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I So Look Forward To The Coming "jesus Who?" Era!


AZCryonicist
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And it can't get here fast enough to suit me.

 

I mean, some European intellectuals foresaw this as a possibility in the mid 18th Century, according to Philipp Blom's book, A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Company-Forgotten-Radicalism-Enlightenment/dp/0465014534

 

In the introduction Blom writes about the Baron d'Holbach, probably the most important atheist you've never heard of, along with his friend Denis Diderot and other mostly French philosophes who conspired to change the culture in a materialistic, atheistic direction:

 

 

http://www.philipp-blom.eu/Downloads/INTRODUCTION%20-%20A%20Wicked%20Company.pdf

 

 

 

 

Walking through the streets of Paris, I wanted to visit the places they had

known, the houses in which they had lived, and especially the house at which

Holbach had held his then-legendary salon. The circle of friends around

Baron Holbach and his close friend and collaborator Diderot remains a kind

of phantom ship in the history of philosophy to which rumors and legends

have attached themselves like barnacles. Its members were part of a vast conspiracy

that planned the French Revolution under the guise of debating questions

of economics, some said; they were operating a factory for illegal books,

which were written, revised, and disseminated by the thousands to bring down

the monarchy, others believed. Most of their contemporaries agreed that Holbach

and his cohorts were vile atheists who should be burned at the stake.

Sometimes historical reality is more rewarding and more exciting than even

legend. Baron Holbach’s salon and its principal protagonists did ferment revolutionary

ideas, but it was more than a mere political revolution they were

thinking about; they did write and publish subversive books, but they wanted

to bring down something infinitely more vast than the monarchy or even the

Catholic Church. The vision they discussed around the baron’s dinner table

was one in which women and men would no longer be oppressed by the fear

and ignorance instilled by religion but could instead live their lives to the full.

Instead of sacrificing their desires to the vain hope of reward in the afterlife,

they would be able to walk freely, to understand their place in the universe as

intelligent machines of flesh and blood and pour their energies into building

individual lives and communities based on their inheritance of desire, empathy,

and reason. Desire, erotic and otherwise, would make their world beautiful

and rich; empathy would make it kind and livable; reason would allow an understanding

 

of the world’s immutable laws.

 

Before this paradisiacal and remote vision could be reached, the enemies

of reason and of desire had to be defeated. The church condemned desire as

lust and reason as pride—mortal sins both—and perverted empathy into the

practice of making people suffer now so that they could reap rewards after

their death. The Enlightenment radicals saw it as their duty to convince their

contemporaries that there is no life after death, no God and no Providence,

no divine plan, but only a physical world of life and death and the struggle to

survive—a world of ignorant necessity and without higher meaning, into

which kindness and lust can inject a fleeting beauty. During the eighteenth

century, when such thoughts were regarded as heretical and punishable by

death, defending these ideas was a truly herculean challenge. . .

 

 

The friends’ evolutionist conception of nature and of humanity had momentous

consequences. Without a Creator who had revealed his will to his

creatures through the Bible, ideas of good and evil had to be rethought. In

the brave new world envisaged by Diderot, Holbach, and their like-minded

friends, there was suddenly no sin anymore and no reward or punishment in

the afterlife; instead, there was only the search for pleasure and the fear of

pain. Diderot and friends went further than traditional philosophy, which

considered human beings as inherently rational and reason, being the closest

approximation of the divine accessible to humans, the supreme faculty. Therefore,

 

other Enlightenment philosophers replicated the Christian disdain for

the passions and based their ideas about a better future for humanity on an

exclusively rationalist utopia in which there was little space for irrational impulses

such as passion, instinct, or the yearning for beauty.

 

The radicals argued that human nature was exactly the opposite. Nature

expressed itself through individuals in the form of strong and blind passions,

the real driving forces of existence. They could be directed by reason much as

the sails of a ship may allow sailors to navigate the storms, the waves and currents

of a mighty ocean. Nevertheless, reason is always secondary, always

weaker than the basic reality of passion.

 

Religious critics threw up their hands in horror. All this was nothing but a

license for wickedness and debauchery, they wrote. Without God’s law, there

was no goodness in the world; without divine reason, there was no reason to

exist. But the Enlightenment radicals had a clear answer to these charges.

Their morality was not one of wild orgies, unrestrained greed, and heedless

indulgence, but of a society based on mutual respect, without masters and

slaves, without oppressors and oppressed.

 

In other words, these visionaries wanted to create a "Jesus who?" world where people have forgotten how to think like christians. We've let christians propagandize the culture for 2,000 years with what they think "atheism" means, including their nonsense about our despair, hopelessness, nihilism, etc., though somehow they have also worked in their lurid fantasies about our swinging sex lives, as Blom alludes to. Of course, in the real world, despondent people usually don't display much interest in sex, but that hasn't stopped christians from wanting their stereotype about atheists to incorporate contradictory beliefs. We have an excellent historical opportunity to disregard this christian propaganda and create a godless society more along the lines of what the Holbachians had in mind, and fortunately the empirical evidence supports our view of the consequences of atheism while making the christian beliefs about it sound increasingly foolish.

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