Reasons Sought After the Event

I was reflecting recently on the New Atheism, particularly its strident tone and sense of dogmatic certainty. And I think one of the most important things for people to understand, especially Christians who tend to be intimidated by bullies with PhDs, is that the truth is usually inversely proportionate to the rhetoric. That is, the louder, say, a Dawkins screams "Scientific FACT!" the more likely it is we're not dealing with scientific fact.

There's a whole lot of insecure projection going on. The more the rhetoric says, "Logic!" "Reason!" the more you are witnessing deeply subjective expressions borne out of irrational desire.

Sometimes atheistic philosophers and thinkers actually admit this. You'd be surprised at how often we find out (far too late, of course) that entire dogmatic systems of philosophy are erected simply because a certain fellow had an unhealthy preoccupation with... well, another kind of erection.

Don't believe me? Maybe you'll believe one of the architects of just such a system (i.e., "The Perennial Philosophy"), Aldous Huxley:

"I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning [...] For myself, as no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever."

Further confirmation of my point could be found in Paul Johnson's classic book, Intellectuals.

Now, a note to the inevitable person who really, really wants to misunderstand my point. I am not claiming that all atheists are immoral people. I am observing, along with Friedrich Nietzsche, that the stylings of "objectivity" and "reason" with which the philosophers adorn their systems are usually justifications produced after the conclusion has been embraced, not the other way around.

Nietzsche says it well:

"What makes one regard philosophers half mistrustfully and half mockingly is not that one again and again detects how innocent they are [...] but that they display altogether insufficient honesty [....] They pose as having discovered and attained their real opinions through the self-evolution of a cold, pure, divinely unperturbed dialectic [...] while what happens at bottom is that a prejudice, a notion, an 'inspiration,' generally a desire of the heart sifted and made abstract, is defended by them with reasons sought after the event."

One decides to be an atheist first; he looks for reasons second.

Brian Mattson