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Klavan On The Culture

Can Conservatives be Atheists?

June 12th, 2013 - 7:18 am

This PJTV discussion between me and Bill Whittle seems to have inspired a bit of online debate — plus some hate mail for me! What’s interesting is how many people heard me say that no, a conservative couldn’t be an atheist. As opposed to what I did say, which was yes, he could. Easy to get those two confused. And to those who asked whether I’ve ever read Ayn Rand, the answer is also yes, virtually all her major works and many of her minor ones as well. I find her economic ideas — most of which can be found in Frederic Bastiat — very sound. Her moral and aesthetic ideas are absurd. Even the people who believe in them don’t really believe in them.

Anyway, here’s the vid. Decide for yourself. All hate mail should be addressed to Bill. I mean, just look at him!

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All Comments   (5)
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Looks like you struck an identity nerve - I wonder which factor is considered more fundamental? That is, do more people consider themselves atheists with conservative views or conservatives with atheist views?

I'd like to see you guys get down to brass tacks on this with some specific contradictions. There are some great points on the tension between faith and skepticism in this open forum: http://goo.gl/DyzNa

Also, I've always liked how G.K. Chesterton addressed this mindset (in Orthodoxy):

"the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. . . . As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. . . . The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

cheers!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dr John Kekes, a distinguished but not-well-enough known American philosopher of conservatism, is clearly an atheist.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well I'm not a Philistine but I dated Phyllis Steen back in the seventies (bada bum). Mr Klavan, it's a pleasure to read (and hear) your thoughts on politics and art. I don't always agree with everything but it's always a pleasure.

Best regards,
John
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dear Klavan on the Culture. I read through the comments and yes there are a lot of atheists and agnostics who watch you. I thought for the most part they were thoughtful and interesting in their various responses. So the good news is Klavan on the Culture is interesting to all sorts of conservative type folk. I think that's good. Now if you'd asked if someone can be a conservative who doesn't like Game of Thrones, then I think the firestorm would have engulfed you for sure (only kidding, what I really meant was can someone be a conservative if he doesn't like Firefly).

Regards,
John
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
LOL! Well, I suppose it's possible to be a conservative and not like Game of Thrones... but of course you'd be a Philistine!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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