Atheism as liberation theology
Continuing my series on the moral arguments for atheism, I now come to the second-to-last item : the moral superiority of atheism in empowering the destitute.
This may seem at first to be incongruous, as liberation theology is always associated with Lovey-Dovey Christianity. How does atheism help the destitute ? I'm sure many atheists believe that only intelligent or moral people are helped by rejecting religion, and that the masses, by and large, should keep the mental comfort they get from religious belief.
I think this is a very myopic perspective. For one thing, if atheism is moral, then it should be moral for everyone, not just certain people, as all human beings of sound mind are on the same moral footing. For another thing, if religion is exploitative of us, then how can it not be exploitative of others ? Do we not live in the same kinds of power relationships all around the world ? There is a maxim which says that happy people have no need of religion. If this is the case, then what use do unhappy people have for it ?
All collectivist belief systems adapt by being able to exploit the masses better than competing belief systems. Religions exploit human beings by imposing amoral and unnatural value systems on them, by making them believe extremely irrational things, by keeping them child-like, by sapping them of resources and taking over political power, by propping themselves up as authorities, in general, by being parasites upon the intellectual work of the individual.
In the past, religions used to exploit the work of its believers by inspiring them to waste incredible amounts of resources to build towering churches. Religion no longer inspires such zeal in the modern world. Yet it still exploits, as long as it persists.
Is individualistic atheism the real "liberation theology" ? I think so. Atheism tells the individual that he should follow his own individual values and control his own life. Atheism tells the individual that religion is a parasite that saps the masses of its strength. Atheism tells the individual that fulfillment - not utilitarian self-destruction - is the natural state of man. That is the essence of liberation.
Individualism in all realms seeks to free the masses from the yoke put upon them from the beginning of civilization. Atheism (and all forms of enlightened self-interest in general) seeks to end religious coercion and elevate individual cooperation as the basis of knowledge. As a market anarchist, I see this ideology as pursuing the same goal : seeking to end government coercion and elevating individual cooperation as the basis of society. Thus these two ideologies, one ontological and one political, together constitute what I see as the full "liberation theology" that can ensure the freedom of mankind for good.