Only The Sangfroid

Mark is of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse, nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal. He does live in an ivory tower.

These are his draft thoughts…

Show me your ways. Teach me to meet my desires with grace… the modern Atheist dialectic

Check out this trainwreck from ProudAtheists.wordpress.

Check out this trainwreck from Andrew Bolt.

As social creatures, we rely on the social discourses to provide us with the social identities to understand ourselves.  We’re the products of cultural progressions which go back generation after generation.  What happens when you identify as an atheist, but the social discourse doesn’t support you?  What happens when you’re a conservative, but the social discourse doesn’t support you?

I talk a lot about my conservatism and why the link between conservatism and the most extremely ugly prejudices, intolerances, and nastinesses are undeserved.  I don’t discuss my religious views often.  I often wonder why this is.

The fundamental and most problematic feature of modern secularism is that it isn’t actually secularism.  It’s just a way for religious influence to render itself invisible inside the cultural and political frameworks.  While people can point to the obvious examples of insidious religious influence — such as the prohibition on homosexuals from marrying, such as the refusal to acknowledge intersexuals, &c. — it’s significantly more difficult to engage with the more deeply entrenched aspects: are our views on justice, virtue, and morality influenced by religious views to the extent that they cannot be explicated without reference to them?  Even more troubling, are our views on science and education influenced by religious views to the extend that they cannot be explicated without reference to them?

Atheists used to engage in these debates.  Voltaire and Nietzsche, for example, were deeply troubled by them: if we were to create a secular civic, how do we filter the secular from the non-secular?

In many ways, the ancient atheists had it easier: fundamentally, there was only one religion to contemplate — Christianity.  The modern atheist has a significantly more difficult time with the age of religious pluralism and multiculturalism.  Outspoken atheists like Pat Condell, Dawkins, and PZ Myers have a fundamental difficulty with cultural pluralism.  Pat Condell in particular is extremely racist — or ‘xenophobic’, if you live in the dark ages of racial ontology — regarding Islam: he cannot distinguish between the secular Muslim from the secular Christian.

‘If that makes me a racist or a bigot… then so be it.’ — Pat Condell.

I use that latter term precisely.  The modern atheist — especially the so called ‘antitheists’ — are little more than secular Christians.  The hostility shown towards people of other cultures — particularly Muslim women in western countries who choose to wear traditional dress for the same reasons that secular Christian women in western countries wear high heels, make up, and bras — is intolerant vulgarity.

Just as there are two kinds of theist — the outspoken, common theist who gets their views from the mainstream prejudices of their peers; the significantly more silent, contemplative theist who takes the time and opportunity to explore their identity in a rational, dialectic fashion — there are two kinds of atheists.  Where atheists used to distinguish themselves by having more of the latter and less of the former, the modern atheist has no such luxury.  Indeed, the latter sort has to spend significantly more time defending itself from the former sort than it does spending time working through the issues of atheism in a multicultural, pluralistic society.

Reading over this, it’s striking that the same complaints can easily be made about conservatives.  Unfortunately, the rational, contemplative conservative is an endangered species.

2 responses to “Show me your ways. Teach me to meet my desires with grace… the modern Atheist dialectic”

  1. I like that you mentioned bras along with makeup and pumps. My mother and I were having a conversation just the other week about the social pressure to wear bras. We both agree that it is yet another example of sexism in our culture disguised as “common sense”. There is no logical reason that women must keep their chests covered at all times and be forced to wear chest-underwear beneath their clothing. Breasts are natural and harm no one, and they are not genitalia. It’s interesting and telling to me how so many people in my country (US) think it’s odd that some cultures consider women’s hair to be a part of her allure, which should be covered, and yet think nothing of their own treatment of the female chest.

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