Who are the Enlightenmenati, and what do they really want? As we continue in Chapter 4 of The Irrational Atheist, we see that these insidious infiltrators are not content with parasitizing America’s Christian moral values. They’re out to take over the world!
Based solely on their theoretical reasoning, the New Atheists declare that it should be the goal of all scientists, indeed, all rational thinkers, to bring peace and harmony to the world of men. They don’t declare this in a succinct or straightforward manner, they don’t even lay out their case in a coherent manner, but this is the only conclusion that can rationally be derived from their cumulative premises, logic, and stated goals. It is unclear why none of them are able to come out and state this clearly, but there are a number of possible explanations.
Three guesses whether any of these “possible explanations” acknowledge any kind of intelligence or competence on the part of the New Atheists.
“Possible explanation” number one is that they’re too incompetent to express what they really mean. Number two is that they might embrace the faulty belief that science leads to specific moral conclusions. And number three is that they’re deliberately trying to deceive us. Now, you may recall from the end of Chapter 2 that Richard Dawkins once recited a list in which science came last, and Vox concluded that because it was last, it was therefore the least significant. In this case, however, Vox himself has given us a good example of why that’s not a safe bet, because he considers Explanation Number Three to be the most likely. His goal, remember, is to discredit atheists so that people can feel good about dismissing their books unread. A good way to do that is to paint them as dishonest and deceptive, and he even invokes noted atheistic scientist Richard Feynmann to help him.
Feynman believed that it was the responsibility of scientists to proclaim the value of intellectual freedom, to support open discussion and criticism, and to welcome doubt, not suppress it…
The New Atheists harbor no similar dedication to open discussion, let alone criticism. To them, science is but a means to a specific end, something to be prostituted in order to sell the secularist Enlightenment morality that they see in competition with the Christian faith… Dawkins is the worst offender—his prickly reaction to criticism is not to address it, not to discuss it, but to disdainfully dismiss it, unread.
Unfortunately, Vox declines to describe exactly how he is able to spy on Dawkins in such minute detail as to be able to know precisely what he has and has not read. Then again, he says he’s giving away his book for free because he’s financially well-off enough not to need the profits, so perhaps he has already shared this technology with the CIA and NSA. But the main point is that Dawkins and company are trying to suppress discussion and criticism, which is why you can post whatever you like in the forums on richarddawkins.net, but if you go to a “dissenting” site, like the Discovery Institute’s Intelligent Design the Future, critical comments are not only expunged, but commenting is usually disabled completely. (We might also mention the carefully-orchestrated “press conference” held by promoters of the anti-establishment film Expelled—however, the producers have explicitly not authorized any such mentions, so perhaps we should skip it.)
In any case, Vox claims that Dawkins never responds to any of his critics (a contention that is much easier to sell once you’ve convinced people to dismiss Dawkins unread) and is trying to suppress doubt instead of confronting actual evidence. And he makes this claim in a book that attacks atheist arguments while explicitly and deliberately ignoring the issue of whether or not God actually exists! Throw away your vitamins, folks, there’s a lifetime supply of irony in just that one paragraph.
Meanwhile, back to the evil conspiracy.
While their attacks are theoretically directed against all religions, they betray their focus for the main object of their hatred in both their language and the examples they choose. For all that he was supposedly inspired to write The End of Faith by the jihadist 9/11 attacks, Sam Harris will never write “Letter to an Islamic Nation” and Christopher Hitchens expends more of his bilious vitriol on one dead Catholic nun than he does attacking the entire Hindu pantheon worshipped by one billion individuals around the world.
Funny, he doesn’t accuse Hitchens of failing to condemn Islam. Wonder why that is? Oh well, at least we know that the Enlightenmenati are really out to destroy all that is good and true and decent (i.e. Christianity, in case you hadn’t guessed). And their secret goal is to replace it with a shady, occult “morality” that, naturally enough, they’re keeping well out of sight.
So what, specifically, is this morality? Because it is never described in its entirety, it is necessary for us to piece it together from the hints sprinkled throughout the atheist canon. We know that Christianity stands in its way, courtesy of Bertrand Russell… And we know that it is in opposition to even the most moderate forms of religious faith, thanks to Sam Harris.
Remember, Vox conceives of morality in terms of a written list of specific do’s and don’ts. The idea of a principle-based morality, where you decide right and wrong based on evaluating the consequences of a particular action, is just so much gibberish to him.
For a system of morals and ethics, Harris offers nothing more concrete than half-baked utilitarianism in declaring that morality is merely a recipe for maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering.
Apparently, “half-baked” means it hasn’t been reduced to a canonized list of specific do’s and don’ts. Otherwise, it’s hard to see what’s wrong with making moral decisions based on maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering. Of course, the idea could be developed and expounded more fully, but don’t expect Vox to step up to the plate for that one. He’s much happier with Hitchens, because Hitchens offers a specific written list. To Vox’s mind, that at least is some kind of actual morality. Though not necessarily a morality Vox approves of.
Despite his grand eloquence and enlightened posturing, Hitchens is almost indistinguishable from a conventional Low Church atheist, who is content to dwell as a moral parasite on traditional Christian morality except when he wants to get laid without feeling guilty or catching a venereal disease.
Remember, Vox just got done claiming that Dawkins avoids addressing criticisms by simply insulting his critics.
We come at last to the real founders and leaders of this vast conspiracy, this evil religious organization of which Dawkins &. Co. are only the front line.
Both Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, on the other hand, are not looking for a New Enlightenment as they are still pledged to the old one. While it’s absolutely true that atheism is not a religion, most High Church atheists subscribe to a specific denomination of the Enlightenment faith known as humanism.
Ah, humanism, the old bugaboo of the Moral Majority back in the days before “Darwinist” became the tag-du-jour. Yes, the real leaders of the Enlightenmenati are those nasty evil old humanists. Of course, some might say that humanism and Enlightenment are virtually synonymous, so perhaps we haven’t discovered that much after all. One thing for sure, though: the Enlightenment is an evil conspiracy out to destroy everything that is good.
The original Enlightenment led directly to the French Revolution, and only 349 days after the citoyens sans-culottes established the French Republic, the bloody Reign of Terror began… Like a lethal virus transmitted from corpse to living carrier, Enlightenment ideals survived the collapse of the First Republic and were preserved by utopian socialists such as de Rouvroy, Fourier, and Cabet… Twenty-three years after De Rouvroy’s death, Marx and Engels put a scientific spin on their socialism, which inspired the Russian Revolution of 1919 and all of the humane joys inherent in seventy years of Communist rule.
(Gee, how many pages has it been since Vox was telling us how well the Chinese did after throwing away science and reverting to a more primitive culture?)
So the evil Enlightenmenati gorged itself on French blood for a few years, then infected Russia with Communism. But even that was not enough. Now all of Europe is falling under their malignant sway.
Although the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 briefly left the enlightened humanists of the world without a state to call their own, that was soon remedied by the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, which established the European Union as a political entity dedicated to Enlightenment ideals…
A united Europe, of course, is only a small step in a bigger plan to establish a One World Government, as any Rapture-minded Christian can tell you, so naturally the European Union is a Bad Thing. Just look at their Convention of Human Rights.
The Convention is a cornucopia of Enlightenment rights, including the right to life, the prohibition of slavery, the right to liberty and security, the right to freedom of expression, and so forth. Unfortunately, these rights come with strict caveats that leave holes in these theoretical protections large enough to drive a truck through . . . Nor do they come as unalienable rights endowed by a Creator, but are merely notional rights granted by the forty-seven signatory governments which belong to the Council of Europe, subject to the political and legal processes of those governments.
Now, I’ve noticed something a little odd about how Vox deals with the Enlightenment. He never mentions that the Enlightenment was a broad cultural phenomenon that involved religion as well secular life. The notion that “all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” is an Enlightenment ideal, a mixture of the new-found optimism of humanism with the old-school foundation of divine dispensation. As often as Vox mentions the connection between the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, he never mentions its connection with the American Revolution, or with the ideals embodied in the U. S. Constitution. The Gettysburg Address refers to America as a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Liberty? Equality? Fraternity? That’s the Enlightenment motto of the French Revolution! Oh noes, Lincoln was one of Them!
But if Lincoln was one of the Enlightenmenati, we might be justified in concluding that Vox himself is one too.
The multiple references to the need for a democratic society to limit human rights is particularly ironic, as for all its democratic pretensions, European integration has been pushed inexorably forward without the democratic consent of many of Europe’s peoples.
Vox says that like it’s a bad thing—and it is, because it runs contrary to genuine Enlightenment ideals. Read Ed Brayton’s blog, for instance, and you’ll find that there is plenty of concern about whether the Post-Christian nations of Europe aren’t taking things a bit over the top with their excessive protections for religious opinions.
But it’s interesting that Vox seems to share the same Enlightenment values against which the European situation measures up as “bad.” The traditional Christian social structure, which he describes as having been “carefully excised” from the Convention, was built on the idea of the divine right of kings, as in Romans 12. Leaders doing whatever they like and expecting the people to just submit—that’s the way things were supposed to be. God made them king, and not you, and therefore there must be a good reason for whatever they do, so just obey and shut up. Vox ought to approve of how the European Union is progressing. Unless…unless…
Unless he’s secretly a member of the Enlightenmenati himself.
Ooo, that would be devious, wouldn’t it? Sure, he says he’s opposed to the New Atheists, but after all, these Enlightenmenati guys are dishonest deceivers, right? Maybe he’s in on the plot, pretending to attack the New Atheists in order to persuade people that the threat has been “dealt with” and they can go back to complacent ignorance again. That would be just like a sneaky, diabolical conspiracy, wouldn’t it.
Beware, beware, conspiracies are everywhere,
They’re in your house, they’re in your chair,
They’re even in your underwear…
[W]hat is the ultimate goal of the religion of reason? … It is not the end of faith that is the ultimate goal, this is merely a necessary prerequisite to the economic, cultural, and moral integration required for establishing the world government that the devotees of Reason hope will bring a permanent end to war.