There is mounting evidence of the growth in western societies of three mind-sets:
narcissism, materialism and atheism
There is no attempt to show evidence for this otherwise empty claim. More’s the pity. I’d like to see it. One might argue that new atheists is evidence, the me generation is evidence and so on but it would have been nice to see a bit more background information on this claim. I think they are way off on the narcissism claim but we’ll get to that in a bit. The right question to ask is how this ‘growth’ in atheism accounts for Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, Frank Sinatra and the billions of non-believers that came before them. That something has become easier to see does not mean it was not always there.
It seems to me that materialism and atheism are twin sides of the same coin, essentially an “I-It” rather than “I-Thou” existentialism according to Martin Buber. I have wondered for some time what causes someone to become a militant-proselytising materialist atheist. After all the implication of their dogma, if true, of is nihilism, depression. No reason, no free-will. Why exist at all. As one atheist puts it – we would simply be the scum on the side of the universe. If that is what they truly believe – then why-oh-why do they want (I ask myself) to convert all others to their cause. It seems to me that Dennet, Dawkins et al have a NEED to convert. What is the psychological well-spring of their neediness?
One might be forgiven for the ‘twin sides of a coin’ metaphor if there was some reasoning to support it. As it is we are left to guess why. The author’s wonderment might be okay as a statement up to the point where they conclude that atheism has dogma and it explicitly implies negative things which are not true except of, perhaps, a very small subset of atheists. They build this into a kind of straw man. The author makes no attempt to understand what they frame as dogma nor explain it. The entire attempt is aimed at a straw man argument and negative toned argument.
I had wondered, looking at Dawkins life, whether it was a kind of Oedipus complex. Kill your father. Even Freud speculated as to that as the need behind atheism. However having read about the epidemic of narcissism I think that this instead is the link or cause for materialist-atheism. I am told that narcissistic behaviour stems from a lack of love, or sense of love during childhood. This leads to an in-turning – deriving love from one-self – and denying the need for or existence of love elsewhere. Is it not possible, even probable then, that this mind-state would need to make itself the centre of all and deny that love elsewhere exists? Aggressively. In order to preserve it’s centred universe.
Now there is a piece of work. Freud also speculated that sexual arousal was a smell oriented response. Hypotheses are good except without evidence. Evidence seems to be a weak point for this author. The Mayo Clinic does not include atheism as part of the symptoms of Narcissistic personality disorder. In fact they define it rather differently. This looks like another straw man. We can’t say who told them the definition they are using. All we can do is say that it conflicts with some of the best information available and that their conclusion is completely off base, wrong, and perhaps childish.
If then the rise of narcissism and materialism/atheism are linked – which is the cause and which the effect? Perhaps neither – and both are a product of some other factor.
Nobody has said they are linked and the author fails to show that they are. In fact, minor research shows this entire post to be a straw man. What this says about the author is up for grabs but I’d be willing to bet that this person is dishonest.
As a post-script – in reading around for this blog I found this from the militant atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett.
“I adopt the apparently dogmatic rule that dualism is to be avoided at all costs. It is not that I think I can give a knock-down proof that dualism, in all its forms, is false or incoherent, but that, given the way that dualism wallows in mystery, accepting dualism is giving up“.
A more complete context of Dennett’s quote is:
Dr. Dennett sets the stage by introducing the means by which he intends to “demystify” the notion of consciousness. His first move is to reject Cartesian Dualism as a matter of principle. It will strike some readers odd that, save for a couple of humorous comic strips and a handful of vague comments regarding the, all too cliché, problem of interaction, he seems entirely uncompelled to provide rigorous argumentation against the Cartesian view. Most, however, will be sympathetic to the fact that it is far more economical in a lengthy work of philosophy to simply pronounce, ex cathedra, the death of an opposing point of view. Such an approach, I might point out, makes the task of promoting one’s own view far easier. To be fair, though, it must be conceded that Dr. Dennett makes several strong assertions about why we should ignore dualistic theories of the mind. He declares that dualism is both unscientific and mysterious. As he states:
[The] fundamentally antiscientific stance of dualism is, to my mind, its most disqualifying feature, and is the reason why in this book I adopt the apparently dogmatic rule that dualism is to be avoided at all costs. It is not that I think I can give a knock-down proof that dualism, in all its forms, is false or incoherent, but that, given the way dualism wallows in mystery, accepting dualism is giving up (37).
Rather than wallow in mystery (and, really, who wants to wallow?), Dr. Dennett proposes a more sensible way—materialism. But not just any form of materialism, a materialism that faces the problem of consciousness realistically; without ignoring the key features of conscious mental states which render them so difficult to account for. The bulk of his book, therefore, is spent attempting to provide a broad materialistic framework by which we might account for all of the features of consciousness.
As we see below, the author is conflating arguments to their own advantage, and unfairly so. Again, I would wager this author is dishonest. The context of the quote makes it very clear what the giving up is about. This author simply quote mines a famous philosopher to confuse matters toward their own favor. This is dishonest.
Giving up? On what? The possibility of God, a reason for existence. Why would that a problem to be avoided or considered? Is the language not that of a narcissist – if you don’t agree with me you must be “wallowing in mystery”.
How depressing that a “philosopher” starts with a dogma of denial and then seeks to justify that with logic. Dogma isn’t philosophy. It’s dogma.
This author has failed to define or explore atheism, narcissism, or the consequences of either. Despite that the author wants the reader to believe that they have done so and that their straw man allows them to rightfully denigrate atheism. It is dishonesty at best. The truth is that atheism is not a world view for if it is then not believing in tooth fairies or santa claus would be world views and that would put the author in the admirable spot of holding three world views at the same time, talented indeed.
I speak for myself as an atheist I do not need a reason for existence, experiencing life is enough. What dogma I have is not related to atheism and is pointed more squarely at wilful ignorance and dishonesty. As a nihilist (a malady they forgot to mention) I do not see any objective purpose to life or any part of it, rather I find meaning in what I want to find it, how I want to find it, and when I want to find it. This does not make me narcissistic, it makes me responsible for my own life. Any theist knows that their god will hold them responsible for their lives but they cannot appreciate that I hold me responsible for my life. Likewise, I hold the author responsible for theirs, a seemingly dishonest life.