CAEN, France -- With 40 minutes to go before show time, the 500-seat Alexis de Tocqueville auditorium was already packed. A fan set up a video camera in the front row. A sound engineer checked the microphones.And this "disbelief" has spread throughout Europe...The Pope has urgently requested that the European Union ackowledge its Christian heritage in its constitution, but even that is too much for the European leaders.
The star: Michel Onfray, celebrity philosopher and France's high priest of militant atheism. Dressed entirely in black, he strode onto the stage and looked out at the reverential audience for his weekly two-hour lecture series, "Hedonist Philosophy," which is broadcast on a state radio station. "I could found a religion," he said.
Mr. Onfray, 48 years old and author of 32 books, stands in the vanguard of a curious and increasingly potent phenomenon in Europe: zealous disbelief in God.
Karen Armstrong, a former Catholic nun and prominent British author on religion, calls the trend [combative and confrontational atheism] "missionary secularism." She says it mimics the ardor of Christianity, Islam and Marxism, all of which have at their core an urge to convert nonbelievers to their worldview.Interesting that Karen lumps the "ardor" of Christianity with that of Islam and Marxism and now, atheism...and a conversion of one's "worldview".
And Onfray claims that atheism is facing its "final battle" against "theological hocus-pocus." He's trying to rally others to the urgency of his message. And there is plenty of support.
In Germany, a wealthy furniture manufacturer is funding a "think tank of Enlightenment," a group of scientists and others committed to debunking religion. It is named after Giordano Bruno, a 16th-century philosopher and cosmologist who was burnt at the stake as a heretic.The adage that those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it comes to mind here. Frauds and mental defectives accusing the Church of fraud and they seek pseudo-juridical approval of their claims. How pathetic! When we will we hear the claim that Mohammed never existed and that Islam is fraudulent? And what about Marx, Lenin and others?
In Italy, one fervent nonbeliever has gone to the European Court of Human Rights with a claim that the Roman Catholic Church is guilty of fraud: Jesus, he says, never existed.
...Terry Sanderson, president of Britain's National Secular Society, an organization that was founded in the 19th century ... has now gained a new vibrancy. Membership has doubled in the past four years, to around 7,000, says Mr. Sanderson. For converts from Christianity, the society provides a certificate of "de-baptism." "Make it official!" urges the society's Web site, www.secularism.org.uk.Now a piece of paper removes the "indelible mark" of Baptism...and these people claim to possess faculties of intelligence and reason.
Mr. Onfray, the French philosopher, says he believed in God as a child in the same way as he "believed in Santa Claus." His impoverished parents, a farm laborer and a cleaning lady, put him in a church-run home for orphans when he was 10. He developed a loathing of Christianity and now embraces what he calls "ethical hedonism." He's not married but has had the same female companion for 30 years. He says they have a "hedonist contract," which does not require monogamy. But, he says, hedonism is not "about cigars, vintage Bordeaux and expensive cars."This man was allowed to teach his corrupt and poisonous brand of philosophy (and presumably his "ethical hedonsism) in a Catholic high school for twenty years? Is it no wonder that so many so-called Catholic educated children have literally been robbed of their faith? Does a true follower of Christ, who is also charged with the continuing education of Catholic children allow such heretics or apostates to teach in a Catholic school? Of course not. Who then permits it? One who is in union with Satan.
"To enjoy and make others enjoy without doing ill to yourself or to others, this is the foundation of all morality," he says, citing an 18th-century French writer, Nicolas Chamfort.
After nearly 20 years teaching philosophy at a Catholic high school, Mr. Onfray in 2002 set up an experimental college in the Normandy town of Caen, near the beaches of the 1944 D-Day landing. Called the Université Populaire de Caen, it has no exams, no degrees and consists of public lectures by Mr. Onfray and a few friends.
May God protect us all from this plague!