There has not been a more acute feeling of political instability that I can remember in my life than there is in the current zeitgeist. I am slightly too young to have experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis but old enough to remember the fall of the Berlin Wall - I was an adult at that time. The fall of the Berlin Wall should have inspired me to study Communism. It didn't though, and as a result, my knowledge in this area is still lacking. I've been catching up over the last decade and I have now read some good writing on the topic. Both Robert Conquest and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn have written enough volume and quality to give anyone a pretty good understanding of what real Communism looks like, and reading them both has been a serious education. Not reading them in my twenties was a serious omission.
What I did study, instead, was how to be a well informed atheist, armed with good information. I succeeded thoroughly in this, although now I wish that at least some of this effort had been spent on other topics. I was a serious fan and consumer of work by Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Michael Shermer. Before the internet or the names just mentioned were popular, I had read H.L. Mencken and Bertrand Russell. I remember reading Mencken and wondering how American Christianity had survived him. I should have attempted a serious answer to that question.
The reason that Christianity survived Mencken is the same reason that it has survived all assaults. Religion is innate in some people and for others it is taught and then works its way deep into the psyche. An arrogant and highly confident atheist - as I was for three decades - might tell you that if the religious would just look at the evidence that they would abandon their primitive superstitions. The evidence on this point runs the other way. There has never been a time in human history when information has been so readily available. So, one cannot argue with any credibility that religion is due to ignorance. On top of that, we can easily find an endless number of serious and highly gifted religious intellectuals. Some of these people are operating at a genius level and some have, in addition, a highly functioning moral compass. It is foolish for any atheist to claim superiority in these areas and relate it to their atheism.
I have belonged to online groups and forums and I can tell you with certainty that your average militant atheist thinks that atheists are more intelligent than believers and also morally superior. I used to think this myself and have written as much in many a comment section. I wish now that I could take these comments back because they make me cringe when I think about them. Not only was I wrong, but I wrote those opinions with certainty. So if you are a religious person who has ever been offended by a comment like that, I offer a sincere apology.
Like many atheists, I was on the political left for most of my life. Had I known more, and read more, and paid more attention, this would have not been the case. A decade ago, I was completely unaware of what the Left would become. It was not that difficult to put up with the quirkiness of the Left because I had always assumed that they generally had the best interests of humanity in mind. This was another assumption that has turned out to be wrong.
My first suspicions of the Left started when I began to hear whispers of Ann Coulter coming to Canada to speak at a University. Our left-leaning politicians were calling for her to be banned and I found this to be a little alarming as well as embarrassing. I was not a fan of Coulter, obviously, but I was worried that Canada looked silly and weak by loudly asserting that its citizens wouldn't survive a speech by a provocateur. I had been under the false assumption that the Left would never impede the speech of others and that this was the domain of the Right. Because I was unfamiliar with the true ideology behind the Left, I had no way of knowing how false that assumption was. I was also highly annoyed that a public official would take it upon themselves to decide for me what I was allowed to hear.
Had things simply ended there, I might still be left-leaning, if perhaps slightly less than before the Coulter incident. It didn't stop there, though, and the Left has continued to reveal themselves and their true intentions. Not being satisfied with having speakers banned, they have now moved on to attempting to control thought and to re-engineer our society into a far left utopia. Political correctness has now developed to the point where the only safe topic of conversation in public is the weather. We now must all accept every whim of every radical leftist or fear the immediate wrath of an angry mob. And these mobs are not only angry - they can be violent.
We are currently experiencing a modern-day Inquisition. We have heresy hunts and trials-by- mob that take place on social media. Careful and measured decisions by our legal system are now met with destructive protests by violent mobs. A dangerous parallel legal system is being created to replace our very old and painstakingly assembled English common law system by way of Human Rights Tribunals. This replacement is taking place so that social justice fanatics can exact their revenge on people who disagree with them, without having to go through the difficult task of presenting a decent legal argument. Re-education is taking place in businesses and institutions by Far Left crackpots who are sent out into the world to look for "unconscious biases". Once this pseudo-scientific inquiry - an overly generous term - is made, the subject/victim is sent for processing and re-education. There is no appeal or examination of evidence in this process. Just like with Stalin's NKVD, you are guilty of destructive beliefs and you must be reprogrammed. And lastly, we now have a large group of young people who think that it is perfectly acceptable to physically assault people with differing political views.
The Left is now so twisted that it considers Ayaan Hirsi Ali - an actual human rights activist, and not one of the endless virtue-signalling lunatics now posing as a human rights activist - to be part of the Far Right. People who study biology and understand the science behind it are disparagingly referred to as "biological determinists". This type of insanity is backed up by force and violence along with other types of coercion. And if you break from the group-think on any point you might just lose your employment - it's happened, a lot.
I miss the old arguments with the Christian Right. These were arguments about abortion, taxes, the sanctity of marriage and the family, what actually constitutes marriage, personal responsibility, social programs, what makes a civil society, and other ideas that have merit and conversations that are entirely worth having. Those arguments were, for the most part, civil and engaging and often very forcefully argued.
I am still an atheist, but I am no longer left-leaning. The things that I value are: free speech and civil debate; the idea of personal responsibility and independence; the fact that we live in the best civilization ever created anywhere or at any time in history and that we should protect it; that people are individuals and not members of identifiable groups and should be treated as such; that people should behave in a civilized manner and abide by societal norms of courtesy and respect; and that people should follow laws and behave respectfully and helpfully towards the police, who are trying to do their jobs in difficult conditions. All of these values are supported by the mainstream Christian Right.
I don't know where the Left is currently headed and it's quite likely that they don't know either. I do know that their behaviour scares the hell out of me and, that whatever my political and religious beliefs might be, they definitely aren't compatible with what I see on the Left.
I care a lot about the civilization that I was lucky enough to be born into. Simply being born in this time and in this place is like winning a lottery and I am very grateful for the opportunity. What I hear from Conservative Christians is a desire for a just and decent civilization that can be carefully passed down to future generations. What I hear from the Left is a noisy, whiny, demanding, violent, self-entitled cult of victimhood and a desire to ruin and then reconstruct our amazing civilization. Between those two options, the choice is obvious for me.