Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s conversion to Christianity is a desperate and irrational attempt to use that religion as a shield against several threats to Western civilization.
Sommaire en français La conversion d’Ayaan Hirsi Ali au christianisme est une tentative désespérée et irrationnelle d’utiliser cette religion comme bouclier contre plusieurs menaces qui pèsent sur la civilisation occidentale.
Recently (2023-11-11), Ayaan Hirsi Ali, well-known critic of Islam and formerly a “central figure of New Atheism” (to quote her Wikipedia entry), published an article on the UnHerd website, entitled “Why I am now a Christian, Atheism can’t equip us for civilisational war.” However, upon reading that article, one will notice a complete lack of any assertion of belief in Christian dogma or mythology. So why then did she convert to Christianity? Apparently, the answer has nothing to do with belief, as explained in the following paragraph:
“Part of the answer is global. Western civilisation is under threat from three different but related forces: the resurgence of great-power authoritarianism and expansionism in the forms of the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s Russia; the rise of global Islamism, which threatens to mobilise a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation.”
Hirsi Ali goes on to explain that her adoption of Christianity is motivated by her hope that it will be a major weapon to fight against that triple threat of authoritarianism, Islamism and wokism.
“We can’t withstand China, Russia and Iran if we can’t explain to our populations why it matters that we do. We can’t fight woke ideology if we can’t defend the civilisation that it is determined to destroy. And we can’t counter Islamism with purely secular tools.”
Hirsi Ali’s correctly identifies the three principal enemies of Western civilization, especially considering that the latter two—Islamism and wokism—are allies. Those who have adopted the ideology of wokism (which I call post-leftism) passively and naïvely, out of conformism, simply because it is the fashionable nonsense of the day, probably think that qualifying it as a principal enemy of Western civilization is an exaggeration, but they would be mistaken. Those who take that ideology most seriously reject the Enlightenment, which is arguably the greatest achievement of Western culture and which is vilified by the piously woke.
However, Hirsi Ali’s choice of weapon—Christianity—to fight against these threats is not only wrong, but ludicrously wrong.
There have been several responses to Hirsi Ali’s proclamation of her conversion to Christianity. In a brief article published on the AAI website, August Berkshire misses the point. Although he recognizes that “Her critique of radical Islam is accurate,” he nevertheless completely ignores the seriously complicating factor of post-leftism and how it opens the floodgates to radical Islam.
there is no real political left remaining in the USA, the post-left having utterly corrupted the former left, causing it to betray the Enlightenment universalism which defines it.
The prize for the most outrageous response goes to Maryam Namazie for her tweet accusing Ayaan Hirsi Ali of being a “right wing hate monger” even when she was an atheist. This is very mean-spirited. Hirsi Ali is no hate monger. As for her associating with the “right wing,” it must be remembered that there is no real political left remaining in the USA, the post-left having utterly corrupted the former left, causing it to betray the Enlightenment universalism which defines it. The post-left rejected Hirsi Ali because of her uncompromising criticism of its ally, political Islam.
In “Foxholes, Deathbeds, and the Extraordinary Case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali” in Free Inquiry magazine, author Adam Neiblum apparently thinks that we atheists need to be reassured that Hirsi Ali’s conversion does not represent a weakening of our worldview. However, his concern is unwarranted. I do not think that we atheists are so delicate. He points out the obvious: that apostates—former believers leaving a religion—greatly outnumber those who convert to a religion. This particular conversion story is interesting only because Hirsi Ali is a public figure of some importance, but it has no relevance to the atheism-theism debate. Neiblum suggests that her conversion may be related to her religious indoctrination as a child. But he totally ignores the issue of woke ideology, i.e. post-leftism.
In his response “Why I Am Not a Christian,” Michael Shermer does a much better job. He asserts his continued admiration for Ayaan Hirsi Ali and calls her a “heroic figure.”
“Ayaan has pride of place in the pantheon of greats who have had the courage of their convictions to the point of putting their own lives on the line in the name of universal principles of justice and freedom.”
Shermer acknowledges that Hirsi Ali correctly identifies (1) Islamism, (2) China and Russia, and (3) woke ideology as major threats. But he also rejects categorically Hirsi Ali’s conclusion that Christianity is any solution to those threats. Shermer makes the all-important point that “Scientific naturalism and Enlightenment humanism made the modern world” and they did so in opposition to Christian obscurantism.
Dawkins is also well aware of the problem posed by “postmodernish wokery pokery.”
Perhaps the best response of all is from Dawkins. In his “Open letter from Richard Dawkins to Ayaan Hirsi-Ali” he adopts a tone which is even more sympathetic than that of Shermer. Dawkins also recognizes the threats identified by Hirsi Ali and he is also well aware of the problem posed by “postmodernish wokery pokery.” But he also makes an important observation, one I hinted at in the first paragraph of this blog when I observed the absence of any declaration of belief by Hirsi Ali. Dawkins states:
“As you know, you are one of my absolutely favourite people but … seriously, Ayaan? You, a Christian? You are no more a Christian than I am.”
I tend to agree. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an intelligent person. She cannot possibly believe, really believe, the nonsensical dogmas which constitute Christian mythology. Her decision is a strategic one. She apparently thinks, and hopes, that Christianity will show itself to be an effective antidote to the craziness currently infecting Western societies. Of course she is mistaken.
The waning of Christianity did not cause wokism and restoring Christianity is no solution to it.
Recently there has been a rather bizarre hypothesis making the rounds in social media, based on the observation that the atheist movement in the USA (and also in English Canada) has been largely corrupted and rendered regressive and next to useless by post-leftism. The hypothesis is that the woke movement is somehow a consequence of the atheist movement’s criticism of Christianity!!! Of course I agree that the atheist movement has been compromised, but the hypothesis is baseless. For one thing, correlation is not causation. Furthermore, the roots of the post-leftist phenomenon go back several decades preceding the modern atheist movement. Those roots include postmodernist philosophy, neo-Marxism, American antiracist theory, etc. The waning of Christianity did not cause wokism and restoring Christianity is no solution to it. In fact, even some Christian churches, the more liberal ones, have embraced post-leftist dogma.
The insanity of the woke has been so destructive, so demoralizing, that she is grasping at straws
I suspect that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been influenced by this peculiar hypothesis, this idea that somehow atheists and the weakening of Christianity are to blame. And I think that this has been a significant motivator of her conversion. In fact, post-leftism is itself a sort of parareligion, another irrational ideology competing for marketshare with more traditional ideologies. Replacing one form of nonsense by another is not the solution. Her conversion is an act of desperation. The insanity of the woke has been so destructive, so demoralizing, that she is grasping at straws, or one very dubious straw: Christianity
Whatever Hirsi Ali’s ultimate motives may be, whether I am right or wrong in my suspicions, one thing is clear: irrational ideologies such as Christianity, Islam, post-leftism, etc. must be criticized and opposed. In particular, they must not be allowed to infect State institutions with their mythologies and dogmas. Thus, the necessity of secularism, separating religions and parareligions from the State.
Next blog: TBA