What I will never understand is the inability to properly generalize. How can someone independent and courageous enough to remove herself from the most dangerous, mindless religion on Earth not see the exact same traits in the Christian religion?

Expand full comment

Don, I posted these comments on your previous article, but will repeat them here for others to see. These were my most immediate reaction to Ali's article:

"But we can't fight off these formidable forces unless we can answer the question: what is it that unites us? The response that "God is dead!" seems insufficient. So, too, does the attempt to find solace in "the rules-based liberal international order". The only credible answer, I believe, lies in our desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition."

Well, it saddens me that Ayaan Hirsi Ali was apparently not exposed to a broader understanding of rational individualism with its respect for facts and reason as the core principle guiding self-actualization. I disagree that western culture is built upon Judeo-Christian tradition although much of our civilization was built in parallel with it. It was rationality that created the west -- and history, when dominated by Judeo-Christian rule, demonstrates that in spades.

"I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable -- indeed very nearly self-destructive. Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?"

I suspect that this describes a great many people who embrace religion. For me, it shows a lack of imagination in the possibilities of a self-actualized life. It is absolutely true that atheism has nothing positive to say about anything -- it is merely a position reflecting the acceptance of a fact of reality. A self-made man is one who asserts and pursues their own purpose. It is an abdication of that great opportunity to seek to find one's "purpose" defined by others and external to oneself.

"When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything."

Not the rational man who grounds his thoughts and values in the facts of reality.

At the end of the day, there can never be unity between the rational and the irrational and I'm afraid the attempt to seek that is doomed to failure.

Expand full comment

Ali should know better than to think that atheism is anything more than "I do not see evidence for a god."

Expand full comment

Thanks Don!

I'm thankful you are writing on this important topic. Having been raised religious I wrestled with the contradictions and definitely had the self-doubt/nervous confidence and damn sure didn't have the philosophy/psychology I have now. What an act of justice it would be to raise a child with reason, purpose, and self-esteem.

Most? of us, (pure numbers game and "the way we've always done it), are raised religious.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali who was raised religious kept the Epistemology of "faith and feeling and believing"- growing up she had faith in Islam, then of course NO faith IN Islam, then faith in Christianity. And her Ethics are the same - For god, For Others, and the same Metaphysics - Good v Evil, my team good, other team evil. She'll might even come up with a new religion by mixing in all she's been through. It's why we've got over 4,000 religions and counting.

The contradictions in a child and teen mind, and then adult mind, when we are "raised religious" are sure to produce a junk heap. I know they did in me.

“As a human being, you have no choice about the fact that you need a philosophy. Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation - or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self-doubt,

Like a ball and chain in the place where your mind's wings should have grown.”

― ayn rand

The philosophy and psychology when we are "raised religious" ... and the data says most of us are definitely getting this messaging as we develop as children, then teens then into young adulthood.




Religion Is Child Mind Abuse (coming soon)

Destroying Faith to Make Room For Reason. (coming 2024)

Expand full comment

> The Enlightenment made Jesus bend the knee before reason.

The Enlightenment broke the intellectual back of Jesus, a much better metaphor.

> Jordan Peterson claims another scalp

An outrageously great metaphor!

Expand full comment

If faith & submission to the will of others is the standard then Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a passionate & brave pursuer, is headed, logically & unfortunately, straight back to where she escaped from.

Expand full comment
Dec 10, 2023·edited Dec 10, 2023

Gosh Don, the way you think is so destructive, puerile and corrupt it leaves me aghast. I solemnly wonder what caused you to think in such a misguided way.

Expand full comment

Your premise is correct but is not incompatible with the Christian as the path to the Way. Ayn Rand was correct in some of her ideas and those align with Christianity. The Christian church as a whole has gotten far off course, but the teaching of Jesus aligns with much of what you have articulated. Joy comes in creation. When we focus our attention of that we create, whatever "that" might be, we derive great satisfaction. And the word you are searching for is joy. When we focus our attention on our creations, our joy and satisfaction increase.

Dorothy Sayers discusses this in some of her books. While we may reject the religion of Christianity, we cannot reject the teachings of Christ. Because his teachings may have been twisted and warped by the world does not make them wrong. I do think religious institutions are capable of getting it right, and some individual Christians do. I think the underlying teachings are correct and retrievable. I might be wrong.

Expand full comment

Great article Don, thanks for writing it.

I didn't realize that there was a perception of new atheists challenging Christian morality. That view is not in line with my own work in the area. We tend to reject the concept of atheist leadership, so the notion that someone needs to step up may be more impactful to a person who refuses to embrace reason on it's own merit and instead looks to charismatic figures to tell them how to act. Any atheist "leader" who appears to be an atheist "leader" is unlikely to have the support of all atheists as many tend to reject that concept. As such, I can't see how looking for any one person to fill this role you've decided needs filling will actually go. Atheism and secular humanism stand up to reason and logic, "critical thought" is the leader that I think we're looking for.

This brings up an interesting question: Is humanity incapable of escaping the grasp of religious dogma without a charismatic leader to guide the masses, who are often swayed by such figures?

My own article about Ayaan's shameful conversion was posted here 2 days ago, and it's worth noting I did in fact talk about secular humanism, and I proudly have been a part of the new atheist movement.


Brian Sapient


Expand full comment

The New Atheism, and post-Cold War secularism in general, didn't fail to oppose religious morality - it did so quite trenchantly. It failed to oppose capitalism's destructive effects on the lives of ordinary people. It attributed all social ill to religiosity while capitulating to the actual domination of the many by the few.

People have flocked back to reactionary, anti-modern ideologies because the secular consensus tells them that Enlightenment entails a competitive "meritocracy" that in fact subjects most to lives of desperation and indignity. God simply cares more than the market does.

If you want people not to stop believing hoary supernatural fantasies, then secular civil society needs to be made a fit place for humans. It is not, and the secular left has abdicated its historical mission to realise freedom for the masses.

Expand full comment

I am a Hindu but I can see why someone from an Abrahamic faith might want to join another Abrahamic faith. Read Wilde's The Soul of Man under Socialism or the part of De Profundis that is about Christ to understand something of Christ's attraction (Wilde said there were Christians before Christ but none after).

Expand full comment