Tyrannical atheism

In the discussion thread following my article on Jerry Coyne’s chapter on human evolution, a commenter raised the question, what drives the Darwinians-atheists and has made them increasingly aggressive and intolerant in recent years? I attempted an explanation. However, since my comment is really on a different topic from that of the Coyne book, I’ve copied it into this entry as well.

Why does the atheist-Darwinian movement, having become unprecedentedly dominant in the West, demonize Darwin doubters and in particular the bogeymen “fundamentalists,” as though the latter—who are not exactly in charge of America, and who seem practically non-existent in Britain and Europe—posed a threat to the left-liberal order in general and the ascendant materialism in particular? Why is it that the stronger the materialist-atheists become, the more threatened, paranoid, and totalitarian they behave? (We’ve often discussed an analogous phenomenon in the homosexual rights movement, in which the more powerful the homosexualists become, the more paranoid and aggressive they become and act as though the slightest remnant of criticism of them anywhere is an intolerable threat.)

I suggest this answer. In the mid 20th century, a moderate liberalism was the rule, particularly in America, marked by a non-ideological, commonsensical, mutual tolerance. Believers didn’t get in the face of non-believers, and vice versa. There was a fair amount of unbelief (much more, of course, in Europe and particularly Britain, which used to be known as the cradle of liberty and now is better known as the cradle of atheism), but for the most part it was not explicit and open. The public culture expected a minimal measure of diffidence toward religion, or at least not open hostility towards it. At the same time, the dominant culture was not aggressively religious, but had a minimal, even token, religious content. America had school prayer in public schools up to 1962, but no one was required to believe in or affirm anything. This hazy, mid-20th century liberalism corresponds to Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose’s Liberalism, the first and mildest stage of his four stages of Nihilism, in which the substantive content of truth is rejected, but the abstract names of truth are still used and treated with respect.

But nothing stays the same, and secularism kept advancing, until it has now reached the point where, having morphed into full-blown materialist atheism, it has cast off any remnant of its diffident or tolerant attitude toward religion and revealed its naked self, red in tooth and claw, claiming to be the only truth and the only legitimate basis for society, and unremittingly hostile to anything that smacks of Christianity, belief in God, belief in the transcendent. This energized materialist atheism holds that in the area of religious/philosophical belief, only a non-theistic perspective can be true. In the area of evolution, the atheists have dropped the amiable front that Darwinism is compatible with religion, and now state openly that atheist Darwinism must be maintained at all costs, because if atheist Darwinism is not true, then a theistic perspective is true. The materialist atheists now see any condition short of the total acceptance of Darwinism as a re-empowerment of theism, and thus as a threat to their ascendancy, or, as they would put it, as a threat to freedom, truth, decency, and civilization itself.

In Rose’s terms, the Liberal stage of Nihilism has given way to the Realist (material reductionist) stage. Unlike Liberalism which is hazy about truth, Realism asserts that materialist truth is the only truth, and, moreover, in its current incarnation, it makes this assertion in an aggressively activist mode aimed at cultural and political power. Materialist atheism now demands consent to or at least silent acquiescence to its metaphysical propositions about the nature of reality, and submission to its growing cultural dominance.

- end of initial entry -

Ken Hechtman, VFR’s leftist reader from Quebec, writes:

You’re averaging out a lot of variation here, especially in mid-20th century America.

In New York, Boston or New Jersey (where my father grew up) organized religion was not all that heavy-handed. School prayer in my father’s high school in suburban New Jersey was 10 verses from the Old Testament, recited without comment and chosen by each student in turn. My father and his red-diaper baby friends would register their protest by choosing to recite “The Begats” when their turn came up.

But even at that time, the mid-west was something else and the south was something else again.

LA replies:

Naturally, with your implication of some terrible repression in the Midwest and the South, you miss the point that whatever school prayer practices obtained in Massachusetts, Missouri, or Mississipi, they were determined by elected state legislators and elected local school boards. If people didn’t like them, they would change them, through their elected representatives. In other words, they had self-government.

An absolutely inconceivable idea for a post-1960s liberal-leftist, n’est-ce pas?

May 23

Ken Hechtman writes:

I’ll concede your point without a fight. School prayer and whatever-all-else didn’t just fall out of the sky. They were democratically decided on by local majorities. Which didn’t make them any easier to live with if you happened to be in the local minority. Even today, there’s a rage in atheists who come from those places that I just don’t understand because I never lived through anything remotely like it. [LA replies: and now we live under a gathering atheist/homosexualist tyranny that will punish religious believers far more pervasively than the local conservative majorities of yore suppressed atheists or homosexuals, because the new orthodoxy is at the national/transnational level, cannot be voted out of office, and there’s no escape from it. The point is that in any political matter, SOMEONE is going to have the final say, and SOMEONE ELSE is going to be unhappy with that decision. There is no world in which someone is not going to be unhappy with the final decision of a political community. The constitutional question, which is the ultimate political question, is, WHAT ENTITY is going to have final authority beyond which there is no appeal? The people of a given community, acting through their representatives, or a distant, unaccountable elite acting in the name of the rights of all humanity? We know to whom you would give that final authority, as your object is “the Brotherhood of Man.”]

What is it conservatives say whenever they lose a vote? “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch”?

For all practical purposes, I put religious belief in the same category of non-free-choice-decisions as race, sex and sexual orientation. People don’t choose whether or not to believe in God, they just do or they don’t and you can’t argue them out of it either way.

Ken Hechtman replies:

OK, sure. But when you’re the majority, you might want to pay attention to HOW unhappy you make the minority because those positions might change. “Atheist/homosexualist tyranny,” as you call it, is bad policy for reasons I’ve gone into on other threads, but it’s also bad politics. Christian power in America comes in cycles. The most recent cycle peaked a few years ago and it’s falling now. But it’ll come back in 30 or 40 years. It always does. And how angry it is when it comes back has a lot to do with how we treat Christians right now.

N. writes:

Ken Hechtman wrote:

“People don’t choose whether to believe in God, they just do or don’t.”

I nominate Mr. Hechtman for the title of “Most Unlikely Calvinist Of The Year.” If he were to follow that theology to the logical conclusion, even an atheist might not like it very much.

Richard Poe writes:

Thank you for your comments on the rising anti-religious hysteria.

It is helpful to keep these developments in historical perspective. Tyrants always become more brutish as their power increases. They employ exactly as much force as their physical circumstances allow.

When tyrants are weak, they tolerate their opponents. They cannot arrest, imprison or execute their foes, so they debate them. Later, as their power grows, tyrants resort increasingly to force.

LA replies:,

What you’re saying is of course true, But it assumes a scenario in which the tyrant is already known as a tyrant or would-be tyrant. But would we have guessed/foreseen, in 1965, that secularism in the liberal West would in 40 years become tyrannical atheism? Would we have guessed, even 15 years ago, that Darwinism, which had been the dominant elite view for many decades, even while a more or less civil debate on Darwinism had continued,—with an intelligent minority faction (Norman Macbeth, Arthur Koestler, Francis Hitching) questioning Darwinism on a rational and scientific basis, along with a group of scientists who were proposing more holistic ways of understanding nature—would suddenly turn into a bully and start automatically deriding all critics and doubters of Darwinism as idiots, fundamentalists, “creationists,” as people whose position is based on nothing but “blind faith,” as people who have no place in modern society and should just shut up? So there’s an additional element here beyond a would-be tyrant gaining the power to be a tyrant. This is about a previously dominant but non-tyrannical movement becoming tyrannical. The question then becomes, why and how did this happen? That’s what my entry was trying to answer. I’m saying that as the real nature of secularism / materialist science / Darwinism has unfolded, and the mutual incompatibility between it and theism have become more evident, the secularists have discovered themselves as being in a war against God, or discovered that God stands in the way of what they want, and this has made them tyrannical.

May 24

Kidist writes:

I see the tyrannical atheists/Darwinists as being like Muslims. To the Muslim, anyone who disagrees with his Allah is an infidel and subject to death (annihilation). Muslims, in their own countries where they are all-powerful, still tolerate infidels, although they do set up a dhimmi system which forces infidels to acknowledge the supremacy of Allah (and hence adopt a kind of renunciation of their own God). From what I understand about tyrannical atheists, they behave in the same way, although they haven’t yet reached the power of proclaiming death to “non-believers” (i.e. believers).

I think it is a spiritual problem. Muslims, I think, fear the Christian God more than they let on. I think that deep down they realize that theirs is a false god. The more they have the power to promote this false god, the more they must jealously guard it against all the stronger “gods” out there (since I think they are afraid of all non-Muslims gods). It is the same with atheists. The road to their worldview/religion has been too long and too hard—all those Christians they had to sweep aside. They cannot let it go, since they have too much (everything) to lose, since their truth is based on falseness.

LA replies:

But if it were true that Muslims anxiously suspect that their god is not a true god, whence comes the extraordinary confidence that so many Muslims have in and derive from their religion?

C. in New York writes:

Off hand, your essay, while very thoughtful, is more a description, rather than an explanation, of a rise in some quarters of aggressive and sometimes intolerant atheism. [LA replies: Fair criticism; I wasn’t sure myself, while I was writing it, whether I was adequately explaining the phenomenon or just describing it.] I haven’t made a study of this, but my gut tells me that in-your-face Darwinism is actually a reaction to what has been a rise in anti-Darwinism as a matter of public policy and education. I just think Darwinists are annoyed that in policy and education, religion and myth believers try to force their belief system into supplanting secular (or really, religion-neutral or -blind) ideals that are the basis of Western democracy and government since the Enlightenment. There are a few—and of those, many write books—who disparage as stupid any religion or the proposition that God is an explanation of the natural world. Atheists and agnostics make up a growing part of the U.S. population. I sense that overwhelmingly, they don’t care if the next guy is religious or trusts Genesis more than science as an explanation for the natural world. They just don’t want faith to supplant science in the powerful hands of government or public schools; and they are asserting, in the face of real threats, the right not to believe in God.

That said, don’t be afraid for a moment that we’re near a tipping point or that “atheist[s] … [are] dominant in the West…. ” A black lesbian socialist welfare-recipient unwed teenage mother with an IQ of 80 stands a better chance at getting elected to public office in most of the United States than does any atheist, even the most highly otherwise-qualified atheist.

Notice I said “Western democracy and government,” not “Western Civilization.” I don’t for a minute deny the role of religion in “civilization.” Neither its positive roles nor its negative roles.

LA replies:

You write:

“… my gut tells me that in-your-face Darwinism is actually a reaction to what has been a rise in anti-Darwinism as a matter of public policy and education. I just think Darwinists are annoyed that in policy and education, religion and myth believers try to force their belief system into supplanting secular (or really, religion-neutral or -blind) ideals that are the basis of Western democracy and government since the Enlightenment.”

Where is the evidence of this? The Dover, Pennsylvania school board’s pro-intelligent design statement, added to their biology curriculum, that there are other views of evolution? Which of course is true. Was that “forcing” a belief system on anyone? What exactly are you talking about? The reality is the exact opposite of what you say. The Darwinians want complete control, with no questioning or dissenting voices allowed. The mere presence of a statement in the curriculum saying that many people do not think Darwinism is correct was seen by the Darwinists as an attempt to force religion on the schools.

You write:

“They just don’t want faith to supplant science in the powerful hands of government or public schools”

Where is faith supplanting science in government and schools? WHAT are you talking about?

What you’re REALLY talking about is that you demand absolute rule by Darwinism and you falsely portray any criticism of Darwinism as an attempt to force religion on people.

“That being said, don’t be afraid for a moment that we’re near a tipping point or that “atheist[s] … [are] dominant in the West…. ‘”

The Darwinians, e.g. Jerry Coyne in his widely praised book, “Why Evolution is True,” now clearly state that Darwinism means materialism. Coyne writes:

Materialism is the idea that the only reality is the physical matter of the universe … The message of evolution, and all of science, is one of naturalistic materialism. [Coyne, p. 224]

Which means that Darwinism is atheism.

Throughout the educational and cultural institutions of the West, ONLY the atheist-Darwinian view is allowed, as shown by the fact that even a simple statement in a school curriculum that some people doubt Darwin and that there are books with another point of view that can be read on the subject, is characterized by the Darwinians, including you, as an attempt to force religion on people. So of course the Darwinian-atheist view is dominant in educational and cultural institutions. Yes, there are lots of people who still imagine that Darwinism is compatible with the existence of God, but that amiable middle ground is intellectually unsustainable and has run out of steam.

C. in New York replies:

Thank you. I disagree.

Do you actually suppose that Dover ID was not a religious effort?

LA replies:

The pro-ID faction in the Dover school board were unintelligent people who did not have their act together. It was shown at trial that they were creationists who came upon ID and used it as a more acceptable, non-religious alternative to Darwinism. The fact that they were in fact creationists sank their case, which was dependent on their appearing not to have any religious motive or beliefs at all. I was very critical of every aspect of the intelligent design side in the Dover case, both of the school board itself, and their champions and witnesses. (See my article, “Unintelligent design.”)

But the fact that they personally believed in creationism is irrelevant to our discussion. The books they suggested as alternative readings for students to read on their own were ID books, not creationist books. And they were not forcing anything on anyone, neither ID nor religion.

Further, what would be wrong, constitutionally speaking, with offering a religious alternative to Darwin, if that’s what they did, which they didn’t? The only reason that anything remotely smacking of religion is not allowed under our present law is the unconstitutional revolution of the Incorporation Doctrine which reversed the meaning of the First Amendment so that instead of barring the federal Congress from having any power over the states in matters of religion, which is what the First Amendment actually does, the First Amendment now means that the federal courts have unlimited power over the states in matters of religion. Take away the monstrous Incorporation Doctrine, and the federal courts would have nothing to say about what a Pennsyvlania school district was teaching its pupils.

C. in New York replies:

Right, so Dover was an attempt to force religion on science classes. If you want to tell kids, outside of public school, that there are other explanations for the formation of the universe, life and speciation, go right ahead. Not in science class. Telling in kids’ science class that there are other explanations you can go read about in books inserted into the school library by creationists (secret creationists pretending not to be), that’s not OK.

I don’t need the constitution to know you shouldn’t teach religion in public school, incorporation or not. That it happens to prohibited in the constitution is great and helpful. Teaching religion as science is stupid, no matter what the founders said.

LA replies:

You write:

“Right, so Dover was an attempt to force religion on science classes.”

Thank you for demonstrating a complete inability to comprehend the meaning of words, and your mindless repetition of statements I’ve already shown to be false.

To repeat:

  • There was no forcing, but a reading list pupils could look up on their own.

  • There was no religion, but books giving the ID critique of Darwinism.

Your insistence that the Dover board was “forcing religion” on pupils shows again that notwithstanding your view of yourself as a champion of reason against superstitious zombies, you yourself are unthinkingly repeating a superstitious ideology which tells you that any disagreement with Darwinism is tantamount to forcing religion on people. .

James N. writes:

This comment was prompted by your recent piece on Coyne and evolution, but it isn’t really about that (the evolution wars are not an interest of mine).

There is much anxiety on the left at the hour of their triumph. There is also much anxiety among conventional Republican “leaders” (Ridge, Crist, Powell, Lindsay Graham, etc) about Palin and Cheney. They are all SO afraid that if Palin, Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter are the face of the GOP, that the GOP will be destroyed.

SURE they are. They care so, SO much about the health of the GOP. They are SO concerned that the deeply unpopular views of Palin and Cheney will hurt the party.

Except that, if those views are so unpopular, no one will be listening. They fear Palin, and Cheney, and Carrie Prejean, and Rush, and Coulter BECAUSE their views are popular, deeply so. The left knows well that their popularity is a mile wide and an inch deep, that it was created with smoke and mirrors, and that it is founded on false premises which will be easily dispelled, IF the right has a voice.

Silencing that voice is therefore a top priority for the left. They are deploying all their tools—suppression, derision, humiliation, lies, use of surrogates in the entertainment industry to create a herd mentality—and still, they fear.

It is remarkable how much help the left is getting from “moderates.” The left has imbibed deeply the mantra, “No enemies on the left.” The Republicans are terrified of being perceived as having “No enemies on the right.” They are so terrified of it that they are dredging up enemies on the right without even being asked.

Radical leftists have taken power by using solidarity and single- mindedness. We should learn from their example.

Pas d’ennmis a droit.

Ron K. writes:

The atheists and homos are just following the example of the Communists before them, aren’t they? As well as the “civil rights movement”, at least in its latter-day stages. The Commies’ paranoia and resulting tyranny boiled down to a single fact—they were wrong, and they knew it.

I believe almost any issue can be “reduced” to a bumper-sticker, if one tries hard enough. And you can print the same one for all these groups—“They’re Wrong, and They Know It.”

Gintas writes:

I dealt with a guy during the Bush years who believed that a totalitarian fascist theocracy was imminent. He was obsessed with the “theocracy.” There is no reasoning possible.

Jack R. writes:

You write:

“There was no religion, but books giving the ID critique of Darwinism.”

The ID critique is religion. It offers a theistic explanation for the origin of life which means a supernatural explanation which means a superstitious explanation which means NO Explanation. [LA replies: This is simply false. This is the incipiently totalitarian lie, shutting down discussion, by which Darwinians say that anyone who notices the obvious evidence of design in living things, and draws logical conclusions from it, is irrational and driven by blind faith and is promoting religion and supernaturalism, and therefore must be excluded from public society. In truth, it is the people who refuse to see the undeniable evidence of design in living things who are being unreasonable.]

But the political solution to this is totally private education. Public education is wrong as it relies on confiscated and redistributed wealth. But given today’s sad context that there is public education and also given that there is separation of religion and state, as there should be, then no supernaturalism should be taught in public schools. Religious parents can send children to religious schools or teach them superstition after school. Lastly, if there were any genuine scientific critique of Darwinian evolution then it should be taught as a competing scientific theory and science means only naturalism. But there isn’t any. Darwinian evolution has been confirmed by at least 15 different other scientific fields. There are debates amongst Darwinians to be sure but the overall theory is confirmed. The only objections it gets are from supernaturalists that believe in theistic explanations; i.e. “God did it.”

LA replies:

Here we go again. Something that is manifestly NOT proved is declared as PROVED, and any disagreement with it is called irrational and excluded from respectable and public society, as “religion.” If Jack R. is so sure that Darwin is proved, why then have so many Darwinists, whom I have quoted many times, admitted that it is not proved? It is one thing to argue for your position. But it is tyrannical to declare as proved and as beyond debate a position that is so obviously NOT proved, a position that has staggering, well-known inadequacies. Furthermore, as someone said earlier in this thread, the effort to silence all criticism of Darwinism and exclude it from public life, betrays the knowledge and the fear that it is not proved.

LA continues:

Let’s consider what the liberals-Darwinists-atheists have done.

First, they take the leftist, “living Constitution” view of the Constitution that there is “separation of church and state.”

Next, they have the state take over more and move of the society, so that the state is everywhere.

Next, they declare that any disagreement with Darwinism is “religion,” and, as religion, must be separated from the state.

But since the state is now everywhere, since the state has become virtually co-extensive with public life, this means that disagreement with Darwinism is effectively banned.

So thank you, Jack R. for proving my point. Darwinism-atheism has become a tyrannical movement.

May 25

C. in New York replies to LA (see earlier exchange, above):

I disagree. And this is rude.

LA replies:

You were rude first, after I showed how this was neither “forcing” anything on anyone, nor was it religion, and you just repeated the same false charge again. The bigoted speech by you and others, in which you keep putting derogatory labels on people and refusing to recognize their rationality as human beings, refusing to recognize that they have REASONS for their positions, not just mindless faith, is totally unacceptable. You deny basic respect and basic rights to people, because you disagree with their position. And that is of the nature of tyranny, just as I said in the initial entry.

So, stop behaving like a bigot, stop mischaracterizing people’s positions, and I’ll stop being rude.

LA continues:

What proves the bad faith of your side is your refusal to describe the beliefs of intelligence design proponents in their own terms. Instead of having the simple honesty to say, “The ID position is that there are signs of design in life, and therefore that evolution by blind processes could not be true,” you say, “ID proponents are creationists, whose position has nothing to do with reason but is based in blind faith.”

Such statements show that YOUR side is based in BAD faith.

So, you want a discussion? Then give the other side the MINIMAL RESPECT of describing their beliefs in their own terms, and then we can have a reasonable discussion. But as long as you continue with your tendentious, bigoted descriptions of your opponents, no reasonable discussion is possible.

C. in New York replies:

I disagree.

LA replies:

Ok, then, we disagree to disagree.

Kidist replies to earlier question by LA:

This is just one of my premonitions. Why are they so closed to discussion and doubt? Why is everything so final?

Of course, it isn’t Muslims themselves who set this dogmatic religion, but Mohammed. So maybe the suspicion about this god lies in Mohammed, who created such a closed and unapproachable, unquestionable Allah in the first place (I have written to VFR about this Allah).

Mohammed’s confidence seems like the confidence of a dogmatic bully. And I think bullies, underneath it all, are profoundly insecure. I think he passed on this “superficial” confidence to his unsuspecting followers. Followers who, because of his set up, are forced to be unquestioning. But, notice how they in turn allow no criticism of Mohammed, so maybe they suspect him, after all. What are they afraid of that Mohammed did or created, that he is so supremely sacrosanct and untouchable? Christians never reach this fervor at the criticism of Jesus.

Kidist continues:

I realize that my comments may be a little off topic with regards to the original post. But, my view is that tyrannical belief systems, whether they be atheism, the homosexual rights movement (yes, I think it has become a belief system) and Islam, are at their core insecure since they perceive their own falseness, hence their tyranny.

LA replies:

I’m glad you made the connection, because the last couple of days I’ve been thinking of writing an article on the same subject, about the group of seemingly unrelated ideologies today that notwithstanding their mutual differences all combine some kind of radical reductionism with a tyrannical agenda: atheism-Darwinism, homosexualism, anti-Semitism, hard-line libertarianism, Randianism, and, of course, Islam (no “ism.”)

Kidist replies:
I laughed at the “homosexualism.” I wonder what Ken Hechtman, the leftist from Canada, would have to say about that “ism”? Of course, here in Canada, it would be a violation of their human rights. They are the vibrant gays, not homosexuals, even less homosexualists—which is some clinical and inhuman fascist term. Now, I think I better stop, since our Human rights Commission is most likely on the prowl.

Ben W. writes:

Your reader, C. in New York, writes:

“Right, so Dover was an attempt to force religion on science classes.”

Why is Darwinian evolution a part of science classes?

Darwinian evolution is NOT science. Darwinian evolution is not biology, it is not physics, it is not chemistry, it is not mathematics.

Time to bring this to the forefront. In no way is Darwinian evolution a science. It is not empirical; it is ideological pure and simple.

My solution: teach neither Darwinian evolution or creationism in schools PERIOD!

LA replies:

Ben’s comment is thought provoking, but goes too far. To say, “In no way is Darwinian evolution a science. It is not empirical; it is ideological pure and simple,” is like saying, “In no way is Islam a religion, it is a political ideology pure and simple.” Obviously Islam is a religion. It may be a religion of war and conquest, a religion in which the highest spiritual values are experienced in the act of killing non-Muslims or dying in the attempt, but it a religion nevertheless, a religion in which people order their lives around their god and his commandments. Obviously the Darwinian project is an empirical, scientific enterprise. For example, after a period of eclipse in the late 19th century because the theory didn’t hold up, it found a plausible empirical basis in Mendel’s great discovery of the laws of heredity. It compares the DNA sequencing of various species and on that basis calculates the period of time that took place between their supposed branching off from each other. So it’s certainly within the realm of science. But just as, with Islam, the religion is directed at the military-political subjugation of the world, in the same way, with Darwinism, the science is directed at the construction and defense of a false, non-empirical ideology and, as with Islam, the elimination of all dissent.

Terry Morris writes:

C. in New York wrote:

“I don’t need the constitution to know you shouldn’t teach religion in public school, incorporation or not. That it happens to [be] prohibited in the constitution is great and helpful. Teaching religion as science is stupid, no matter what the founders said.”

Way to praise and denigrate the founders all in a single sentence. That took some doing. Give ‘im a cookie!

The statement puts me in mind of the oft-repeated liberal mantra that “we cannot (or should not, if you’re a right-liberal) legislate morality.” The statement has been repeated so often that it would make William James blush.

The obvious response is “if liberals really believe in the principle, then why do liberals incessantly and invariably, well, legislate morality—liberal morality?”

Liberals don’t really believe in the statement, what they actually believe is that non-liberal morality cannot be legislated, or otherwise tolerated in any way, shape, or form.

Whenever one makes a distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, he has just taken a “moral” position. Sorry. One would be hard-pressed to find a single law on the books that does not make such a distinction at its very roots. Therefore, I must conclude that we cannot not legislate morality. It’s really just a matter of whose version of morality we’re going to legislate. And since liberalism dominates and rules in this country, we know which (or whose) morality will therefore dominate and rule.

But I simply ask of your reader again: if, as you say, teaching religion in Science classes is stupid, then why do you advocate for it? You think tyrannical Darwinist-Atheism doesn’t bear all the marks of a religion, or, of the 21st century definition of religion?

By the way, speaking of stupidity—it’s always boggled my mind the abject stupidity of someone arguing that children, after being drilled with Darwinist-Atheist curriculum eight hours a day, five days a week, nine months out of the year, are somehow equipped with the will and discernment to go about in their ‘off time’ seeking alternative views. Or that one hour of Sunday School, one day a week (or a few hours a week, if their parents take any interest in giving them a proper education) is somehow sufficient to overcome what they’ve learned during the course of a forty hour week in the public education system. But anyway.

Jack R. writes:

You: “First, they take the leftist, living Constitution view of the Constitution that there is separation of church and state.”

I’m not a leftist but a libertarian and I disagree with the “living Constitution.” I also disagree with Conservative “Textualism” but Constitutional interpretation is too long a subject to get into here as is the subject of religion / state separation. Suffice it to say that the Founders intended for the Federal government to be secular. [LA replies: Lesson 101 in U.S. Constitution: the First Amendment says that there shall be no establishment of religion. An establishment of religion means that a single denomination has a favored position, receives tax revenues, and that membership in it is a requirement for public office. Non-establishment of religion means not allowing those things. It does not mean that there is no connection between the government and religion. If that were the case, then the 1st Congress would not have distributed Bibles in the Northwest territories and there would never have been paid chaplains in the Congress, and many other pro-religion measures. So your statement that the founders intended the government to be secular shows that you are ignorant of the most basic facts about our country. You ought to be embarrassed; but I’m sure you are not.] The degree of religion to be allowed for State governments is a more complicated question but as a secularist I want a totally secular / godless state so I have no problems with the godless view of the Constitution of many liberals. [LA replies: Libertarians are just consistent liberals. Liberals are hazy about their denial of God and moral truth; libertarians, like the atheist-Darwinians, come right out and say it.] Personally, I would like a Constitution that is explicitly non-religious. That’s something for the distant future though as religion, sadly, is not going anywhere and seems to be on the rise largely because it is seen as the only alternative to leftist nihilism. Sadly, the only two options our current culture offers us is supernaturalism on one side (you) and skepticism / nihilism on the other (the Left). Both are wrong.

You: “Next, they have the state take over more and move of the society, so that the state is everywhere.”

The growth of the state is because of growing collectivism. But both secularists and the religious are guilty of the belief that the individual must sacrifice for the group or state. You yourself are a collectivist. No, you don’t worship at the alter of humanity as secular humanists do but you do worship at the alter of white, European Christianity and you have advocated many anti-liberty policies designed to protect “the family” or “society” or “the nation.” Most of these are in the sexual / personal realm [although some are economic such as anti-immigration laws] but they are still collectivist motivated limitations on individual freedom. So your criticism of the state rings hollow as you offer no principled opposition to statism. Leftist egalitarian fascism or Traditionalist theocratic, racialist oppression. I want no part of either. [LA replies: Your definition of collectivism reveals you as not just a libertarian but a Randian. Of all the ideologies in our society today, Randianism is the most extreme, the most reductive, the most anti-human. Why do I say this? Because Randians equate the upholding of any society, any civilization, any common institutions and culture, as “collectivism,” i.e., as the moral equivalent of Bolshevism. Just as liberals equate anything that is non-liberal with Nazism, Randians equate anything non-Randian with Communism. Randianism or Objectivism is a belief system that would literally render impossible ANY society. It is a form of insanity, and gets no respect at this website.]

You: “Next, they declare that any disagreement with Darwinism is religion, and, as religion, must be separated from the state.”

There is no serious scientific theory in competition with Darwinian evolution. There are questions about details but not about the overall theory. It just has too much confirmation from literally every other scientific field. The only people who challenge it are theists like yourself who are not arguing for a competing scientific theory. I have read your view of “evolution” and it is not scientific. It is supernaturalism and it reduces to “God did it.” Yes, its somewhat complicated with the “forms” implanted into the genome by God and responding to environmental factors. But this is merely because you are a professional polemicist who is trying his best to take the crazy out of religion. IMO, it can’t be done. You are arguing for supernaturalism and supernaturalism reduces to non-cognitive gibberish. But even if there were a competing theory to challenge Darwinianism it would be another naturalistic theory. To repeat, there is no such thing as supernaturalism just the way there are no such thing as square circles. [LA replies: First, I don’t know what you mean by professional polemist. I am not part of any organzation. I argue for the things that I believe are good, true, and important, I criticize the things that I think are false and bad, and I give reasons for my positions. Second, again you have proved my point about the tyrannical nature of your belief system.Everything that is outside your narrow, anti-humanly reductive belief system, you deny even has the attribute of existence. And anyone who says that it exists,—“it” being essentially everything human beings have believed for the last 10,000 years that is not in line with Randianism—are evil enemies of humanity and are to be treated accordingly. Truly Whitaker Chambers was correct when he said that Rand’s message was: “To a gas chamber, go.”]

“So thank you, Jack R. for proving my point. Darwinism-atheism has become a tyrannical movement.”

What I have said is not tyrannical anymore than the law of gravity is. [LA replies: Again you prove my point. For you, Ayn Rand’s whacked out ideology has the same ontological status as the law of gravity. And just as no one can disagree with the law of gravity, no one can disagree with Ayn Rand.

LA continues:

I just realized: of all the ideologies in existence, Randianism is the purest opposite of traditionalism. The key idea of traditionalism is the recognition of the larger “orders” of which we are a part and which formed us, the natural order, the social order, and the transcendent order. Traditionalism—obviously in my treatment of it—is not against the principle of individuality, it upholds and defends it. Our individual consciousness/selfhood is both part of the larger reality in which we live and the means through which we experience and participate in it. The Randians explicitly reject any notion of a larger natural, social, or spiritual reality and say that the individual—unadorned Randian man, without a God, without a religion, without a society, without a civilizational tradition, without a family, without a culture, without a race—is the ONLY reality, and that any assertion of or defense of any larger reality of which we are a part is as evil as Communism. Randianism is thus the most explicit, thoroughgoing attack on the order of existence, and the diametrical opposite of traditionalism. .

Further, in the classic manner of libertarians, atheists, and others, the Randians parasitically live in and off the very society and culture whose existence they deny and demonize.

These internal contradictions are exacerbated when Randianism is combined with atheist-Darwinism, as in Jack R.’s case. The Randians assert that Reason and Individualism are the highest principles. How do Darwinian Randians derive Reason and Individualism from a blind, mindless, purposeless material process in which all living things including man are the products of bad copies of genes that were naturally selected because they led their possessors to live longer and have more offspring than other organisms? The Randians don’t ask that little question. The Randians say, “All I know is that I exist, and I exist for myself, and my philosophy results from the fact that I exist and that I exist for myself, and that is enough for me, and no further questions should be asked.” The Randians take their own selfhood and reason for granted, and (just as Marx famously prohibited any questions about the nature of man), prohibit any questions on how that selfhood and reason came into existence, because such questions would render their ideology impossible.

Thus, as with Communism of which it is the mirror image, the tyrannical character of the Randian ideology is made necessary by its very falseness.

LA writes:

Jack R. sent another long reply and I wrote back to him:

You’ve had your chance, you’ve shot your bolt, and I’ve answered you at length. You should have already understood from my last replies that further comments by you are not welcome at VFR. My site does not post commenters who are haters of religion and of religious people, or who deny the rationality of anyone who believes in God. You are a follower of an extremist ideology that has nothing to do with our civilization, that is opposed to our civilization. For there to be discussion between people, there must be some common ground between them, including a recognition of each other’s rationality. But you deny my rationality and that of all religious believers. So there is no common ground between us, whether with regard to questions of truth, or to questions of civilizational loyalty. So pursue your discussions elsewhere.

LA continues:

In wanting to pursue a discussion with me, Jack R. reminds me of a post-modernist college professor I once met socially who told me me that I couldn’t use the word “truth,” because there is no such thing as truth, and then, when I asked him what he believed in, answered: “conversation.”

Tim W. writes:

I think the growing atheist tyranny is just another aspect of the Orwellian tendency of liberalism. Liberals are unsatisfied with society as it has traditionally existed. It isn’t equal. It doesn’t fulfill all human desires. They seek a world which is outside anything in our historical experience as human beings. They view cautionary tales such as 1984 and Brave New World as blueprints, not as warnings.

The left believes that modern technology and mass media will soon enable them to create a regime that is outside normal human experience. Through imprinting, surveillance, public humiliation of people with traditional views, diversity training, and other tools, they hope to create their utopia and to crush any opposition.

This is why we see so many liberal movements today that are outside the realm of normal human society. For example, has any population ever celebrated its replacement by people from other races or cultures, as many liberal Westerners are now doing? Is there even a term for such a phenomenon in anthropology or sociology? Marriage customs have varied throughout human history, but until recently no society ever sought to make marriage an institution in which gender is irrelevant.

Normal human societies may vary in many ways, but some things are universal. Preference for one’s own people and recognition of gender differences among them. It’s doubtful that it would be possible to suppress such natural inclinations without mass brainwashing and the use of force at levels previously impossible to achieve due to technological limitations.

Faith is another of those universal attributes of civilization. To the best of my knowledge there has never been an atheist civilization, even though there may have always been atheists. But the modern left thinks it can create one, and that it can launch its brave new dystopia by suppressing our historic faith, just as it seeks to suppress our racial feelings and our gender distinctions.

Roger D. (a moderate and reasonable Objectivist who has posted at VFR before, see this, this and this), writes:

Before you complete your indictment of Objectivism, I hope that you will integrate two intriguing facts about it: (1) To the end of her life, in 1982, Ayn Rand refused to endorse the theory of evolution. (2) The only Objectivist philosopher who has devoted himself to the philosophy of mind has said that some form of mind-body dualism must be true.

Mark A. writes:

Regarding Jack R.’s last comment:

Why is it terribly difficult for Americans to remember that the United States fought a revolution against the English? Apparently, First Amendment “scholars” forget that the establishment clause of the First Amendment exists to prevent a relationship from forming like that which the Crown had with the Church of England. The Founding Fathers knew a thing or two about English politics. But to heck with history! The Founding Father’s were rampant secularists! Yes! Of course!!

JS writes:

According to Jack R, the growth of the state has been due to “collectivism,” of which traditionalism and religion are a part. He ignored the fact that in the days when America was a more traditionalist and religious country, the state was a fraction of its current size and was far less intrusive. The state has grown in tandem with the advance of libertarianism. And it must do so, as individualism is the raw material of the mass state. Rousseau, Marx and other collectivist theorists all favored individualism precisely because they favored the concentration of power in the hands of the state, and understood that this was best accomplished by reducing the existing social structure to atomistic individuals.

Jack R may believe that he is opposing collectivism, but he is actually what the communists regarded as a “useful idiot.”

LA replies:

Yes, it’s a fascinating discovery that libertarianism, and especially its hard-core version, Randianism, is, for all practical purposes, on the left. People think that libertarianism/Randianism is on the right, because it is against big government and for the individual. They fail to see that libertarianism-Randianism is not only against big government, but—like the left—against any inherited social/cultural entity or larger source of authority to which human beings (or rather, in practice, white human beings, since libertarianism is almost selely an American phenomenon) may adhere, ranging from family to local community to ethnic group to religion to nation. Just as the left denies the legitimacy of a (white) people’s culture and way of life, calling it unequal, exclusive and discriminatory, libertarians also deny the legitimacy of a (white) people’s culture and way of life, calling it “collectivist” and “irrational.” Just as the left breaks down all the intermediate forms of community and authority, leaving nothing but unaccountable distant government as the only source of authority, thus destroying liberty, so do the libertarians. Just as the left favors open borders, so do the libertarians. (Added 5-27: And, talking about breaking down institutions, I just found out today that the Randians all support homosexual “marriage.”)

In my article about the differences among traditionalism, liberalism, and leftism. I wrote:

[B]oth the traditionalist conservatives on one side and the leftists on the other believe in larger wholes and agree in rejecting the pure individualism of [classical] liberalism. But beyond that, the right and the left are radically at odds, since the left seeks to destroy the natural and traditional wholes that the right believes in [in order to engineer into existence artificial “larger whole” defined by equality].

Now, how would libertarianism/Randianism fit into this scheme? It would seem to belong with classical liberalism, in the middle, between right and left, because it believes in the pure individual and not in any collectivity. But this means to believe in a humanity consisting of nothing but individuals and their rights. Which means that collectivities, especially those defined in part by shared heredity, such as nations and traditional cultures, do not deserve to exist, since they naturally discriminate among human beings based on whether they are members of that collectivity, and stand against pure universal individualism. Libertarians thus attack as illegitimate the particularity of their own society, pushing it toward a suicidal openness to other peoples—peoples who, by the way, have not adopted “our” pure individualism but still exist as collectivist cultures, so that, once they are admitted to our society, they inevitably begin behaving as collective cultures and pushing our culture (which has already denied its own legitimacy in the name of pure individualism and so is unable to defend itself) aside. And any attempt by us to resist or reverse this suicidal course of action will be attacked by the libertarians as racist and collectivist.

So, once again, we see how libertarians end up supporting, in the most vehement, uncompromising terms, the same undoing of our civilization that is supported in varying degrees by leftists, liberals, neocons, and even many mainstream conservatives. What I say about liberalism is even more true of libertarianism and Randianism: that they are belief systems incompatible with the survival of any concrete society.

LA adds (May 26):

A point I touched on above needs to be brought out: Randians make no fundamental distinction between, say, traditional Christian society on hand, and Communism on the other. For Rand, the larger whole formed by belief in Christianity is the moral equivalent of the larger whole formed by the Marxian enforced equality of all mankind. They are both “collectivism” and thus equally anti-human and evil.

May 26

Terry Morris writes:

What a great discussion “Tyrannical atheism” has turned out to be! Excuse me while I bask in being vindicated citing that particular VFR article as my prime example of why VFR is the premier Trad-con site. ;-)

Outstanding work! Thank you.

LA replies:

Thank you very much.

Ken Hechtman writes:

You wrote:

Yes, it’s a fascinating discovery that libertarianism, and especially its hard-core version, Randianism, is, for all practical purposes, on the left. People think that libertarianism/Randianism is on the right, because it is against big government and for the individual. They fail to see that libertarianism-Randianism is not only against big government, but—like the left—against any inherited social/cultural entity or larger source of authority to which human beings (or rather, in practice, white human beings, since libertarianism is almost selely an American phenomenon) may adhere,

Funny, we always dismissed libertarians as “Republicans who smoke pot”…

I can see Randroids as the mirror-image of Maoists or Trotskyites—true believers in a philosophy for bright-but-sheltered fourteen-year-olds. Like Trotskyites, you can’t talk to them. You can only listen and then agree or prepare to be called names. The words “I never thought of that. I see your point,” are not in their vocabulary.

LA writes:

In another entry, Ken Hechtman gives an interesting explanation why Darwinists don’t accept intelligent design as a good-faith belief, and I reply.

Leonard D. writes:

Although there is much truth in your criticism of libertarianism, please don’t paint us with too broad a brush. Libertarians are naturally idiosyncratic. Although all are opposed to some aspects of progressivism (and thus, all libertarians worth the mention are on the right, not left, as I would define terms), the degree of their opposition varies. And also, as you discuss, the degree to which libertarians support authority (in the abstract), and “inherited social/cultural entities,” as you put it, also varies.

On the right of libertarian ideology, you’ll find “paleo” libertarians like Lew Rockwell, Ilana Mercer, and Hans Hoppe, who know that nation and religion matter. Many of these types are race realists and immigration restrictionists. Then again, on the left you’ll find people like Will Wilkinson, who are essentially progressives, although usually smarter, whiter, and more male than the average progressive. Objectivists, incidentally, don’t really fit well with most other libertarians. Their thing is sui generis. I tend to view it with some sympathy, but as a phase, an educational gateway. Objectivism is useful in that it can help some people unlearn some of the worst progressive propaganda. But an Objectivist that remains so for more than a few years loses my sympathy.

The big commonality between libertarians and the traditional right is opposition to progressivism, which is to say: opposition to most of what modern government actually does. The big difference between most libertarians and the traditional right is found in what the government ought to do, which for most libertarians is “nothing,” or “not much,” whereas the traditional right has no beef with “the state,” or government authority as such, and think it should do much of what it has always done.

LA replies:

If I painted with too broad a brush, I should not have done that.

You write

On the right of libertarian ideology, you’ll find “paleo” libertarians like Lew Rockwell, Ilana Mercer, and Hans Hoppe, who know that nation and religion matter.

If Rockwell ever thought that nation matters, at least the American nation (which by the way is what the domain name of this website stands for), it was a long time ago. I don’t know any issue on which the present Rockwell is on the same side as trad conservatives, let alone with race realists and immigration restrictionists.

While Mercer used to be a liberterian, she now very pointedly says that she is not a libertarian but a classical liberal. And I think part of her reason for the change was that she came to realize that libertarians do not defend the nation.

Could you explain, very briefly, how Objectivists differ from libertarians?

You write:

whereas the traditional right has no beef with “the state,” or government authority as such, and think it should do much of what it has always done.

Well, if we’re speaking of trad cons in the American context, of course they have a huge beef with the modern state, which is an unconstitutional monstrosity.

M. Mason writes:

Quite an enlightening conversation. This really does pry open the matter and gets right down to the essential nature of hardcore Randianism. It appears that it is the sheer force of the Randians’ violent hatred of the transcendent and all the earthly implications that derive from it which has propelled them at high speed in the totally opposite direction—away from both God and all traditional forms of the society of man, plunging them into the dark existential abyss of self-for-self-alone. The further Randian conceit—implicit in Mr. Auster’s analysis—is that these people imagine that such a pathologically myopic ideology grounded in nothing but “free” autonomous individuals living only for themselves can actually produce a world that any sane person would want to live in. If the history of civilization proves anything, it is that man does not by himself and of himself behave well. He absolutely must be hedged in and to some extent restrained in his behavior by the imposition of external societal forces. When those outer civilizational safeguards and restraints are removed as in times of crisis (war, famine or disease on a large scale) then the inner volcano of human nature is revealed for what it really is. It is then that men who have up until that time been kept on the rails in their behavior by societal restraints suddenly become transformed by the discovery of what they can now do with impunity.

Chambers’ concise summation of Randianism reminds me of another, similar quote that I jotted down many years ago from an old American scientific journal article written in the 1950s. Though I no longer have a copy of it, the piece, significantly titled “Toward An Understanding of the Decline of the West,” dealt at some length with the modern phenomenon of concentration camps in light of the history of civilization, pointing out that it was entirely possible that a people could be highly cultured without having a genuine sense of morality, and indeed while being totally indifferent or unaware of some of the most basic moral issues in human relations, the author astutely observed:

“The men of Dachau demonstrated in unmistakable terms how the fully autonomous human animal beneath a godless sky conducts himself.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 22, 2009 10:40 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):