Rational Response Squad reply I

My complete response to Kelly’s initial broadside is posted on the TIA forum. Feel free to comment either here or there. Here’s a snippet:

Day starts his list of the evils of atheism by blaming the philosophers of the Enlightenment era for paving the way for “the murderous excesses of the French Revolution and dozens of other massacres in the name of human progress,” which I find to be amusing given that were it not for such revolutions, we would still be living in feudal societies and caste systems quite antithetical to his own libertarian ideals. I wonder where he got those ideas regarding man’s free will and right to exercise it. Could it be…the Enlightenment? The irony is almost overwhelming. This is a point he brings up often. The philosophers of the time certainly did effect the populace, but not by advocating war or revolution. Senseless killing is certainly not rational, nor is being swept away in nationalistic fervor. If waking people up to the reality of their circumstance by giving them a vision of hope for a better tomorrow is a crime, it is one that should be committed more often. The people of the Enlightenment era were simply alerted to the fact that, to paraphrase Rousseau, despite being born free, they were “everywhere in chains.” The people reacted to this knowledge with revolution, and violence is an unfortunate byproduct of the overthrow of established regimes. If these things had not taken place, there would be no United States of America, no democracy, and certainly no libertarianism. Vox Day himself could be similarly vilified by the benefactors of his philosophy for espousing such views, assuming we lived in a world where the Enlightenment had never occurred.

As with the five atheists analyzed in TIA, history is not Kelly’s strong point. Feudalism and caste systems were not ended by the Enlightenment, indeed, the former is largely a fictional concept of medieval governmental structure popularized by Montesquieu in the 18th century and is as historically dubious as the long-discredited concept of “the Dark Ages”. The caste system never existed in Christendom and it still exists today in a number of Asian countries. Kelly’s statement about free will reveals a shocking ignorance of the concept, as it is not an Enlightenment idea in any way, shape, or form, it is a Christian one. In fact, its very existence is denied today by New Enlightenment thinkers such as Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett. Were she even slightly familiar with Christian philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas, or Augustine, or Enlightenment philosophers such as Voltaire, she’d realize that she is, in a very Harrisian manner, demonstrating the precise opposite of what she wishes to prove. The Enlightenment free will of Hume and Rousseau is holdover from the Christian traditions of their Christian societies, it was far from a new concept. Democracy predated the Enlightenment by literal millenia, and the statement that “senseless killing is certainly not rational” is a meaningless tautology that says nothing about the fact that most of the mass killing committed by atheist revolutionaries is perfectly rational given their stated goals of remaking human society according to the precepts of their new and shinier morality.