This is sometimes called the attempt to define god into existence, and was first proposed by Anselm of Canterbury (1033—1109). This original version was busted by Kant and Hume amongst others, but lo and behold, it resurfaced after several reworkings. While modern apologists are mightily proud of the shiny new gloss this has given the argument, it still devolves to the same thing:
A thing that can be imagined to exist, must exist, if it is imagined to have certain properties.
Clearly this is nonsense. However the dense fug of philosophical obscurantism is, as usual, used to hide the central argument, so let me expand what it says:
God is a being greater than which none can be conceived (unsubstantiated premise.)
I’m sometimes asked if I don’t feel that I am missing out, by not believing in ‘something greater’. It’s a valid question and actually one that I think all atheists should ask themselves. But the answer, at least for me, might also be of interest to others.
Yes I am part of something greater, in a very real and immediate sense. It’s not so much a question of believing but of accepting the evidence in front of me. I am part of the Earth. The Earth is not just a core of molten iron covered in a crust of rock and water, with an outer gaseous atmosphere, though it is these things. It is a living system, an entity. And I am—we are all—part of that entity.
Identity Politics (IP) is a product of Postmodernism, the corrupted thinking that gave us Political Correctness (PC). This operates by denying an opponent the language needed to present a case, and thus preventing that person from doing so. It is intellectually lazy and morally bankrupt, because it is directly contradictory to free speech. You cannot speak freely if the language you must use has been censored so that you cannot express yourself. However, the Regressive Postmodernist Left has never been very keen on free speech. It prefers that people toe the party line.
IP ‘identifies’ a hierarchy in society, which it defines as ‘relative privilege’. It suggests that there is such a thing as ‘the patriarchy’, which apportions ‘privilege’ to individuals according to their identities — white men, black women, and so on. It proposes to counter this by establishing a hierarchy based on ‘oppression’. It says that those who are awarded most patriarchal privilege should not be allowed to speak about matters that affect the less privileged. This applies even if the person speaking is a recognised expert quoting the best science.
The New Atheists, like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens and many others, purported to offer a sane, secular attempt to roll back religiosity for the betterment of society. Instead, their efforts have begat the mother of all calamities.
How did this come to pass?
Scientific atheism, as promoted by the New Atheists, lacks any unifying central structure or code. Essentially it is based on a negative — not believing in God. So it can’t have a defining structure. Richard Dawkins, one of the most prominent New Atheists, tried to answer this with his ‘brights’ — which was an embarrassment. (Since at least 2014, Dawkins has self-identified as a ‘secular Christian’ anyway.)
After the Enlightenment and especially the French Revolution, European secularism based itself around Reason as the core methodology that would replace, in the minds of those who were atheist, religious belief. This reflected a rejection of hierarchical religious authority, which had begun in the Reformation. The works of philosophers like Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant and Paine promoted the idea of the free-thinking individual whose intellectual scalpel was Reason. Both of these were exported to the US.
Witch-burning is out of fashion in the West these days. Fortunately. But the intolerance that caused it is still with us, and it’s getting more strident. The Internet has given voice to some whose opinions, frankly, are odious, and ‘multiculturalism’ that shameful abrogation of the moral values of our secular society, makes it increasingly difficult for anyone to express legitimate criticism of some of the nastiest ideas put forward by what is, frankly, a thoroughly poisonous group of people.
Today, the victims of the intolerance are not witches or pagans or dissident Protestants, Catholics or Jews. They are ordinary decent people who have been brought up to believe that they have a right to speak freely. After all, the US has a Constitution that enshrines it, and through all those long years of the Cold War, the one thing we in Europe held most dear was that in our culture, freedom of speech was assured, for without it, there would be no freedom at all. If we were to be ‘better dead than Red’ and we would have been, it was in the name of Freedom of Speech that we should have faced our nuclear Calvary.
In my last video I discussed why I no longer feel comfortable calling myself an atheist. This is only partly because it’s an unscientific position. It is, more importantly, a political position that plays into the hands of those who wish to destroy Western civilisation, the finest on the planet.
There is no alternative to Capitalism in a free society. Removing it would also necessarily remove the foundation of Enlightened Culture. As I wrote yesterday, that foundation is that we all own our own bodies and lives. They are ours to do as we will with, so long as we do not harm others. If we so choose, we may use them to earn and acquire property, which is ours to keep or exchange. That is Capitalism.
Removing Captalism dispossesses us of our own lives and bodies, since it prevents us from using them to acquire things. Worse, it assumes that, since our bodies and lives are not our own, they must belong to someone or something else. This has been the Family, the State, the Tribe, the Earth, the Party, the Church, the Crown, the Faith; you name it. Our most precious freedom, to live our own lives with our own bodies, is removed when we attempt to remove Capitalism.
We have no time left to deliberate, now. Appeasement has failed, just as it did in 1939. The enemy is among us. He is far more cruel and vicious than Adolf Hitler and more totalitarian than the Nazis. He uses any weapon he can to kill us, while we have allowed our governments to take from us our own, with which we might, perhaps, have defended ourselves. His name is Islam and he has declared war.
Our cultural values of freedom and toleration we must now put aside, because our continent is sick. The dream of a free, peaceful Europe that we have been building for seven decades is dead. We must, now, fight to preserve what is left, the essential core of our cultural values. To do that we must accept that many of our privileges, afforded by the system we live under, must be suspended. We are at war and that is one consequence.
I was asked today if I was a ‘liberal’. Now in all honesty, until quite recently, I would just have said ‘yes’ and moved on. Simple, easy, checks the right boxes. But the world is not as it was; liberalism has become infected with some appallingly bad ideas that we have to stand up to and defeat. So when I analysed ‘what I am’ I came up with this: a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist.
So, for this week’s Friday Politics, what does being a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist, mean and why is it not the same as being a ‘liberal’?