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Dramatis Personae : A – a fictional interrogator: DTMW – Myself.

A: “Is there a God?”

DTMW: “Possibly.”

A: “The God of conventional religion?”

DTMW: “No.”

A: “So you’re an atheist in that regard?”

DTMW: “Not really. Atheism has become a positive concept. While once it was simply an absence of belief, it is now a very politicised label and suggests a specific worldview built around materialism, liberalism and a forced veneration of science. The New Atheists I find especially dangerous. They do not understand the function religion plays in the maintenance of a civil society, and what would necessarily occur were it removed.”

A: “Which is…”

DTMW: “It protects society from the full consequences of scientific truth. We’ve gotten too used to the idea that the ‘truth will set us free’ – that truth, being a positive value, can only have a positive effect. We forget that it can be beneficial or harmful only depending on its interpretation. Human beings are not naturally good, I’m afraid. Hobbes had this almost correct, except that religion and not government is the most effective Leviathan. Without it, the less evolved among the world population would feel they had no reason to stay within moral boundaries. Without the fear of hellfire, morality becomes a matter of consent. That’s all well and good for intelligent people with their evolved sense of empathy and social nuance. But most people are not intelligent.

And even among the intelligent, atheism allows for an icy, almost mathematical form of ethics that can be used to rationalise just about anything. Abortion, murder in all by name, can very easily be made logical by atheist thinking, but less so by the slightly fuzzy sentimentalism of the religious mind. That fuzzy sentimentalism, even if ridiculed by the petri dish and microscope, protects us from a lot of evil ‘common-sense’. The ‘New Atheists’ are greasing the wheels towards a very cold and dangerous void, the eventual filling of which they shan’t themselves be around to influence.

A: “Richard Dawkins says we can be good without God.”

DTMW: “As well he might. He is the product of a charmed life and first-class education. He belongs the upper-middle class and has never truly experienced hardship of the kind the poor must contend with. Solace of an earthly, material kind was at his side come what may. When the poor are faced with a reality that is horrid in every rational interpretation, they must look beyond reality for comfort. Peace between the classes depends in no small way on this function of religion. The concept of a human ‘equality’ before God; of a levelling after death; of a divine reward measured to match the hardship endured in life – all of these concepts prevent the fires of revolution bursting into life. There is a good reason that Communists went for the churches with as much venom as the banks and corporations.”

A: “What about Islam?”

DTMW: “Not all religions are equal. Some are more moral than others. It’s important to remember that a living religion is more than its foundational text. It is the product of elaborations and philosophies inspired by that text over hundreds of years. This is why Judaism and Christianity evolve and Islam doesn’t. The Qur’an, unlike the Bible, is a book that cannot be re-interpreted without fear of death.

A: “So you’d rather the Arabs and Persians and others converted to Christianity?”

DTMW: “I think that would be transformative. A Christianised Islamic world would solve so many of the worlds anxieties that it is difficult to describe how highly I favour the idea. I also expect the second generation growing up in a forcibly Christianised Pakistan (say) would be thankful to those who dominated and converted their elders. Islam makes life hell. Even Islamists are desperate to escape the fruits of their own labours. They are too proud to admit otherwise of course.”

A: “Are atheists evil?”

DTMW: “No. But many are certainly elitist. Elitism hides behind atheism rather well. You might say ‘No, I don’t hate poor White Americans; I just enjoy ridiculing their belief in Noah’s Ark. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that I went to University and they didn’t.’ I’m not convinced by that sort of thing I’m afraid.

As both Nietzsche and the Nazis understood, Christianity has always opposed elitism and made it politically impossible. This is the case today in America. The anti-intellectual instinct of Southern Baptism for example is something I sympathise with. The elite of America would love nothing more than to re-order society based on IQ or erudition. Christianity demands that other qualities are taken into account; unscientific qualities – like modesty, friendliness and warmth.

On a social level, mass atheism (as opposed to scattered, disorganised disbelief) would open Pandora’s Box. Many sleeping ideologies would awaken and moral values would be re-examined. It isn’t enough to say that ‘reason’ would take the place of religion. Whose reason? Can you not make a reasonable case for unreasonable things?

A: “Do you prefer Catholic or Protestant culture?”

DTMW: “My father is a retired C-of-E minister and so Protestantism is more familiar to me. I don’t like the hierarchicalism of the Catholic church, but I like the aesthetics of Catholic communion. Protestantism is more earthly. The West would fare well with either.

A: “Should children be raised with religion?”

DTMW: “I couldn’t be insincere in that regard, so instead I would make them understand that this is historically a Christian culture and that Islam, Hinduism and the like, are foreign to it. We reserve the right to uphold traditions and to maintain a unifying sense of identity. A religious core strengthens a nation by giving it a point of focus. It is terribly short-sighted to recommend the removal of religion from public life entirely.