Activist Atheists

activist atheism n : the social movement based on the beliefs that God does not exist and the worship of God is unvirtuous.

Activist Atheists:
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.

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Atheism is Progressive Faith in the Non-Existence of God

Devout progressives eventually come to the conclusion that if humanity is the ultimate authority, then God must not exist, because he is by definition the ultimate authority. Under newthink, humanity takes on God’s role.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief, from the Godless Universe metaphor on up, goes like this:

• The Universe is a Home.
• God is the Absent Father.
• Transcendental goodness does exist.
• Transcendental goodness exists within us, not outside of us.
• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
• God doesn’t exist.

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The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• Traditional God-based religions are fantasies, psychological crutches, and/or cultural appendices.
• The old God-based beliefs don’t apply anymore because we now know he doesn’t exist.
• Principles should derive from reason and feelings, not from an external and nonexistent God.
• Science rather than religion should be used to explain the ultimate nature of the universe.
• There is no afterlife with a reward or punishment for behavior in this life.
• Humanity takes the role formerly occupied by God.

 

Progressive society nurses a lot of anger toward God and “organized religion.” Part of this is because churches tend to be pillars of our cultural traditions. But there may be another more fundamental reason for newthinkers’ anger toward God than the cultural orientation of some churches. One of the three trunks supporting newthink’s worldview tree is the Godless Universe metaphor: The universe is a home; God is the absent father. The newthinkers’ Father, in whom they still unconsciously believe, has abandoned them. Just as a fatherless child grows up angry at its missing father, so does fatherless humanity nurse anger against its absent God. Among more devout newthinkers, that anger can become hatred. God’s status as an absent father helps explain the streak of God-hatred in progressivism.

As one climbs the newthink worldview tree, the unconscious idea that God is missing morphs into a belief in his nonexistence. Why do we stop believing in God? Because God is invisible and it’s easy to think he’s not there; because bad things happen and we blame him or doubt his existence; because we’re not always good and it’s easier to think he doesn’t exist than to admit our shortcomings; because there’s an initial ostensible feeling of freedom in believing no ultimate judge of our behavior exists. Given these disincentives for belief in God, the real surprise is not that atheism exists, but that religion does.

Atheism is every bit as much of a belief system as religion; neither can be proven. It’s purely a matter of faith – faith in the nonexistence of God.

If one is merely skeptical of the existence of God, agnosticism is the logical position. But the more devout newthinkers take another step: they believe in the nonexistence of God. Atheism is every bit as much of a belief system as religion; neither can be proven. It’s purely a matter of faith – faith in the nonexistence of God. Humans need to believe in something beyond themselves. If they start believing God is not home, then something must take God’s place. As G. K. Chesterton observed, those who stop believing in God do not believe nothing, they believe anything. For newthinkers, that “anything” is humanity. God ceases to exist and man attempts to sit on his throne. Atheism exists among nonbelievers because it enables the human need to believe in something beyond themselves – in this case, humanity as a whole. Atheism, which eschews religion, takes the place of religion in the human psyche.

Milestones on the Path of Humanism: Atheism, Narcissism and Solipsism

The belief that humanity is the ultimate authority is the essence of humanism.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief is as follows, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• God doesn’t exist.
• It is important to be loved by humanity.
• Utopia is possible.

 

Along the path of humanism are milestones. The first milestone: If humans are the ultimate reality, then God is not. Newthink’s inherent belief system is atheism. The second milestone: If the ultimate reality is humanity, it’s only one step to believing that “the ultimate reality is me.” Remember how the 1970s, a period of huge progressive growth in America, was called the “me decade.” Narcissism is a common destination for newthinkers. The third milestone: If the ultimate reality is me, then it’s only one step to believing that “all reality exists only because of my perceptions.” Luckily, few progressives travel that far down the path.

Newthink’s inherent belief system is atheism, but humanity’s innate religious drive conflicts with this, resulting in a slew of pseudo-religious movements devoid of God…

Since humanity is the ultimate authority to newthinkers, as the progressive worldview takes over, those plumbing the inner reality of humans – psychologists, spiritual mentors – become part of a new humanistic priesthood. The more progressive psychologists are no longer just trying to understand and treat psychological illness; they are performing some priestlike duties, like explaining the divine (inherently noble human nature) to laypersons. Spiritual mentors pop up to fill the void left by priests and pastors. As James Hitchcock says, “Religion cannot be suppressed forever. If suppressed, it comes back, sometimes in bizarre and deformed ways.”* Newthink’s inherent belief system is atheism, but humanity’s innate religious drive conflicts with this, resulting in a slew of pseudo-religious movements devoid of God, part of what Hitchcock calls the cult of self-worship.

* James Hitchcock, What is Secular Humanism?, (Servant Books, 1982), p. 78.

Celebrating Humanity Instead of God

Unlike most progressives, traditional Americans believed that only God was to be worshiped: Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. They saw human beings as flawed and vulnerable to evil. Newthinkers, on the other hand, tend to believe that we should celebrate humanity instead of God.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
• We human beings need to fully realize that we are already perfect.
• Killing a human for any reason is akin to killing God.

 

Americanism, though fed by emotion as are all things human, grew out of and was shaped by a written religious tradition. Newthink, however, grew wild out of an emotional groundwork. Newthinkers believe they are transcendentally noble, and that their feelings are inherently good. But emotions, like water, can be life-giving or destructive, depending on how they are channeled.

…rationality alone cannot determine right and wrong. The intellect must have a substructure: one must defer to the written authority of God as traditional Americans did, or to feelings as progressives do.

As the newthink worldview tree developed, in its branches the philosophy of humanism grew. Humanism is really an aspect of newthink. God was replaced by humanity, and the civilizing process in God’s name was replaced by endless battle. In its definition of humanism, the dictionary says that “Humanist beliefs . . . seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.”* But rationality alone cannot determine right and wrong. The intellect must have a substructure: one must defer to the written authority of God as traditional Americans did, or to feelings as progressives do. Without a good foundation for rationality, anything – rewarding sloth, killing babies or even exterminating entire ethnic groups – can be made logical.

Devout newthinkers believe human beings are already inherently perfect, but that perfection is hidden or corrupted by society. From that perspective, celebrating human beings instead of God makes sense. When humanity is equivalent to God, killing any human is anathema, equivalent to killing God. That is part of the unconscious dynamic behind death penalty opponents in America. Their reverence for all human life blinds them to any distinction between the state execution of a murderer after a jury trial and any other killing of a human being. They may quote the biblical commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” But, as I learned from Dennis Prager, properly translated into English from the Hebrew word ratsach, that commandment really reads “Thou shalt not murder.” That is an important difference. The original Hebrew did not use the word harag (to kill), nor muth (put to death); nor shachat (to slaughter).** Murder is a subset of killing: it is that subset –“the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another”*** – which God prohibits. To traditional Americans – unlike newthinkers – the execution of a tried murderer and his own criminal act were not morally equivalent.

* The New Oxford American Dictionary, (Oxford University Press, 2001).

** Timothy E. White, Free to Love: Looking at the Law Through Jesus’ Eyes, (Tate Publishing, 2008), p. 57.

*** The New Oxford American Dictionary, (Oxford University Press, 2001).