If you are a Christian, or even an unbeliever, then, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you have likely heard the catch-phrase “religion poisons everything.” This phrase served as part of the sub-title for the book god is not Great, which was written by the popular but now-deceased atheist Christopher Hitchens. It is a statement that implies that religion taints everything it touches, and it is undeniable that it is a witty and rhetorically powerful slogan that has entered the atheist sub-culture
However, when examined with a critical eye, it is extremely dubious, if not downright false, that religion poisons everything. In fact, far from poisoning everything, a solid case can be made that religion in general, or at least some religions in particular, have actually served as a net positive in the world when it comes to promoting human welfare and human civilization.
But ultimately, those are not the points that I want to argue about in this specific work. Rather, I want to argue that when this issue is turned around on atheism, a powerful argument can be made that it is actually atheism, not religion, that poisons everything, or at least everything that we hold dear. And note that by atheism, I mean atheistic-naturalism, the most popular form of Western atheism, and, in the assessment of various thinkers, the only viable form of atheism that there is. This is the type of atheism that says that all that exists is the natural, material world.
So, with this in mind, how does atheism poison everything? Well, think about the following points.
Do you, for example, value tolerance, human rights, or environmental responsibility? Well, too bad. Why? Because, on atheistic-naturalism, you are ultimately just a machine made of meat. A fancy monkey. A product of blind evolutionary forces in a world that is blood red in tooth and claw. You have no objective purpose in this life, and definitely no requirement or duty to be tolerant. Preaching tolerance may be a good strategy if you lack power, but it is not some objective virtue or moral good. After all, on atheism, power and strength ultimately make the rules, as we see in the world all around us. Furthermore, human rights are a myth, for in a universe of mere matter in motion, where do these so-called “rights” come from? Nowhere! And, of course, on an evolutionary view, there is no equality, for we are all evolved to a greater or lesser degree, and we all naturally possess different powers and abilities, thus making equality nothing but an illusion. As for environmental responsibility? Who cares! On atheism, we have no duty to the future if we do not want to have such a duty. At best, we only have a duty to ourselves and to what we want, and not even that. So, on atheism, the future can quite literally go to hell. Thus, it seems that atheism poisons such things as tolerance, human rights, and care for the future.
Next, ask yourself: Do you cry out for genuine justice when someone is physically harmed or sexually assaulted by another human being? Well, on atheistic-naturalism, once again, too bad. But why? Because, as many atheists themselves admit, there is no good or evil on their view. Indeed, objective morality is just an illusion that helps us spread our genes, nothing more. And sometimes, some people decide to spread their genes via sexual assault. On atheistic-naturalism, ultimately, that’s not evil, it’s just different. After all, the universe does not know us, and it definitely does not care about us or about our quaint ideas concerning morality or fairness. It’s all just matter-in-motion. That’s it. And since many people are never caught for their crimes, then, on atheistic-naturalism, there is no such thing as ultimate justice, not in this life or the next. So, atheism poisons justice as well.
Moving on, think about great art, architecture, or literature. On atheistic-naturalism, since there is no objective or ultimate purpose or meaning to life, then being the next Mozart or Isaac Newton is ultimately as objectively valuable as being the next beer-guzzling, porn-watching video game player. Would you like to cure cancer? Why bother? Play Call of Duty instead. Furthermore, on atheistic-naturalism, all of humanity’s great art, great endeavors, and great works are ultimately pointless, all fated to be annihilated in the heat death of the universe, if not before. They are all sound and fury, signifying nothing. In fact, humanity itself is also just sound and fury, ultimately signifying nothing as well. So, atheism poisons human purpose, human accomplishments, and humanity itself.
Oh, and do you think that being rational and freely coming to true conclusions is important? Well, as various unbelievers tell us, there is no free-will and everything is determined, so, if you thought that you freely came to believe in the truth of atheism, think again. The particles in your brain just moved around in a certain way, and turned you into an atheist, and you were determined to be one since the beginning of time. At the same time, on atheistic-naturalism, believing true things does not matter in the least. There is no punishment for believing falsehoods or for spreading them. And consider that believing and spreading falsehoods is often more appealing and beneficial than the truth. After all, atheists themselves claim that religions, which are false on their view, are a form of pleasant wish-fulfillment. So, on atheistic-naturalism, we can drop any need to be truthful, either to ourselves or to others. Thus, atheism poisons both truthfulness and the pursuit of truth, not to mention freedom itself.
And if we value peace and kindness, atheistic-naturalism does not help us in this respect either. After all, atheists have been just as murderous and violent, if not more so, than religious believers. And atheists have often committed their violence because of their atheism. See the League of the Militant Godless for one such example. Furthermore, in recent years, even among atheists themselves, there have been political feuds and strife between progressive-atheists and their non-progressive brethren. This shows us that even in the atheist community, unity and harmony are not achievable. So, atheism poisons politics and social harmony as well, and it does so just as much as religion allegedly does.
Finally, ask yourself: Do you love your children? Your significant other? I’m sure that you do. But on atheistic-naturalism, you don’t. Not really. Or at least not like we normally mean. For on atheistic-naturalism, your “love” just reduces to a chemical reaction in your brain. It’s as much of an illusion as objective morality or purpose is. You may feel that you love your children, but really, you are just having a chemical reaction about them. Your love is essentially like the fizzing inside a bottle of coke. That is what love boils down to on atheistic-naturalism. So, atheism poisons love as well.
Thus, in the end, it really does seem that, if anything, it is atheism, not religion, that poisons everything, or at least everything that we hold dear.
And all I can say to that is: Atheism honestly is a deeply bleak and truly depressing view of reality, and one that no person should want to live with.
Non Nobis Christus, Non Nobis, Sed Nomini Tuo Da Gloriam
Written: 11 January 2019
References / Links: Nil.