Foto Peter Knutson

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Just read this well written and thoughtful essay by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She describes her development from cultural Muslim to devout Muslim, to atheist and now to a person who embraces Christianity, at least as a cultural force. In her arguments in the essay, she somehow resembles the professor of history Tom Holland (who I think would describe himself as a secular humanist), that I also admire.

Full disclosure: I am her Swedish publisher and Ayaan is an intellectual acquaintance that I admire. That’s why a am her publisher.

I think she is absolutely right that atheism has nothing to offer when it comes to values and tradition. Atheism is an empty concept. It doesn’t reveal anything about what you believe or what values you hold. Atheism only tells you one thing; You don’t believe in anything that it would be reasonable to call “god”. So, from that follows: An atheist might believe in ghosts, astrology, liberalism, communism, human rights or not, tarot card readings, homeopathy etc etc. There is no more to the concept.

So, let’s agree that atheism is quite useless. The concept tells you what you don’t believe in (in just one simple instance) but nothing about what you actually believe in.

So therefore, I never call myself an atheist. I am a secular humanist. That is the name of a complete life stance, or in more technical terms, a worldview that holds a fairly complete ontology and epistemology (I say “fairly” because quantum physics still leave some mysteries to be solved), that means a view of what exists and a view of what is a solid ground for knowledge. 

It also holds a normative dimension, of human rights and what follows from that. The ontology is, very briefly, naturalistic. The world is governed by natural laws, not supernatural. That excludes theistic concepts of god, there is no god that has personal agency or intentions. 

So, a secular humanist is also an atheist, but an atheist is not at all necessarily a secular humanist.

So back to Ayaan’s essay. She clearly says that the atheism she came to, in the process of leaving a fundamentalist Islam, is not necessary to uphold the value system that she thinks is necessary to stand up against Islamism and radical woke identity politics ideas. 

I completely agree. Atheism doesn’t hold up to anything. Except of course the opposition to the delusion that there are moral dogmas imposed on us from a theistic and quite narcissistic universal creator that requires love and devotion from humanity. (don’t worry, I know that there are a million other concepts of god that is much more likable, but unfortunately this concept is quite common. I think Ayaan would agree).

So, I agree that atheism can never be the answer to the problems Ayaan raise in her essay. It has nothing to offer. 

But then we disagree. She argues that Christianity is the worldview that does have something to offer as a opposing force to radical woke, nihilism and Islamism. 

My answer is: Yes, it has, in its very liberal flavours. It has a lot of things to contribute in those forms. But Christianity has other flavours as well, unfortunately in its majorities. Asking for death penalty for homosexuals in Uganda, extreme anti-abortion views in Poland or America, witch hunt in Nigeria, anti-condom use in some catholic countries, the list can be very long.

So, my answer to Ayaan is this: The answer to your quest of value system is not atheism (it has none) but the answer is Secular Humanism.

And I know that you know what that value system consists of, you came to know Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins, and I am proud to be the publisher of all five of you.

And finally, to support your promotion of Christian values in the west, I want you to know that the European secular humanist movement work closely together with the organisation “Catholics for a free choice” in the European parliament, a catholic organisation that promotes women’s rights and abortion rights in opposition with the catholic church’s public standpoint.

So the secular humanism share many values with your view of the Judaeo-Christian value system that has manifested in the liberal form in todays western culture. I stand with secular humanism and let’s work together!

Mitt nyhetsbrev

Här kan du anmäla dig till mitt nyhetsbrev. Ange din e-postadress:

Under läslampan just nu

Livets kod

För första gången i mänsklighetens historia kan vi nu gå in i våra gener och ändra i deras sammansättning. För sin upptäckt av gensaxen CRISPR belönades biokemiforskaren Jennifer Doudna med ... [Läs mer]


Senaste kommentarerna