In my post Atheists who love religion, I spoke about my puzzlement with the views of self-proclaimed atheists like S. E. Cupp, Jesse Bering, and Jesse Powell. Powell has responded with a long essay in the comments explaining his views.
I find his arguments interesting to the extent that they shed some light on the mentality of those who seek to be part of the religious fold but don’t find them persuasive in the least. He takes society at some point in time and asserts it to be the ‘natural’ state and that we should try to return to it rather than progress away from it. This is a common argument advanced by those who despair at the current state of the world, the only variation being the time period chosen as the preferred state, his being one in which ‘Christian patriarchy’ was supposedly dominant.
Powell’s wrinkle is to use evolution to buttress his claims of a ‘natural’ state and it requires a level of biological determinism that is unwarranted. The notion that babies are born either religious or atheist and that ‘cultural atheists’ are those fighting their innate biological nature seems far-fetched.
Also his use of religious labels to represent secular concepts seems to me to be needlessly blurring the issues. For Powell, ‘God’ is not a supernatural entity but merely the label he gives to ‘that which is good’ and similarly ‘The Devil’ represents ‘that which is bad’ or ‘that which destroys’. (Does that make hurricanes and earthquakes the Devil?) When one assigns meaning to words that are so far removed from how everyone else uses them, then pretty soon one is in “Who’s on first?” territory and no one knows what they are even talking about.
If one is not careful, one can get lost in this fog in discussions with accommodationists whose use of metaphors tends to obscure rather than clarify. I have given suggestions on how to avoid getting stuck in that kind of ambiguity.
As far as I am concerned, this exchange has run its course but I recommend Powell’s comment to those who are interested in pursuing that particular discussion.