Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Curse of Modernism, Rationality and Atheism

"Modernism and Rationality had its reign at the top and what do we see? School systems failing, suicides increasing, unliveable [sic] inner cities, and to add insult to injury: post-modernism has arrived; everything a product of aethism, [sic] thank you very much. "

This insightful comment was offered up by a religionist who has reached his tolerance level with the evil secularism of the modern world. Satan used to be blamed for the world’s ills, but now it’s this curse of modernism. Atheists are the New Satan.

If only this Christian had himself fallen victim to a touch of rationality maybe he’d have tempered his fervor and looked at things a tad more broadly. The following was my attempt to help him in that endeavor:

Dear Hand Wringing Xtian,

Mississippi is the most religious state in the nation . Over 90% of its citizens have total belief in God. What has their devotion to God and lack of rationalism brought them? Mississippi is blessed with among the highest unemployment, lowest education level, highest crime, highest teen pregnancies and highest poverty rate in the nation. Interestingly New Hampshire is tied for least religious /most secular state in the nation and our ratings in those indices are exactly the opposite of Mississippi's. So much for the postive effects of theism on society

Perhaps you think things are much better in the theocracy of Iran where religious dictators reign supreme, modernism is reviled and atheism is a crime? Or in the Vatican where money laundering and institutionalized child molestation cover-up is rampant; and where denial of the efficacy of condoms is complicit in the deaths of millions in the third world? Or in some African nations where the new Christian zealotry is resulting in modern day witch burnings and the wholesale execution of homosexuals? I don't know, maybe that's your vision of the good life.

I suppose you'd like our society to be the way things were when religion was the predominant force in society -the Dark Ages, the Inquisition and the Crusades. The Church had “its reign at the top” in those days and what was the product of that reign? Church sanctioned anti-Semitism and the propagation of “inner city” ghettos; unbridled genocide; dictatorial control over education, the banning of free thought, death for questioning the inerrent "Truths" of the Church; wholesale murder of innocents who were branded as “heretics” and “witches;” the imprisonment of scientists or threat of same; centuries of religious wars that made today’s jihads and intifada’s look like a day at Disney World.

Without secularism's rational thinking, reason, logic and dedication to reality your life span would still be what it was in the 12th century - and you'd likely be dead by now; or you'd be busy praying to God to save your ass from the wrath of his / Satan’s plagues (i.e. Polio, Leukemia, bacterial infections, draught, pneumonia, et al).

So, here are a a couple of recommendations for you: A) Think before you type, if you are at all capable of such a thing. B) Thank our Founding Fathers' modernism and rationality and the overwhelmingly non-believing scientists for your freedoms, health, comfort, well fed fat ass, relative safety and the fact that 30%- 50% of your offspring will not die in childhood.

Reflect on that then get back to me and let me know how you think modernity compares to life under Pope Urban II and Pope Gregory IX.


superchop said...

I think I just got a secular woody.

Enrico S said...

Well written Hump!

This same Christian probably ignores certain passages in his bible that his modern mind finds offensive or simply to difficult to live up to in today's modern world. He probably goes shopping on the Sabbath, still hasn't sold all he has and given it to the poor nor told his mother and father to kiss off. Why? Because he knows these instructions are simply stupid.

He/She's a christian of convenience not of conviction.

Anonymous said...

Slam dunk.

Geez, that poster seems to imply that being "godless" is a BAD thing. Weird. ;)

GatorApe said...

Another gem Drome -- BRAVO!

As always, it's been quickly passed along to some other folks (read "relatives"!) which means I'll be bogged down in the same old email debates that we have slogged through countless times before. I keep telling myself that one of these times, some actual brain cells may fire away. So far, I am like 0 - 2945 but I must continue to fight the good fight!

Aqueous Transmission said...

Old friend... You cant forget Mississippi is the"Fattest" state as well... damn soul food :P

Dromedary Hump said...

Hey all, thanks for the kind words and your input.

Super: glad this article had that effect on you. I must be doing something right.

Enrico: no doubt. If this guy lived in a Christian theocracy, he'd likely find himself getting stoned...and not in the good way.

Gristle: That poster should be the American Atheist's logo. May not do much for our PR, but it would put the fear of the Lard into those fundies.

Gator: don't stress yourself out trying to convert fundies. Remeber the old adage...doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is a sign of crazy . In this case, they are already crazy...don't let them get to you.

Aque: Thanks, I'll make note of that. The website that gives quality of life ratings seems to have omitted the "gravitational impairment" status off of their report.

Rastifan said...

After reading your letter, I just had to make a short cartoon in honor of it:)

mcygnet said...

I love this blog, but I have a tiny criticism of this post. The religionist says atheism causes a variety of modern problems. Camel responds by saying the reality is precisely the opposite. My criticism is that the reality is a little muddier than this post asserts.

Using Pew's research to determine a state's religiosity, (, one can find fairly negative associations between religiosity and education level (, poverty (, and teen pregnancy (

But I'm not so sure you can directly correlate religiosity and unemployment, despite the obvious association of unemployment with educational level, poverty and teen pregnancy.

Mississippi is undeniably in the top 10 for unemployment (#10), but the relatively secular Oregon, Rhode Island, California and Michigan are even worse:

The crime correlation is also not as strong as this post asserts:( ). Mississippi falls in the middle of the pack at #28, which is better than the second-least- religious state, Alaska, #37. The very religious state of Utah (#2 highest worship attendance and #12 in religiosity overall) has one of the better crime rates, #12.

Of course, general "religiosity" is a pretty imprecise measure. My hunch is that U.S. Baptists probably have a higher crime rate than U.S. Lutherans or Mormons or Jews. "Religiosity" has many variants, some less damaging than others.

Also, the post doesn't address the religionist's claim about suicides, perhaps because there doesn't appear to be any correlation, positive or negative, with religiousity and the recent rise: and

Here's my point: I'm an atheist because I refuse to view the world in the tidy, black-and-white way religionists do. But this post essentially asserts, "it's white" in response to the claim "it's black." That'll pop me a secular woody as surely as a fake-boobed, -air-brushed porn star will pop me the other kind. But both are supranormal stimuli, not sober reality.

I'm not trying to be Buzz Killington or troll. I'm just pointing out some mild overstatements. Thanks for the fantastic work you do, Camel, and keep up the good work.

Dromedary Hump said...


First, my apologies for not posting your comment soon. Both my laptops just got back from repair...virus!!

Your comments are well founded. And indeed if I only picked a single sociological measurement and tried to equate that with the state's religiosity it would be nonsensical. But two things: first, when you take all mof these indices and see a state like Mississippi and other highly religious states at the botom of the barrel when ALL indices are factored, the data cannot be ignored: The more treligious the state the higher the incidence of these negative ratings.

Secondly, remeber the point: if religion were a good thing, a blessinbg, and if God watched out for the faithful one would expect a highly non-religious state would CONSISTENTLY be ranked worse than religious states. That is not on the whole true.

Now, am I saying rleigion causes these things. No. I am saying it doesn't help these things. Iam also saying that theless intelligent and more undereducated people are the higher the propensity toward religiosity and not so coincidently, the higher the negative aspects of life.

Given the choice between living in a secular world ruled by reason, science, modernism, and natural empaty of humans; and living in a society that is beholding to a religious heirarchy, spooks, supernnaturalism... ones existence from both a longevity, safety, advancement and comfort perspective would favor the former, not the later.

NewEnglandBob said...

I've noticed that the ignorant, like this religionist (in his case stupid too) usually get it all backwards. They rarely see how what they do is usually the cause of their problems.