activist atheism n : the social movement based on the beliefs that God does not exist and the worship of God is unvirtuous.
Newthinkers who, because they believe God-worship is unvirtuous, actively oppose the idea of God and all religious institutions that worship God.
To devout progressives, God-worship becomes a progressively-unvirtuous anachronism that leads people astray from scientific reality and humanity-based principles. Activist atheism prods progressive magazine editors to create covers for their weekly news magazines with titles like “The Rise and Fall of Christian America.” While reports of the death of Christianity in America are exaggerations, away from the extreme of activist atheism, a great body of Americans is unconnected to church or synagogue. When backed against the wall by a pollster, they may admit to a belief in God, but that belief often has no social expression. Meanwhile, Activist Atheists are attempting to remove God from the public square. If they succeed, they will then attempt to remove God from society entirely.
But the path to a God-free society isn’t always easy for devout progressives. They take such care to deny the presence of God, but it can be troubling if his goodness is questioned. To newthinkers, God is their absent father; they are allowed to revile their father, but no one else better try it. In the novel Catch-22, Lt. Scheisskopf’s wife becomes upset and attacks Yossarian for ridiculing God. Yossarian asks why she’s upset, since she doesn’t believe in God. She insists she doesn’t, breaking into tears, insisting that the God she doesn’t believe in is good, not stupid and mean like Yossarian depicts him.*
Activist Atheists are attempting to remove God from the public square. If they succeed, they will then attempt to remove God from society entirely.
Devout newthinkers who have climbed high enough in the cognitive branches of newthink’s worldview tree to internalize the “God doesn’t exist” belief suffer from cognitive dissonance due to two contradictory unconscious beliefs: God is the absent father and God does not exist. An absent father is different from a father who doesn’t exist and never has existed. Newthinkers unconsciously and fundamentally believe in God the Father, but they also believe their father has abandoned them. This is deism, in which God exists, but is not active in the universe. When those who internalize newthink logic get to the point where they believe humanity is the ultimate authority and God doesn’t exist, the point where newthink’s deism becomes atheism, then one of the cornerstones of the newthink worldview – God is the Absent Father – is threatened. The dissonance between the belief in an absent God and the belief in a nonexistent God may be the catalyst toward a new worldview, one which I hope never emerges, in which a new universe metaphor denies the existence of God altogether.
The unconscious belief that God does not exist obviously has major effects as it spreads through society. One is a decrease in the influence of traditional religions. Traditional theologies tend to be dismissed by newthinkers as fantasies, psychological crutches, and/or cultural appendices. Newthinkers elevate science into a means of explaining everything, seen and unseen, in the universe. They unconsciously believe that science, since it comes from inherently noble humans, is therefore more true, powerful and insightful than religion.
Another dynamic is the progressive tendency to create messiahs out of mere mortals. The belief that God doesn’t exist leaves a hole in newthinkers’ psyches which they tend to fill with charismatic figures. As Jonah Goldberg argues in his book Liberal Fascism, progressives yearn for a leader in harmony with the people’s will.** In America, that yearning gave us Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama; in Europe, it produced less benign leaders.
Finally, this belief causes newthinkers to reject traditional principles. They have no foundation in newthink because God doesn’t exist; there is no reward or punishment in the afterlife for good or evil done in this life. In their place are the new principles of political correctness, based on emotion and the unconscious beliefs we are exploring. Unfortunately, as traditional morality declines, so does the pressure to conform to its high standard of conduct – and so does its attendant good behavior.
* Joseph Heller, Catch-22, (New York: Dell, 1962), p. 184.
** Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, (Three Rivers Press, 2009), p. 23.