The War of Morality
The facts surrounding disbelief were available to all for centuries. The Ancient Greeks knew the Problem of Evil. Thomas Paine wrote about the errors of the Bible. The contradictions inherent in the divine nature given to us by the Church have been pointed out for a long time by atheologians. Neo-Darwinism and Big Bang Theory have blown the beliefs about Creation wide open. While the mythicist case against "Jesus" has recently exploded, it is not new.
Given the fact that all these are well-known ideas, why do none of them, except perhaps the Problem of Evil, make any inroads in people's thinking ? Why is atheism still the "odd man out" and singled out as undesirable ?
There are many reasons for that, but I think the main reason is simple. Christianity is believed morally superior, and atheism is believed to be morally inferior. Christians are glorified and atheists are demonized.
Anyone who truly believes that his belief system is the only good one, will reject any other argument of knowledge against it. Morality is what runs the world. People devote themselves to evil causes because they honestly believe they are doing good work. Positions with zero facts supporting them attract people simply because they were bamboozled into believing that the position is good.
And most atheists are too busy explaining facts endlessly to realize that. Atheists make the case again and again that Christianity is irrational, but not that it is immoral or that belief is immoral. In fact, they try to suppress attempts by other atheists to point out that fact, because they want to be "tolerent". As I said in a previous entry, tolerence is a fine idea in a rational society, but leaves one defenseless against extreme immorality.
Now look at Ingersoll. He was the most admired atheist in history, and he did not hesitate to rail against the immorality of Christianity. He was a man with the bravery to state the facts, and he got people's attention. The idea of such bravery today, in the United States anyway, is incredible. If Ingersoll lived today and gave public speeches like he did, atheists today would complain about him, just like atheists complain about Dawkins.
The closest I can think of, in the United States, is Sam Harris and his book The End of Faith. We need more Sam Harrises.
People did not argue for science on the basis that it would improve agriculture by this or that percent, or produce this many books. They argued for the scientific method on the basis that it was the only good way to know reality. People who promoted the Enlightenment invoked moral and epistemic principles, not practicalities. They had a vision of a knowable, mechanistic universe, and that man should strive to understand it, to make his present and future better.
Abolitionists did not propose that abolishing slavery would help the economy by this much or that much, or that black people would be better off by this or that percentage. They shouted from the lectern and the newspapers that SLAVERY IS EVIL ! They needed no other evidence. To those who understand that slavery is immoral, no other evidence is needed - to those who refuse to understand it, no evidence can be given.
Christians have no facts to back them up, but they do not need any. Explicit atheism has failed and will continue to fail, because Christians have bamboozled people into believing that Christianity is good, that Christianity is hopeful, that Christianity is comforting - that Christianity is morally superior. And to this what does the atheist reply ? "Believe if you wish !". A lame reply.
The fact is that there are plenty of practical atheists out there ("practical atheist" being someone who shares our values, regardless of religion). Only two-thirds to three-fourth of Christians profess being committed to Christian morality at all. The other third does not value religion as important, does not go to Church, does not preach hatred, does not commit crimes, and acts as morally responsible people. We should be out there telling those Christians to get rid of their absurd and cruel belief system, and join our side. Why aren't we doing this ?
Christianity is historically one of the most destructive belief systems, it is a bleak nihilistic worldview, it trivializes the most horrible suffering, it is founded on sacrifice, blood, suffering, genocide, death, and the most total injustice, and Christians are in practice less moral than atheists. Those are the plain facts that any atheist should hold close at heart and use in reply. That is what would win the War of Morality for our side.
I have written about many other points in this vein, including how Christian morality is infantile, the tension between Christian morality and modern values, how Christian morality contradicts basic moral assumptions, and how Christian morality is just a variant of "might makes right" (also here). Topics on which I have entries coming very soon include : the many ways in which Christianity promotes irresponsibility, the Problem of Evil (reformulated to be more powerful), and the Christian denial of free will. Other lines of argument that can be used, and about which I will write later on, are : the immorality of belief, the immorality of collectivism (for example, through lack of accountability), the fact that Christians are only moral by imitating atheists, and the moral superiority of atheism in empowering the destitute.
This is an entire arsenal of moral arguments, from the simple to the complex, and altogether enough for many debates with little repetition. And all of them serve to drive home the basic point that Christianity is immoral. Talking morality is the only way we will conquer people's hearts and minds. Let's get started ! Write a post on your blog about the immorality of religion, any of the above topics, or write from personal experience, or make your own topic. Start challenging Christians on their moral premises, instead of letting them slide. Be more intolerent towards their rhetoric and treat it like the amoral, anti-intellectual crap that it is. The worst it can do is make you feel better.