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New Atheism: The Mother Lode of Bad Ideas

New Atheism: The Mother Lode of Bad Ideas March 13, 2015

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Mere hours after condemning the murder of three Muslim students at Chapel Hill last month, notorious anti-theist Richard Dawkins happily returned to spreading falsehood and hatred of Islam, tweeting, “Alas, criminal individual killers exist. But there’s only 1 ideology now that preaches the legal killing of dissenters. And it isn’t atheism[.]” In insinuating Islam “preaches the legal killing of dissenters,” Dawkins effectively states that the “criminal individual killer” Hicks merely did what Islam also teaches.

This lie is devoid of any sort of compassion, honesty, or integrity.Contrary to Dawkins’ ungodly delusions about Islam, Islam champions universal religious freedom and condemns any worldly punishment whatsoever for those who leave Islam.

Not long after, Dawkins additionally tweeted, “Atheism is not a moral code. Individual atheists have moral codes, usually thoughtful/compassionate, not religiously absolutist like Stalin.”

Dawkins makes three claims. First, that atheism is not a moral code. Fair enough. Second, that atheists have individual moral codes. Seems reasonable. But third, I had to pause when Dawkins ironically blames religious absolutism for anti-theist dictator Stalin’s horrific murder of tens of millions of people. This illogical statement aside, I’ll agree that most atheists I know are usually thoughtful and compassionate.

But it’s the anti-theists like Dawkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, however, who demonstrate anything but thoughtfulness or compassion. In fact, their personal moral code—as described below in their own words—is arguably the ‘mother lode of bad ideas’ and mimics the twisted ideology of Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong. And if you’re unsure, here’s the massive difference between atheism and anti-theism—as written by CJ Werleman, a former anti-theist turned atheist.

And as atheist author John Gray points out:

When organised as a movement and backed by the power of the state, atheist ideologies have been an integral part of despotic regimes that also claimed to be based in science, such as the former Soviet Union.” Gray continues, “It’s not that atheists can’t be moral – the subject of so many mawkish debates. The question is which morality an atheist should serve.

And that’s the crux of this discussion. While claiming—without merit or logic—moral superiority over Islamic morality, the aforementioned anti-theists have promoted some of the most frightening, immoral, and dangerous ideologies in recent memory. And they’ve done so all the while claiming their views are grounded in science and liberalism. Meanwhile as Gray again points out:

In fact there are no reliable connections – whether in logic or history – between atheism, science and liberal values. Many rival moralities and political systems – most of them, to date, illiberal – have attempted to assert a basis in science. All have been fraudulent and ephemeral.

The resolute testimonies of Dawkins, Hirsi Ali, Hitchens, and Harris attest to this fact, as I detail momentarily.

Imagine a regime leader that hadn’t actually read the Qur’an, but called it the greatest evil on Earth? Imagine a regime leader that advocated the destruction of Islam by any means necessary, including militarily? Imagine a regime leader that wouldn’t think twice about destroying a nation of 80 million Muslims—civilians and all? Imagine a regime leader that defended torturing Muslims, or advocated killing people simply for having dangerous ideas, or approved of pre-emptive nuclear strike on Muslim majority nations?

If I told you these were the state policies of the former militant anti-theistic Soviet Union, which killed up to 127 million people, you might believe me. If I said these were of anti-theistic Chinese regimes, which murdered up to 114 million people, you might also believe me. In fact, in the 20th century alone, Communist and anti-theistic regimes combined for the greatest mass murder in world history—up to 259 million people.

While using their “personal moral codes,” anti-theists like Lenin, Stalin, and Zedong ascended to power and implemented many of the aforementioned anti-theistic policies to facilitate their mass murder. Therefore, humanity is fortunate that today’s most vocal anti-theists like Dawkins, Hirsi Ali, Hitchens, and Harris have openly and publicly repudiated such barbaric and ignorant ideology, right?

Well, you see that’s sort of the problem. The aforementioned anti-theist thought leaders have not rejected such barbaric and ignorant ideology. On the contrary, this barbaric and ignorant ideology is the platform on which they’ve built their popularity, book deals, public speaking, and celebrity. And this is why it is so dangerous should the fraudulently “liberal” ideologies of anti-theists gain political backing and state power. Such an episode runs the risk of reviving Stalin style regimes—something humanity cannot afford to have happen for obvious reasons.

Here it is in their words.

 

Imagine a regime leader that hadn’t actually read the Qur’an, but called it the greatest evil on Earth?

Such a regime leader would reasonably promote antagonistic policies reflective of his ignorant view of the Qur’an. Richard Dawkins proudly tweeted in February 2013, “Haven’t read Koran so couldn’t quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today[.]” As I’ve written before, I know several atheists — many whom I consider trusted friends. But if I were to condemn an entire ideology based on the acts of minority extremists and without once reading what the ideology actually teaches, then you could describe me with many words, but educated would not be among them.

Dawkins is not educated on Islam but has no problem demonizing a faith to which a quarter of the world adheres. Such a bigoted view is neither compassionate nor thoughtful—it promotes fear and is dangerous. Yet, even this cynicism pales in comparison to Dawkins’ anti-theist cohorts.

 

Imagine a regime leader that advocated the destruction of Islam all forms, including militarily?

Dawkins is a proud supporter of fellow anti-theist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. During a Reason Magazine interview Ayaan Hirsi Ali was asked about her goal of “defeating Islam” and whether she actually meant defeating “radical Islam?” Most atheists I know are thoughtful and compassionate, and distinguish between Islam and radicalism.

Anti-theist Hirsi Ali instead proudly boasted, “No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful.” Reason Magazine tried to reason with her, “We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?”

Hirsi Ali doubled down that since we are “at war with Islam,” we can only defeat [all] Islam with censorship, religious discrimination, and then with something that sounds like a Clint Eastwood script, “you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, this is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore. There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.” When Reason Magazine specifically asked if that included militarily [crushing Islam] Hirsi Ali defiantly concluded, “In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.”

Remember, Hirsi Ali is an anti-theist who was a Dutch PM (before being ousted after it was discovered she deceived the government). Imagine the horror of another world leader (with access to nuclear weapons) and the stated goal of crushing Islam in all forms, including militarily? In fact, the Soviet Union’s anti-theistic state policy used, for example, the League of Militant Atheists, to crush religion with censorship and military power—just as Hirsi Ali advocates doing with Islam. This is liberalism?

Speaking of which, Hirsi Ali isn’t the only anti-theist thought leader advocating military violence.

 

Imagine a regime leader that wouldn’t think twice about destroying a nation of 80 million Muslims—civilians and all?

Christopher Hitchens desired exactly this for Iran. Journalist Luke Savage captures the horror of Hitchens advocacy of violence against Muslims:

Speaking about the 2004 assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah…Hitchens declared that the “death toll is not nearly high enough” on the grounds that “too many jihadists [had] escaped.” (…but aid groups on the ground called it a “humanitarian catastrophe,” and residents today suffer extremely high rates of birth defects and cancer, apparently from the use of white phosphorous and other chemical weapons by American forces. The increase in cases of leukemia exceeds that which followed the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima.)

Hitchens also praised the use of cluster bombs in Afghanistan as “pretty good, because those steel pellets will go straight through somebody and out the other side and through somebody else. And if they’re bearing a Koran over their heart, it’ll go straight through that, too.”

On the subject of jihadists, he declared: “It’s a sort of pleasure as well as a duty to kill these people.” On another occasion, Hitchens stunned even sympathetic members of an audience in Madison, Wisconsin by saying of Iran, a nation of almost 80 million people: “As for that benighted country, I wouldn’t shed a tear if it was wiped off the face of this earth.”

With his personal atheist morals poisoned by anti-theism, Christopher Hitchens glowed at the idea of mass murdering 80 million people. How is this liberal? Again, how is this any different than what Stalin or Zedong advocated? Sadly and moreover, Hitchens gets additional intellectual backing for violence from fellow anti-theist Sam Harris.

 

Imagine a regime leader that defended torturing Muslims?

We see regularly the atrocities of ISIS on whomever they consider non-Muslim, and such tactics have united the world against them. And we’ve seen the torture approved by George Bush and Dick Cheney, and the program’s epic failure.

These facts notwithstanding, Harris writes, “I am one of the few people I know of who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror.” After facing intense backlash, rightfully, from virtually everyone Harris elaborates:

If you think it is ever justifiable to drop bombs in an attempt to kill a man like Osama bin Laden (and thereby risk killing and maiming innocent men, women, and children), you should think it may sometimes be justifiable to water-board a man like Osama bin Laden (and risk abusing someone who just happens to look like him).

Ironically, while Dick Cheney uses this twisted logic to support the CIA torture programs, Harris claims, “I consider much of what occurred under Bush and Cheney—the routine abuse of ordinary prisoners, the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” etc.—to be a terrible stain upon our nation.”

In short, Harris passionately advocates for the barbaric act of torture to win the ‘war on terror’, but hypocritically washes his hands when the world’s greatest military power actually proceeds down the same path he advocates. By his own proud advocacy, however, can there be any doubt Harris would resort to the barbaric act of torture were he ever in political power? This is moral?

Just as curious is Harris’ approval of collateral damage while dropping bombs to kill people. Harris provides the excuse needed to “crush them before they crush us,” as Hirsi Ali demands. And Harris does so by justifying dropping the bombs necessary to likewise fulfill Hitchen’s approval of killing 80 million people in Iran.

 

Imagine a regime leader that approved of pre-emptive nuclear strike on Muslim majority nations?

Harris writes in The End of Faith:

What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.

Harris can decorate his words all he wants but can’t escape from his core premise that it is moral to initiate nuclear war. More than mere theory, Harris can point to the Islamic Republic of Iran as a perfect example of a nation thought to be pursuing nuclear weapons—and perhaps long range weapons. While Iran has a host of grotesque human rights issues—waging war on foreign nations is not among them. In fact, despite being attacked and suffering thousands of civilian casualties, Iran hasn’t attacked a foreign country in over a century.

Yet, were he on the President’s war cabinet, Sam Harris would push for a pre-emptive nuclear strike simply because of what he believes Iran believes. This myopic and indefensible anti-theistic barbarity aside, it leads to yet another problem with Harris’s extreme anti-theism—he believes in killing people for the crime of “dangerous ideas.”

 

Imagine a regime leader that advocated killing people for having dangerous ideas?

Sam Harris writes again in The End of Faith, “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.”

Once again, after facing immense backlash from the rest of humanity for obvious reasons Harris tries to backtrack that, “The larger context of this passage is a philosophical and psychological analysis of belief as an engine of behavior—and the link to behavior is the whole point of the discussion.”

As atheist and author Robert Wright aptly puts it:

All of this points to what I’ve long felt is a fundamental problem with Harris’s world view: in a very broad sense, he judges people by their beliefs rather than their behavior. He even ridicules people for completely innocuous religious beliefs. My own view is that what people believe is their business, so long as they treat other people decently. If Harris focused more on behavior—and paid closer attention to the actual causes of bad behavior—he wouldn’t go around saying such ridiculous, inflammatory things as his recent assertion that Islam is “the mother lode of bad ideas.

Stalin was an anti-theist who killed people merely for believing in propositions Stalin believed were dangerous—i.e. in religion. Harris initially stated as much and now seeks to clarify he meant behaviors. Why he didn’t outright say “behaviors” is curious, and why he hasn’t revised his book to strike that line is telling—but it’s also reflective of the status of his anti-theist and allegedly liberal morals.

Recently, an anti-theist who praises the aforementioned anti-theists sent me a mocking tweet, changing a verse of the Qur’an to read:

[Remember] when Sam Harris inspired the angles, “I am with you, so strengthen those who are atheists. I will cast terror into the hearts of all those who are Muslims, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike them from every fingertip. That is because they opposed Dawkins and Hitchens. And whoever opposes Dawkins and Hitchens—indeed, Harris is severe in penalty.

(I’ve underlined the parts the anti-theist changed). Mocking the Qur’an is a typical tactic of those unable to engage in honest dialogue. But there’s a deeper issue at play here.

The actual verse permits Muslims to fight in self-defense against a preemptively attacking army, per the Qur’an’s detailed rules of war, to protect universal religious freedom. But the anti-theist who sent me the mocking tweet is neither thoughtful, nor compassionate, nor educated on basic Islamic tenets. (Funny how similarly that also describes ISIS).

And addressing the anti-theist’s tweet directly in light of what this article shows, I thank him for proving my point. All accounted—torture, nuclear strike, and killing people for ideas—Harris is influencing people to his barbaric, draconian, immoral, and illiberal anti-theist stance. Humanity is immensely fortunate that Harris is not a world leader with military power. For the last time anti-theists with Harris-brand ideology were in power and “severe in penalty,” the world lost 259 million innocent lives.

 

Conclusion

American Atheists will host Ayaan Hirsi Ali as their 2015 conference’s keynote speaker—another platform to advance her advocacy to militarily destroy all Islam. Thoughtful atheists are sounding the alarm to move away from such intolerant stances. Meanwhile, an anti-theist will do her best to convert non-violent atheists to an ideology that in the recent past gained military power and killed hundreds of millions of people. Suddenly it isn’t difficult to imagine why it is so objectionable when Dawkins claims to promote investigation and dialogue but condemns what the Qur’an says without having actually read it. Or when Hitchens shamelessly advocates murdering 80 million people without “shedding a tear.” Or when Harris calls Islam the ‘mother lode of bad ideas’ while supporting some of the most barbaric ideologies imaginable—ideologies which Islam categorically condemns by the way.

Yes, atheism isn’t a moral code and atheists write their own code. And the 20th century saw atheists ascend to power under the moral code of anti-theism, and use their allegedly advanced moral code to murder up to over a quarter of a billion people. Today, in the 21st century, anti-theists have ascended to celebrity status to promote frighteningly similar barbaric ideologies—ideologies that would make Stalin proud.

Yes, none of these particular anti-theists lead any regimes—yet. Still, Hirsi Ali is a disgraced Dutch MP, indicating she enacted laws while adhering to her extremist ideology of violently destroying Islam. Likewise, it is perfectly reasonable to believe such extremist ideology has the potential to radicalize current and future generations. After all, it already happened just a few decades ago in the 20th century. Indeed, it is no accident that state-atheism ruled China still receives the US State Department’s most negative rating for persecuting religious minorities, having, for example, destroyed 400 churches last year alone. In other words, even in contemporary times, state backed anti-theism means horrific persecution and violence against millions.

None of what I’ve said excuses extremists ascribing to Islam. I’ve personally written two books condemning such extremism, am part of a worldwide Muslim community that advocates for better morals and ethics based on compassion, secular governance, and absolute justice, and works actively with theists and atheists alike to serve all humanity.

Moreover, as a Muslim I can logically and factually point to where ISIS terrorism violates every Islamic tenet of morality, and have done so here, here, here, here, and here, for example. Islam has an objective standard by which to determine morality. But as Dawkins admits, since individual atheists have their own moral codes, the draconian standards of morality that anti-theists espouse are inherently subjective.

This is problematic because historically and contemporarily this subjective standard—when backed by state power—has been ultimately ruled by the philosophy of might is right. Returning to Hicks, ironically he had previously posted on his Facebook page that, “I don’t need religion, I have a conscience.” That conscience and subjective morality, catapulted by anti-theism, helped him justify the murder of three innocent Muslims.

Moreover, Hicks’ barbarity is in line with historical anti-theistic standards of morality. As Lenin proudly declared:

In our opinion, morality is entirely subordinate to the interest of the class war. Everything is moral which is necessary for the annihilation of the old exploiting order and for uniting the proletariat. Our morality consists solely in close discipline and conscious warfare against the exploiters.

Thus, in that subjectivity, anti-theists like Hicks who murdered three Muslims in cold blood, cannot be called immoral because, after all, who decides? In the all individualized and subjective moral universe, the illiberal might is right philosophy rules. Likewise, in such a universe, the thought that an anti-theist who is pro torture, pro pre-emptive nuclear strike, pro military destruction of Islam, pro murdering 80 million Muslims, and so on, could once again regain state power becomes all the more frightening and terrifying.

Whether its theist extremism or atheist extremism—extremism has no place in civilized society. The 20th century ideological forefathers of today’s leading anti-theists murdered more people than humanity has ever witnessed. In the 21st century, we cannot let such barbaric anti-theist ideologies—the mother lode of bad ideas—gain additional traction.

United against such barbarism with compassion, education, pluralism, and dialogue—not force—theists and atheists can together stop new atheist extremism in its tracks.

 

Qasim Rashid is an attorney and best-selling author of EXTREMIST. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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