Thursday, April 19, 2012

Atheism is like AIDS

AIDS is a metaphor for atheism.

There are many ideological infections that lay waste to civilization. Racism, anti-Semitism, Communism, Nazism and fascist ideologies, among others. Depending on one's beliefs, religions may infect societies as well. I believe that Islam is pernicious. Others would posit (and I would passionately disagree) that Catholicism or Protestantism or Judaism degrade civilizations.

The damage caused by each ideology is the direct effect, more or less, of the tenets of the ideology. The abolition of private property and civil liberties, the promotion of one race or nationality over another, the imposition by force of sectarian religious precepts are all direct corollaries of ideologies harmful to humane civic life.

Infection is a good metaphor for ideologies. Richard Dawkins' concept of religion as a meme-- "like a virus only harder to eradicate" is a prime example of such an analogy between ideology and infection.

Communism is an atheist ideology, and is the only organized form political atheism has ever taken (except for the sanguinary Cult of Reason in revolutionary France). Yet atheists insist that atheism is not an ideology, anymore than black is a color. Atheists insist that their disbelief in God isn't an ideology.

I disagree. Atheism inherently involves certain quite clear ideological assertions-- there is no transcendent purpose to existence, man is an evolved animal and not a spiritual being, there is no moral code that transcends man's mind, etc.

But there is a glimmer of truth in atheists' claim that atheism isn't an ideology. While atheism certainly has ideological consequences, it is not generally asserted as an coherent system of belief. That may be because atheists are incapable of coherence-- a view buttressed by acquaintance with New Atheist literature-- or it may be merely a propensity of atheists to anarchy.

But this iconoclastic vein in atheism raises important observations about atheism's political and social consequences.

The hallmark of totalitarianism is the concentration of power in the state. Everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing above the state. This differs from authoritarian rule in that authoritarian rule often leaves large concentrations of non-state power-- in churches, in civic groups, in education, in the family, etc-- relatively intact.

In the West, the most effective impediment to state power and to totalitarian rule has been the Church, in its Catholic and Protestant forms. Christianity, even when established as the state religion, has long served as a break on absolute state power. One could even make the case that much of the history of Europe from the fall of Rome to modernity has been the incessant shifts of power between church and state. The shrive of Henry IV on his knees in the snow before Pope Gregory VII is the paradigm of the moderation of state power by the Church.

Atheism destroys the check on power by removing the Church from civic life, just as theocracy destroys the state's check on power by removing secularism from civic life. The result is unchecked state power, which, in every atheist state in human history, has produced totalitarianism.

Atheism then is an infection, but not quite like religious infections. Atheism deprives the body politic of its resistance to state power. It destroys its immunity to totalitarianism, by destroying the primary alternate allegiance-- allegiance to God-- that has long served to check the state.

Ideological memes like communism or Nazism or fascism are like smallpox or tuberculosis or typhus. They are deadly, can spread precipitously and can be very hard to eradicate.

Atheism is a different kind of infection. Atheism destroys recourse to religious authority. Atheism destroys the most important check on state power-- the Church-- and leaves a civilization defenseless against the state and defenseless against a host of opportunistic ideological infections.

By driving the Church from civic life, atheism deprives the body politic of its immunity to totalitarianism. Atheism is less an infection than it is an annihilation of a civilization's defenses against totalitarian infections. Atheism is an infection that kills mainly by leaving a civilization defenseless against other infections.

Atheism is like AIDS. 


  1. Michael,

    While I'm waiting for you to apologize for misquoting what I had previously written (not just misquoting, but actually making up what I'd written - I know you creationists are notorious quote miners, as shown by your list of quotes to the right, but being a lying fabricator is rich ...)

    You're making some progress. You admit that atheism could possibly not be an ideology. Actually, it isn't. All the characteristics of atheism you list are those of a worldview, how the world came to be as it is. Worldviews look into the past.

    Ideologies, however, are looking into the future. How the world should be. Ideologies often have a target of a future utopia, in which millions, if not billions, of future humans will be much better off, and anyone who disagrees with the ideology and its future utopia is evil and needs to be harshly treated.

    Atheism doesn't have an ideology. It's the simple statement that there's no god(s).

    To have a totalitarian system, you need an ideology such as Communism, National Socialism, Christianity or Islam. Authoritarian states generally don't have an ideology (or they're totalitarian states which aren't very effective, such as Mussolini's Italy).

    Religion per se hasn't been very successful in preventing totalitarian states arising. Hitler came to power with the acquiescence of the church, both Catholic and Protestant. Mussolini and Franco came to power with similar acquiescence of the Catholic Church. Nothing much would have stopped Lenin coming to power after the Christian emperor Wilhelm II conspired to facilitate his entry into Petrograd towards the end of WWI, and despite a strong Russian Orthodox Church.

    All atheists want is a secular state. One in which religion doesn't have a disproportionate influence on political power. Almost all the European states are secular, with sizable atheist sub-populations. Do you think that any of them are likely to evolve into totalitarian dictatorships?

    1. Hitler came to power with the acquiescence of the church

      No he didn't. For crying out loud, bach, just give it up. There was no teaching of the Church that agreed with Nazism. That some priests, driven by patriotism or rage from the defeat of WW I might have allied themselves with the Nazis might be the case, but it's just not true that the Church supported the Nazis.

      You just don't get it. At all. I think you've got an OK handle on science, but you don't get faith even a little bit so stop telling us what it is we believe or have done in the past. We know more than you about this.

      All atheists want is a secular state.

      Really? Which atheists? And why? This is more nonsense. Atheists don't believe in God and that's all it is. After that, atheists are a grab bag of whatever motivations Mankind normally has - lust, greed, rage, whatever.

      Dude, I'm so grateful you took the time to converse with me on the other comment thread, but just give up this notion that you've got some great hold on logic. You don't.

      You're a Tooth Fairy Atheist. You want to claim there's no God and science explains everything, but you want to tell us that science can't explain you. That makes no sense even on its face. You're a kid who believes in the Tooth Fairy because the tooth is gone and there's a Quarter in its place and you keep believing even after you watch video after video of Dad putting the quarter there.

      And don't go off into "No I don't" gibbering because that's exactly what you said. "I have evidence I exist" or something to that effect.

      It's OK to be a scientific atheist, but stop this nonsense about logic unless you're a Nietzsche-an nihilist. You don't exist. Instead of videos of Dad putting the Quarter under your pillow, there's scads of equations at the biological and then the chemical and then the physical level showing the mechanics of whatever it is you claim bachfiend did.

      Either you and God both exist or you both don't. You're a subset of the Universe and you claim to have explained it all with science so therefor you are done, D-O-N-E done.

      Get off your high horse about logic. You don't have it.

      Any time you want to consider the existence of God, there are plenty of people who will embrace you with open, loving arms. And only a tiny few of us are Nazis.

    2. KT Cat,

      You don't believe me that Hitler came to power with the acquiescence of the Catholic Church?

      Then read Richard Evans' very fine history trilogy of the Third Reich, in particular 'the Coming of the Third Rech' and 'the Third Reich in Power'. One of the major political parties in the Weimar republic was the Catholic centralist parties (actually two parties, one national and one Bavarian).

      After Hitler gained the chancellorship and a small minority of the cabinet posts, the Catholic centralist parties supported Hitler in many of his maneuvers to consolidate power and later agreed to dissolve their parties voluntarily in exchange for the promises of future independence of the Catholic Church as part of the Concordate agreement with the Vatican.

      An agreement that wasn't worth the paper it was written on.

      Michael has based this entire thread on the premise that Christianity is useful in preventing the rise of totalitarianism. It wasn't in Hitler's Germany, Franco's Spain, Mussolini's Italy or Lenin's Russia.

      All of these countries were strongly Christian immediately before the dictators took power, not atheist. And what led to the dictatorships was the turmoil of war and the Great Depression.

      If Michael had made the case that Christianity was TRUE, then that would be a valid argument, but he hasn't.

      I take the view that Christianity is sometimes useful, sometimes beneficial, and also sometimes harmful. Mostly it's irrelevant. But it's always untrue in its theology.

    3. @KT:

      "Tooth Fairy Atheist."

      Heh. I love it. Great moniker.

    4. Wow, I love your hold on history, Bach.

      Note: Conveniently forgetting that Hitler killed Christians for the Church's opposition to the Third Reich later on. Especially Nuns and Monks.


    5. CK,

      You miss the point too. Michael is claiming that religion protects against the development of totalitarianism. Go back and read his argument.

      It didn't, particularly in '30s Germany. Hitler certainly wanted to eliminate from influence anyone who claimed authority, other than himself, including the Pope. But he achieved total power in a country in which almost everyone considered themselves to be Christian. Even at the height of his power, the numbers of professed atheists was very low; 1.5% in 1939 (see Richard Evans 'the Third Reich at War').

  2. All atheists want...

    Nobody cares!

    1. Pepe,

      Nobody (who's a rusted on religious nut job) cares!

  3. alas the days of the inquisition are gone, when you could torture and kill me for not sharing your fantasy

    1. You atheists replaced the Inquisition with your own brutality, on a massive scale.

  4. "I disagree. Atheism inherently involves certain quite clear ideological assertions-- there is no transcendent purpose to existence, man is an evolved animal and not a spiritual being, there is no moral code that transcends man's mind, etc."

    This is false. Atheism ONLY pertains to belief in a deity. Anything beyond that is not exclusively atheist by any stretch of the imagination. Evolution is a well established scientific theory, not an atheist ideology. Nor is it inherently in opposition to spirituality, only that spirituality is not necessary in the natural mechanism that evolved life.

    This article is ignorant and makes assertions based on false pretenses. But of course, what can one expect coming from an individual who's entire world view is based on invalid conclusions derived from unsubstantiated assumptions.

    1. @anon:

      "Evolution is a well established scientific theory, not an atheist ideology."

      What exactly is "Evolution" as a theory?

      "Nor is it inherently in opposition to spirituality, only that spirituality is not necessary in the natural mechanism that evolved life."

      I see. So Evolution as a scientific theory proves that "spirituality" is not necessary to explain biological life. I'd love to see the evidence for that assertion, which is obviously an atheist assertion.

      Show me the evidence that "spirituality" (whatever you mean by that) is not necessary to explain life.

    2. Michael,

      You still refuse to apologize for fabricating (aka as lying) a quote from me. But to answer your ignorant enquiries...

      Evolution is 1. Common ancestry. 2. Descent with modification. 3. Natural variation within breeding populations. 4. Mechanisms for changing the proportion of variations within breeding populations, one of which is natural selection.

      Science doesn't disprove spiratuality. It just assumes methodological naturalism, because it is unable to detect supernatural causes. It's up to the proponents of spiratuality to come up with the evidence that it exists.

      Atheists take the view of philosophical naturalism, and assert that the supernatural doesn't exist. Most scientists nowadays would agree with that too, but there is a minority (including Ken Miller) who'd disagree. But they still follow methodological naturalism in their research. ID is breathtaking inanity. God did something, somewhere, sometime, somehow, for unknown reasons. And we have no way of telling what event is being considered.

      'Tooth fairy atheism?'. Sorry, doesn't apply to me. The tooth fairy is an American tradition, not Australian. We don't have quarters either.

    3. Atheism answers the basic humanist questions, including:

      what am I? - You're the evolved form of an amoeba that was struck by lightning.

      Who am I? - An evolved amoeba, we already discussed this.

      What is my purpose? To reproduce and sustain your species. That's it. That's the only reason your body evolved the way it did. To reproduce and sustain species. Don't ask me what clump of cells came up with that idea. Because obviously cells could start thinking such complex things.

      No God or sense of the supernatural. The only thing to determine any 'spiritual' (wait, spirits don't exist...) things is physical things. Very logical.

  5. Dear Michael,

    I feel truely sorry for you. You clearly belong in a mental institution, but nobody is taking care or you, and they let you in the real world with your insane delusions.

    I hope someone helps you soon.