God doesn’t punish strident atheism – He needn’t bother

I don’t know if God punishes atheists in the next life. In this one they punish themselves – by sounding downright cretinous whenever they try to make a shrill case for atheism (Richard Dawkins, ring your office). This, irrespective of how bright they are to begin with.

That’s why intelligent atheists, and amazingly they do exist, either steer clear of the subject altogether or broach it with utmost care and respect. This is a tax faithlessness pays to faith, and punishment for evading it is instant and brutal.

As his recent Mail column suggests, Andrew Alexander could tell you all about it, except that I’m not sure he’s capable of realising how severely he has been punished. But judge for yourself.

‘The world of Islam [is] convinced that it is under threat from the West. It resorts to counterattacks… The arrival on the scene of the suicide bomber is certainly a product of religion…’ This is absolute gibberish, and ignorant gibberish at that.

The world of Islam is convinced of all sorts of things, few of them true. This one certainly isn’t, and it’s not counterattacks Muslims launch against our buildings and buses but vicious and unprovoked assaults.

Nor is the phenomenon of suicide bombing a product of ‘religion’, for no ‘religion’ exists. There are only specific religions, each with its own beliefs, dogma, morality and, well, just about everything else, from culture to social and political organisation, from required standards to resulting behaviour. It’s not ‘religion’ in general but Islam in particular that produces suicide bombers. Until a Buddhist or a Franciscan has flown a plane into an office tower, we must regard this propensity as specific and not all-encompassing.

‘Religion also made a significant contribution to the Cold War… John Foster Dulles brought us close to nuclear Armageddon with his fanatical hostility to ‘atheistic Communism’.’ More deranged, ignorant gibberish.

Religion made no contribution to the Cold War whatsoever. Dulles, and the presidents he served, opposed Communism not out of religious conviction but in the knowledge that it represented a clear and present danger to the West. During Dulles’s own lifetime (d. 1959) Communists murdered hundreds of millions in their own countries, and Russia’s stance vis-à-vis all others was consistently and increasingly aggressive. His therefore were the actions of a statesman, not a believer. Privately, he no doubt saw a link between the evil of Communism and its hysterical hatred of God, but that’s neither here nor there.

It was Dulles who had to deal with the Berlin blockade, the rape of Eastern Europe, the Communist takeover of China, the Korean War, the massacre of popular uprisings in East Germany, Poland and Hungary, the massive military build-up of the Soviet Union. From Mr Alexander’s remarks one can infer that opposing this escalating evil was wrong, and Dulles’s hostility to it ‘fanatical’ and therefore misplaced, only attributable to his Christian faith. Had he been an atheist like Mr Alexander, there would have been no Cold War. This is cloud cuckoo land.

As to ‘nuclear Armageddon’, no such danger existed in the 1950s, for the United States enjoyed an overwhelming nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union. The Americans knew it, the Russians knew it, too bad Mr Alexander doesn’t know it. But perhaps, once he has calmed himself down, he’ll realise that it was Soviet global aggression, not Dulles’s Christianity, that was responsible for the still on-going Cold War.

‘The fact is that religions offer differing degrees of silliness and are not a solution to anything.’ Too bad Lenin’s League of the Militant Godless is no longer in business; Mr Alexander would find much sympathy there and perhaps secure employment for life.

‘Silliness’? ‘No solution’? ‘Fact?’ Never mind the joy and solace billions of communicants find in their faith. Even the staunchest of atheists, provided they aren’t culturally deaf, dumb and blind, feel elevated whenever they pass by a sublime Gothic church, listen to a glorious fugue, look at the masterpieces on show in our museums. Why, some atheists even read the King James Bible for its prose.

The greatest creations of the human spirit are a direct product of Christianity, and they include the civilisation of Christendom, based as it is on the uniquely Judaeo-Christian commitment to the self-importance of the individual qua individual. Without this foundation of Western civility and polity, chaps Chesterton described as village atheists wouldn’t be able to talk to village idiots for fear of arbitrary arrest.

Seriously, Mr Alexander ought to have his head examined: such irrational hatred can destroy what’s left of his mind. In fact one of my good atheist friends is both a psychiatrist and a journalist; he’d be happy to help a half-colleague who is in such dire trouble.

Religion, according to Mr Alexander, is an ‘urban myth’, whereas his own ignorant, half-crazy rants represent ‘the real world’. It’s evident that his grip on reality is tenuous at best – my psychiatrist friend would have plenty to work with.

I’m certain that his first recommendation would be that, to keep his disease in remission, Mr Alexander ought to enlarge only on subjects he understands, such as the perils of the euro. He makes sense on those, and they don’t make him overexcited. However, venturing beyond that scope clearly triggers a flare-up, necessitating psychotropic drugs, if not yet electric shocks.

One can only regret that Britain’s sole surviving conservative paper sees fit to publish such deranged drivel. Perhaps its editors ought to ponder what it is that they wish to conserve.

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