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Anti-Theism Isn’t Clever, It’s A Societal Potlatch

January 3, 2013

Let’s say there is no afterlife, yet it is self-evident from 10,000 years of human history and all over the world that man is a “spiritual” creature. We, collectively, have a need for the numinous/transcendent in our lives. Let’s also say there were good evolutionary reasons why homo sapiens developed the idea of “gods”. Maybe the wrong explanations of natural phenomena were more advantageous to humanoid apes than no explanations. Whatever the cause, the fact remains that we have a “god zone” in our brains and it is active, which means it craves stimulation.

Perhaps 10% of the population don’t carry the genes that code for a feeling that “there must be something more than this”. They call themselves “atheists”. Since they lack the brain chemistry that produces the sensation of wanting to think metaphysical thoughts, naturally they do not understand how other people can think those thoughts. Analogously, my genetic inheritance doesn’t allow me to be as comfortable standing on a beam 100 feet off the ground as standing on the same beam one foot off the ground. I regard those who can hop about on the “high steel” as if they were walking down the road as demented. But I would never try to stop them because there are tangible benefits to me of their different brain chemistry.

Not so, the anti-theists. One unholy trinity being Chris Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins; these three certainly make (or made) a good career out of promoting their version of anti-theism. Objectively what they are trying to do is pointless, since our brains “demand” stimulation of the transcendent – commercially, it’s a gravy train. They are part of the 10% that lacks a “god zone” in their brain, and these three being more intellectually capable, express their incredulity that others should possess one, in a string of $10 words. Regardless of their cogency, I could no more join the atheists than I could work as a trapeze artist, because I have the wrong brain chemistry.

For 90% of us, we are satisfied that what they say is blether, because we have the “god zone”, and thus “know” that they are wrong. The tragedy is that it is not harmless blether. In true Fabian/Gramscian style the 10% seem to occupy pivotal positions in society’s power structures and are trying to re-make society in their own image. Post-mortem they may be right and this life is all we have, but by destroying religion in toto they are making this life more dangerous and prosaic for the weak and gentle (which is everyone sooner or later). Their successes in the last 50 years mean we already see in parts of the country the howling wilderness that will be global, after their task is complete.

Ironically, Peter Hitchens is a major prophet of what the West will be like after all our Christian (really it’s Catholic) patrimony has been spent. And he’s only an Anglican. Anglicanism is Catholicism reduced to a single transcendental stimulus to excite the “god zone” – life after death; Some of the Roman show remains; evensong (or vespers in Latin), architecture that celebrates the numinous, vestments, bells and smells. Imagine how anxious/neurotic Catholics will be when our vast richness of metaphysical stimuli (or mysteries in the language of the Church) are expunged, e.g. the Ascension, transubstantiation, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, grace, purgatory, sacramental confession and bodily resurrection etc. etc.

Following the suppression of all mystery, first from the public sphere (a well advanced work-in-progress) and then from our private lives, the 90% of us who possess that particular neurological pathway will be bereft of appropriate stimuli. We’ll all be living in CrazyTown – like crackheads without crack. God alone knows what the substitute stimuli will be, but like all coping mechanisms, it will be pathological.

I despise the new atheism proselytizers for being so fantastically narcissistic. They do not understand that a world without “religion” will be very dangerous; just as I would be a liability to everyone round me if I were compelled to be a steeplejack – I don’t have the brain chemistry to function 100 feet up, and no anti-theist is capable of rationalizing away my acrophobia.

The anti-theist who will impress me is the anti-theist who can strip away my belief in the numinous and yet leave my “god zone” sufficiently stimulated, so that I don’t seek “God methadone”.

By analogy, think of “religion” as a tablecloth on a laid table and our psyche as the table settings. The tablecloth is there but it is superfluous in a strictly utilitarian world. The celebrity anti-theists are the hapless boys who get rid of religion through an impressive set-up, but destroy the psyche. The motor bike is the ultimate anti-theist; he who can remove the table cloth and leave the complex setting intact. ALL the anti-theists of history to date are mere versions of the boys in the first video.

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From → Chapter 1

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