Atheism has taken a wrong turn. The natural trajectory of atheism is to replace religious authority with emotional authority, not rational authority. Whilst emotion has risen to authority in some areas of our lifes, in other areas it has declined. So this blog is about setting atheism back on its natural course.
Let's take a look at what topics this blog will cover ...
Now, the religiously-inclined readers will have already objected to both my blog title and summary, citing unjustifiable use of the words civil, therefore, wrong, natural, trajectory, etc. My advice to them is: don't eat coffee and biscuits whilst reading this blog because I'm bound to believe I'm right most of the time and your computer screen will get mighty dirty after screaming out aha!, gotcha! or nihilist!
But, jokes aside, they do have a point: we do need to justify everything we say. The obvious starting point is: why should emotion be authority? The short answer is: because emotion is all that honest atheists have to direct our lives with. And emotion is the only justification for suggesting how we ought to behave.
Most atheists hold up science and reason as their authority. Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with reason, and it is infinitely valuable, if it is not directed towards an emotional endpoint, its application can be literally non-sense, unpredictable, and dangerous. The over-emphasis of reason, or the failure to emphasise emotion, has led the atheist movement to adopt ideologies that actually work against our emotions, and to stagnate in the religion debate whereas the greater need is to move on to the philosophy debate.
This is also the point where we acknowledge that religion is literally non-sense, we are in different epistemological dimensions, and can never be reconciled. It's been fun, but we now bid you adieu for we will never see eye to eye and we have much neglected work in the philosophy debate. That's not to say we can't live and work together, time will tell, but for most atheists epistemology is where the debate with religion starts and finishes. Although, they will continue to predict our doom from their perspective and we may still listen out of interest. They may also claim that emotion is proof of god, so we may need to speciate Emo's into materialists and the religious. But, after drawing the line between religion and atheism, it is important to acknowledge where we have come from, particularly in these times of rapid change, in order to perhaps see what is threatened by further change.
So then, with the epistemological wind in our sail, we can now cast our emotional eye over the past and future in terms of emotional satisfaction. And before long, you too will be blurting out your own self-righteous indignations of aha!, non-sense! and ideologue! when pulled against your desires by the insane mantras of unhinged ideology.
Looking back, the Enlightenment emphasised science and reason in order to become a replacement authority for religion. That was necessary at the time. Emotional satisfaction was implied as the purpose for advancing science, but perhaps not made an explicit authority because of religion's claim that atheists were destined to mimic the behaviour of our cousin apes i.e. with impulsive animalistic behaviour.
Then in the early 20th century, just as religion was taking a back seat, and our lives becoming more emotionally grounded, the horror of two world wars, Nazism, communism and fascism left some of us with a personality disorder: who became shocked and afraid of our own emotional natures. Whether or not we can blame atheism, I don't know, but we can say that our desired form of atheism failed to eventuate. So we did have a failure of atheism leadership and direction.
Alas, after the early 20th century failure of atheist leadership, came a vacuum of authority which was filled by the over-reacting and emotionally-suppressing ideologies of diversity and globalisation, etc. And those ideologies continue to dominate today due to a 21st century failure of atheist leadership which is allowing us to be led down ... well, I'm not sure where it's leading, but towards an inhuman and unsafe Western world might be a good description. Our struggle during the Enlightenment was against religious authority, our struggle today is against the ideologues.
It's true our lives are more emotionally satisfying in some areas: we have endless more options to enjoy ourselves in the modern world. And yet, the modern world has become repressive of certain emotions - those arcane desires for: social cohesion, ethnic homogeneity, personal safety, border protection, national security, freedom of speech, limited government, a non-sexualised public space, reasonable norms of citizen appearance, etc. There is much angst out there.
So what is the way forward? Whilst emotional atheism throws up some tough, confronting questions, I'll leave those for later and make a start on the easy ones.
Most people would agree that, in emotional terms, a non-invasive environment is desirable. And such an environment solves a few of our big current issues. If we agree that pain is something undesirable, that flags a number of bodily invasions to be avoided, including: noise, theft, assault, racial diversity (despite all the propaganda, we still seek out homogeneity), visual diversity (tattoos, piercings, low-hanging jeans, ethnic garb), linguistic diversity (not in my ear, thanks), religious diversity (are you sure Islam is a religion of peace?), cultural diversity (don't teach my kids about homosexuality), diverse body language (effeminate males), threatening body language (gangster chic, public swearing), fear of big government, fear of ethnic crime, over-stimulation from sexualised public space, etc. If we are emotionally conscious, all these are discernible as bodily or sensory invasions in the form of tension, pain, unease, repulsion, worry, fatigue, etc. That makes them undesirable and, dare I say, bad and wrong.
So atheism isn't nihilistic after all? I don't know, but we've made a good start. Pardon me, we've made an emotionally encouraging start. I guess, so far, this non-invasive environment looks like public conservatism without concern for private behaviour. So, in emotional terms, we've got a defence against diverse immigration, a case for a civilised public space, a case for ethnic homogeneity, and a case for law and order. But it is just a beginning, there is much more to do, it does quickly get more complicated, emotions can conflict and vary, and we don't have great slogans to hang our memes on.
Let's assume that we miraculously managed to fashion such a non-invasive environment, and we're left contemplating our navel as to what our internal culture should be. Would it be liberal or conservative? Culturally alien practices impose some bodily tension because we are geared towards homogeneity and habituation, and our subconscious flags alien behaviour as dangerous. Cultural change also creates fear of the unknown. Both of which make cultural change undesirable. So we are, in the short term, conservative (homogeneous might be a better word). We don't like change, it involves tension. And yet, if we take our needs in isolation, they tend to push the culture towards their fulfillment. If we are conscious of our emotional needs, and aware that culture is somewhat flexible, that may leave us open to change our culture in the long term. We also need to consider culture in terms of group strength, not just individual needs. But change should preferably be slow in order to minimise intergenerational alienation. And now is not the time to encourage more change, we need stability instead.
All the above mentioned emotional assaults (broken windows) results in a loss of respect for the ruling authority. There is a prevailing sense that no strong authority is protecting our interests. Also, an analogy between noise and diversity can be drawn, because they both cause pain or tension via the nervous system. Diversity amounts to visual noise. With broken emotional windows and increasingly noisy auditory and visual environments there is a prevailing sense of a civilisation groaning along in pain, with a comfort level and productivity akin to working under an airport flightpath, and resulting decline in empathy and increased drop-out rate, drug use, aggressive behaviour, etc. In such a stressful environment we also see opportunistic groups vying for ascendance to replace the weak authority. So there is an urgent need for a compelling atheistic vision to help reverse our civilisational decline. Clarity and resolve, atheist style, that's what we need.
I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, and really someone smarter ought to be leading the way. But, to date, I haven't found many atheists talking like they should. They mostly seem beholden by trends of ideology/culture rather than emotion. I don't have any knowledge of philosophy, nor much of history, so I'm flying blind and bound to make some mistakes along the way. Blogging also tends to bring out my self-righteous punchy nature, and yet the work to be done is atheist philosophy and emotional reductionism - which requires slow careful thought. So, I expect that shooting my mouth off, then thinking about what I just said, will be part of the process.
I will take my ideas as far as I can but my progress will be slow and won't be enough by itself. Others need to get on board and take emotional atheism seriously in order to build some credibility.
My background is: I had some exposure to Christianity growing up, then I had a born-again Anglican experience for a few years, and then I lost what I had found, and then I rediscovered my emotional authority again. You may notice a male Anglo-Celtic-Australian perspective on this blog.
I have been tinkering with my Blogger template, so if something goes awry and the layout is out of place, please leave a comment and I'll try to fix it.
So that's an overview of topics I will cover on this blog. I'll also be collecting quotes from writers on the subject of atheism's future. Most of them are predicting doom unfortunately, or leaning back on religion as a crutch for civility, or reaching back for cultural enlightenment. Who knows, they may be right, and they can probably teach us something, but let's not rely on them - let's see how far we can progress down the path towards a civilised emotional atheism all on our own.