Atheism and postmodernism

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Postmodernism is an antichristian,[1] far-left, 20th century worldview and academic movement characterized by denial of objective truth, and which asserts that assertions of objective knowledge are essentially impossible.

The Christian apologist Norman Geisler wrote about postmodernism: "In short, the root of Post-modernism is atheism and the fruit of it is relativism — relativism in every area of life and thought."[2] Furthermore, Jeff Myers and David A. Noebel note in their book Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews that "The British Broadcasting Corporation actually lists postmodernism as a subset of atheism."[3]

As far as schools of atheist thought, there are atheists who subscribe to modernism and atheists who subscribe to postmodernism.[4] Atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Steven Novella, are critical of postmodernism.[5][6] See also: Atheist factions

The Christian apologetics website All About Worldview declares:

Postmodern theology begins with a soft form of atheism. Atheism is the theological belief that there is no God, no supernatural Creator, no Divine moral lawgiver, and no ultimate Judge of man’s actions. It is the theological backbone of not only Secular Humanism and Marxism, but it is also the predominant theological view of classical Postmodernism.

Although more subtle in some ways than their fellow atheists, Postmodernists have their theological underpinnings in atheism. Kevin J. Vanhoozer says, “Postmodernists agree with Nietzsche that ‘God’—which is to say, the supreme being of classical theism—has become unbelievable, as have the autonomous self and the meaning of history.”...

Postmodern theology stretches from militant atheism to village atheist. All the major Postmodern writers were atheists, including Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Bataille, Barthes, Baudrillard, Macherey, Deleuze, Guattari, and Lacan.

Charlotte Allen noted that Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, “and their [followers]...were all militant atheists, with all the intolerance and totalitarian tendencies of that breed.”[7]

Edward Vargas in his article Postmodern atheism writes:

Atheism, which Etienne Borne defines as "the deliberate, definite, dogmatic denial of the existence of God," is one of the major components of postmodernism's philosophical belief system. The postmodernists, however, appear to be more subtle than many of their fellow atheists in their disavowal of the reality of God's existence.

Though their denial of the existence of God is in many ways deliberate, the postmodernists are simply not prepared to admit that they are also dogmatic and definite about their own brand of atheism. What is more important to note at this point, however, is that they are in full agreement with Friedrich Nietzsche’s claim that the God of the Judeo-Christian theism has now become unbelievable, in the same manner that rigid rationalism and scientific empiricism of the old Enlightenment regime have suddenly become undependable and indefensible in the postmodern-infested popular culture of the 21st century world....

This explains the reason why leading postmodern thinkers like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Rorty himself resort to play post-structuralism’s language game and operate according to the epistemological notion of indeterminacy and ambiguity, if only to get rid of issuing absolute statements in reference to the non-existence of God. Unlike their fellow atheists, most especially the perpetrators of the so-called new brand of atheism like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Samuel Harris, the postmodern atheists, according to Rorty, treat “moral and scientific beliefs as tools for achieving greater human happiness, rather than as representations of the intrinsic nature of reality.”

Regardless of their differences, both the postmodernists and their fellow atheists meet at the same dead end of the road called unbelief...

The postmodernists' unbelief, on the other hand, is hidden beneath their pretention of agnosticism, their defiance of absolute, objective reality and deliberate refusal to commit themselves to any transcendent point of reference. They would rather consign themselves within the bounds of radical relativism rather than subject themselves to universal truth principles, or resign themselves to meaninglessness instead of living within the parameters set forth by an absolute moral law that is only possible if God indeed exists.[8][9]

(Michel Foucault did tell some people that he was an atheist.[10] As far as Jacques Derrida, see the section below entitled Jacques Derrida, self-identification as an atheist and the law of non-contradiction)

Postmodernism and irrationality

See also: Atheism and critical thinking and Atheism and irrationality

C.S. Lewis, photographed in 1947.

Arthur W. Lindsley, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, C.S. Lewis Institute, wrote:

Many postmodern contentions are self-refuting. An ancient example of this was the Greek philosopher Gorgius, who maintained that “All statements are false.” The problem is that if the statement that “All statements are false” is true, then it is false. Similarly, postmodernism maintains that it is (objectively) true to say that there are no objective truths. It uses reason to deny the validity of reason. If the statement, “all perspectives on reality are culturally determined” is true, then is this statement itself also culturally determined? If all metanarratives are suspect because they lead to oppression, then can it not be equally maintained that postmodernism is itself a metanarrative and equally suspect? If all knowledge claims are a grab for power, then are not postmodernism’s contentions equally motivated by a will-to-power?[11]

The Christian educational website Beyond Teachable Moments indicates about the secular educational system:

The ability to think critically is a rare skill these days. Our educational systems are no longer designed to teach this kind of thinking. Children often are taught to memorize facts, rather than to articulate and defend a position. Even if they are encouraged to articulate and defend a position, no one is allowed to win the argument. Everyone is supposed to wind up being ‘right’. No one is permitted to be wrong if they truly believe their position on a topic. No one position is considered absolutely wrong for everyone, all the time. This is particularly the case when religion is the topic.

We’re just so friendly and tolerant of each other.

But the problem is, we can’t all be right. For example, the Christian and the atheist have mutually exclusive claims. Either God does exist, or He doesn’t. He doesn’t exist for one person and not the other.[12]

Jacques Derrida, self-identification as an atheist and the law of non-contradiction

The prominent postmodernist Jacques Derrida famously said he "I quite rightly pass for an atheist".[13][14]

The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion commenting on this matter of Derrida being an atheist or non-atheist declared:

When questioned about this turn of phrase in an interview conducted in 2000 with Mark Dooley, who asked, "Why do you say in Circumfession that you 'rightly pass for an atheist', instead of simply stating that you are an atheist?". Derrida replied:
I am being ironic. Firstly, I prefer to say what they say... So I feel free because I am not saying this. It is, however, not that simple. For I am more than one. I am the atheist they think I am. which is why I say that I 'rightly" pass for an atheist, but I also approve of those who say the exact opposite. Who is right? I don't know. I don't know whether or not I am or not.

Caputo (2003c: 43) commenting on this response explains that Derrida does qualify as an atheist - by the standards, say of the local pastor, of the Pope or Jerry Falwell. But given Derrida's rejection of the unity of the self ('I am more than one'), Derrida does not believe that we can ever achieve the kind of self-identity and self-transparency required by a religious credo, where we proclaim 'I believe....". Given, further, his commitment to deconstruction and hence to the undecidability of the theist/atheist opposition, Derrida refuses to categorise himself as an atheist (or a theist). It is not, therefore, a matter of being confused about what one but of refusing the very parameters within which the question (Are you an atheist?) is set.[15]

Aristotle said about the law of noncontradiction: "The most certain opinion of all" was "that opposed statements cannot be at the same time true."[16]

In his New York Times article Deconstructing God, Gary Cutting writes:

I can see that there are influences of Judaism, Augustinian Christianity and enlightenment atheism in Derrida. But isn’t this just a matter of his detaching certain religious ideas from their theistic core? He talks of a messiah — but one that never comes; he’s interested in the idea of confessing your sins — but there’s no one to forgive them. After all the deconstructive talk, the law of noncontradiction still holds: Derrida is either an atheist or he isn’t. It seems that the only reasonable answer is that he’s an atheist.[17]

The law of noncontradiction is a rule of logic, it means that if something is true, its opposite is false, an example of this is if a red car is parked outside a building, it is not true that at the same time and in the same sense, a red car is not parked outside the building. Aristotle stated it in this way, that "The most certain opinion of all" was "that opposed statements cannot be at the same time true." [18]

See also

External links


  1. John F. MacArthur, "Think Biblically!"
  2. A Response to Philosophical Postmodernism by Norman L. Geisler
  3. Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews By Jeff Myers and David A. Noebel, page 192 (endnote section)
  4. History of Modernism, Miami Dade College
  5. Postmodernism disrobed by Richard Dawkins
  6. Postmodernism – Sophisticated Nonsense by Steven Novella
  7. Postmodern theology
  8. Postmodern atheism by Edwin Vargas
  9. Postmodern Atheism by Edwin Vargas
  10. Religion and Culture Por Michel Foucault,Jeremy Carrette, page 15.[1]
  11. [ C.S. Lewis on Postmodernism?] by Arthur W. Lindsley, Ph.D. Senior Fellow, C.S. Lewis Institute
  12. The Importance of Critical Thinking: Why You Should Encourage All Those ‘Why’ Questions
  13. The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, edited by Graham Oppy, 2015, page 40
  14. Deconstructing God By Gary Gutting, New York Times, Opinionator blogs, March 9, 2014 9:24 pm
  15. The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, edited by Graham Oppy, 2015, page 40
  16. Aristotle The Metaphysics page 83 Ann Arbor Paperbacks The University of Michigan Press 2013 translated by Richard Hope
  17. Deconstructing God By Gary Gutting, New York Times, Opinionator blogs, March 9, 2014 9:24 pm
  18. Aristotle The Metaphysics page 83 Ann Arbor Paperbacks The University of Michigan Press 2013 translated by Richard Hope