Saturday 8 December 2018

Atheism usually hides a religion

Terry Eagleton reviewing 'Seven Types of Atheism' by John Gray. I think this is obvious nowadays. The whole review is here.
"Gray also believes that humanists are in bad faith. Most of them are atheists, but all they have done is substitute humanity for God. They thus remain in thrall to the very religious faith they reject. In fact, most supposedly secular thought in Gray’s view is repressed religion, from the liberalism of John Locke to the millenarian visions of the Jacobins and Bolsheviks. The popular belief that atheism and religion are opposites is, in his view, a mistake."

Wilhelm Stekel:
"Fervid atheism is usually a screen for repressed religion." 

Don Cupitt, who was Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge in my day and an atheist parson, said that by his standards Richard Dawkins was a theist.

Maurice Cowling is the man I so wish I had studied under, at Peterhouse, Cambridge. I think he is much closer to my ideas than anyone. I shall quote this for the third time because it is so good:
"...secularisation so far from involving liberation from religion, has involved merely liberation from Christianity and the establishment in its place of a modern religion whose advocates so much assume its truth that they do not understand that it is a religion to which they are committed."


  1. Richard Dawkins though right about the non-existence of God is still in the same category as religious believers since he still holds beliefs which are irrational and unscientific:

    “It didn’t require great intellect or powers of reasoning to know that mass immigration by Muslims was a very bad idea. The failure of liberal atheists to oppose it explodes their claim to “rationalism.” Indeed, they reacted to mass immigration exactly as Western theists did. The three “Abrahamic cults” now in the West aren’t “squabbling”: self-serving Jews and self-harming Christians welcome Muslim colonization, celebrating it as a vibrant enrichment of stale pale nations like Britain, France and America.

    Is science a religion? No. But liberalism in its corrupt modern form clearly is. As a liberal, Richard Dawkins has been far more irrational than any of the fundamentalist believers he has so often scorned. Fundamentalists don’t belong to a suicide-cult: their beliefs and behaviour advance the cause of fundamentalism rather than undermining it. Liberalism, by contrast, is a dedicated suicide-cult. It welcomes mass immigration from the most illiberal, misogynistic and superstitious regions on earth, then covers up the inevitable results in places like Rotherham and Cologne.

    That’s why I don’t think history is going to judge Dawkins and his allies well. In the sixteenth century, Giordano Bruno braved the wrath of the Catholic Church by freely expressing his theological and scientific opinions. That wrath eventually fell upon him in its most terrible form: he was burned alive in Rome with a wooden gag on his tongue to silence his “wicked words.” Galileo escaped a similar fate by recanting his support for the Copernican theory and submitting to permanent house arrest. What did liberal atheists risk in the twentieth century for opposing mass immigration by Muslims?”

    1. Fundamentalists don’t belong to a suicide-cult: their beliefs and behaviour advance the cause of fundamentalism rather than undermining it.

      Modern Christianity is definitely a suicide-cult. It undermines the cause of Christianity.

      Of course this is largely because the leaderships of all modern Christian churches are in fact liberals. Their religion is liberalism. There might still be a few actual Christians among the rank-and-file but even they are mostly hopelessly infected by liberalism. Christianity is a failed religion.

      Liberalism and modern Christianity are indistinguishable from each other.

  2. Locke's 2 Treatises on government is openly & highly religious, particularly the first treatise (on Filmer). It's hardly controversial that liberalism, i.e.,
    - freedom of association
    - free speech
    - toleration
    - rule of law & due process
    - civil rights
    - rejection of cruel punishments
    - government by consent
    - the right to rebel against tyranny
    derived from a Protestant individualistic view of God. It's a standard, well-known and widely accepted view (e.g., Weber, Tawney, Waldron), and evidence is easily observed in The Declaration of Independence (1776) or The Bill of Rights (1787) -- which took Locke and turned it into a liberal constitutional system.

    The only two atheists I can really think of during the relevant period are Thomas Hobbes and David Hume -- both conservatives.

    Eagleton says, "The popular belief that atheism and religion are opposites is, in his view, a mistake".

    Well, like many Marxists, Eagleton confuses abstract propositions with the psychology of those who believe/reject them. But whether the propositions "there exists a Deity who created the universe" and "there does not exist a Deity who created the universe" are opposites is determined by logic, not by reflection on the alleged moral psychology of those who do or don't subscribe to either.

  3. Gregory Rogers commented elsewhere:

    Rather complex. I will definitely write something on it one day. Initially thought to write this in an email, but will put it here.

    Basically, I came across this theology while doing my thesis on Genesis, in which I realised that the deep themes of Genesis touch upon the essential elements of the human condition in a strikingly relevant way. In a v condensed nutshell:

    1 Adam has a kingly function. He is also responsible for keeping order on earth, and in an extended sense, beyond just the earth. Ie, Romans 8 implies that the parent sin had a deep mystical effect on the creation system, actually dragging it into imperfection and chaos.

    2 There follows a theme that pops up in Scripture of earthly leaders who overstep their boundaries and presume divinity, or at least hubris, and actually presume that their kingly duty is to maintain cosmic order. Thus the Exodus Pharaoh, who presumed exactly this: that he as Pharaoh was responsible for cosmic order. The 10 Plagues is basically a extraordinary spiritual battle demonstrating that the opposite is true: Pharaoh has no cosmic authority.

    3. The next question: where does Humanism come into this: Here I would have to invoke another theme, that of how humanism actually has its origins in Genesis, how man often decides to maintain or achieve a perfect state on earth by putting God out of the picture. Thus Cain, Nimrod (presumed established of Babel), Nebuchadnezzar, etc.
    4. This theme does, believe it or not, tie in with the theme above of Adamic function.
    This proto-humanism in its ancient incarnations many times leans the main antagonist and presumed leader of the City/Empire to attain to the level of hubris where he presumes self-deification (so later with Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander and the Caesars). This pseudo-divinity in turn may or may not carry an implication of responsibility for cosmic order, or at least good fertility/crops for his people.
    In summary, humanism in the pre-scientific era, leads to hubris, which leads to self-deification, which often includes responsibility for good divine favour (blessing, fertility) on his kingdom/land, etc.
    I am convinced, however, that there is an ethos that carries over into all forms of Humanism, and I would not be surprised if the mystical aspect will duly make itself manifest in some way, even in our scientific age.
    As I say, the above is a somewhat rushed version, and there is much to add here and there. I will almost certainly be writing a book on it at some point, perhaps under the umbrella topic of the Image of God.
    I do, however, deal with the deep themes of Genesis in my book ‘Unlocking the Secrets of Genesis I: Beginnings’.
    Please note that my book is aimed at the layperson, but can best be described as the sort of thing William Barclay was doing some 80 years ago: of taking cutting-edge scholarship and conveying it in an accessible and popular way.
    Basically, the more I got into theology, as per top journals and commentaries, I was amazed at the depth I never knew existed. I became convinced that this should be made widely available as possible, if one could find a way to convey it in accessible manner - thus the purpose of my commentaries.
    My book in Genesis, which will probably go some way toward answering your question, is located at:

    What I term the ‘beneath the surface’ theology of Genesis, really begins in chapters 3, 4 and following of the book. One duly realises that the essence of the human condition is contained in Genesis, which speaks to all humanity in an extraordinary way.

  4. Gregory Rogers reminds me of Whittaker Chambers calling Communism 'in fact, man's second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: 'Ye shall be as gods.' It is the great alternative faith of mankind. Like all great faiths, its force derives from a simple vision. Other ages have had great visions. They have always been different versions of the same vision: the vision of God and man's relationship to God. The Communists vision is the vision of Man without God. It is the vision of man's mind displacing God as the creative intelligence of the world."

  5. “Basically, the more I got into theology, as per top journals and commentaries, I was amazed at the depth I never knew existed.”

    Sure but there also no limit to how deep a man can go into astrology, palmistry, numerology, geomancy, anthroposophy, tarot, remote viewing, past life regression etc. Yet all these things are all vacuous irrational nonsense. What can Genesis tell us about the human condition that science can’t? nothing. Science explains it far better.

    The fact that truths about the human condition can be found in a mythical story is not really that surprising. Yet we know nearly all of it is radically at odds with how we know the universe and the world began. And if Genesis is false as science has demonstrated then the Christian God must also be false. Otherwise, why did he take billions of years of disastrous trial and error before building the first human? Why didnt he simply make them at the very start like it was claimed in Genesis? Why would a God who wants us to know the truth about him, conceal his existence by making the universe exactly as it would have to look if there was no god at all?