To be honest, though I should not be surprised by anything Sovereign Nations does, I was astonished to see an organization founded by the likes of Michael O’Fallon invite philosopher Peter Boghossian and mathematician James Lindsay to discuss the “Trojan Horse” of anti-Christian ideology supposedly contained in the Southern Baptist Convention’s infamous “Resolution 9” (see, “The Trojan Horse,” Aug. 9, 2019). The stated reasoning is that these men are liberal atheists with expertise in the field, and therefore have no “horse in the race” and are thereby particularly situated to warn against the evils of Critical Race Theory, even as an “analytical tool.”
Forgive me, but I question not only Boghossian and Lindsay’s supposed “expertise” in the field, but also their supposed disinterested standpoint. Even more important, I believe they are substantially incorrect in their assessment.
The Claim to Expertise
Near the opening of the video, Michael O’Fallon states, “[T]his [Resolution 9] is addressing Critical Race Theory and intersectionality, of which I think we would say that you have done more deep diving on this particular issue than just about anyone else,” to which Peter Boghossian nods in agreement (0:0:34). Neil Shenvi has likewise argued that Boghossian and Lindsey are “experts” in the field of Critical Race Theory and Gender Studies (though I’m certain he wouldn’t go as far as O’Fallon). Shenvi’s basis for the claim is their success at publishing four “hoax” articles (seven accepted) in peer reviewed Gender and Fat Studies(?) journals. (See “Grievance Studies Affair.”)
From the outset, these claims of “expertise” have me puzzled. The only bona fides of expertise I have discovered thus far are, as Shenvi suggests, the “hoax” articles themselves. I, for one, am actually glad they succeeded in their project; the academic self-reflection inspired among some is a very helpful contribution to these fields. But let’s look at exactly what was accomplished and why it was an embarrassment to the “hoaxed” publications.
Boghossian, Lindsay, and Helen Pluckrose submitted twenty one articles to various sociology, race, gender, and queer studies journals. Given that SBC’s “Resolution 9” is in view, it is important to note that no article written on race was accepted by any of the journals, and no journals focused on race or Critical Race Theory accepted any articles. Second, of the articles accepted, the majority claimed to contain independent research, which would rightly be of interest to any academic field no matter how silly the attendant conclusions. But more important to our purposes, why was the discovery of this “hoax” such an embarrassment to the journals who bit?
I see only a few options. First, it was embarrassing because they were duped by fake names and fake credentials; but this would certainly not in itself prove any problems with “Grievance Studies,” as the authors contended. Second, they were duped by fake research; but, again, how would a publication’s reliance on “experts” to provide independent research prove anything negative about their field? Third, the content was so bad that it proved the foolishness of the publications. This is a live option, but assuming the authors were legitimate and the research credible, as the reviewers did, why would it embarrass these journals to publish content that they found agreeable? I mean, they obviously knew the content when they published, so how could that be the source of the embarrassment? A final option is that they discovered that the articles were written by non-experts, and were accepted only because of agreeable jargon. Here lies the true embarrassment, I’d argue—an embarrassment which assumes the opposite of Boghossian, Lindsay, O’Fallon, and Shenvi’s claims to expertise.
And if that were not enough, Boghossian and Lindsay respond directly to the claim that they are non-experts. In the article “Cogent Criticisms : A Point-by-Point Reply to Criticisms of the ‘Conceptual Penis’ Hoax,” we read:
Criticism: We need to know the field of gender studies to criticize it.
Harkening back to 2006, when Richard Dawkins published The God Delusion, there followed a large hailstorm of criticisms hurled at him, much of it claiming that his apparent lack of theological savvy undermined his criticisms of theology and religion. An entire sociopolitical movement rumbled into action in his defense. The atheist and skeptic community identified a fallacy, coined the “Courtier’s Reply,” applied to when proponents insist one cannot criticize a field (in Dawkins’ case, theology) unless one has first attained sufficient sophistication in it.
It is thus ironic that this criticism against us flowed not merely from the postmodernist vanity shops we targeted but from some vainglorious corners of a “skeptic community” eager to scold us as bad skeptics. Some people who have trained themselves to point out the nudity of Emperors lose their sense of proportion when it’s the Gender Studies Empress nakedly parading about. This criticism treats us all to a gentle reminder that we shouldn’t really need. It is easy to see when someone else’s religious beliefs are transparently dubious, but far harder to notice when they are one’s own. In all this high-minded discussion, however, let the point not get lost: the Empress has no clothes.
In other words, Boghossian and Lindsay don’t have to be experts to critique “Grievance Studies.” This, again, is truly puzzling. They are experts because they wrote hoax articles which demonstrate the “Empress has no clothes” because they are not experts (and never needed to be)?
The New Atheism and “Street Epistemology”
More important than the supposed “expert” status of Boghossian and Lindsay is their radical atheism. Peter Boghossian is the author of the 2014 book, Manual for Creating Atheists:
For thousands of years, the faithful have honed proselytizing strategies and talked people into believing the truth of one holy book or another. Indeed, the faithful often view converting others as an obligation of their faith—and are trained from an early age to spread their unique brand of religion. The result is a world broken in large part by unquestioned faith. As an urgently needed counter to this tried-and-true tradition of religious evangelism, A Manual for Creating Atheists offers the first-ever guide not for talking people into faith—but for talking them out of it. Peter Boghossian draws on the tools he has developed and used for more than 20 years as a philosopher and educator to teach how to engage the faithful in conversations that will help them value reason and rationality, cast doubt on their religious beliefs, mistrust their faith, abandon superstition and irrationality, and ultimately embrace reason.
In Boghossians words, “the book will teach you how to talk somebody out of faith, superstition, and pretending, and into reason,” a passion of his because “the faith virus” is a “species threatening event” (“The Faith Virus”). In the Manual, Boghossian defines “faith” as “belief without evidence” and “pretending to know things you don’t know” (pp. 23-24), and attempts to show how a proper epistemology renders belief in God, like square circles for that matter, an impossibility. Religious faith is a “delusion,” as his hero Richard Dawkins would say, wherein people believe or pretend to believe the irrational and unknowable. Boghossian and the New Atheists’ “Street Epistemology” answers the street evangelism of Christianity, but brings a “proper” epistemology, intending to sow doubt in the faithful, seeds that can be nurtured over time into full and liberating disbelief and apostasy.
What if this “proper” epistemology does not ultimately convince one deluded by faith? Boghossian answers that the “appearance of failure” is due to,
(1) an interlocutor’s brain is neurologically damaged, or (2) you’re actually succeeding. In the latter case, an interlocutor’s verbal behavior indicates that your intervention is failing–for example, they’re getting angry or raising their voice, or they seem to become even more entrenched in their belief. Such protests may actually indicate a successful treatment. (p. 51)
In instances of damage to the brain, no dialectical intervention will be effective in eliciting cognitive and attitudinal change. These and other conditions like some strokes, intracranial tumors, or Alzheimer’s disease affect the brain and are beyond the reach of nonmedical interventions. In short, if someone is suffering from a brain-based faith delusion your work will be futile. (p. 52)
James Lindsay’s corner of evangelical atheism was focused on the psychology of religion; why do so many succumb to the irrational delusion of faith? What psychological and social needs are fulfilled by religion, and what neurological states induce men and women into believing without evidence? He published Everybody is Wrong About God in 2015, described as,
A call to action to address people’s psychological and social motives for a belief in God, rather than debate the existence of God. With every argument for theism long since discredited, the result is that atheism has become little more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs. Thus, engaging in interminable debate with religious believers about the existence of God has become exactly the wrong way for nonbelievers to try to deal with misguided—and often dangerous—belief in a higher power. The key, author James Lindsay argues, is to stop that particular conversation. He demonstrates that whenever people say they believe in “God,” they are really telling us that they have certain psychological and social needs that they do not know how to meet. Lindsay then provides more productive avenues of discussion and action. Once nonbelievers understand this simple point, and drop the very label of atheist, will they be able to change the way we all think about, talk about, and act upon the troublesome notion called “God.”
But Boghossian and Lindsay describe this atheist evangelical movement (in the words of Peter Limberg and Conor Barnes) as “Culture War 1.0,” the battle for the “heart of America” between religionists and secularists. We are now in “Culture War 2.0,” the multidimensional battle against the “Postmodern culture,” in the form of “identity politics” and the like. This latter battle is the task recently taken up by Boghossian, Lindsay, and other New Atheists.
The atheist tribes are indirect participants in the culture war. Their shared objective is to attack the religious truth-claims and to plant doubt in the epistemic methodology of believers. The New Atheists lost the relevance they had during the Bush Era when the “Four Horsemen” had great popularity, but their impact has been felt in the noosphere. They contributed to the religious right’s defeat in Culture War 1.0 by weakening it on philosophical grounds. The Street Epistemologists are the New Atheists’ potential successor in Culture War 2.0. (“The Memetic Tribes Of Culture War 2.0”)
The transition from 1.0 to 2.0 has multiple tellings. From the perspective of many, racism and misogyny had become such a force within the New Atheism that many fled the movement. This was not limited to off-hand statements, but supposedly “rational” ideas of skeptics pursuing the long dead “racial biology” of the past, “debunking” the claims of systemic racism and genderism, and even a culture of sexual assault, including incidents at New Atheist conventions. I don’t think anyone can doubt the New Atheism was a playground for young white males. (See “From the Enlightenment to the Dark Ages: How “new atheism” slid into the alt-right.”)
Lindsay and Boghossian tell the story a bit differently. The New Atheism, according to them, had been infiltrated by Social Justice radicals that were destroying the movement and making irrational and brass claims of racism and (especially) misogyny. Many of their favorites came under attack by these “Postmodern” radicals, including atheist luminaries like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Stefan Molyneux. Lindsay began to apply his newly found tools borne of religious psychology to the movement he saw destroying the New Atheists, assessing it as ultimately a religious movement within the camp—not only irrational and delusional, but a movement which met the basic psychological and social needs of the radicals. In reaction, Boghossian and Lindsay moved headlong into studying the sources of this quasi-postmodernist religion that was spreading like a virus through the camp of Social Justice minded atheists. What they concluded to be the cause, as observable in their many presentations, is a large amalgamation of Critical Theory, Postmodernism, and “Grievance Studies,” all of which appear to be indistinguishable traditions in their minds and words (a fertile point of criticism in itself).
How would they defeat this Social Justice foe—this over emphasis on race, gender, and sexual identity? Again, Street Epistemology. This so-called “epistemology” seems to be a refried Baconian Empiricism, lacking a few hundred years of important nuance and correction, created to be anti-religious and anti-faith to the core. For all the talk of “epistemology” in the Sovereign Nations’ “Trojan Horse” video, one would think there’d be some interest in noting that the “sophomoric philosophical and theological errors” (Edward Feser) of the New Atheists’ “epistemology” is probably not the best tool for critiquing a potential movement within the Church, especially an “epistemology” which necessarily contradicts the faith according to its own street evangelists. They reject the noetic effects of sin, the existence of spiritual powers, the concept of Divine revelation, the Creation, Fall, and Redemption meta-narrative, and the epistemological grounding of a sovereign, providential God Himself.
Are we to believe that Critical Race Theory—”as an analytical tool”—is a Trojan Horse destined to destroy the SBC, but New Atheist “epistemology”—”as an analytical tool”—will be a means to its salvation?
The False View of Civil Rights Past vs. Present
Since the context of this discussion is the SBC’s “Resolution 9” on Critical Race Theory, there is one major issue I see among both Boghossian and Lindsay, as well as many so-called apologists within the Church. Each display a very dim, idealized, American pie version of the abolitionist and civil rights message of the past. Wittingly, or unwittingly, they have bought into the popular post-CRM canard that the message of earlier movements was color-blind egalitarian liberalism. Concepts like social constructivism, interest convergence, unique voice of color, white privilege, and intersectionality are thought to be late 20th century inventions borne of Postmodernism. They further claim that a new definition of “racism” has been invented, for the sole purpose of flipping the power dynamic in favor of black Americans, at the expense of white Americans.
James Lindsay makes this very argument in his “Identity Politics Does Not Continue the Work of the Civil Rights Movement.” He writes,
The Civil Rights Movement, second-wave liberal feminism, and Gay Pride functioned explicitly on these values of universal human rights and did so to forward the worth of the individual regardless of status of race, gender, sex, sexuality, or other markers of identity. They proceeded by appealing directly to universal human rights applying universally. They demanded that people of color, women, and sexual minorities no longer be discriminated against and treated as second class citizens. They insisted that within a liberal society that makes good on its promises to its citizens, everyone should be given the full range of rights, freedoms, and opportunities.
Martin Luther King, Jr., articulated this ethos of individuality and shared humanity explicitly when he said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
He goes on to argue how Critical Race Theory contrasts this simple egalitarian—distinctly American—vision. (Those who have actually studied the words of Dr. Martin King are no doubt having a chuckle already.) Many times within his Twitter feed, videos, and blog articles, Lindsay claims that the “modern” version of civil rights, viz., Antiracism, has no end game, is an intentional power grab, and ideas like “systemic racism” are employed to deny obvious progress, spreading religious-like guilt to achieve religious-like totalitarian control. The fact of the matter is, these are no late 20th century inventions and have historically little to nothing to do with Foucault, Derrida, or what have you.
In 1829, David Walker described “color prejudice” (the word “racism” did not yet exist) as a product of the institution of slavery, not the cause of the institution. He argued that there was nothing natural about the enmity between black and white Americans; but, rather, whites had spun a web of dehumanizing stereotypes and ideas intended to claim physical, mental, and moral inferiority of black Americans, all in order to ease their own consciences and justify the evils perpetrated against the race. The true cause of “color prejudice,” for Walker, was greed and avarice. The nature of the “prejudice” was the deeds of white Americans, whether admitted or not, which imposed inferior status upon them—“the crowning cruelty.” (See “The Ever Evolving Definition of ‘Racism’? Part 1: David Walker.”)
Frederick Douglass argued the same, even more explicitly, declaring that he had no “profession whatever of respect for that country, of attachment to its politicians, or love for its churches or national institutions. The fact is, the whole system, the entire network of American society, is one great falsehood, from beginning to end” (Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings, p. 55).
Though a long selection, we get the flavor of his Post-Reconstruction view of “color prejudice,” in the following quote:
During all the years of their bondage, the slave master had a direct interest in discrediting the personality of those he held as property. Every man who had a thousand dollars so invested had a thousand reasons for painting the black man as fit only for slavery. Having made him the companion of horses and mules, he naturally sought to justify himself by assuming that the Negro was not much better than a mule. The holders of twenty hundred million dollars’ worth of property in human chattels procured the means of influencing press, pulpit, and politician, and through these instrumentalities they belittled our virtues and magnified our vices, and have made us odious in the eyes of the world. … Out of the depths of slavery has come this prejudice and this color line. It is broad enough and black enough to explain all the malign influences which assail the newly emancipated millions to-day. In reply to this argument it will perhaps be said that the Negro has no slavery now to contend with, and that having been free during the last sixteen years, he ought by this time to have contradicted the degrading qualities which slavery formerly ascribed to him. All very true as to the letter, but utterly false as to the spirit. Slavery is indeed gone, but its shadow still lingers over the country and poisons more or less the moral atmosphere of all sections of the republic. The money motive for assailing the negro which slavery represented is indeed absent, but love of power and dominion, strengthened by two centuries of irresponsible power, still remains.
… [T]his prejudice really has nothing whatever to do with race or color, and that it has its motive and mainspring in some other source with which the mere facts of color and race have nothing to do. … The office of color in the color line is a very plain and subordinate one. It simply advertises the objects of oppression, insult, and persecution. It is not the maddening liquor, but the black letters on the sign telling the world where it may be had. It is not the hated Quaker, but the broad brim and the plain coat. It is not the hateful Cain, but the mark by which he is known. The color is innocent enough, but things with which it is coupled make it hated. Slavery, ignorance, stupidity, servility, poverty, dependence, are undesirable conditions. When these shall cease to be coupled with color, there will be no color line drawn. (pp. 652-654)
In his speech, “The United States Cannot Remain Half-Slave and Half-Free” (1883), Douglass acknowledges the progress of emancipation, equal rights, and black American’s legal recognition as men, but decries the many political, judicial, and economic practices which continued the devastating disparities along the “color line.” These messages can be found throughout his speeches and writing.
And not to stall this discussion too dramatically, we must at least note that it was W. E. B Du Bois who gave us the concept of a “psychological wage,” the forerunner of White Privilege (see Black Reconstruction in America, 1935); the concepts of “double consciousness” and “second sight,” what we now call the unique voice of color (see “Strivings of the Negro People,” 1897, developed further throughout Darkwater, 1920); and the concept and sociology of “Whiteness” (see “The Souls of White Folk,” Darkwater). How about Intersectionality? See, for example, Sarah Grimke (1792-1873), Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), and Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964). Crenshaw gave it a name, yes, but it has been a concept present since African American women first came in contact with the First Wave Feminist movement.
And to be clear, it was Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton who provided the classic definition of “institutional racism” in 1967, though, again, only giving a name to what Douglass and Du Bois had already spoken of:
By “racism” we mean the predication of decisions and policies on considerations of race for the purpose of subordinating a racial group and maintaining control over that group. That has been the practice of this country toward the black man; we shall see why and how.
Racism is both overt and covert. It takes two, closely related forms: individual whites acting against individual blacks, and acts by the total white community against the black community. We call these individual racism and institutional racism. The first consists of overt acts by individuals, which cause death, injury or the violent destruction of property. This type can be recorded by television cameras; it can frequently be observed in the process of commission. The second type is less overt, far more subtle, less identifiable in terms of specific individuals committing the acts. But it is no less destructive of human life. The second type originates in the operation of established and respected forces in the society, and thus receives far less public condemnation than the first type.
… [I]t is institutional racism that keeps black people locked in dilapidated slum tenements, subject to the daily prey of exploitative slumlords, merchants, loan sharks and discriminatory real estate agents. The society either pretends it does not know of this latter situation, or is in fact incapable of doing anything meaningful about it. (Black Power, pp. 3-4)
How about “color-blindness”?
[W]hile color blindness may be a sound goal ultimately, we must realize that race is an overwhelming fact of life in this historical period. There is no black man in this country who can live “simply as a man.” His blackness is an ever-present fact of this racist society, whether he recognizes it or not. It is unlikely that this or the next generation will witness the time when race will no longer be relevant in the conduct of public affairs and in public policy decision-making. To realize this and to attempt to deal with it does not make one a racist or overly preoccupied with race; it puts one in the forefront of a significant struggle. (p. 54).
This is not Derick Bell, Kimberly Crenshaw, Bonilla-Silva, or Robin DiAngelo. And it’s not Karl Marx, Max Horkheimer, or Herbert Marcuse for that matter either.
Martin Luther King, Jr. himself spoke of “institutionalized racism” and was manifestly “color conscious” throughout his pleas and proposals.
What is racism? Dr. George Kelsey, in a profound book entitled Racism and the Christian Understanding of Man, states that
Racism is a faith. It is a form of idolatry… In its early modern beginnings, racism was a justificatory device. It did not emerge as a faith. It arose as an ideological justification for the constellations of political and economic power which were expressed in colonialism and slavery. But gradually the idea of the superior race was heightened and deepened in meaning and value so that it pointed beyond the historical structures of relation, in which it emerged, to human existence itself. (Where Do We Go From Here?, p. 73)
Racism, King argues, is “the myth of inferior peoples” (p. 75). And even after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, he writes,
As early as 1906 W. E. B. Du Bois prophesied that “the problem of the twentieth century will be the problem of the color line.” Now as we stand two-thirds into this exciting period of history we know full well that racism is still that hound of hell which dogs the tracks of our civilization. (p. 183)
He decried the economic system of his day,
We have come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will. The poor are less often dismissed from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent. (pp. 171-172)
He argued that “Negroes, who have a double disability” (intersectionality?) must be lifted up, for they had no bootstraps left them through the ravages of history (p. 173; see also this video wherein Dr. King explains the need of black Americans for economic uplift).
We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power…. This means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are all tied together… you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order. (“Report to SCLC Staff [May 1967]”)
And this redistribution is primarily a matter of power—even Black Power, and is not itself racist, but loving:
It is inaccurate to refer to Black Power as racism in reverse, as some have recently done. Racism is a doctrine of the congenital inferiority and worthlessness of a people. (Where Do We Go From Here?, p. 49)
Indeed, one of the great problems that the Negro confronts is his lack of power. From the old plantations of the South to the newer ghettos of the North, the Negro has been confined to a life of voicelessness and powerlessness. Stripped of the right to make decisions concerning his life and destiny, he has been subject to the authoritarian and sometimes whimsical decisions of the white power structure. The plantation and the ghetto were created by those who had power both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessness. The problem of transforming the ghetto is, therefore, a problem of power—a confrontation between the forces of power demanding change and the forces of power dedicated to preserving the status quo. … Power, properly understood, is the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political or economic changes. In this sense power is not only desirable but necessary in order to implement the demands of love and justice. … There is nothing essentially wrong with power. The problem is that in America power is unequally distributed. (p. 37)
Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. (p.38)
In short, for Dr. King,
The dilemma of white America is the source and cause of the dilemma of Negro America. Just as the ambivalence of white Americans grows out of their oppressor status, the predicament of Negro Americans grows out of their oppressed status. (p. 109)
(Update: For more on the above, please see: “The Christian and Critical Race Theory, Part 1: A Survey of the ‘Traditional Civil Rights Discourse.'”)
In contrast to all this, we have James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian claiming expertise in a field they appear to know nothing about, fundamentally denying the actual nature and history of the civil rights movements in America, claiming illicit invention where there is properly continuation.
Boghossian has made many YouTube videos with his compatriot Stefan Molyneux—a New Atheist race realist who applies his “epistemology” to conclude correlation between race and IQ; “Mother Nature’s the racist,” said Molyneux, “I’m just shining the light.” In one video, Boghossian and Molyneux together lament the accusations of racism and sexism against the New Atheist movement. At one point, Boghossian proclaims the following:
What’s interesting to me about that is the Left are the new racists. The Left, the Left—not only have they co-opted this new narrative, which is particularly interesting, but they’re the ones who think of things in terms of race. Diversity to them doesn’t mean ideological, intellectual diversity, it means racial diversity. It’s strict … thinking about or considering people in terms of the color of their skin or of their gender. (“Feminists vs. Atheists: The Death of Rational Discourse”)
Molyneux, the biological racist, nods in agreement. Throughout the video, they together discuss who are the “real victims” of racism and sexism, and who are the “fake victims.” The “real victims,” of course defined by Boghossian and Molyneux, are the ones actually hurt by claims of racism and sexism against his New Atheist cohorts.
James Lindsay attempts to soften the obvious biological racism of his peers—including Molyneux, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins—by making a distinction between “race” and “people groups” in response to the Nature article, “Sports and IQ: the persistence of race ‘science’ in competition”:
“Racial categories” are social constructs. Population groups are not. The idiot social constructivists could bother to get this straight and be responsible, but instead they reify the first and obscure the second so they can push identity politics. Backwards.
“White” is a racial category. Caucasian, in the strict sense meaning of the Caucasus, is a population group.
A good analogy would be the many cultivars of tomatoes. Clearly genetically different. They’re populations. “Red,” “cherry,” “slicer,” etc., would analogize to “racial categories.” They convey some info but not the crucial kinds regarding diseases, pests, growing conditions, etc. (Twitter, July 26, 2019)
Are the “idiot social constructivists” Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois? He even trots out the old debunked Sickle-Cell Anemia claim:
I’m not a biologist. I don’t know the populations either, but I know they are known (and consequential, especially in medicine, where “black” doesn’t give much useful information, but specific population membership does, e.g. re: sickle-cell anemia). (July 26, 2019)
Atheist “epistemology” at work. It’s just, like, science, man.
The fact is, these New Atheists simply don’t have an “epistemology” to deal with racism and sexism. No one is created in the image of God. There’s no reason to believe we were all made from one man. They reject total depravity (which James Lindsay calls the Calvinist cause of the witch trials). They reject the Incarnation, which assumes the single human nature of all that have ever, or will, live. They reject Christian eschatology and its Revelation 7:9 end game. They reject the authority of the Scriptures, which provide not only the moral eternal maxims of Social Justice, but also the divinely ordered histories of Jews and Gentiles working toward lived unity in the New Testament Church. And, most importantly, they reject the gospel, the only ultimate and final solution. (See “Addendum: I Believe Systemic Racism Exists Because of Biblical Anthropology, Hamartiology, and Soteriology” and “What Does ‘Jew & Gentile’ Have to do With ‘Black & White’? : A Clarification.”)
Though it may not be clear, the point of this piece is not to claim that Boghossian and Lindsay are unintelligent or have no contribution to make. Much of their pushback, if refined and clarified, is a welcome corrective to the overwrought influence of Postmodern ideas in many corners of Critical Race Theory. Modern campuses certainly could use more Horkheimer, Habermas, and Freire and less Marcuse, Foucault, and Derrida, though none are the ultimate answer.
But I agree wholly with James Lindsay when he promotes John Stuart Mill’s injunction to carefully listen to the competing ideas of opponents—especially with Lindsay’s own important addition: “and from experts; from people who truly believe them and are excellent proponents of them” (“A Postmodern Postmortem,” 1:10:10). These experts, in spite of all their intellectual value to the discussion, are not Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay. And, I believe, the Church is quite capable of grappling with various opinions without the help of New Atheist “epistemology.”
Even more important, in my opinion, than the obvious hypocrisy of Sovereign Nations as an organization—including men like Michael O’Fallon, Josh Buice, Tom Ascol, James White, etc.—inviting atheist evangelicals to support their cause against “Social Justice,” are the underlying ideas themselves. What they don’t seem to recognize is that there is a Kafka Trap available in both directions. If they continue to problematize “double consciousness” and “second sight” as an absolutized “standpoint epistemology,” problematize intersecting identities as hierarchies of moral authority, problematize traditional descriptions of the invention of race as linguistic “social constructivism,” and reject truly traditional understandings of the nature of racism, both individual and systemic, as mere modern inventions to perpetuate division, then they can’t help but make themselves the god-like arbiters of what constitutes “real racism” or a “real victim.” Any response given them, after their conflating gymnastics are complete, will only prove further that Christian Antiracists are indeed Postmodern, anti-Christian, Critical Theorists.