Caught in the Throes of Embattlement

11 Apr

Caught in the Throes of Embattlement:  Atheism and the Catch-22 of Cultural Warfare.  Liberal Values as the Remedy for a “Clash of Civilizations” Mindset about the World and the Inevitable Chaos Resulting from such a View.


I don’t know quite what to think about this piece.  … I don’t believe in any sort of atheism that has to be politically-correct from a leftward leaning point of view … The movement should be broader than that, I agree, and I do maintain a Secularly Liberal position. … But at the same time, I’m very concerned about a kind of political Rightism spearheading the secular movement via the so-called New Atheism.

There’s no reason why atheists should be the political dupes of the neoconservatives or pawns in an agenda of promoting the us-against-them attitude of the rightward-leaning, West-against-the-Rest culture war bloc.  You can still cast a broad, politically inclusive net via the secular-atheist community without having to get caught up in extraneous political and ideological debates over its nature as a movement or risk losing conservative supporters in the process.

Yet at the same time, something has to be done about the manner in which an embattled atheism faces the world w/o slipping into the myopic jingoism of conservative ideologues who want to ‘go to war‘ with others, under the pretense of preemption in a replay of the Samuel Huntington’s idea of a Clash of Civilizations.  That kind of an attitude is not helpful in the modern world of the 21st century, as our world teeters precipitously on the edge of large scale regional warfare where the “nuclear option” is almost always on the table.  A left-liberal attitude forestalls this by its emphasis on pluralism and peace (i.e., through the antiwar perspective).

So if the “weaponization of atheism” is a problem in fact, it doesn’t have to be.  There’s a foil to slipping into the throes of embattlement, and that foil is a Liberal philosophy of human interaction and international relations.  The “irrationality” of religion isn’t the only enemy humankind faces; the war drive and the Hobbesian/Nietzsche-esque mindset accompanying it is equally its enemy.

Humanity’s future depends on secular modernity’s squarely facing this problem as much (and as stridently) as it does the religious superstitions of the past.  Atheism and the secular movement should re-affirm a commitment to pluralism and antiwar values.   For, somewhat paradoxically, that’s how we’re going to win the culture wars.  That’s how we’re going to win the fight against these warlike impulses exuding out from humanity’s religious traditions, collective experiences, and irrational leanings in history.

How do you really win against the spirit of war embedded in the human psyche?  You make [the] peace.  That’s the mission for liberals and secularists in the times ahead as we drift closer and closer to war entanglements on the international stage, whether it be in places like Iran or in other places like Syria.  The Doomsday Clock can indeed be stopped. It’s just a question of whether we’re civilized enough and evolved enough as present-day human beings to do it.

Are we? …


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