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Evolve

Last year’s Family Guy episode titled “Big Bang Theory” (no relation to the show of the same name) left me scratching my head.  In the story, Brian and Stewie end up outside the space-time continuum after some mishaps with Stewie’s time machine.  After successfully getting back to reality, Stewie determines that the energy he created to free them must have been the cause of the Big Bang, concluding that he must have been put there by the universe to create it.  While this plot could just be attributed to a difference in writers, it still seems unusual coming from series creator and outspoken atheist Seth McFarlane’s creations.  Assuming an intelligence creating the universe is closely theistic, and since no sympathetic depiction of theism ever slips through on Family Guy, this leads me to believe it’s merely the result of a recent trend in atheism.

Stewie and Brian outside the time-space continuum

Stewie and Brian outside the time-space continuum

As much as the New Atheists are opposed to creationism or intelligent design, it’s fascinating how much they seem to believe in an intelligence behind the universe while rejecting an intelligent designer.  Atheist leaders like Sam Harris argue that religion is a vestigial product of evolution that is no longer beneficial to society, which is a value-judgment ironically counter to evolutionary theory.  His followers persistently tell theists to “evolve”, and their definition of evolution is a one-track ascent of man which conveniently leads to their ideology as the ultimate end.  For starters, the entire concept of telling someone to “evolve” out of their own volition is completely unscientific, the equivalent of telling a leopard to change its spots.  Every individual organism would already be at the height of its evolution, after all, and nothing it does can change that.  Next, evolutionarily speaking, one organism is not “more” or “less” evolved than another; concepts of regression or progression are value judgments that only have meaning to man.  The term “de-evolution” is a misnomer, nature is indifferent to which organisms or ideologies ought to reproduce, survival of the fittest is merely the result of the thinning of the herd.

While completely in line with evolutionary theory, these facts are difficult for the New Atheist to swallow.  Just as Sam Harris is seemingly incapable of understanding that science can only tell us how the world is, not how it ought to be, so his followers generally perceive expressing these facts as moralizing.  For instance, atheists generally respond by being insulted when I factually explain to them that the birth-rate of liberals is insufficient to replace the current generation, and that conservatives will marginalize them by virtue of reproducing more frequently.  Mathematically, the side that discourages abortion and promotes heterosexual marriage for procreation has a natural advantage over the side that has non-procreative sex and abortions; this is indisputable scientific fact.  Ironically, the ones destined to prevail generally don’t even believe in evolution, whereas the ideology that does will find themselves the lesser suited for survival.  The scientific solution is for liberals to simply start having more children, yet almost reluctantly they always seem to argue that the conservatives ought to change their beliefs or have fewer offspring.  In other words, they respond to morally neutral facts with moral judgments.  However, they don’t see their recommendations for what they really are–social engineering or selective breeding–they see their ideology as the destined course of human development, presupposing intelligence behind evolution, as if godless nature favors the atheist.  It is an audacious value judgment to assume one’s own ideology is more “evolved” than another, especially when it really has no evolutionary adantages over competing ideas.

Evolutionarily, Islam is the memeplex most suited to dominate the world.  Allowing up to four sexually submissive wives per husband with no legal abortions and starting to conceive very early in life, its birth rate is automatically enabled to be quadruple that of the most sexually active fertile couple.  Its hostile suppression of homosexuality ensures no attrition lost to same-sex intercourse, and the few gays executed under sharia law are more than offset by the millions pressured to marry and produce more anti-gay progeny for fear of their life.  Furthermore, Islam punishes dissenters and apostates with the death penalty and forbids other religions from proselytizing, ultimately ensuring 100% homogenization.  This is just statistical and scientific fact, I am not celebrating the memetic superiority of Islam.  The New Atheists, however, usually cannot understand my describing how the world is in comparison to how it ought to be.  Stating such facts is not bragging about Islam, nor is it suggesting that one should convert to the religion best positioned for world domination.

As a Christian, I can acknowledge the Islamic practices that give that religion an unfair advantage and also denounce them.  The scientific solution, after all, would be for non-Muslims to start taking more than four wives and likewise punishing gays and dissenters severely, but that would not be the moral solution.  Christianity may not be at a reproductive advantage over Islam, but I can still believe it is a morally superior ideology that should not be compromised, and must nonetheless succeed against overwhelming odds.  It is not how the world is by nature, but it is, in my belief, how the world ought to be, and that gives me the moral ground to spread and promote faith in Christ.  The atheists usually agree with me that Islam taking over the world would be a bad thing, although they’re at a loss to explain why.  The New Atheist, after all, has no authority, moral or otherwise, to defend why their reproductively inferior ideology should persevere over Islam or Christianity.  They may think of themselves as more intellectual, ethical, social, etc. than theists, but no law says nature must favor these qualities.  Sometimes stronger organisms survive over smarter ones, but if whatever survives is the product of evolution then who are we to say that gorillas ought to triumph over leopards?  Why should nature favor atheists?  Or why should humans survive, for that matter?  The very people who believe in evolution could, ironically, die out completely and whoever remained would still be the product of evolution.  The atheists who presumptuously think of themselves as the peak of evolutionary development cannot justify their own survival unless they assume some underlying intelligence behind evolution.

The simple value judgments that atheists make about the world, themselves, and others indicates that they don’t genuinely subscribe to their soulless ideology as strictly as they might claim.  Their belief that the world ought to be improving as a natural process is an assumption of intelligent design.  If atheists were to truly divorce their enlightenment fundamentalism from its theistic roots, their idea of how the world ought to be would be drastically different, but it would not be a tenable worldview.  Any worldview must rely on value judgments, after all, which are entirely outside of the domain of science.  Atheistic materialism is a failed philosophy, because philosophy is immaterial.  As much as they may want to keep Intelligent Design out of science classes, the atheist would be unable to relate to the world without an assumed intelligent order behind it all, whether they acknowledge that as God or not.

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Enlightenment Fundamentalism

On the 8th season premiere of Family Guy titled “Road to the Multiverse”, characters Brian and Stewie, both voiced by outspoken atheist and series creator Seth McFarlane, visit several alternate realities, including an advanced utopian world where it is said Christianity never existed, resulting in an absence of the Dark Ages.  While the show has always been more renowned for its potty and fart jokes than its relevant social commentary, this below-the-belt jab at Christianity reflects an increasing trend in the atheistic revision of world history.  Christianity alone is the scapegoat for the pejoratively-named Middle Ages, and it is assumed that atheism would have advanced and saved humanity if only people had listened to reason.  Non-Christian societies, even atheist ones, are not equally held accountable for their lack of progress, which ironically, is often lagging behind Christian society.

Although Family Guy is a humorous cartoon, this myth is actually taken seriously by many people today.  The “new” atheism of Richard Dawkins has proven to be more than simply non-religious, but specifically anti-Christian.  They like to think of themselves as “enlightened” although they don’t actually mean this term in the spiritual sense that it suggests.  Their enlightenment is derived not from nonviolent Buddhism, but from the 18th century Age of Reason which led to the bloody Reign of Terror.  What this reveals is that the new atheism is purely a product of Western Civilization, and holds a revisionary concept of its history.  After all, the atheist is quick to point out the violent histories of religions, but will rarely acknowledge or even admit the violence in the history of atheism.  LIke 19th century Reconstructionist heretics, such as Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, who avoid having to explain the dark periods in Christian history by simply rejecting it, so the new atheist has created their own historical reconstruction ignorant of actual history.  One such example is how atheists frequently quote Marx’s famous “religion is the opiate of the masses”, while ignoring the application of this credo that brought  the human rights violations of Stalin’s anti-religious purges in Soviet Russia.  And just as these proto-fundamentalist splinters of Christianity paved the way for 20th century fundamentalism, so now the new atheists have become Enlightenment Fundamentalists.

The Enlightenment Fundamentalist holds Christianity responsible for impeding all social, scientific, and intellectual progress, even though in most cases the reverse is actually true.  They commonly believe that religion is the only reason for opposition to abortion, while ignoring that anti-religious governments like Communist Romania had the most hostile policies against abortion in history.  Still, like many of their pet causes, they focus disproportionate time and energy to promote abortion in countries where it’s already legal.  Listening only to the modern atheist, one would be led to believe that gay rights had already been championed everywhere else in the world except for Christian-majority nations.  The reality, however, is that gay rights were pioneered almost exclusively in Judeo-Christian countries.  Predominately Hindu India only just decriminalized homosexuality in 2009.  Israel is the only non-Muslim nation in the Middle East, and also the only one where sodomy is not illegal, while its Muslim neighbors all have severe penalties including death and dismemberment.  Even the largest atheist nation, China, has harsher anti-gay policies than the “moral majority” United States.  Russia was fairly tolerant of homosexuality while they had religious freedom, but when Stalin came to power he purged religion and also imposed anti-sodomy laws that stayed on the books until 1993, repealed only after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  While gay rights advocates celebrate the repeal of DADT in the US, mostly nonreligious and atheist South Korea still punishes gays in the military for “mutual rape” with one year prison sentences.  If the Enlightenment Fundamentalist insists Christianity is holding back human progress, one should ask them why the atheists are still trailing behind the Christians.

As a product of Western Civilization, Secular Humanism is in fact a Christian heresy, not dissimilar to how Buddhism is the atheist heresy of Hinduism.  Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have resentment for their parent ideology, and likewise Enlightenment Fundamentalists have strong resentment towards Christianity.  Also like most heresies, it reaches its conclusions through extreme addition or subtraction of its source.  Its subtractive quality is the reduction of monotheism by one, whereas its additive properties are evidenced in how most of its ideals and virtues are simply Christian principles taken to radical extremes.  Although admittedly in contrast to how it is sometimes practiced, Christianity was a religion founded on logic and reason, and the abuses and hypocrisies often identified with religion by atheists were actually addressed in its Scriptures.  A strength of atheism has been that unlike a religion, it is not a codified belief system with universal expectations; the moral shortcomings of the Soviet Union or the Khmer Rouge don’t reflect on all atheists in the same way that atheists like to hold all of Christianity responsible for equally isolated events like the Inquisition or the Crusades.  However, this lack of uniformity or orthodoxy has also proven to be a weakness that Enlightenment Fundamentalism seeks to remedy.

The Good Book: A Humanist Bible is the latest in an endless stream of publications to try to create an atheistic alternative to the Bible.  Although praised as audacious and unprecedented, in reality it was neither.  Casual browsing reveals that such a book is published about once or twice each year, and the material it includes is not as shocking or telling as the material it deliberately attempts to omit.  In trying to create a book of virtues, wisdom, history, and philosophy sanitized of religious influence, it has demonstrated a level of denial almost comparable to book burning.  While many atheists erroneously believe that Christianity suppresses alternate ideas or opinions, the irony is that these attempts to create an atheist worldview ultimately result in purging any mention of religion just like Stalin did.  All of the contents of the Humanist Bible have existed concurrently with Christianity, some of the authors like Sir Isaac Newton were in fact renowned for their faith, but you wouldn’t know that from reading through the atheists filters.  Christianity has supported secular history and ideas, but it seems the reverse is not the case.  While Enlightenment Fundamentalists have tried to make themselves synonymous with “freethinkers”, they seem more threatened by exposure to conflicting ideas than even the most cloistered monks.  Richard Dawkins goes so far as to suggest religious education of minors is child abuse, and some radicals call for the ban of all religion.

Enlightenment Fundamentalism seems to be becoming the very things atheists have criticized in religions, particularly Christianity.  Rather than supporting a true free market of ideas, it is trying to eradicate all those opposed.  It’s science is absolute, even when unproven.  For instance, Lady Gaga’s song, Born This Way, has become the new accepted theory of sexual orientation; even though science has yet to actually prove it, any dissent is unorthodox.  Steven Levitt’s abortion/crime rate connection in Freakonomics was debunked as statistical manipulation by the Wall Street Journal, yet the pro-choice movement was mostly unaffected, ignoring any science contrary to their pre-determined worldview.  Like some of the religious people they judge, what they choose to believe is more important than actual facts.

But most telling are their interpretive methods of Scripture, which like many Christian heresies, has simply taken bad hermeneutics to the extreme.  The Enlightenment Fundamentalist usually comes to atheistic conclusions not through just ignoring or disbelieving the Scriptures like traditional atheism, but actually going so far as to interpret the Bible more literally than even the most literalist fundamentalist Christians.  The infamous Skeptic’s Annotated Bible is written entirely from a hyper-literalist perspective, which expects its reader to suspend all literary understanding in Scripture.  There really are very few differences in approach to Scripture between an Enlightenment Fundamentalist and a Creationist; both insist the Genesis account of creation must be literal, the Enlightenment Fundamentalist just uses their literalism to dismiss all theism.  But they go even further, interpreting non-narrative works the same as narrative, and overlooking poetic license.  For instance, citing apparent contradictions Gospels apart can be seen as a reasonable attempt to question or discredit scriptural accuracy, but citing consecutive contradictory statements in the same book or passage, such as Proverbs 26:4-5, makes the critic look completely illiterate for failing to recognize an obvious and deliberate poetic device.  Atheists, Mormons, and Christian fundamentalists are actually all descended from the same flawed hermeneutical school of thought, yet ironically Christian fundamentalists and Mormons do have a (marginally) more literary approach to Scripture than Enlightenment Fundamentalists.

Brian and Stewie in “Road to the Multiverse”

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