalist Church of Muncie Website - When Is the Day of Judgment? : "I want you to prepare yourself for that day to come, not necessarily in some afterlife but soon, very soon, perhaps even today. On the Day of Judgment you are confronted with the consequences of how you have lived and what you need to change." I believe "judgement Day" can come at any time in your life, and can happen to you more than once.)

Not so much a moral relativist, either. The piece to which Donald links in claiming I am a moral relativist is not about morality (absolutist or relativistic) at all, but about absolute statements about classes or groups of people based on religion, place of birth, ethnicity, or even political persuasion presented as fact. (Some call such statements Stereotypes.)

Rather than accepting this kind of uncommitted dismissal of what I said based on feigned misunderstanding, I would ask Donald which of my examples of absolute statements he agrees or disagrees with.
Are all Americans good?
Are all Muslims bad?
Are all people who call themselves liberals--or for that matter, conservatives--inherently good or evil, right or wrong?

PrivatePigg said...

"I am more afraid of venereal disease than I am your god"

Well, no offense, but that doesn't seem too bright. It's pretty easy not to get VD - just refrain from the risky activities that bring it about. On the other hand, there is nothing you can do against a vengeful, angry, judgmental, or even active God.

As I said before, you have nothing to lose by honestly embracing faith. God might, in fact, exist. If you don't embrace, and he exists, you're screwed. VD, on the other hand, is simple enough to avoid.

PrivatePigg said...

My point is, I cannot prove God's existence to you. Likewise, you cannot disprove God's existence to me. Thus, it makes little sense to fear an easily avoidable disease more than the potential all-powerful being that, despite your skepticism, is as likely to exist as not.