The people who concretely affirm that there is in fact no higher being whatsoever are among the people that I do not agree with nor trust. I see such declarations as the epitome of self importance. Hard atheism is a belief structure and it is just as prideful and dangerous as the unflinching beliefs of religious extremists.
…But, like hard-line religious fanatics, the hard atheists’ character flaw is an uncompromising belief in self. The individual fanatic and hard athiest both share the belief that they are right and disagreeing others are terribly misguided and wrong…
“Why Hard Atheists Shouldn’t be Taken Seriously” by Edgar Alverson
What he means to say, but doesn’t quite say, is that hard atheists and other fundamentalists base their beliefs in themselves, not in the world. They are using ideology to make themselves seem more important than they are. You can see this phenomenon in every belief system, from white power to hard greens to democrats and onward. The only philosophies that escape it, briefly, are those that negate the self, but even the Buddhists now are mostly egocases: “I am, indeed, holier and more passive (non-aggressive) than thou.”
Belief systems based in promoting the individual in the name of changing the world are “cult-like” in that like viruses, they attack the ego and lowered self-esteem, and make their victims act in zombielike obedience toward impossible or untenable goals.
I stopped posting at the internet infidels forum (see my parting shot using Alverson’s article) for this reason. I went there hoping to find people who, like me, believe our society is off-course and we should re-create it using the best ideas we have and discarding the worst. I figured that if they were atheists, they had already rejected much of the thought-conditioning around them; instead, I found that they accepted that thought conditioning, and revelled in the rebel identity granted them by telling off God.
This resulted in a forum where the admins did not know basic philosophy, the posters would chime in with smarmy comments but would tolerate blatant ignorance as long as it was atheistic, and there was a cult of revenge against Christians. When that forum was newer and healthier, its members rejected this kind of schoolboy bullying. But now it seems encouraged, and ignorance is rife, all while calling Christians ignorant, stupid, etc. and implying that all who are not good liberal atheists are somehow redneck morons who got on the internet because AOL dropped a computer in their laps.
When I was a blaspheming youth, I did it because I believed the religious path was a failure — and for most interpretations of religion, I still believe this, although I also now believe that the same problem applies to science, politics, philosophy and culture — not to make myself into some Antichrist Superstar. My goal was to find an ideological truth, use it to get humanity back on course, and then — go back to doing what I always do. My life is full, in fact possibly overflowing, and I don’t have a need to compensate for failure in it. What I would like, selfish perhaps, is to get my species to stop failing so the future is brighter and the smart people around me stop flaking out.
In the same way, I reject the idea of becoming self-righteous: “I have the right answer, you’re all below me, therefore I rise.” When I believe I have the right answer, I am the attack dog of its ideology, but that is because I believe the ideology will affect the world in positive ways, leaving my condition relatively unchanged. Ask yourself: if your ideology impacted the world as you would like it to, what would be your change in status? If the answer is that you go from night watchman to king, beware, you’re in a cult state of mind.
Alverson does a good hit job on the hard atheists, who were like the skeptics a blooming internet cult for computer programmers and others, but now are fading. We really need to look out for this mindset, as it occurs everywhere, including in people of all religions.