Monday, April 13, 2009

Only Fooling Ourselves

Recently, I have been reading Chris Hedges book I Don't Believe in Atheists. Hedges has already distinguished himself by writing several brilliant books. He is especially adept at taking on fundamentalism (see esp. American Fascists). Hedges has produced an insightful look at the craziness and scariness of Christian fundamentalism. Now he sets his sights on atheist fundamentalism. This short series will take a chapter by chapter look and offer some commentary on I Don't Believe in Atheism.

Chapter 4: "Self-Delusion"

We delude ourselves when we buy into the notion of the perfection of humankind. Usually, those who support such a delusion buy into a false dichotomy of good and evil. They fail to recognize that very many of our ethical decisions are only of the "lesser of two evils" category. There is no perfection. And ethics, from earliest times, is largely a religious proposition.

Our fundamentalist atheists friends want. as Hedges so clearly points out telos-- completion, finality, perfection. The god of science will work to collectively make all of our lives better and better until utopia is achieved. This will no doubt involve the dehumanization and eradication (as is already proposed by fundie atheists regarding Muslims) of those who will spoil utopia. Such a view avoids the unpleasant reality that the world is not getting better, but more hate filled and violent-- much of that "evil" helped along by science. The new atheists are true believers and as such desire to eliminate voices of dissent that question the goal of telos.

Although Dawkins and company continually assert the accidental nature of our existence, in doing so, they go well beyond the domain of science. Then, such talk becomes an article of faith. Just like all fundamentalisms, articles of faith drift into mystery and mysticism. Neither religious nor atheistic fundamentalism can be proven. Therefore, both are based more on wishful thinking than fact.

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