Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The "Why" in Political Atheism

This is why. This is a surprisingly even handed and moving piece about a former evangelical preacher man from Louisiana who took one stop past liberalizing his faith.
I know people who went to a more liberal kind of Christianity and were happy with that. The problem is, for me, there was a process involved in moving from Pentecostalism to a more liberal theology, like Grace Church. What makes me different is that process didn’t stop, and it took me all the way. In the end, I couldn’t help feeling that all religion, even the most loving kind, is just a speed bump in the progress of the human race. (emphasis mine).
Many modern, liberal americans detach gradually from their beliefs until they hit a sort of ritualistic deism, but they recoil at the logical conclusion. For the modern mind deism is a feat of self deception, creating an answer where no question exists, a solution with no problem, a god with no creation. The worst part of this ritualistic deism is that these liberal Christians still take pride in faith over reason, at least in certain instances, and they excuse the "faithful" of their transgressions against civilization.

Which brings me to one of my favorite people, Neil Degrasse Tyson. I love him to death and I'm really excited about his upcoming Cosmos series, but he is idealistically scientific. One area he tries to stay clear of is politics, outside of his pro science and education work, and in that fails to fulfill Sagan's legacy. He says here that he dislikes the label atheist due to its political nature, but in this he is very naive. He pretends there is some way out. While true that atheism literally is just a conclusion, joking about how non golf players have no political name, he ignores the trouble caused by religion. If golf oppressed or actively worked against the science and education he pushes then it would be important to be known as agolfist.

Part of Sagan's legacy is his willingness to face politics head on. While Tyson is close, in that he has to some extent spoken against warmongering and anti-science in broad terms, we need the politics of the outspoken atheists and humanists. Tyson has the potential to jump in, to really speak for science and education by tackling the specific barriers in the way, rather than generalized pro education and science activism. He is a brilliant speaker and scientist, and will be great in the new Cosmos, but he is ignoring the reasons atheists are political. The former preacher above is part of that. Someone who lost his job, wife and friends because he came to the logical conclusion modern people should. Obviously Neil Degrasse Tyson is an atheist by definition, but he should grasp the label willingly. Instead of begin afraid to be labeled, to which he has valid criticisms, he should create a definition of the label.

All the world is politics, whether we want it to be or not. In a perfect world science and education should be obvious investments, faith would be an obvious weakness of character and war would exist only in history books, but we don't live there. Politics is a struggle, and part of that struggle is dealing with labels, with self defining those labels. If people listened to arguments well, we would not need politics, but people are weighed down by millions of years of evolutionary baggage making reason hard to achieve. Atheism is political because it has to be. Atheism is more than a rejection of god, it is a rejection of religion and the politics of faith based reasoning. Atheism is political because it helps those who stop believing in a world where logic is a sin. Political atheism is growing as a backlash to out of control religion and faith. Atheism isn't just a rejection of god and faith, it is a rejection of authoritarian ways of thinking, of clinging to the old ways. Atheism is political because every struggle is political, and there is no way out of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment