That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. – Christopher Hitchens
Hitchens was one of the Four Horsemen Of Atheism, or part of the New Atheist movement. This new wave of atheism was sparked by a set of books released in reaction to the Twin Tower terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. And thus, a theological and philosophical war waged on between theist and atheist.
Religion is something I’ve explored and pondered on for many hours at end and without any revelation or solace. I grew up non-denominational Christian, then agnostic to atheist. From there, explorations into the darker side of spirituality and the Left-Hand Path, then to Islam, a pinch of Mormonism and some peeks into Buddhism. Despite the many goods which have spawned from the depths of religious belief, it still remains without empirical evidence that any legitimacy is given to any single one of these systems. That is my personal view, anyhow. And the above quote from the late Mr. Hitchens remains a reasonable sentiment, I find. However, is it wise to apply this to religion on a societal scale?
Religions are a vast subject of horrifyingly complicated histories and tall tales of supernatural proportions which ring as ludicrous to the contemporary world. Nonetheless, many billions of people belong to one religious belief system or the other with the Abrahamic religions being among the most popular.
In Right-winged circles religion is more socially accepted, defended, and embraced. In Leftist circles it is either the polar opposite or a dumbed-down, watered-down version of it. Many have noticed, as I myself have noted, that as American society becomes more secular, thus less religious or less likely to adhere to spiritual dogma, society seems to embrace more Communist-style ideals. For those who fear a Red Revolution, it can be recognized that decline in religion paves a road toward the acceptance and operation of such regimes and political ideologies.
But what question remains to many who lean toward atheism (or agnosticism, if you like) and are also of the Right-winged variety is this: if religion is false or never proven to be authentic, but the rejection of religion happens to indirectly give rise to Communist-style ideals through secular ethics, should we push for religion as a public good? This is the debate which has recently been spiraling in my head. And I believe, as the future makes way, if religion does not find the will to remain a part of society and act as a guiding force of ethics, then what other options are there?
Let us first consider the most obvious: humanism.
From Humanism To Communism
On the surface, humanism seems a reasonable standard of morality to implement into society. Most people throughout planet earth share a common theme: they do not feel like being murdered, raped or robbed. In accordance with the Golden Rule there are many in the world who keep to themselves based on this shared common desire. To break the Golden Rule, in this sense, is to invite societal consequences with the law, personal vendettas and social shunning, which results in less resources, less potential mates, etc. It is not in a person’s best interest to go around aimlessly breaking this rule.
Humanism is not offensive on the surface; however, if one dives deeper, then one may foresee the end results of the domino effect when humanism and secular ethics are replaced by religious moral guidance and fully played out. From the absence of religious moral guidance arises humanism, which echoes the Golden Rule. It isn’t complicated, it isn’t abstract. It is direct and simple. But it does not remain simple as humanism, over the course of time, begins to trail off into a more global approach to ethics, which then incorporates global egalitarianism. From there we begin to develop Marxist rule and, in effect, mold into Communism, or something closely resembling it. A world in which equality is forced through every crack and hole within society until there is no rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, strong or weak, famous or a nobody. We are all one shared moral compass.
With the exception of the elitist overlords who would help enforce this society, all its citizens would be subject to their rules and laws. The conundrum here is that equality does not exist across the board on any given issue. By attempting to force equality through every aspect of society you only aim to break the system entirely; thus, destroying society by working actively against nature and its natural cycle. And this equality will most certainly turn global, which means citizenship is void. As in, illegals and legal are the same.
One easy go-to example is border control and national security. Humanism puts a strong emphasis on human life and, in return, human suffering. It is often natural for people to have a knee-jerk reaction to someone nearby in distress. Our instinct is to help. Expand this beyond a personal event and thrust it upon the national front scene and you’ve intertwined political discourse with personal safety on a countrywide level. This is dangerous because, as the twenty-first century Western world has shown time and time again, humanism extends to the non-citizen and begins viewing everyone as a “global citizen.” That is globalism at its highest point. A world without one single border to distinguish country nor citizenship outside the global citizen sphere.
Given humanism does in fact snowball into such a destructive state, it is vitally important that nationalism and humanism merge together as one unifying force inseparable from the other as a means of combating the end results of global egalitarianism. And this expands into a far more complex matter which, at its root, involves the indoctrination of the youth.
Someone Has To Indoctrinate The Kids
Indoctrination alone has a negative imagery associated with it; nonetheless, it is a necessary and unavoidable part of growing up. If your parents are not instilling their set of values in you, then someone else is. Whether celebrities and the dominant pop culture or whether it’s teachers and government officials, someone is indoctrinating the young. Children are the roots of any society. If they live long enough to enter adulthood, then it is important that the roots be watered and maintained. Weak roots will cause a strong society to slowly rot away; thus, weak roots combat the health of that society. So, what are some of the strong values that these roots require to maintain society? One thing which always fights against global egalitarianism is nationalism. This is a fair starting point, I wager.
On matters of nationalism and a recognized appreciation for country and fellow countrymen, it is the job of the parents to enforce this message and these values into their children who are the roots of society. And it should be a continuous force perpetuated by the government of that society, along with such propaganda infused in the art world and entertainment scene. This would be an entirely new world order that is, at this time, almost the polar opposite to our contemporary country, America The Foolish, and her liberal Western philosophy.
The lessening of nationalism as taboo, along with the normalizing of many ethics borrowed from religion with a secular lens and denial of the superstitious, may be the future ideals of the countries that best utilize them. If religion continues to decline and religious adherence is widely less socially accepted or exercised, this will become an area of important discussion among public intellectuals, especially those more in step with conservatism and nationalism.
On the flip side, if religion is to be maintained and harvested to best operate society, then it must be void of too much liberalism and leftist ideology to maintain itself. It will need restrictions. These restrictions apply to humanism.
Humanism And Restrictions
Any system of guiding ethics must have its restrictions. A society without restrictions is a society without a moral compass. Restrictions must be applied. This ranges from whoring around to hardcore drug use, to speeding and thus endangering others on the road, to physically tormenting stray dogs or non-combatants. We cannot allow ourselves the indulgence of every whim of earthly desire or what we have is not ethics but chaos and disorder. Restrictions are a necessity to owning a functioning moral compass.
Secularism has the dangers of enacting, as some may put it, postmodernism in the public square. By extension, this does not stay dormant within a small fraction of society. It will eventually spread and expand until it infects the education system, the art and entertainment world, etc. And the end result is that it infects your own family, loved ones and comrades. This is an important element to consider if future right-wingers embrace secular ethics with humanism as the baseline for their moral thinking. If restrictions are not laid in stone, it will fail.
Humanism can come in two forms: global humanism or national humanism. Humanism, in the context of this conversation, is on a nationalist level; thus, restrictions are brought to the borders of the country and do not extend to foreigners or border jumpers. This is a key ingredient to this style of humanism and secular ethics. It is merely a starting point with the thought of a society without religion and how we best handle our inquiries on morality.
It has been written that self-preservation is the highest law of man and beast. Take this as truth and we at least have a rough baseline for our morality. But when safety and security are plentiful and self-preservation is not threatened, only them can we begin to expand past our personal individual concern and extend our moral compass to our tribe or surrounding society as a whole. That would be one of the difficult tasks in implementing humanism and secular ethics without religious dogma as its backing force.
Now, there is reason to doubt a secular society that doesn’t rot into a Marxist utopia nightmare. This is where the flip side of this discussion comes into play: religion as a positive fallacy.
Religion Helps Self-Police The Would-Be Criminal
People who lose their religion do not suddenly adapt a ravenous dog worldview and turn predator and all others prey. What replaces decent religious ethics is simply humanism without the all-seeing deity above, along with the absence of Paradise or Hellfire and other dogmatic beliefs and practices. But there is a serious political and cultural snowball effect to society at large that rejects moral guidance from some above unseen dictator. The stone-cold truth is that many adults, despite having enough intellect and critical thinking skills to operate peacefully throughout society, still would require the threat of eternal torment to keep them in line with the Golden Rule.
Sam Harris, author of several books including The End Of Faith and The Moral Landscape, has pointed to individuals he’s conversed with who share this same sentiment. Without a belief in an all-watchful powerhouse, they would turn criminal. Sam Harris has taken active steps toward engaging the public square with secular-born ethics in mind. What I’m curious about is how his direction would shift if his more liberal side was removed and replaced with a conservative bend. But if ethics cannot remain intact without religion, then it seems plausible to suggest religion as a necessity to maintain a constructive society.
Just like kings and queens or dictators and presidents, as Ragnar Redbeard made direct mention of in his writings, there are men who rule in society and men who are ruled over. This is natural, normal, and healthy. Adulthood alone does not automatically grant any adult the capability to act rationally, to suddenly be more mature in their decision-making or to be less judgmental on the book cover before enacting a thorough inquiry into the matter at hand. Especially in the Western world this is true of many adults. They need some watching over from time to time.
If one accepts the notion that adults need watching over from time to time, then at what point does one consider this when in private where there are no eyes other than your own? There have been social experiments of this sort on children where two groups were exposed to a method of gaining points by hitting the target on a nearby board. The first group had the adult leave the room to try their luck, but upon leaving the room the children simply walked up to the board and placed it directly on the target. In the second group they were told an invisible person was nearby watching and, as the adult once again left the room, the children did not cheat the game by walking over to the board. The threat of an invisible watchful eye kept them in line when authority was temporarily removed from the equation.
This experiment suggests that Western adults cannot be trusted for self-governing about the same as one could trust children. Anarchy is not the future. Libertarianism is not the future. The human condition is too destructive with such creativity that, unless harnessed in a responsible manner, could give way to not only its own destruction but those who surround it. The matter of a watchful deity among private activities is not the warmest of thoughts, but it certainly has served as a baseline of morality that has given way to decency and, yes, even humanism toward fellow man. It is still heavily instilled in many Western adults that even in private they are being watched, documented and held responsible in one light or the other.
It wouldn’t be hard for many to comprehend that we don’t require a spiritual existence for wishing to do good unto others (don’t kill, steal, etc.) and remain civilized with our neighbors. Again, most people who lose their religion do not suddenly become ravenous dogs on the prowl; however, over time the absence of spiritual meaning takes hold on the human condition who is, in many ways, a creature of worship. And to refer back to my beginning points it runs the danger of worshiping our own existence so much that humanism turns to global egalitarianism. In a weird way, humanism runs the chance of replacing God with humans with every living person being the center of worship; thus, things like borders become an issue since they separate us from worshiping the new god: the foreigners and border jumpers.
Religion has had many thousands of years to draw further evidence aside from ancient literature. Even if one could piece together certain geographical areas mentioned in any holy text or find any small convenient piece of the puzzle to help fit into your given religious belief system, there may never be a time when any empirical evidence shall come forward to help lay to rest the mystery of human existence.
Despite the real possibility of all religious doctrine being nothing more than desert fables carried on throughout the years like a virus finding new methods of perpetuating itself, religion does keep people in line. And as the West turns secular, it also deteriorates itself. And this painstaking recognition places right-winged folks, who are on the fence about religion as a whole, in a tricky area of embracing secular ethics while also recognizing the potential glue that religion acts as to hold society together.
Sometimes a fallacy can be used as a positive. Perhaps religion is that necessary evil. It is also possible that our brains, in all their immensely complex matter, gave birth to religion and maintained it over many thousands of years as a method of self-discipline and self-control. Take it at face value that is even remotely possible, then would it not be counterproductive to attempt removing or abandoning religion?
This leaves the question of whether secular ethics can be infused with humanism, nationalism, and conservatism together in order to safeguard a civilization. If a society without religion is damned toward a Leftist, blood red Communist fear-factor, then we might need to consider support for religion, even if we personally cannot indulge in belief.
Tags: morality, religion, secularism