Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Today I read two articles roughly themed on atheism.
First was ubercreep Ed West, quoted by David Lindsay, the second was by Rachel Holkner on an atheist convention in Melbourne.
Holkner’s article was the first I read, and gave me a gut reaction that I suppose was predictable. The atheists flew to Melbourne (situated in a country that is burning up), paid a high price for entrance fees (working classes need not apply) and listened to horror stories about people with religious upbringings and about how wonderful atheists are and a load of twaddle from Peter Singer about ethical differences in Christian charity and others.
That’s the rise. Declining birth rates, vast growth of Christianity in the third world, cultural stagnation of the secular West and the increasing role of religion in the West were all ignored.
It just annoys me that atheists speak with effortless moral superiority when it comes to secularism and religious tyranny. I find that secularists go from a false and deeply unscientific liberal hypothesis ‘all religion is stupid and evil, all religions are equally stupid and evil’ to fairly aggressive counter-reactions when this unscientific ‘rationalism’ isn’t vindicated.
Subsequently they tend to produce people like Geert Wilders or Pym Fortyn or the English Defence League when they find that some religions are more equally unpleasant to the atheist than other religions. Even the BNP has decided that some difrnt people are more difrtun than other difrunt people: Muslims namely.
The traditionally Christian areas of Yugoslavia were (and are) amongst the most secular regions of the world, but when Izetbegovic (who favoured a theocracy) and the Albanian terrorists launched a war against them, the overwhelmingly secular Serbs didn’t play nice.
As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I see no paradox in saying that I am very devout, have considered helping in a mission and that I am anti-religious in many ways. Protopresbyter John Romanides said that ‘religion is a disease and Orthodoxy is the cure’, a phrase that I often think of.
Now, atheists and the non-Orthodox could certainly take issue with that statement. But I feel that it is true: I don’t like ‘religion’ if it means theological tyrants ordering each other what to do, what to watch, what to eat, what to read, who to be friends with, who to marry, when to get on a high horse, when to feel superior, and what they think of scientific questions they aren’t qualified to answer*.
Eastern Orthodoxy very deeply contains the spirit of ‘he that would be first will be last and he that would be last will be first’; though dare I say some Evangelical converts don’t really get it. And of course, Eastern Orthodox Christians have close relationships with their spiritual fathers, but this does not involve the law or force. I am currently undertaking a vegan fast; no-one is forcing me to. My major disagreement with mainstream atheists concerns unborn children and my belief that abortion is deeply wrong. Yet it seems to me they never give logically or scientifically arguments against this.
It was in this tone that my mood shifted upon reading the second article: the theme of which was the greater fecundity of stupid people who belong to fanatical religions. Personally, I would rather that Richard Dawkins managed to populate the world with clones of himself than believe that there will be over 200,000,000 Mormons later in the century.
West does seem to be using some fairly dubious Mark Steyn style correlations to panic people. Determining numbers of evangelicals is also difficult based on their role in speeding up immigration applications (I remembered reading one article in which an evangelical organisation converted lots of Russians who immigrated to America and were never heard of again). Furthermore, secular Britain, France, Argentina, and Albania are far more fecund than devout Poland and Greece. In Latin America, population growth is largely unrelated to Church attendance. Iran is still a theocracy even though its birth rate has shrunk below replacement level. And finally, looking at history demonstrates how thankless projections are: Russia and France have both gone from having the highest to the lowest European birthrates (France apparently rebounding, and hopefully Russia is as well).
However, sadly, we Eastern Orthodox do seem to be plummeting in numbers. Many secular countries are also declining.
So, can’t atheists realise that they have common cause with secular religious people? Dare I even say that Apostolic Christianity could be supported by atheists in the future? After all, someone in the church may see them as closer to them than they feel they are from outside. Ironically enough, this happened in a sense previously.
Now all we hear about the USSR is that it was a cold dystopia full of broken machinery. Whilst it was certainly repressive and inhumane, we cannot forget that it was also a very advanced and well-educated nation. I think it is for this reason that despite its anti-religious measures, it treated Orthodox hierarchs with a degree of respect and patronage. I don’t think that the nation that put the first man into space could really have good relations with many faiths outside Apostolic Christianity.
Perhaps many of the more enlightened Russians may think that letting creationist fundamentalists proselytise in their country was a bad idea.
*Incidentally, with all my usual disclaimers against ID and creationism, where does the redneck population explosion fit into the whole Darwinian schema? The beautiful, educated Orthodox people of the Balkans are dying out and the beautiful, educated atheists of the Baltic are dying out but inbred fat thickoes in Utah and Mississippi are procreating like bunnies. Just asking? And whilst I'm generally an opponent of the NWO, I have attempted to read a book by Tim LaHaye (who's sold sover 40,000,000 copies) and if the NWO Mekons are really planning a compulsory sterilisation program for Red State Americans... well, I do sort of think we could come to some kind of a compromise on that one.