It is notable that the internet has produced an interesting subculture of atheism, the members of which possess a pride in their vaunted rationality that is paralleled only by their singular lack of willingness to engage in genuine dialogue. Many proud peddlers of tumblr atheism and r/atheism concern themselves primarily with making image macros of their favorite demagogues and posting screen capped mockeries of facebook stati, while the more astute among them claim that the enlightened modern atheist is the only individual who can do good acts eo ipso, and not out of fear of divine retribution.
So I’ve decided to occupy myself with the task, however futile it may be, of pointing out to one or two of these cultured despisers the actual hopelessness of their position.
My word choice here is extremely intentional. I do not seek to show that the atheistic position is false; such an argument may perhaps be made, but that isn’t the present goal. The goal is to show that the atheistic position, as apparently practiced, is fundamentally irrational. The atheistic position is hopeless, as hopeless a position as humanity has ever invented, for the simple reason that within an atheistic framework ,”hope” as such is an empty word. It carries no meaning other than as a label for a human emotion that ultimately reduces to chemical reactions in the brain.
Furthermore, the atheistic position is one that holds that all that we take to be personal—emotions, moral precepts, ideas, identity—all of it reduces entirely to the impersonal; i.e., chemical reactions, evolutionary morality, physical constants, etc.
The thoughtful atheist will likely agree with the above paragraph, but it leaves him in a bit of a bind. If all that we take to be personal reduces ultimately to the impersonal, humans are indeed systems for “converting dust billions of years ago into dust billions of years from now”, as XKCD creator Randall Munroe observed.
The atheist may respond by saying, “Yes, this is true enough—but the beauty of life is taking that knowledge and choosing to live fully in spite of it, to leave the world a better place than you found it, do good, reduce suffering…” etc., etc., ad nauseam.
Herein lies the irrationality. The basic irrationality of modern atheism is the assertion that life is ultimately meaningless coupled with the desperation to somehow give meaning to life. Faced with the knowledge of the nihilistic reality of an atheistic universe, the most rational individual would be the one who seeks death in the most pleasurable way possible, without willfully deceiving himself with the illusion of meaning given by various “good” or “altruistic” acts. Under this framework, the one who does attempt to give meaning to life isn’t heroic; he’s pitiably irrational. He has no reason to seek the good of other human beings except for a groundless “ought” that ultimately amounts to an appeal to an old morality with little scientific grounding.