There's a clown in Minnesota by name of David Lebedoff, who has penned an article for the Minneapolis StarTribune, in which he declares that the real problem we're facing is atheism.
Yup. He references George Orwell, the English satirist who he claims somehow years ago foresaw our economic collapse and just knew "that the cause of the market failure would not be economic, nor even psychological, but rather moral."
Now, reading that I had to stop and ask myself if this guy was serious. Maybe he's writing a satire; a bit of comic relief for people without jobs waiting to be evicted from their foreclosed homes.
I don't think so. I think he's serious.
Orwell, says Lebedoff, was thoroughly disenchanted with the "Modern Age" because "People no longer believed in life after death." And this was, for Orwell, "the most important fact in the modern world."
And this, says Lebedoff, has "almost everything" to do with our current economic misery. Then he devolves into the usual rant of the religious goofballs on the right who maintain, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that atheists can't be good people and do good things because they don't believe in God and heaven and hell.
And if you don't believe in heaven and hell, well, it's party time!
Lebedoff puts it this way: "If you only go around once, then the main thing is to have fun. If you start admitting that from cradle to tomb it isn't that long of a stay, then life is a cabaret, old chum, and so, by the way, is Wall Street. There is a bumper sticker that proclaims 'he who dies with the most toys wins.' This is indeed the moral philosophy of those who believe that death is the final closing bell. Materialism, hedonism and Stairmasters are what people do until the clock stops ticking."
Then he goes on to suggest that our economic collapse is the result of people playing with money who "are in many cases free from moral restraint," and the reason they're free from moral restraint is that they don't believe in heaven and hell.
Lebedoff doesn't seem to notice he is telling us the only reason he might behave in a moral fashion is because he doesn't want to go to hell. He doesn't seem to realize that his is no moral position at all, but the lack of morality. He has no inner mechanism that guides his decision-making except the fear of a bloodthirsty god who will torment him with fire eternally unless he follows the laws of this bloodthirsty tyrant.
In other words, he will behave only because of the big stick held over his head.
I like PZ Myers response at Pharyngula:
"I had no idea that Wall Street was run by atheists, or that the government was run by atheists, or that Christianss and Jews and Muslims were never, ever interested in material possessions (I just knew that whole Prosperity Gospel thing was a weird confabulation of my imagination).
"But, speaking as a fairly strong atheist, I have to protest. The absence of an afterlife means that this life is all I've got, and I'd like to live it well -- there are no do-overs or second chances. I don't have the excuse that 'God would never allow harm to come to the planet' or 'Jesus will forgive my sins and let me live in paradise'. If I screw up now, that's all there is.
" ... Not believing in a magical afterlife ... actually tends to make things like preparing for the future, being a good steward of my resources, educating future generations, etc., even more important."
Lebedoff is one sorry excuse for a human being, in spite of the fact he's scared as all hell of hell.
Read PZ Myers here.
Lebedoff's article is here.