The more I study and the more I think the more I conclude that there are only ostensible differences in the most common ideas, be them political, religious, or even broadly philosophical. It’s all the same authoritarian determinism with different vocabulary. Or the same vocabulary (Catholic vs. Protestant, for example; Democrat vs. Republican, for another example) redefined.
I have been listening to a lot of Christopher Hitchens on YouTube lately, because I am always on the look out for ways in which atheism (or antitheism, as he prefers to think of his ideas) differs fundamentally from other authoritarian determinist collectivist ideologies, like, for example, religious despotism (Hi there, neo-Calvinist movement!). And Hitchens is this month’s flavor….Noam Chomsky, then followed by Stephan Moleneux and a slew of like-minded (to Stephan, not Noam) anarcho-capitalists was last month’s variety. On a side note, I’m sure this is not an original thought, but shouldn’t we refer to Noam as Gnome? I mean, he doesn’t look entirely unlike one of those adorable pointy-headed little elves which garnish so many suburban yards; and he’s about as useful when you examine what he actually says.
Here’s my conclusion: There is no fundamental difference. All the presumptions which form the core of these ideologies–atheist, theist, agnostic, what have you–utterly concede the idea that man is a function of some outside force; which of course destroys man’s identity and obligates him to the “philosopher kings”–the purveyors of the Primary Consciousness in question (God, laws of nature, “human existence”–that is, the existential irreducible primary a-la Ayn Rand, the Party, the Race, the Tribe, the Gender, the Nation, the Kingdom, the Mathematics, the Moral Law, the “Right Way” of Doing Things, etc.).
It is equal parts frustrating and highly telling. Truly the philosopher kings have no clothes. No one seems able nor even willing to answer the question “What is man?”. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the very first thing for which your mind–which must always enter into the arena of ideas with a generous portion of skepticism and a side of knee-jerk denial–should be on the lookout. If no definition of man is forthcoming, then the idea(s) should be summarily rejected as an illegitimate answer for the questions “What is TRUTH?” and “What should man do?”. For unless man is rationally defined as a SELF which is completely autonomous and distinct, infinite in its ability to BE what it is, and to KNOW what it is and what it is not, and to appeal to itself as the only rational standard by which truth may be defined as true, and moral (good) actions may be defined as actually moral (good), and coupled with an explanation of just how this is materially possible (which can only be done by injecting God into the equation, atheists)…yes, unless this is forthcoming then you may safely assume that the ideas you are consuming are not fit for existential application. That is, they are not TRUTH, and thus while they may serve some ancillary subjective purpose in some specific context, they are inadequate for describing and/or explaining reality on the whole.
So, no atheist that I have observed yet answers the question, “What is man?”. It is just assumed that man IS. But IS is not fundamentally different from IS NOT unless it can be explained beyond its “axiom”–the axiom which says that that IS simply IS, and there is no consideration given to just how the IS became an IS and how it therefore may be rationally juxtaposed to what it IS NOT. For what is merely considered to BE can only be observed as distinct (that is, where its being is not utterly infinite) from other things if one can explain just how this distinction can be made. That is, how what IS, and infinitely so, can co-exist with other things which it is NOT. And no one–NO atheist which I have observed–does this beyond appeals to science (or ignorance…”We just don’t know”), just like the the “orthodox” religious big-mouths appeal to God’s creative powers whereby He makes something out of nothing (which is nonsense defined). And of course it should be observed that these are ideas which can only be conceded AFTER one already exists, FROM that place of existence. In other words, the things that always and only are observed to follow from man’s awareness of himSELF (like the “laws of nature”, for instance) are said to be the cause of that SELF…which is a madness to rival even the most insane sidewalk babbler.
The atheist or antitheist dismisses God out of hand as tyrannical nonsense simply because the men who have preached Him since even before the days of Christ have succumbed to the pervasive lie of gnosticism (codified by Plato, and further disseminated by St. Augustine under the guise of Christian enlightenment). They never bother to ask themselves whether or not the self-described proxies and herald’s of God and His moral mandates actually rightly apprehend His person and place and purpose, or rationally interpret the religious canonical texts. They simply concede that the ecclesiastical proselytes do. Or, better said, the atheist first assumes that God cannot exist, and then they use the obviously irrational doctrines, and the obviously untenable interpretations of scriptures of the religious “orthodoxy” to “prove” their point.
What I mean is that instead of simply pointing out the logical flaws in the doctrines and platitudes perpetuated by those who claim to know and preach God, the atheist assumes that these doctrines are the only way God can be acknowledged to exist and to act efficaciously. Not only is this intellectually dishonest, it is a massively shallow and obtuse assumption, and undermines their entire argument. They approach religion with the same flawed assumption their mystic counterparts do: that religion rationally passes as a full-on philosophy. Which, as I elaborated upon in my last post, it does not. Religion is NOT a philosophy–at least not in the true holistic sense–because before one can believe in the doctrines of faith one must have conceded metaphysical and epistemological absolutes ALREADY in order to proclaim that it is THEY who are BELIEVING in something. Any atheist who is worth anything beyond his or her polemic-ism would understand this, and therefore not assume that God must necessarily be defined by religion, which, again, does not internally or intrinsically possess any metaphysical or epistemological axioms.
The atheist, to be taken any more seriously than the mystic, must understand that there is a massive difference between a disbelief in religion and a disbelief in God. But they don’t seem to make this distinction, nor give any evidence that they are even aware of it at all. Which leads me to conclude that prominent atheists like Christopher Hitchens are in essence no different than the very people they pretend to criticize: People who love to argue for truth only from hindsight, where the “logic” extends no further than the initial assumption. And of course the problem with this is that the presumption can thus be literally anything at all, which means, conveniently, that they can never lose an argument, much like the mystic who appeals to his or her divinely bestowed enlightenment, which cannot be learned but must be somehow magically dispensed. For the atheist, by presuming an infinite existential axiom with zero explanation as to just how such an axiom can be arrived at (and yet it still must be conceded), simply appeals to the same argument of “divine” enlightenment, except they remove God as the granter of such gnosis, and replace Him with a salad bar of empiricism, like science and nature and mathematics and statistics and ad-hominem and moralizing and “righteous” indignation, and even shoulder-shrugging ignorance (well, we know the Big Bang is the cause, but we CANNOT know (an appeal to man’s fundamental and thus infinite intellectual insufficiency) what caused the Big Bang), making those who posses an innate aptitude for such things the new divine proxies. A rational metaphysical absolute (a comprehensive answer to the question “What is man?” via the tool of pure reason, not empiricism) is wholly disregarded. Which makes the quest for TRUTH pointless because TRUTH then becomes entirely relative. And thus the debate dissolves into merely a tit-for-tat parlance where the root point is simply “I’m right, because I believe I am right; and you’re wrong because YOU believe I’m wrong.”. A point of view which incidentally cannot have a fucking thing to do with TRUTH.
And the rest of us, whether praying or scoffing at those who do, haven’t moved one inch closer to true enlightenment OR salvation.