Does Progressive atheism drive the hostility to guns and self-defense?

Sistine-Creation-DetailHqMike McDaniel is one of the best and most knowledgeable thinkers and writers when it comes to guns and the Second Amendment.  That’s why it’s worth sitting up and taking notice when he revisits one of his own posts to discuss reader objections.  I’ll run you through what Mike has to say and then tell you why I agree with him.  This is a long post, but I hope it’s engaging enough to sustain your interest all the way through, so that you’ll take the time to weigh in with your own opinions.

It all started with a post entitled “Why It’s So Hard To Discuss Guns Rationally With Some People,” which Mike published at The Truth About Guns (“TTAG”), one of the internet’s premier Second Amendment sites.  Mike’s starting point is the same problem I had when discussing guns with liberal friends in the wake of Sandy Hook: Progressives cannot move beyond emotions and get to actual facts.

Mike, though, didn’t stop with my facile conclusion about how frustrating it is to talk about guns with Progressives.  Instead, he looked beyond the emotional drivel and honed in on the core ideologies driving Progressive or, more accurately, statist thinking.  These ideologies are

(1) the Progressive’s belief in the state’s ability to solve every problem and its corollary,  which is that every individual other than the Progressive holding this thought is incapable of knowing what’s best for him;

(2) the Progressive’s refusal to acknowledge that there is a Higher Power or Being, reinforcing the belief in the all powerful state and further diminishing an individual’s standing; and

(3) the Progressive’s belief that the state is both infallible and unfalsifiable.  This belief allows Progressives to argue that, if a specific law fails — say, that a law specific guns fails to stop or even slow gun crime — the answer is to pass the same law, only to make it more far-reaching and consequential.

Mike’s article garnered 355 comments.  To Mike’s surprise, the point in his article that got the harshest criticism was his second argument, the one holding that rejecting a Higher Being is what allows Progressives to deny the right to armed-self defense.   Here’s Mike’s argument in that regard:

The second factor: a refusal to acknowledge the existence of any power higher than themselves. In essence, they refuse to acknowledge the existence of God. For some, this lack of belief is nothing more than being made uncomfortable by the idea that there is One greater than themselves, than their current maximum, cult-of-personality leader, than the state itself. For others, progressivism/statism takes on all of the characteristics of a religion; it become a matter of unquestionable faith. For such people, believing in God is essentially apostasy.

As it relates to the Second Amendment, these two factors make it not only possible, indeed, mandatory for the progressive/statist to deny the unalienable right to self-defense. If there is no God, the individual human life has only the value recognized by the state at any given moment. The individual exists only in service to the state, and the value of their life is measured by the individual’s adherence to the state’s goals and their usefulness to the elite ruling class. That being the case, there’s nothing particularly unique or precious about any individual, therefore an unalienable right to self-defense is nothing but an annoying impediment to the larger, more important goals of the state.

Indeed, God need not even be involved for the committed statist to deny the existence of any right of self-defense. Any unalienable right is an inherent limitation on the power of the state, and no such limitation can be acknowledged. Whether such rights are bestowed by God or invented as a result of human philosophy matters not. The power of the state cannot be diminished, and if the individual is allowed control over their own existence — if that control is bestowed by God which is far more powerful than the state — the power of the state becomes illegitimate and unquestionably hampered.

In any case, if there is no unalienable right to self-defense, there can be no right to keep and bear arms, or as progressives/statists often argue, such “right” guarantees nothing more than the privilege to carry arms in the military—in the service of the state and its ruling elite—and perhaps for hunting or sport shooting under highly restrictive circumstances.

To such arguments, conservatives and others commonly point to the Constitution and particularly, to the Bill of Rights. This is why progressives/statists argue for a “living Constitution,” which is another way of saying that the Constitution says what they want it to say and means what they want it to mean at any given moment. The better to legitimize whichever progressive/statist policy they wish to implement. This is also why progressives/statists labor to install judges who reflect the “living Constitution” frame of mind. Politics are too fickle; better to have true believers legislating from the bench when it’s not, for the moment, possible to impose progressive orthodoxy through the legislative process when the masses are temporarily rebelling against the elite.

To summarize:  For varying reasons, true Progressives cannot simultaneously hold a belief in God and state, so God goes out the window.  Without God, the individual has neither innate dignity nor inherent rights.  He is, instead, just a cog in the state’s workings and his value can never be greater than that which the state assigns to him.  Indeed, inalienable rights are antithetical to an all-powerful state.  They cannot exist simultaneously.  The moment that the individual is subordinate to the state, the state can make whatever rules it wants regarding arms and self-defense.  Usually, these rules benefit the ruling class to the detriment of everyone else.  To the extent the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights indicate otherwise, they must be ignored, interpreted out of existence, or amended to make explicit the state’s control over guns and, by extension, self-defense.

To Mike’s surprise, several TTAG readers took umbrage when he argued that Progressives’s elevation of the state over God (or denial of God altogether) is inextricably intertwined with their rejection of guns and the inherent right to self-defense.

Take, for example, “joleme’s” objection:

I was with him until the god comment.

I’m not sure why some pro-gun people need to split pro-gun supporters by making such statements.  It’s one of the reason’s [sic] I tend to feel uncomfortable around some large groups of gun supporters.  I myself am very pro-gun.  I see no reason to limit the 2nd amendment.  Inevitably however, it seems like someone always has to start a religion talk and ends up being a “only us god fearing men are in the right”.

I think you need to assess your own religious discriminating views.

Mike was quite disturbed that he could be considered as someone who would discriminate against fellow Second Amendment supporters on religious grounds.  He went back through his original TTAG post to see if he came across as a Fire and Brimstone preacher.  I can assure him that he did not.  And since he’s my friend, I want to assure him further that (a) he didn’t insult atheist gun owners and (b) he was right about the “godly aspect” of America’s constitutional right to self-defense.

As to the first point (that he wasn’t insulting atheist gun-rights supporters), Mike needn’t worry.  He definitely wasn’t waiving a discriminatory Bible at people who support the Second Amendment but don’t believe in God.  Those readers who took offense seem to have missed the fact that Mike was entirely unconcerned with pro-Second Amendment people.  Instead, he was trying to understand how America’s self-defined Progressives can deny an individual’s right to self-defense.

It was in that context — why true Progressives cannot accept self-defense, armed or otherwise — that Mike advanced his theory that rejecting a Higher Being’s existence inevitably means living and dying at the state’s whim.  Significantly, that conclusion does not imply its corollary.  That is, while Progressives’ collective atheism drives the hives’ hostility to self-defense, one doesn’t need to believe in God as a predicate to believing in self-defense.  They are not mutually exclusive ideas.

I can easily believe in armed self-defense for non-theistic reasons:  (1) the lesson of history, which is that the greatest number of deaths in the last 150 years have invariably followed a government’s move to disarm its citizens; (2) the fact that mass shootings always happen in “gun free” zones; or (3) the fact that crime goes up when gun control goes up and crime goes down when concealed carry goes up.  All three of these are inarguable facts and it’s impossible to maintain a reasonable gun control stand when faced with these facts.

Since the above facts are the arena in which most gun control discussion are carried out, arguing with gun control fanatics invariably ends with them calling you names.  Indeed, calling Second Amendment supporters blood-crazed, murderous, child-killing Nazis is the only appropriate response when the facts show that, within the confines of a free society (as opposed to, say, Yemen), guns advance individual safety, rather than destroy it.

None of the above facts rely on God.  Both theistic and atheistic individuals can cite them to justify gun rights.

But let’s be honest:  Mike wasn’t talking about a specific individual’s understanding of facts or rights.  Instead — and this is the second issue Mike raised — he was asking a fundamental question:  Why, in America, unlike all other nations, do we have a Constitutional right to bear arms?  Answering this question, at a societal rather than an individual level, requires looking at rights inherent in all men, rather than preference among both theistic and atheistic individuals.  In this larger context, Mike is absolutely right that the Founders’ belief in God was a prerequisite to their drafting the Second Amendment and the Progressive’s collective belief in the State is the overarching justification for their denying the Second Amendment.

Many of the Founders disdained traditional religious worship, but all were theists.  They believed that there was a higher power that created man and elevated him over all other beings on earth, complete with inherent rights that flowed from God, not the state.  That belief is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The state is subordinate to these rights, as the Declaration makes clear in the sentence immediately following that affirmative of rights inherent in all men, irrespective of the state:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

The hierarchy is clear:  First, God; second, His creation (man); and, third, man’s creation (the state).  To ensure that the state retains it’s place at the bottom of the hierarchy, the Founders enacted the Bill of Rights.  As I’ve argued (often), the entire purpose behind the Bill of Rights is to ensure that government is subordinate to each individual, and not vice versa.  It is within this context that the Second Amendment makes sense:  First, it exists to ensure that the state cannot become tyrannical as to the collective of all; and second, it exists to ensure that each individual is protected from the state and that each individual has the right to defend the sanctity of his own life, separate from the state’s needs or power.

On the pro-gun side, incidentally, you can also say that you only need the second and third elements of the above hierarchy to justify guns:  man comes first, the state second, and men get guns to keep the state in place.  That’s a valid, non-theistic, pro-gun argument too.

But now look at it the other way, from the Progressive’s point of view, which was Mike’s point.  The Progressives also have an ideological hierarchy underpinning their conception of man’s relationship to government:  First comes the state.  Then comes man.  There can be no God, because God would, by definition, have to supersede the state in the hierarchy.  Man must therefore be subordinate to the state.  This means that the state gets to make all the rules and rule number one is:  NOTHING CAN THREATEN THE STATE.  Moreover, statists fully understand that nothing threatens the state more (as we see on this, the 71st anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising or as we saw with the Bundy & Co. stand against the BLM) than an individual with a gun.

So Mike is right:  both the godly and the godless (and yes, that last is said with a light laugh and not meant as an insult) can support an individual’s right to bear arms.  However, the only way to deny an individual’s right to bear arms is to deny man’s inherent value vis a vis the state — and that requires a world in which there is no God.  The Progressive hive (as opposed to the individual Progressive who attends his leftist church or synagogue) must deny God both as man’s creator and as a counterweight to the state’s absolute primacy in order to justify denying the Founder’s conclusion that each of us is endowed with an inherent right to self-defense through arms.

And think about it:  Back in the day, Americans didn’t just call communists “communists.”  They called them “Godless communists,” understanding that the Godless part was an intrinsic aspect of the state’s absolute, unfettered power, a power that was and still is invariably accompanied by gun control and the refusal to recognize self-defense as a valid individual right.

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  • Ymarsakar

    If you are already at this point in the connecting the dots campaign, Book, you are probably ready to hear the other side of this same story.

    The Cotton Kingdom source is at the bottom.
    Suffice it to say that the Old Democrats of the Old South, the ones that created their political power a few decades before 1860 (Civil War I) were able to engender a similar social consensus, a similar level of enforced hive mentality.
    They, the Old Democrats, began propagating the belief that black slaves were the happiest men on Earth, that they were born to work and sweat under the sun, for their black skin is naturally conditioned for that. Whereas white men are born to a higher place, to pursue intellectual leisure, philosophy, and the finer arts, with the women shielded from the sun and providing unsurpassed domestic tranquility (obedience) and beauty. Before this happened, Southerners often felt guilty and wished to apologize for owning slaves, since it often contradicted certain Christian dogma about free will and everyone having an equal soul. But the Old Democrats changed all that. They created a caste system and everyone in the South was either a proponent of the caste system or they were too scared to speak up. Anyone that spoke out against slavery or wished to change the system, had their business destroyed, their social contacts severed, the preacher would speak his name in line with the devil or demons at the pulpit, and politicians would seek to drive that dissident from the height of social influence or economic power. Beginning to sound familiar Book?
    Merely 2% of the South’s population owned slaves, yet almost everyone was chained to the slave system on a philosophical, moral, religious, economical, and social level. Slaves were considered sub human, not merely people born with different capabilities and merits. A black killing a white man, even if it is in defense of his white mistress, would be culled, executed, just like any bear that attacks and eats any man, even in self defense, is Eliminated. For the good of the Race. We don’t want that man hunger breeding or causing the deaths of other humans. So blacks were treated and conditioned, bred, just like dogs. A dog may hunt, with the fang as weapons, but only against animals. No slave was allowed to utilize the vote and no slave was allowed to be armed for defense against humans.
    This caste system is locked at birth. The Americans in the South had turned their backs on Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence, and the American Constitution itself. No longer was meritocracy and equal opportunity sought, the racial belief that there existed humans and sub humans had eradicated that belief. And all for the purposes of satiating the guilt of the slave owners and the society they controlled. The fact that such a society could easily be manipulated into a war that destroyed many people that didn’t even like slavery, is a testament to the power of mind control and Social Authority. So long as there is God commanding that you shall worship no other idol as God but God itself, no human king could easily force Obedience upon the people. So long as there is God commanding humans to acknowledge the human soul of all men, it won’t be easy to Command the Obedience of people to accept that blacks are born inferior and born as happy slaves, ready to be bred like a livestock. So long as God commanded that he created free will, slave owners could not easily justify why they took away free will using the lash.
    The South rejected the New Testament God and forged its own Social Divinity, which was commonly known as the Democrat party. Whatever the Democrat party said was true, the Old South believed, with no dissension at all. Imagine the kind of society that can achieve that, Book, full agreement, unanimous consent, each and every time, on each and every subject. Is that an American society, do you think, based upon individual liberty and freedom of association?
    All the Baptists and the pastors of the Old South were forced to agree, to put their church’s religious authority behind the Caste System. When religious headquarters sent out educated blacks as missionaries, the Baptists of the South rejected them. Just as the religious organizations in America are told to accept homosexuals and to pay for such deviancy with the lifeblood of their children. The conscience of the clergy in the South were completely dominated using Force.
    What you have seen with the Leftist alliance in the 21st century, Book, is not their first ascension and not their last either. Human history is full of things people are not aware of. Public education does a good job keeping the new livestock in the dark.

  • Ymarsakar

    If you have ever wondered why it is that people like General Lee hated slavery, but still fought for his home, a Southern state, ask yourself this, Book.
    Even though you don’t agree with your neighbors on (most of) things, you might still be willing to come to their defense in the case of invasion or a natural disaster, merely because the community bond requires it. Given that…
    Ask yourself this, how come people like Lee with his position or authority failed to convince the South to avoid war or to avoid lynching blacks after the War? To get that answer is easy. Merely ask yourself how far you have gotten convincing Your Neighbors that humanity is made out of humans, not merely Democrat obedient slaves. That’s what Lee smacked into, when ever he tried to talk sense into the Southerners. As for why, by now you should be able to figure that one out for yourself.
    The Democrat system of faith does not recognize free will. It does not recognize equal opportunities producing different results. It only recognizes unequal opportunities producing unequal results. That’s how Hussein and Clinton got rich after all, unequal opportunities favored them while they killed their competition. The Democrat system of faith does not recognize individual liberty, so how can they recognize a higher power that commands that he created free will and humanity? That this God is the Highest Authority for humanity? The only people allowed firearms are the police, the military (except when disarmed on Ft. Hood shootings twice now), and various body guards tasked with the protection of the Political Caste. It’s not a class any more, it’s a caste. The Democrat system envisions an era where poor blacks give birth only to poor blacks, and white Democrat rich folks give birth to an endless stream of white Democrat rich folks. That deserve to Rule.

  • raymondjelli

    I can understand why a non-religious supporter of gun rights might be uneasy with a religious argument. After all which religion do we argue from and how far do we adopt its views. Then again this America which has dealt with that successfully from its founding.
    Progressives deny guns because it denies that morality comes from individual knowledge of right and wrong and they create a circular world where their institutions claim what is right and they are supposed to be authorities because they have the power to claim what is right and you don’t. The argument for gun control is that a failure of one man is a failure of all of us. If they can’t control that one man ultimately there is a bounds by which they lose control. It is an extreme behavior but one they are quite happy to clamp down on if it means a collective clampdown. What irks them more is that there is someone out there who controls himself and can handle the responsibility of a firearm. If you can claim a true personal morality you can claim that an institution like a gender studies professor does not have the right or need to determine what is right for your own life.

  • Mike Devx

    I can agree with that commenter’s lack of comfort with Mike’s argument.   It is true that Mike is addressing the Progressive’s mindset.  But he clearly does make, as a part of his argument, the fact that yes, there is a God, and that God’s law overrides Man, whom God created, and therefore Man, or humans, override any State, which we created.  God is at the Top.
    For any conservative atheist, this is simply not an acceptable argument.  Mike *does* go on to sat that even if you don’t include God – if you allow Man to be a natural creation – Man and individual humans still override the State, which they create.  But this is a secondary argument, thrown in as an appeasement.
    You, too, make this explicit Book, when you state:
    The hierarchy is clear:  First, God; second, His creation (man); and, third, man’s creation (the state).  To ensure that the state retains it’s place at the bottom of the hierarchy, the Founders enacted the Bill of Rights. 
    You, too, Book, place God at the Top of your heirarchy.  For conservative atheists, the argument is a non-starter.  
    I’m an Agnostic, so for me, either argument is acceptable.  And both place the State in subservience to humanity, something I believe 100% with all of my heart and every atom and fiber of my being.  But I can see how those whose faith is that of the religion of Atheism – yes, it too is a religion I think – will rebel against the argument.

    • Ymarsakar

      The idea that it is appeasement is wrong. It’s merely a logickal extrapolation. Logick, however, is not really used by as many people as they think.
      The definition of a higher power is that it has higher authority than lower orders. Just as humanity has higher authority than dogs, animals, and insects combined.

      • Mike Devx

        You’re right, Ymar, it is an extrapolation, not an appeasement.  The argument concerning God in the heirarchy remains the primary argument, however.  As you said in the comment below, for an atheist it simply means that they reject the authority of the argument, then.  
        Of course a Christian is going to argue from faith and include God; just as of course an atheist would not.  No reason for an atheist to actually get upset, that I can see!  

    • Bookworm

      I wasn’t being clear, Mike.  I was trying to say that, in America, God is at the top of the hierarchy because the Founders put Him there.  The hierarchy still works, though, even if God is gone, but man is at the top, before government.  

      The problem with Progressives is that they’ve banished God, through that banishment, subordinated man to government — and government doesn’t like individuals with guns.

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  • Ymarsakar

    People with another religion aren’t rebelling against the argument. They refuse to accept the authority of stuff they don’t believe in. That’s a human thing, not a divine thing.
    Religions really don’t have arguments. The conflict is on a different level.

  • Ymarsakar

    An atheist would also argue from Faith, but their God isn’t a higher power exactly, but a Deus Ex Machina. Meaning a divine power created by humans. Of course, the Left only considers certain people humans, and the rest of you all to be sub humans, so that is the catch to the Deus Ex Machina.

    • Ymarsakar

      And by atheist, I don’t mean real atheists but Leftist anti war protestors and Leftist “liberals”. What they are liberal on, is hard to say. Thus a Leftist atheist isn’t really an atheist in the definition that someone refuses to believe in an ultimate divine entity.

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