Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Daniel Dennett
On Martin Marty’s “Sightings” S
firstname.lastname@example.org; was a discussion of the phrase the “Church Militant,” that connects the historical phrase to the contemporary and IMHO demonic bargain between neoatheists and anti-Islamists. I had not understood this before.
The same story was also blogged here:
“Freedman [a NYTimes reporter] quotes White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who in a speech at the Vatican in 2014 “called on the ‘church militant’ to fight a global war against… ‘Islamic fascism’ and international financial elites,” etc. Freedman condenses the “Church Militant” agenda to stances against—surprise, surprise!—“globalism, immigration, social-welfare programs and abortion,” and for “an existential war against radical Islam.”
The media, with their usual obtuse need for headlines, created a category for certain social thinkers. According to Wikipedia, always avid to “know better,” says “New Atheism is a term coined by journalists to describe the positions promoted by atheists of the twenty-first century. This modern-day atheism and secularism is advanced by critics of religion, a group of modern atheist thinkers and writers who advocate the view that superstition, religion and irrationalism should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever their influence arises in government, education and politics.”
The names usually waved around are Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris. All of them could be demolished by French-Algerian deconstructionists, who specialize in revealing the assumptions behind assertions. The New Atheists are easily revealed as merely decapitated Christians, who wish to have all the attributions of the system but without that inconvenient Father/Boss personified by a Monotheistic God. THEY want to be the ultmate authority themselves. Dennett’s long white beard gives him away. Hitchens was the most attractive figure, partly because he was funny. Partly because he was the least overbearing about the conflation of “reason” with their own opinions based on the standing order, which has been good to them.. None of these guys were feminists, but Hitchens probably would at least admit it was reasonable.
When I was working for Multnomah County Animal Control, a “new budgeting strategy” arrived that called for a “zero base” accounting. Before that, we just took the old one, added what we knew we needed — plus additional percentages for what we knew would be removed again by the politicians who wanted to look thrifty and called it good, though it was always a little more every year. The idea of “zero base” was that there had to be evidence proving the amount needed. No gauzy assumptions.
The New Atheists were doing old-fashioned conventional thinking, accepting what had been the status quo as the context, knocking out what they didn’t like, adding in what made them look good. “Zero-based” theology would first of all have to remove the prefix of “theo” since there are systems that have no god at all, thus no theology. Conflating the idea of monotheism with the only definition of religion, meant that there was nothing truly new about it. By using the term “New Atheists” the relationship of dependence on the old system remains.
Theism is derived, the deconstructionists would point out, from the father/chieftain tribes of the Middle East, which is why their headquarters are piled up there on top of each other. It is more properly called a “three brothers” system, since each of the big Theisms is derived from the sons of Abraham. Therefore, it is about who is the rightful heir of the father, which persists into modern times both in military adventures and in the Roman Catholic Church, which treats the Pope as the inheritor of Peter’s Church. (Jesus had no institution.) Each of the three “brothers” is also prone to inheritance schisms within their movements and those wars are often the more vicious and bitter.
Bannon is quoted as calling for war against ‘Islamic fascism’ and international financial elites,” this last being transparently Anti-Semitism. It’s still family war, in Abraham’s house where the Game of Thrones gets played out again and again, this time with predator drones and predatory governments shuttling money. Evidently it doesn’t help to be Asian, since Kim Jung-Un and family demonstrate the same tendencies: the young males kill the old male and ascend to his throne. One source of democracy is the cost and pain of this rivalry making the system miserable for everyone, including the aspiring tyrants. But democracy is a lot of work and it becomes much easier to let “Dad” do it.
Instead of pointing out all this obviousness, which no one seems able to resolve, perhaps it is time to describe the TRUE new religions, which really are “zero-based,” that is, proved out in benefit to people and the world and not anthropocentric. Some people like to call them “spiritual.” Others say environmental or earth-based.
The “three-brothers” Theism of Abraham is worn out. Or maybe it’s just co-opted by greed. Or maybe the central illusion of “family” has crashed. I’ve been thinking about “writing” (Sacred Books) and “bookkeeping” (Venture capitalism yielding interest) and the extent to which they describe the Middle East troika, even enable it. What if both written laws and banking practices were at least de-emphasized, replaced by new thinking that is image-based and non-scoring. Esp. images of natural processes that are cyclical, self-sustaining, because they are as self-correcting as the cycles in the human bodies controlling homeostasis: hunger and thirst, waking and sleep.
As an example of what I mean, who could have guessed that George W. Bush would have followed Carter into a post-presidency that has stature and meaning far beyond the desk job of the president? Who knew that this inarticulate man, dependent on his father, could create images of heroes — not just one, but a series. And not depicted as violent superheroes but as surviving wounded, standing with comrades.
Bush’s portraits invoke the values of Jesus. They really ARE Christian, New Testament, accepting of suffering, and entirely egalitarian. Not about God but about humans.
George W. Bush