When I was a professional church worker I constantly raised this question: “Who are you?” and attempted to instill in each person this answer: “I am a unique child of God, full of potential, and my life is hidden in Christ.”
Life experience has taught me that there is power in this identity. I have actually witnessed a person turn away from killing themselves as they let it sink in. The question of ‘Who are we?’, in a word, of our identity, is of vast importance. It is not a made up feature of religion. It is part and parcel of what it means to be human. Importantly, for the purpose of this essay, the fact that religions have endeavored to take up the question is a strong indication that non-religious answers have failed, will continue to fail… will always fail.
If you pay attention, you can see the question raised repeatedly throughout the past and present, in all cultures, and even our own. From The Who to Supertramp where the question is asked directly, to more indirect, but nonetheless powerful examples such as when people who are adopted feel compelled to seek out their birth parents, the question of identity haunts every person, from the moralist to the hedonist, the theist to the atheist, the rich to the poor, and so on.
I would submit that the vast sexual confusion seen in our Western societies is due in large part to people attempting to answer this question, and, having found everything else tossed into doubt in our relativistic society, feel they can only turn to the only ‘facts’ they can ascertain with some certainty, namely, their own genitalia and their musings about them. There, at least, is something that can’t be deconstructed by modernity! Nonetheless, even this does not satisfy.
We will never be able to rid ourselves of angst. Not by drugs, not by sex, not by platitudes, not by doctrine, not by anything.
It is not my purpose here to expound upon why I believe that Christianity has the definitive answer to the question of “Who am I?” but I will state that the phrase, “and my life is hidden in Christ” (derived from Col. 3) addresses this angst directly. Christianity predicts that we will never find satisfaction in any answer to the question of “Who am I?”, even if that answer is “bought and paid for by God himself.” By pointing out that our life is “hidden in Christ,” the Christian scriptures liberate us from our fixation on trying to find out “Who am I” by compelling us to find peace in the answer to a different question: “Whose am I?”
In Christianity, we belong to God, purchased by his own blood in and through Jesus Christ.
In Islam, we belong to Allah, to be used as he sees fit, and tossed aside once you fall out of his good graces.
But at least in Islam, there is a ‘whose’ one can appeal to.
In atheism, there is not even that.
This why Camus said, reacting to the implications of his worldview, “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that.”
Given Camus’ starting point, he is quite right in this assessment. However, the fact that atheists aren’t killing themselves in droves is, in my opinion, prima facie evidence that his starting point… their starting point… is wrong. Bear this in mind as we go forward.
I have been arguing in this series that we will only be able to defeat Islamicists by showing them in no uncertain terms that Islam cannot deliver to them what they believe is promised in the Koran. This means defeating them decisively militarily when it comes to it, because Islamicists draw sustenance from the expansion of Islam-controlled territories. This validates their cause and is instrumental in converting ‘nominal Muslims’ into Islamicists (see Part 2). But I have also been arguing there have to be decisive cultural victories as well. So long as Islamicists can maintain that they can offer people a satisfying existence, even if they suffer temporary ‘set backs’, we will see, whether in this generation or the next, or the one after that, yet another outbreak of deadly violence.
Moreover, given the explicitly expansionist program that the Islamicists hold (which is totally in line with the plain reading of the Koran, mind you), there is the additional, monumental, question, of whether or not the areas the Islamicists seek to occupy have the ability to resist that occupation.
This resistance cannot be seen in military terms alone. It must be an ideological resistance, too. Unfortunately, due to the peculiar kind of ideology that Islam endorses, not just any ol’ ideology will be able to do the job. The culture that would breed the sorts of people who could stand up to the forays by Islamicists cannot simply be a rival culture. It must be more robust. It must have more backbone. It must be made of more sterner stuff.
Now, in the United States at least, I think a lot of people are coming to see that our culture is nothing of the sort. Our culture is breeding weenies. Our educational system, the media, etc, are producing people who are offended by, well, everything. They demand to be left alone in their ‘safe spaces’, oblivious to the fact that only certain people would actually honor that demand. Islamicists absolutely won’t.
The breeding of weenies is, in fact, an outgrowth of a particular set of answers to the question of “Who am I?” Over the decades, all the potentially satisfying answers to that question have been dismissed, attacked, discredited, demeaned, and so on, with the result that the only thing left are surface issues and trivialities. But, since the question of identity is part and parcel of what it means to to be human, the weenies commit themselves to these trivialities with a vengeance.
It pains me to say it, but people, on the whole, do not find this ‘culture’ attractive. Not only is it ill-equipped to stand up to evil men bent on death and destruction, it is ill-equipped to draw away the ‘nominals’ into their fold. You cannot tell a restless young man from the Middle East, “Do you want to have a fulfilling life? You should become a panzy, like me! Just yesterday we began a tweeting offensive against micro-aggressions!” It’s not going to work. If anything, it will feed into the Islamicist narrative, and nudge them more in that direction than away from it.
There is very little in the West that appeals to a person’s deepest desires. Worse, the things that could appeal to a person’s deepest desires are ridiculed and undermined. Whether by implosion or conquest, unless there is a huge change, the West’s days are numbered. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that change.
We need to ask ourselves what makes the Islamic identity appealing, and that of the secular humanists so appalling.
(We focus on the secular humanists, because they are effectively in charge of everything, from education to government to the military, etc. More on that as we go.)
First, let’s look at the Islamic identity.
Now, if you are a Muslim woman, I have to say, I don’t see much appeal to the Koran’s account of ‘who they are.’ But, most jihadists are male. Since they are not above using violence, and women are not as strong as men are or as inclined to use force, whether or not Islam satisfies the average woman is, in my opinion, irrelevant. Probably, most women in Islam, if suddenly there were not Muslim men around, would convert to something else in short order. If not them, their children. If there were no Muslim men in the world, Islam would probably be finished in a few generations.
The real attraction in Islam is for men.
What’s not to like?
If you are a man in Islam, you can have multiple wives and dispense with them easily if you tire of them. Islam gives natural venting to a man’s natural inclination towards force and violence, the key consideration being whether or not the one you are using violence against is a fellow Muslim. If he is a fellow Muslim, then you face restrictions. But if that person is an infidel, you can do pretty much whatever you want with him. Or her. You can rape an infidel all you like and have a clean conscience about it.
Atheists like to say that God is man-made, but this is much more likely to be true of Allah than the God of Christianity. ‘Allah’ gives expression to all of man’s base passions and desires, while giving them a clean conscience. There is very little about the God of Christianity that a man would invent if he were cobbling together a deity. But ‘Allah’ also has an answer to the ‘identity’ issue.
I found an expression of this in an ISIS document.
Then I leaned in even closer to him. I spoke in my lowest, most conspiratorial voice. “They are for the Muslim umma (nation), for the Jihad. His eyes flickered for a moment, and I knew I had him. There are guys like this all over the world: they drink, they smoke, they snort coke, they are complete infidels in the eyes of real Muslims. But at the first mention of the words Umma or Jihad, they suddenly reconnect with Islam. I think that is particularly true in Europe, where young men are so far from everything from the Muslim land. Jihad is nothing to them, nothing real. But it is also everything.
The speaker, here is talking about how he cajoled this fellah into helping him by arms for jihad.
I like to read primary source material as much as I can, including that of Islamicists, but also of secularists, atheists, and so on, so when some person (usually a liberal) comes and tells me that my characterizations are wrong, I can tell them to blow it out their ear. I know that the characterization is correct, because I can usually point to a basket of examples where the viewpoint in question is expressed EXACTLY how I characterize it, by the very people who adhere to it. Of course, usually people don’t stick around to see this corroboration, largely because they simply don’t care.
I say this because you must care. You must give their own comments the weight they are due. You must research their beliefs, as they themselves describe them. You cannot afford to go with your gut feeling, “Ah, but everyone is intrinsically good; maybe just a little misguided. Nothing a little sex education can’t fix.” You can’t afford it, because it very well could mean your head, and if not your own head, the head of your fellow man, which you put at risk for having views untethered from reality. If you read the document that I’ve linked to, and a great many more that are out there, you will see that the question of ‘identity’ is very well understood by the Islamicists. (Do ctrl-F “identity” in this particular document to see other examples).
And they understand very well that Islam is a far more satisfying account for ‘identity’ than what they are finding in the West. They can appeal to this fact, because this fact appealed to them.
To put it another way, the ‘identity’ presented to them in the West is boring and banal. Islam offers (men) something exciting and meaningful.
Now, secularists are fully aware of the ‘identity’ issue, and not just how it relates to Islamicists. There have been deliberate efforts over the course of a solid 150 years to undermine the ground beneath the Christian account for who we are, in order to lift up the secular account for who we are. And this has been effective in many ways, but its really only effective in a Christian culture, because of certain characteristics of the Christian worldview. That’s a different post. It has not been effective in bringing Muslims into the secular fold, because of certain characteristics in Muslim culture, but also because of the fundamental inability of secularism to bring satisfaction on the ‘identity’ angle. This is why, hundreds of years after Voltaire is alleged to have said that in a hundred years, the Bible will be forgotten and about a hundred years after Nietzsche said “God is dead”, there are still millions and millions of people who turn to religious explanations for the world… and themselves.
This is not a side point. It is critical that we understand just why it is that the secular identity does not satisfy, because the actual strategy the secularists have for dealing with recalcitrant religionists (of all stripes) is to try neuter them by removing, by hook or by crook, the religionist identity, and replace it with the secular one. But young Muslim males have no desire to be neutered, and of course, who could blame them.
So where does secularism go wrong?
Pretty much from the beginning. 🙂
But if you had to pick one moment, you could say that it all starts in 1859, where Darwin supposedly proved that humans are descended from a common ancestor with animals, through a purely mechanistic process. This was a welcome innovation, because Hume’s arguments and so on, as compelling as they were for the secularists, were powerless in the face of Paley’s argument from design. Everything about life, from the big to the small, inspired the self-evident inference that it was designed. Their atheistic evangelism was highly ineffective without a naturalistic explanation for phenomena with such an easy inference. Darwin succeeded, where Hume et. al, had failed. As Dawkins famously said, paraphrasing, “Darwin made it finally possible to be an intellectually satisfied atheist.”
But it turns out intellectual satisfaction isn’t all that a human needs. Telling someone that he is lately descended from pond slop doesn’t exactly resonate. It doesn’t resonate, because people feel it in their bones that it simply isn’t true. And so, they go looking for something that more closely jibes with their experience of being human.
Now, atheists could undercut this by not being so offensively arrogant in their insistence that Darwinism and God are incompatible. Indeed, in the early days, they took pains to argue that Darwinism and theism were compatible. It turns out to be bait and switch. What they really believed was that if once you could rip up the cultural roots of theism and present materialism to young people without the theological baggage, eventually you could just dispense with that notion, and go straight to the view that it has been ‘scientifically’ shown that there is no God, religion would simply die out, as the older believers, well, died out. In the last fifty years or so, the secularists believe that they have turned this corner, hence the sheer rudeness of the so-called ‘New Atheists’, who themselves just cannot believe that anyone would have the audacity to reject pure ‘science.’
But they do reject it.
The secularists, essentially doubling down on the materialistic outlook and the strategem that if you could just ‘educate’ people in secular, ‘tolerant’ values, you’d eradicate religious extremism. (By religious extremism, they mean, of course, being religious at all. See again the contempt of the New Atheists as illustration). The secularists thought that if they just gave people free, consequence-less sex, this would satisfy most of the animalistic tendencies people have. To deal with the intuition that altruism smacks of the transcendental, they bureaucratized the impulse, putting our charitable efforts into the hands of the Leviathan. They offered people a deal: become cogs in our machine, and we will do things for the ‘common good’ that could never otherwise be done… and oh, by the way, they only work if everyone becomes a cog in the machine (which they, by the by, operate).
In this way, people could have darn near all the sheer pleasure they could handle while believing they have fully met their deeply felt need to care for others. All that is needful is that everyone submit and go along with the program, and you will be satisfied at every level with ‘who you are.’ Replace the word ‘God’ with the word ‘State’ in discourses like this one, and you will have the sense of things, from the perspective of the Managers.
Now, there is no question that this works for some people. The problem is that it will never work for most people, because it is seen as poor fare compared to the richer, more satisfying offerings that can be found elsewhere. They chafe at this scheme because the scheme does not actually take into account the real nature of Man. Man’s discontent with this viewpoint is reflected in our culture in more ‘secular’ offerings, such as in the movies Fight Club or Office Space or (one of my favorites) Shaun of the Dead.
Nonetheless, it is this intrinsically nihilistic and hedonistic worldview that the secularists keep throwing at people, including young Muslim males, fully believing that if only folks would give it a shot, they’d just see how fulfilling it all is.
This is the elites’ plan for countering Islamicism. To counter Man’s need for a manly identity, the secularists will give them… ‘safe spaces’ and a war on micro-aggressions. And you can join them! There is a cubicle waiting for you, as we speak!
I maintain that this plan is virtually destined to get us all killed or turned into chattel. And that’s the menfolk. Only God can imagine what is in store for the ladies.
The converse of this is that people need to be presented with a more robust ideology and worldview that actually does satisfy them. Unfortunately, secularists are hell bent at undermining every contender in society, and thrusting forward instead the proposition that humans are dirt scrapings, the ejaculations of the universe. Since the secularists are in charge of nearly everything, there isn’t much hope that Europe will be able to resist what is coming their way, and neither will America, once it hits our shores.
In fact, Europe is probably already lost.
It is to America to heed the warnings, and take action, while it still can.
May I propose a first step? Secularists should make nice with the religious ideologies that people do find satisfying, and end their FFR-style crusade to undermine them at every chance they get. There truly are things worse than a country thoroughly drenched in the Christian worldview.. A country under Sharia law comes quick to mind.