Essay: Politics: The achilles' heel of atheism

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Edmund Burke was adamantly against atheism and pointed out its negative influence on the political realm.[1]

Atheist Dr. Gordon Stein wrote:

Atheism has long ceased to be a rare and oft-ignored philosophical outlook...It has transformed itself into an active political programme with clear objectives which, though they vary from state to state, unequivocally include the elimination of state religion, religious education, and the enshrinement of scientism."[2]

In June 2014, the atheist activist Sikivu Hutchinson wrote in the Washington Post that atheist organizations generally focus on church/state separation and creationism issues.[3]

Atheists commonly use the political realm to advance their atheistic ideology (see: Political activities of atheists).

Historically, atheists have screwed towards the left side of the political aisle (see: Secular left).[4][5][6][7][8] However, the secular right has been growing within the atheist population and this is partly due to the alt-right movement (see: Atheism and the alt-right).

According to the University of Cambridge, historically, the "most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power."[9] See also; Atheism and communism

According to the Pew Forum, in the United States: "About two-thirds of atheists (69%) identify as Democrats (or lean in that direction), and a majority (56%) call themselves political liberals (compared with just one-in-ten who say they are conservatives)".[10] A Harris interactive poll found that most American atheists are liberal.[11]

Why politics is an achilles' heel of atheism

Presently, global atheism is shrinking in its global market share (see: Global atheism statistics). And in much of the developed world, there is now secularization rates of zero (see: Desecularization).

The dependency of atheist activists on a favorable political climate to left leaning politics is a major flaw in strategy, Why? Because the public is fickle when it comes to politics. Today's political ideology is tomorrows discarded political ideology. And there has been a clear trend away from liberal/leftist politics ever since the 1980's and the election of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher demonstrated (see: Decline of leftism).

Christianity, on the other hard, can thrive in both favorable and very unfavorable political climates. Christianity grew quickly under Roman persecution and the Chinese communist persecution of Christians has proven to be ineffective in stopping the explosive growth of Christianity in China (see: Growth of Christianity in China).

In addition, the growth of the secular right within the atheist population has proven to be disastrous for the atheist movement as it has caused bitter infighting (see: Western atheism, schisms and political polarization and Atheist factions).

A number of atheists have declared that the "atheist movement is dead".[12] After the Elevatorgate controversy in 2011, which caused a significant rift with the atheism movement, atheist Jen McCreight and the website Atheist Revolution indicated that the atheist movement was dead/destroyed.[13]

In 2017, atheist David Smalley has indicated that leftist/progressive atheists were "killing the atheist movement" through being contentious and divisive (see also: Atheist factions).[14] Smalley indicated that the atheist movement was disintegrating.[15] Former new atheist PZ Myers, who subscribes to progressive politics, says he is no longer a member of the atheist movement.[16]

The atheist activist Hemant Mehta argues that there never was an atheist movement and that people who wanted their to be an atheist movement wrongly assumed "there’s some list of beliefs everyone has to subscribe to." (See also: Schools of atheist thought)[17] Similarly, a blogger at Freethought Blogs indicates: "To be honest, I never saw "atheism” as much of a “movement” as an uneasy coalition, which may, in fact, now be unraveling."[18]

The folly of atheists depending on politics to advance atheism is especially true given that political power depends on votes and votes of course are dependent on the creation of new voters. And atheists have sub-replacement levels of fertility (see: Atheism and fertility rates). Furthermore, atheists often have low retention rates in terms of their children as evidenced by American atheists and the growth of religion under in former communist countries (see: Atheism and its retention rate in individuals).

See also

Notes

  1. Edmund Burke on atheism
  2. Gordon Stein, Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion, 74.
  3. Atheism has a big race problem that no one’s talking about by Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, Washington Post June 16, 2014
  4. Atheists & Agnostics in America Tend to be Politically Liberal
  5. Marxism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.”
  6. James Adair (2007). Christianity. JBE Online Books. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “Although the Civil Constitution called for religious liberty, which was extended to Jews as well as Christians, many revolutionaries pushed for the establishment of a new state religion, either the Cult of Reason (atheists) or the Cult of the Supreme Being (Deists). Changes toAlthough the Civil Constitution called for religious liberty, which was extended to Jews as well as Christians, many revolutionaries pushed for the establishment of a new state religion, either the Cult of Reason (atheists) or the Cult of the Supreme Being (Deists). Changes to the calendar eliminated references to Christian holidays, and even the ancient seven-day week, and a ist of officially recognized saints included such famous thinkers such as Socrates, Jesus, Marcus Aurelius, and Jean-Jacques Rosseau. A period of political persecution, often with religious overtones, broke out, known as the Reign of Teror. Thousands of people were executed by the guillotine, including many of the original leaders of the French Revolution.” 
  7. William Belsham (1801). Memoirs of the reign of George III. to the session of parliament ending A.D. 1793, Volume 5. G.G. & J. Robinson. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “Reign of this portentous period, it has been eloquently tenor, and energetically observed, " that the reign of atheism in France was avowed the reign of terror. In the full madness of their career, in the highest climax of their horrors, they shut up the temples of God, abolished His worship, and proclaimed death to be an eternal sleep:-in the very centre of Christendom, Revelation underwent a total eclipse, while atheism, performing on a darkened theatre its strange and fearful tragedy, confounded the first elements of society, blended every age, rank, and sex ,indiscriminate proscription and massacre, and convulsed all Europe to its centre, that the imperishable memorial of these events might teach the last generations of mankind to consider religion as the pillar of society, the parent of social order, and the safe-guard of nations." It is wonderful that, amid the horrors of this dismal period, while "the death dance of democratic revolution" was still in rapid movement, among the tears of affliction, and the cries of despair, "the masque, the song, the theatric scene, the buffoon laughter, went on as regularly as in the gay hour of festive peace."” 
  8. William Kilpatrick (2012). Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West. Ignatius Press. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “Actually, it's helpful to think in terms of two Enlightenments: the Enlightenment that cut itself off from God. The former led to the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the abolition of slavery, and the civil rights movement. The latter led to the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, the suppression of church by state, and the godless philosophies of Marx and Nietzsche and their offspring-National Socialism and communism. More recently the abandonment of God has led to the regime of cultural relativism that regards rights as arbitrary constructions. It's this second Enlightenment tradition that Cardinal Ratzinger referred to when he wrote, "The radical detachment of the Enlightenment philosophy from its roots ultimately leads it to dispense with man." Actually this transition happened no "ultimately" but almost immediately. The first instance occurred when Enlightenment worship of abstract "reason" and "liberty" degenearated quickly into the mass murders committed during the antireligious Reign of Terror in France. "Liberty, what crimes are committed in your name", said Madam Rolande as she faced the statue of Liberty in the Place de la Revolution movements before her death at the guillotine. She was one of the early victims of a succession of secular systems based on rootless notions of "liberty", "equality", and "reason". As many historians have pointed out, the atheist regimes of modern times are guilty of far more crimes than any committed in the name of religion. Communist governments alone were guilty of more than one hundred million murders, most of them committed against their own people.” 
  9. Investigating atheism: Marxism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on July 17, 2014. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.”
  10. 7 facts about atheists, Pew Forum
  11. Atheists & Agnostics in America Tend to be Politically Liberal
  12. Reasonably Controversial: How the Regressive Left Is Killing the Atheist Movement by David Smalley
  13. Reasonably Controversial: How the Regressive Left Is Killing the Atheist Movement by David Smalley
  14. Get Out! A message for the atheist movement by PZ Myers
  15. The Atheist “Movement” Isn’t Dead Because There Never Was One by HEMANT MEHTA
  16. The “Atheism Movement:” Dead or Alive?, Freethought Blogs