Friday, September 18, 2009

Is "Atheist Conservative" an Oxymoron?

This week, Lawrence Auster is hosting another illuminating discussion about the compatibility between conservatism and the HBD movement (see here and here).

As part of the debate, Alan Roebuck (a Christian) wrote...

In order to get real conservatism, the minimum requirement is an acknowledgment of human reality, plus something else that has real authority over man. That "something else" will necessarily be non-scientific, in which case HBD is radically insufficient.

For some reason, I was uncomfortable with that statement. The implication that "real conservatism" required a belief in God was unsettling to me. And I wasn't sure why. So I gave the issue some thought, and reached a slightly different (although related) conclusion.

Last night, I sent the following email to Mr. Auster (which he posted on his website)...

If it's not too late to weigh-in on this issue, here's my two cents.

I think--at one time, decades ago--it was possible for an atheist to be a full partner in the fight to preserve Western civilization. Ayn Rand comes to mind. So does Karl Popper. They loved freedom and America, and just as importantly, they loved mankind. They also lived in a more innocent time (1940s/50s)--a time before Richard Dawkins, E.O. Wilson, Daniel Dennett, and the rest of the Reductionist movement.

Today, atheism equals reductionism. Reductionism is the idea that we're all mindless meat puppets manipulated by our selfish genes to survive and reproduce. Even human reason (which was championed by Rand) is impotent in the reductionist/atheist worldview. As David Brooks says, "Reason is just the press secretary of the emotions."

As we've discussed before, a free republic has to believe that its citizens have the capacity for reason and morality (two things denied by the atheist/reductionist crowd). Otherwise, it is intellectually defenseless against Washington elites who want to lead their brethren around by the nose.

In conclusion, for me, it's not the principle of atheism ("no God") that is incompatible with Western civilization; it is the modern practice of atheism ("reductionism") which denies not only God's existence, but the existence of a truly rational, moral human being.

To which Mr. Auster replied:

This is a very interesting and useful distinction. But the question is, is atheism (reductionism) a different thing from atheism (no God), or just a more consistent form of it?

I responded:

I would say: Yes, reductionism is a more consistent form of atheism. But I still prefer to keep a slight distinction between the two concepts because the marriage between them is a relatively recent phenomenon. That’s why I referred to Ayn Rand and Karl Popper as belonging to a more "innocent time." Even now, most atheists probably don’t realize that atheism and reductionism is a package deal. If they did realize that, maybe they would start entertaining doubts about atheism, or – at the very least - about the ability of atheists to be full partners in the conservative movement.


Rum said...

Your assignment is to stand off to the side and watch the hottest women of your generation get vigorously pleasured by guys completely different from you in belief and attitude
Then it gets worse. A lot worse.

Todd White said...

Umm, I'm engaged. So frolick to your heart's content.