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It’s time to say YES to Islam, Christianity or Atheism?

October 2, 2015

The other day I saw a fascinating post Atheist Alliance International shared on their Facebook page. They shared this image with the message, ‘Holy flying spaghetti monster’s meatballs…. What a twit!!!’

Islam

The tweet is by British Muslim activist, Anjem Choudary. It stimulated a lot of responses (and shares) on the Facebook page. Some suggested that it was a fake tweet, but it was not. Here is the original tweet, posted on 25th June 2015.

Choudary was clearly saying it’s time to say ‘YES’ to Islam.

I was fascinated by two responses developed by two atheists on the AAI Facebook page. One here (with 160 likes) saying it’s time to say YES to Christianity, where Christianity denies democracy, freedom, human rights and the UN.

Not Christianity

And another following that one (with 52 likes) which says that it’s time to say YES to atheism, which says yes to democracy, freedom etc.

Yes atheism

This was a fascinating collection of ideas. And, of course, being memes are meant to be provocative. Yet I was intrigued by the contrast between two responses that it is considered that Christianity is opposed to democracy and freedom, whereas atheism is.

This is a slightly puzzling assessment of atheism – I thought atheism was the rejection of god claims. I didn’t realise that atheism made any ‘positive’ claims about the world. This author has unwittingly proposed atheism as being a quasi ‘religion’. Perhaps it might be more correct to say YES to Secular Humanism?

But the other question that was raised in my mind, was, where does ‘atheism’ say YES to democracy, freedom, human rights, secularism, the UN etc? This is an important question because there is no natural connection between atheism and these things (which we take for granted as being good in the modern world). It reeks a little of special pleading to suggest that atheism will lead to this.

An atheists assessment

In fact this confidence in atheism also seems to contradict the historical link between these things (democracy etc) and Christianity. As atheist philosopher Jürgen Habermas made in his assessment about the origin of democracy etc. He highlights the inescapable historical fact that the biblical faith has had a profound influence in shaping civilization 

“Christianity has functioned for the normative self-understanding of modernity as more than just a precursor or a catalyst. Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and a social solidarity, of an autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights, and democracy, is the direct heir to the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love.  This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation.  To this day, there is no alternative to it.  And in light of current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage.  Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.”

So Habermas’ brutal assessment is that the third ‘tweet’ saying YES to democracy and atheism is simply ‘idle postmodern talk’.

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