Friday, March 14, 2014

We, Too, Are Still Pious

John Gray:

There can be little doubt that Nietzsche is the most important figure in modern atheism, but you would never know it from reading the current crop of unbelievers, who rarely cite his arguments or even mention him. Today’s atheists cultivate a broad ignorance of the history of the ideas they fervently preach, and there are many reasons why they might prefer that the 19th-century German thinker be consigned to the memory hole. With few exceptions, contemporary atheists are earnest and militant liberals. Awkwardly, Nietzsche pointed out that liberal values derive from Jewish and Christian monotheism, and rejected these values for that very reason. There is no basis – whether in logic or history – for the prevailing notion that atheism and liberalism go together. Illustrating this fact, Nietzsche can only be an embarrassment for atheists today. Worse, they can’t help dimly suspecting they embody precisely the kind of pious freethinker that Nietzsche despised and mocked: loud in their mawkish reverence for humanity, and stridently censorious of any criticism of liberal hopes.

Ahahaha, it's almost like Gray's been reading the atheist blogosphere. Obviously, there's been a certain faction of New Atheism who have devoted themselves in recent years to evangelizing for the good news supposed necessary logical connection of godlessness to New Left identity politics, and to whom this passage fits like a comfortable shoe. Here's an amusing blast from the past — I didn't realize the implications at the time, but Adam Lee, whom we last saw making an utter fool out of himself by serving as the hype man for the embarrassing abortion of a media phenomenon known as Atheism+, was already making identitarian noises in this post from four years ago, in which he displayed such a complete ignorance of Nietzsche's philosophy that I was compelled to set aside my usual rule about not commenting at other people's blogs long enough to voice my objection (which went unacknowledged).