An Atheist-Christian Alliance?

When Ayaan Hirsi Ali first said that Christians and Atheists should work together to fight Islam in America and Europe I must admit I thought my head had fallen off.  Hirsi Ali is one of the most highly regarded intellectual leaders of the new atheist movement and consequently her words carry a lot of weight so it is entirely appropriate that atheists and Christians alike spend some time thinking about what this could mean.

So here is the deal: the Christians will lend their support to the atheist cause for greater separation of Church and state.  In return the atheists will leave Christians alone and work with them to convert Muslims, particularly in Western countries, to Christianity.  Since Christians don’t fly themselves into buildings or strap explosives belts around their children this will make the world a better place for everyone.

Hirsi Ali’s pointed out in her award winning book “Infidel” that most Westerners are so scared of being called racist or intolerant they’d rather surrender their dignity, both personally and culturally, than challenge the many disturbing and violent beliefs of Muslims.  Hirsi Ali portrays Westerners as being too trusting and unconditionally sympathetic to other cultures while very quick to bash their own culture for minor failings in comparison.  If you’re a fan of debates, Intelligence Squared have a wonderful set of debates on Christianity and Islam: notice how willing white people are to bash Christians (>90% against) but in an almost identical debate they only just get the numbers (barely over 50%) to rule against Islam being a religion of peace.  Hirsi Ali also points out that Christianity has changed a great deal and is no longer as barbaric and harmful as it once was.  However, I am wondering which Christianity she is talking about.

Before Hirsi Ali made these comments Christians had already proved that it wasn’t necessarily more natural for atheists and Christians to jump into bed with each other.  In Turkey creationism is rife and growing more assertive, thanks to the assistance of some really bad arguments against evolutionary science.  Christians working with Muslims against science and science is to atheists what the Bible is to Christianity.  Now clearly most Christians don’t see themselves as anti-science but disturbingly we know that these are highly educated Christians because they translated their work into other languages, for a Muslim audience overseas, and they still consider what Islam tells Muslims to do to Christians as less of a threat than atheism.  For the record, atheists just want religion out of schools and government, ideally a ban on religious conversions before the age of 18 so that people may be free to choose their religion or no religion rather than be indoctrinated into it as children.

As an atheist I don’t want these Christians converting the Muslims in the West to Christianity because frankly these Christians aren’t much better than the Muslims they’d be replacing.  So which Christians do we want?  I’m really at a loss because the only Churches I know that are pro-evolution are the Church of England and the Catholic Church.  I like the Church of England because it’s become cute and cuddly, it’s kept up with the times and is socially responsible.  It’s also dying out fast because it has lost the self-confidence to proselytize, frighteningly enough just like the typical Westerner is too cute and cuddly these days to call a non-white person a racist despite recent confirmation of what how many Australians have suspected Indians think of us.  Next we have the Catholic Church, which although the previous Pope John Paul II said, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition,” the Church still chooses to spread false information about HIV and contraception in Africa.  I’m sure there are plenty of “Christians” out there whom I would want to see Muslims converted to, however, they are just too nice to attempt to convert people, hence “Christians” because if they’re impotent in passing on their ideas from one generation to the next then aren’t they an endangered species rather than a salient social entity?

But for argument’s sake, let us assume that the typical Christian is better suited to the modern Western world than the typical Muslim is.  There would definitely be some improvement if the Muslims were to convert to Christianity.  But Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, so are Christians up to this task?  According to Encyclopedia Britannica (2005 edition) Christianity is growing at about 1.4% per year while Islam is growing at almost 2% per year.  This however has little to do with conversions (2,501,396 net for Christians and 865,558 net for Muslims annually making up less than 10% of their total annual growth, 2005) instead it’s mainly the higher fertility of Muslim women to Christian women.  So Christian missionaries are (very) approximately three times more efficient than Muslim missionaries suggesting if the birth rates of the two groups were even then Christianity would gradually eat Islam all up.

However, Atheists make a net gain of roughly 200,000 converts per year in Australia alone. The figures for the UK indicate over 1 million new atheists converts have appeared each year in the last 5.  The USA is in a similar situation with an increase of 24 million atheists in 20 years.  I don’t have any figures for the European continent or the rest of the world but clearly atheists are at least as good, if not better than Christians, at getting converts.  But for atheists it’s conversions, not birthrates that matter, even though every baby is born an atheist, fewer babies are born to atheist mothers than religious mothers.  If atheist birth rates were equal to Christian and Muslim birth rates, the atheists would eat both of them up in time.  However, it isn’t clear if the converts to atheism are more likely to be from Christians than Muslims or if they’re the same so Christians might have a special skill that could be useful to atheists.

To conclude, while on the surface it appears that Christians might have a lot to offer atheists in a deal, the reality is the Christians with the confidence to proselytize are not Christians any secular society wants to have more of.  Atheists are better at winning converts then either Islam and Christianity, although it is possible this might change in the future.  For atheists the real issue is their fertility rate, if this reached a sustainable level of 2.1 children per woman they’d be laughing all the way to world domination, I couldn’t find any firm figures on this but it’s currently somewhere between 1.1 and 1.7.  It’s not to say that atheists and Christians don’t have a lot in common, they very often do, but not because of their religion, more because of the culture of the society they grew up in.  My personal perspective is that a Christian-Atheist alliance beyond a vague sense of an irrational understanding of history is not possible.  Note that I haven’t even put forward the logical argument that for atheists to recognise any religion is an inherent absurdity in this piece.  I would like muchly to read comments from all sides on this topic, so please share with me!

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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Multiculturalism, People, Politics, Law

Author:Jason Sutherland

Resist the temptation to assume that you're always right or wrong. Never succumb to thinking you're so insignificant to trust your own thoughts and feelings. Always be responsible and listen carefully to others before passing judgement. Don't trust governments bearing stolen goods.

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7 Comments on “An Atheist-Christian Alliance?”

  1. August 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm #


  2. kpatterson
    August 8, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    As much as I like Hirsi Ali, I agree with the author of this article. Without secular law christians would be just as violent and backwards as the muslims and in many cases still are anyway. Kill the Gays law in Uganda, the murder of women’s health care doctors, the Oslo shooter. Plus they’re sneaky about it in other ways – trying to force creationism in schools, trying to shut down Planned Parenthood and effectively shutting hundreds of thousands of women out from getting any health care at all including basic life-saving pap smears and mammograms, quotes like this from former president Bush: “I don’t know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.” and the millions who think like him. When you have a religion that states at its core that everyone who can’t be converted must be destroyed, nothing good is going to come of it. Besides, separation of church and state is part of the bill of rights. We shouldn’t need to strike a deal with them to make them follow the law.

  3. Jimmy
    August 8, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Converts eh… You make Atheism sound a little like a pseudo religion.

    • August 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

      I am, but in the sense that it’s become a social movement. Hmmm… everytime I write movement like that I think of bowls. Wrong. Converts isn’t the right word either now I think of it: reverts. 🙂

  4. dave
    September 9, 2012 at 1:30 am #

    Christianity is not as bad as you think. The supposed dark ages were not caused by Christianity and progress still occurred under Christianity and always will, secularism came naturally alongside Christianity, and it was not and would not be stopped by Christianity. The problems that you say about Christianity are largely incorrect and come from the successful muslim propaganda of saying that Islam was the cause of the european restart of development, when actually the development did not ever stop until islam caused the dark ages and then did not begin again until the europeans went on crusades and broke the muslim power temporarily in the crusades, and then permanently after the siege of vienna in 1483 onwards.

  5. dave
    September 9, 2012 at 1:37 am #

    Also most cruel innovations which happened in the european history after the muslim conquests, which atheists (i am atheist too, but don’t use such arguements) say about, are a result of a europe which had been half conquered by muslims and introduced to continual war and violence, for their survival, by muslims. If islam had not been around, it is very unlikely that any of that violent history of Christians (the inquisitions, which were a very short amount of time anyway, and the religious wars between catholics and protestants, and persecutions of jews and different minorities, slavery, all influenced by the islamic empire which was the most rich because of these violent and intolerant practices which the europeans just learned from and copied) would ever have happened.

  6. k8
    June 5, 2013 at 2:53 am #

    I’ve always thought that Muslims and Christians should form an alliance instead against moral degeneration.

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