National Atheist Day
A happy National Atheist Day to all our atheist readers! I hope you will have a fun filled day yelling about the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the sky, writing to papers 5000 word letters claiming that Hitler was a believing Christian, trolling Catholic websites to use atheist proof texts that work against Baptists to establish that the Bible is absurd and all the other fun filled activities in which believers in the Great Nothing seem to derive enjoyment from. Today I would like to direct your attention to a man that deserves honor by all atheists: Aldous Huxley.
The grandson of “Darwin’s Bulldog”, T. H. Huxley, Huxley deserves to be remembered and not just as the author of the increasingly prophetic Brave New World, but also as being a far seeing and honest atheist. First as to his honesty. Huxley in Ends and Means explains why he and so many of his elite contemporaries embraced atheism:
“For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotical revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever.”
The interesting thing about Huxley is that while he remained an atheist he became intensely interested in mysticism, along with hallucinogenic drugs, in the latter part of his life. He even argued 1n 1945 in a best selling book that all religions incorporated what he called the Perennial Philosophy, and that a man could be an adherent of that philosophy while believing in none of the theological aspects of any of the religions.
This was a brilliant attempt to square the circle for atheism. The great weakness of atheism is that it leads to the conclusion that existence is ultimately meaningless. Huxley demonstrated how an atheist could derive meaning to the world by
stealing borrowing from religions their trappings while ignoring the substance.
CS Lewis, who was a contemporary of Huxley and who died on the same day he did, along with John F. Kennedy, summed up this type of atheism in his The Screwtape Letters:
I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism, and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics.
At least, not yet. I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the enemy. The “Life Force,” the wor¬ship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits”—then the end of the war will be in sight.
Ah, but this is too philosophical for a day of celebration! Time for some atheist kid songs! Continue reading
(Hattip for the Atheist Barbie pic to its creator, Atheist Blogger Blag Hag.) Another April 1 rolls around, and it is time again to observe National Atheist Day and salute those atheists who, as part of the herd of independent atheist thinkers, bravely assert that, yes, matter and energy did arise ex nihilo without God, and that belief in God is too silly for a person of intelligence. (Sorry Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas! Sir Isaac Newton you simply lacked the intellectual heft to embrace belief in non-theism.)
In honor of the day, I think Sir Francis Bacon’s essay Of Atheism from 1601 might be appropriate: Continue reading