Atheists would love for everyone to believe that their motive for not believing is an intellectual one. Yes, the atheists ardently suppose that they are wise and the Christians, well, we’re the buckle-shoed buttheads. Yes, darling, the atheists would love all of us to suppose that they cannot believe because they are so astute and rational, and we theists, heck we’re toads . . . a veritable troop of abecedarian simpletons who believe in God and Christ simply because we’re straight goofy. I think the atheists believe in not believing, however, not because they’re intellectual little dandies but because they want to be autonomous, loose and randy.
As an atheist, I’ve always been careful about crying bigotry, because I’ve felt the freedom and even the necessity to criticize all religions equally. While atheism is clearly not a religion, (in the way bald is not a hair color, or celibacy is not a sexual position) ideas, including our own, must be open to question and most especially mockery and ridicule. Because humor is a method of getting to the truth and saying things which cannot be said any other way. As long as we stay in the realm of ideas, then we can freely attack the bad ones, with or without humor. But once we start with a direct attack on people’s character, then it becomes bigotry. Painting your opponents as sex-crazed and amoral libertines firmly crosses this line. More than anything else, it’s a sign of religious desperation. With all their best arguments refuted, they have to resort to tarring and feathering.
First, he quotes several atheist luminaries correctly skewering the arbitrary sexual morality of religion:
Aldous Huxley: “…the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation . . . liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”
Bertrand Russell: “The worst feature of the Christian religion is its attitude toward sex.”
Christopher Hitchens: “The divorce between the sexual life and fear . . . can now at last be attempted on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse.”
Then, with a wave of the hand, he dismisses across the board any and all humanistic moralities, blithely smearing every atheist as the epitome of the irresponsible, amoral, and animalistic sexual libertine, (presumably just waiting to come and steal the virtue of every righteous daughter–or son for that matter).
They didn’t like the thought of being responsible and having to account for their lives in the afterlife. Such thoughts really screwed with getting their groove on, ya know what I’m sayin’?
They were the first metrosexuals. Yep, they figured that if they could just get the gods out of the way they could focus on selfishly milking this life for all it’s worth and then die without any eternal repercussions. They were living in a material world, and they were material girls. Pretty ballsy. Or stupid. But at least they were honest about their motivations.
In addition, ladies, Darwin didn’t lose his faith because he discovered natural selection; he dumped God because he couldn’t stomach the doctrine of eternal accountability and damnation. That’s what made him switch teams. I think that was about ten years after he had married his first cousin. Git-R-Done, Charlie!
Y’know, Karl Marx said religion is the “opiate of the masses.” I think the real poppy derivative is the black tar belief that tells you atheist lads and lasses that when you take the big dirt nap that’s it. Ah what peace. What a high. No God. No accountability. All our sins of commission and omission will never ever come up again. No pain. No penalty. No heaven. No hell. Imagine. Yeah, dude. Hold that hit. Let it out slowly. Ahhh. Feel better?
There’s your opium.
Giles categorically applies this condemnation to all atheists–simply because we have rejected his gods and guilt-based moral prescriptions. It’s a good thing we don’t live in times like pre-WWII, where the Nazis used similar propaganda to make Jews seem subhuman. (Not that I’m implying that he has the same political clout to do us harm, but his methods are every bit as bigoted and dehumanizing.)
Nazi films portrayed Jews as “subhuman” creatures infiltrating Aryan society. For example, The Eternal Jew (1940), directed by Fritz Hippler, portrayed Jews as wandering cultural parasites, consumed by sex and money.
Or when the U.S. used similar tactics on the Japanese.
A common technique used by propagandists was to liken the Japanese to animals like snakes and rats. But the most common animal used to portray the Japanese was the monkey. In several posters and editorial cartoons, the Japanese were drawn up as monkeys hanging from trees or lumbering around like big gorillas. The image of a subhuman primate was key to undercutting the humanity of the enemy. The enemy was less than human, thus much easier to kill.
Giles’ hit piece is right up this alley. We atheists are less than human, dangerous and not to be trusted, because we reject his gods. He opines “They appear to be humming the Marquis de Sade’s tune more than Sagan’s.” While he doesn’t explicitly call atheists “animals,” he does call us animalistic (by implication of sexual libertinism) in every way possible. The title of his editorial is “Atheism: Intellectual Revolt or Pelvic Rebellion.” While I personally have no problem either with de Sade’s literature, or with acknowledging my own animal nature, in the conservative religious world Giles inhabits, this is a terrible slur. We have firmly established the important intellectual beachhead of innate human morality, which has been devastating to the exclusivity of religious morality claims. But by falsely equating our morality arguments with advocacy of amoral and uncontrolled sexuality and the shirking of all responsibilities, Giles mines the same vein of prejudice creationists use when they tell their children atheists claim “their grandmother was a monkey.”
This is cynical last-ditch attack politics. It’s an attempt to separate humanity from our vitally important animal origins and animal nature. Ironically, it is the most religious (who vehemently deny their nature) who seem to get caught in a sex scandal about every five minutes. Giles fails to see the irony and failure of religion to control these impulses, and the failure of his own scriptural ideals. Yet these cartoon distortions of hedonistic atheism persist, diverting attention from the very same problems and hypocrisies of religion, and attempting once again to remove the discussion from where the zealots are weakest: the realm of ideas.
Update: Doug Giles was already driving the MAGA train, long before Donald Trump boarded it on his way to the White House. He was an early pioneer of the kind of vicious muckraking against secularism that has now taken over the entire Republican Party. He hits all the notes. His books include “Pussification,” “If Masculinity is Toxic, Call Jesus Radioactive,” “Raising Rowdy and Righteous Girls,” and several other titles along those lines. He hosts a podcast called “Warriors and Wildmen.” His degrees are in fine arts and theological and biblical studies. He’s extremely active in gun politics and has become a darling across the far right. If his trajectory makes anything clear, it’s that the current fault lines in America are explicitly between religion and secularism and nothing else. The old left-right divide has now given way to a no-holds-barred culture clash between a complete dominance of white straight cis Christian men, and the secular call for tolerance, pluralism and diversity. Which in Giles mind, is synonymous with “Pussification.” –Sean Prophet, August 2022