http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/new-atheism-anti-muslim-white-supremacy-movement-426032443: Is New Atheism an anti-Muslim, white supremacy movement?
The progressions of the new atheist movement are curiously predictable, but the suspicion of some anti-Islamic bias has always been there due to such issues as Sam Harris’ contradictory stance on Israel (pro, yet this is a most stressful zone for the misuse of a religious idea), along with his take on 9/11: Moslems are blamed for what is almost certainly a false-flag op.
But the question of atheism and Islam won’t go away with charges of bias.
I think that Islam confuses people and one surprising reason is to think theism is a total fanaticism among moslems. In fact, Islamic countries began to move away from their religion in the nineteenth century. Islam has always had a sufi connection, and while I am not familiar with its cultural specifics, it is surely the case that ‘unspoken pantheism, mystic and woolly god ideas’ have made heresy far less explosive than we think. Fanatics coexist with near skeptics, but philosophical once a week theists, at a stroke. Whatever the case, the new atheist movement, like it or not, is having an effect. Christian theology is at many points so confused that if you simply point it out, people who have never heard of Bertrand Russell or secular humanism, and barely know their own religion, suddenly snap out of belief in a disorienting ‘reality shock’. And that’s that. And it often happens from watching Hollywood movies on Jesus. Many find their ‘faith’ surge, and get strenghened, while others suddenly confront the absurdity of special effects miracles, corny religiosity, and differences in plot in different versions that leave their faith devastated, often without their realizing it.
In Islam the situation is different, I am sure. First, the core molsem prayer, There is no god but god, sublates atheism into a non-dual affirmation of theism. One of the most mysteriously clever gestures. It seems to suggest (to me at least) that god ideas are off the mark but there is a larger view of ‘god’ beyond that. Again a profound sentiment given the history of childish theologies.
But beyond that I think that many moslems have moved beyond Islam without becoming heretics, or else standing ready to simply walk away, but with the core of the religion in their back pocket: the religion has done its business and the believer graduates, often into unbelief, with a difference.
In any case the tide of anti-theism is strong and has been so since the seventeenth century. People are propelled by modernity into many new perspectives, only one of them atheism. But the later atheism of the nineteenth century, which gave birth to the new atheism, has often floundered in its own confusions, and this has delayed the exit from churches over and over claimed to be on the increase.
I think a more intelligible exit strategy would be more effective. It is not necessary to decide between theism and atheism. No coherent stance is really possible. You can free people from confused beliefs in god, but the result can be equally confused. I think a horde of millions are already post-theological, and they don’t need to complete that with atheism, which is a hard belief system to replace another. The real endstate is some cousin to our depiction of sufism (how far incorrect I am not sure): foggy god somewhere between Hegelian Frankengeist and the domain of values confronted in the domain of fact, etc…Moslems are far less burdened with theological absurdities and really only have a problem with the out of date ‘sharia’, and much else in a ‘traditionalist legacy’. But the affirmation, ‘there is no god but god’ is already a slip into atheism itself, and a return beyond god/nogod to a dialectical successor. Bald atheism is less effective here: it comes with the package, unstated.
I think that the moslem world is gestating a post-theological culture that will suddenly realize the original onset of modernity’s look in the nineteenth century in moslem cuntries. The culture of Egypt and its sphere were Arab socialists for a whole generation, for crying out loud. It was the US, supposedly ‘secular’, that wrecked all that, with a question mark about the Moslem Brotherhood.
Preaching atheism to most moslems is thus not what one thinks, with major differences in many different places. I should leave it at that for moslems to state the degree of their ‘ex-ness’. But it is always a confusing situation. Some sufis are highly devout and closet fanatics armed with occult menace far more frightening than the jihadist lunatics.
In all of this we should keep in mind the way the US has so raped the cultural situation with its blatant 9/11 smear, and similar tactics of using religion against modernists to propel its imperialism that a new kind of schizophrenia has arisen, in some violence. At some point the latent post-religious mentality will return with a vengeance and instead of atheism it may simply throw the dead weight like sharia law and much else out the window with a shrug on the ‘god’ question.