“Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?
And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.
And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death.
For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.” –Genesis 3:1-5 (Douay-Rheims)
Close to a year ago, fellow contributor Alex McNabb established himself as an atheist in direct opposition to the massification, vulgarization of atheism. McNabb’s first article was pivotal in establishing this blog, and was for many out there the catalyst for them becoming a regular visitor.
“The God Haters” is an undeniable part of the TRS tapestry: a tapestry that has for the most part successfully woven together what was once disparate and opposed.
Fast forward, eight months later. If it’s not already (abundantly) clear, a rift has developed between the Christian and non-Christian elements of TRS. Long story, short: I have a belief that Alex feels is better left dead.
This has honestly surprised me: not only the stance, but the vehemence that has developed over time. The only thing my fellow contributor apparently loathes as much as an atheist is a theist.
I suppose one thing we can agree on is that the modern world has massified all human belief and ideal. Far from being isolated within the atheist community, postmodernity’s return to Genesis has spread globally, especially to those who presume to believe in Christ and his works (see: Vatican II, any modern “worship service”).
I wholeheartedly agree that one should spare no unkind word for those who consume what has been so obviously poisoned. This is why, as a fellow polemicist I can admire how Alex’s arguments against these types are so well sharpened and thrust.
However, I also recognize that in my fellow contributor’s mind ALL believers in Christ are equally vulgar failures.
So, here I shall do the impossible, and redeem what is irredeemable.
“The Biblical focus has always been on salvation and the afterlife.”
Which is a failing how, exactly? All human belief systems seek a state of “salvation” whether explicitly defined or not. Similarly, all humans seek such a state; to try and sweep this under the table is to appeal to humans that are better animals than humans. Further, any man who tells you they haven’t somberly reflected upon the end of their days is either a liar or a fool.
“We do know for a certain fact that the scriptures themselves do not advocate any sort of elitist, meritocratic patrician society however.”
“I would argue that seeking religion in general as a foundation for elitism is a manifestly silly practice to begin with.”
And I would argue that any attempt to separate the concepts of “hierarchy” and “religion” when we are talking about humanity is a manifestly silly practice to begin with.
People think in terms of the supernatural, humans are fundamentally and inevitably religious creatures. To be a competent, acting human is to rely on something fantastical to some degree. For instance, having a conversation with someone is to believe that they will understand the subtle nuance within the limitations of your medium. To hold anything you call “knowledge” is to hold onto something that you believe to be correct. To cooperate with another human in any form is to hold a belief.
To be anything more than a jungle predator is to harbor some of this irrationality. To think that humanity in any hierarchical system can exist without a religious narrative underneath is to ignore all recorded human history.
Moving on, Alex presents some very ham-fisted anti-Christian (post-protestant) interpretation of scripture.
So, here are my ham-fisted pro-Christian interpretations in response.
Christ on recognizing distinction and undermining disconnected elites:
“But the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying to his disciples: Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering, said to them: They that are whole, need not the physician: but they that are sick.” –Luke 5:30-31
The Apostle Paul claimed that works without faith were as dead as faith without works. That “grace” is here inferred to be an earned privilege, and not a vulgar, democratic right.
“For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God. Not of works: as of our own growth, or from ourselves; but as from the grace of God.” –Ephesians 2:8-9
Not that I care much for sucking up to merchant’s idealized carpetbagger, but the “Evil Capitalist” meme was not started here:
“And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And when they had heard this, the disciples wondered very much, saying: Who then can be saved? And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.” –Matthew 19:24-26
Pacifism from our Lord who had no problem slapping the shit out of moneylenders:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” –Mathew 5:9
“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” –Mathew 5:39
“What is here commanded, is a Christian patience under injuries and affronts, and to be willing even to suffer still more, rather than to indulge the desire of revenge: but what is further added does not strictly oblige according to the letter, for neither did Christ nor St. Paul turn the other cheek. St. John 18., and Acts 23.” –Douay-Rheims Bible, Challoner Notes
Equality isn’t that bad, as long as you don’t forget who is “you” and what is scripture.
“And if you be Christ’s, then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.” –Galatians 3:29
I find myself having to disagree with Alex’s explanation of why Christianity spans the globe. Christianity became the world’s most claimed religion because Spanish invaders beheaded pagan rulers. Christianity can be found worldwide because its missionaries worked the hardest at embedding itself within cultures by any means necessary.
That so many Christians today can be found worshiping Him so poorly is more a reflection of past successes than of fundamental weaknesses.
And let’s not suggest Christianity is easily-bastardized: I’ve met more than my fair share of degenerate Mohammedans, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons, and atheists.
“Worse still, these religions are based on the EGALITARIAN premise that ANYONE can find salvation.”
I don’t see the means of finding said salvation as being very fair or equalizing. Anyone can find salvation. Anyone can become a doctor. Anyone can become the world’s strongest man. Anyone can call themselves superior for dismissing Christianity.
It honestly amazes me, knowing that Alex has at least perused a history book or two in his lifetime. To see Christianity grow from it’s humble beginnings as a cult in the backwoods of the Roman Empire, to being the most widely-identified religion in human history, and still write the whole thing off as irredeemable filth? Dafuq?
Christianity couldn’t have accomplished what it has by simply pandering to the most ineffectual and pathetic of society… Though perhaps it for the best that most atheists miss that fact.
Alex ends his article with a final appeal to walk away from all the traditional systems, and worship what is left. Which is man. Which sounds fine and good, until man establishes something non-man to worship. Like economics, or science, or robotics, or anything. Which does, has, and will always happen.
The return to totem and supernatural worship occurs because to consistently worship yourself above all else is to actively oppose all other concepts and beings in reality, to be incapable of having any real place in a human society. This is why I am intrigued, impressed, and vaguely horrified to see what has developed in these arguments with Alex.
I will be interested to see where this discussion goes from here. I feel that belief is inevitable, and that properly-followed Christianity is the superior expression. I believe that the alternative posited by Alex amounts to a contest to crown the largest asshole “God.” I’d prefer even the fedora to that.
Ultimately though, we at TRS must find an answer to the following question: “Can the post-atheist atheist and the post-christian Christian reconcile their differences?”