David Eller, a professional anthropologist by trade, has made excellent contributions to the cause of antitheism in his two books n atheism, and in his two chapters in the John Loftus edited The Christian Delusion. Eller is matter-of-fact, and he explains well the context to the on-going Christian-Muslim-Jewish culture of irrationalism that permeates much of our human world. Though Eller, and Valeria Tarrico in a following chapter that is equally well-written and researched, can’t quite get to state a resolution the problems of confronting irrationalism, we should note that though we are all “irrational” as humans, some are more irrational than others, and the necessary task for all humans is to strive to act with rational decency and good old animal sense.
Following the large-scale attempts to arrange the workings of the brain by generalists such as Daniel Kahneman and Iain MacGilchrist, we late-stage humans should have a good idea that our brains have complex workings throughout both hemispheres, and at both rational and unconscious levels. None of us are going to achieve some magic, trademark-worthy proper blend of emotional/rational intelligence, though it appears that just about everybody, in the USA and beyond, thinks that they have that unique, multidimensional, crystal-clear level of penetrating wisdom, folk insight, and creative exuberance that represents the acme of thought. Why, just ask a Christian chicken0entrail reader, and they will give you a thousand words, not all of them misspelled or misused, on “extra-science” and the follies of the Gnus.
The problem with the state our world, the supersystem, is that science is giving us great background on how marvelously inept we humans are, at the individual level in our biased brains, at the institutional level in our pathetic politics (anti-politics), and in the enormous failures represented by class-based criminality appearing daily at your local hedge fund, trans-national corporation, insurance office, oil producer, Mom ‘n Pop’s Lotto, etc.
In the US, this means that we are stuck with a culture infected by the rampant, rampaging religious virus, though this is but one affliction, as the horrors wrought by rich people punishing poor people rival the sufferings supported by any other fundamentally irrational system. Listen to enough upstate New York people, buffeted by generations of plundered wealth and resource extraction, harrumph about the welfare chiselers, and you can forget about whatever cause got you out of bed that day.
Christianity, though, is a clear, evident target. It seeks to invade and pervade every aspect of life – birth, death, politics, sports, family gatherings, tax policy, and union meetings. And it has no place in any of them. Yet to say so, to try to reclaim some place of rationalism, risks trapping the antitheismist in the default crank role, where opprobrium from the infected believers will mount with in-group fury.
Yes, we do have irrationalism in our nature, but some of us are much more equipped to fend off and block our culture’s more egregious forms of unsupportable, tradition-based nonsense. Not all of it, and we are always open to further suggestion, but through whatever combination of genetics and cultural opportunity, there will be some who are able to risk the outsider status and live in opposition or some dominant insanity.
However, very few refuseniks are able to do so while still seeing the futility of minority resistance. The forces of class-based oppression are triumphant, with near-full ownership of all cultural modes, from advertising to schools to religions. As Eller points out, the Christian form of propaganda has invaded our language along with our basic public actions, and we should always strive to get rid of its premises, its modes of thought, its pestilent, infected invasions of human potential.
Good luck with that, with all the demon obsessions and angel fixations and anti-evolution nonsense spouted routinely across this fair land, but there should also be a rejection of inhumane nihilism. The horrific story of the Harvard-educated misfit who spent all of his post-graduate years researching nihilism, only to shoot himself in front of a Harvard tour group, should caution any of those brave souls who want to embrace the once-universally rejected term of nihilism. This irrational fellow, whatever his insights into meaninglessness or institutional corruption, instigated an act that was barbarous, cruel, and depraved. Those poor people on the tour did not deserve to witness such a traumatic descent into madness. Social nihilism, as a global movement, is for the rights of people to end their lives if they are afflicted with non-resolvable suffering, but not in this way. Where do we go to get the good name of nihilism back?