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Travis Rowley: The Atheist Delusion

Saturday, September 28, 2013


“Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” – Jesus Christ to Pontius Pilate (John 18:37)

Once again, a progressive has everything backwards.

Concerning himself with Providence College’s cancelation of an upcoming campus lecture by a gay marriage activist, Steve Ahlquist  – a local atheist agitator – wrote, “PC’s cancelation of John Corvino’s appearance highlights the difficulty if not impossibility of presenting both a ‘well rounded’ and ‘religious’ education. The two ideas work at cross purposes, forming an almost irresolvable paradox.”

By reading Ahlquist, one could easily begin to wonder how “religious” people – to Ahlquist, I presume that means “anyone who believes in God” – manage to find the bathroom every morning.

Ahlquist actually believes in the supreme difficulty, if not the complete “impossibility,” of receiving a stimulating education while the educators remain “religious” – as if a belief in God prohibits an honest exploration of the truth.

According to Ahlquist, if you come to believe in something, it is then impossible to teach, explore, and learn something else.

Apparently, that type of activity is reserved for people who don’t believe in, well, anything, I guess.

This is the elitism and the bigotry of the progressive-atheist Left: They actually think that a belief in God can’t be the result of academic inspection or careful consideration. Rather, it can only be due to childhood indoctrination or nonsensical superstition – rendering Catholic professors at Providence College unfit to teach.


The principal issue with Ahlquist’s remark rests not with its ignorance, but with the delusion that it represents, as his preferred “non-religious” institutions over the decades have been the ones guilty of delivering what Ahlquist calls – and is suddenly concerned with – “blow[s] to academic freedom and intellectual inquiry.”

And not just by habit, but by progressives’ own haughty self-perception.

Duke University professor Lawrence Evans once defended politically lopsided faculties by saying, “Universities want people of some depth, subtlety, and intelligence. People like that usually vote for the Democrats.”

Berkeley professor George Lakoff once informed us that liberals, “unlike conservatives, believe in working for the public good and social justice.”

A contributor to the Providence Journal several years ago asked, “Ninety percent of our most highly educated professionals vote Democratic? Then who, pray, is voting Republican?”

And Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Dick Polman believes that Democrats, unlike Republicans, are “cerebral by nature.” Therefore, Polman advises, Democrats “should stop thinking they can win [elections] simply by appealing to the intellect.”

It is well-known and well-documented that the modern academy is a virtual left-wing echo chamber, marked by speech codes, political correctness, sexual radicalism, and an embarrassing imbalance of political expression.

Contrary to what progressives, including atheist activists such as Steve Ahlquist, would have everyone believe, for the past several decades a “well-rounded” education has proven to be incompatible not with religious sentiment, but with secular doctrine and atheist dogma.

Intellectual Cowardice? Or Public Relations Blunder?

A free speech extremist myself, I’m not yet comfortable defending Providence College’s decision – at least as it has been presented in several media outlets. The College may have made their ruling in a manner that is inconsistent with basic academic principles.

But this whole episode also may have just been a public relations blunder on PC’s part, prompted by legitimate concerns over Corvino’s presence on campus.

And perhaps the benefit of the doubt should be given to a school that scheduled Corvino’s lecture in the first place, especially when PC administrators would later explain that “Corvino’s appearance was canceled because the school’s intent was to postpone it until it could book someone of national repute to present opposing arguments to Corvino’s” – and that “Corvino had agreed to appear at the school [this spring] opposite Sherif Girgis, a doctorate student in philosophy at Princeton,” and a noted “opponent of gay marriage.”

It might also have been fair for Ahlquist to have recognized the fact that a bunch of Catholics – the “religious” – fiercely denounced PC’s decision. As the Providence Journal reported, “The action by the college had prompted faculty and students to protest.” And one PC student wrote on an online forum this week, “We should be able to back up our beliefs and have an open dialogue about these topics. If we don’t, we are merely hiding behind our religion, not embracing it.”

Behold! The wretched culture of closed-mindedness found within “religious” schools!

Maybe Ahlquist should have just chilled out for a bit. His atheist vigor could easily have had “cross purposes” with the actual truth of the matter.

Without a doubt, there is no better example than Steve Ahlquist of an atheist on a crusade.


Delusion is the primary byproduct of the liberal subscription – not merely on college campuses, but throughout the progressive network. By their elitism and by their decrepit subculture of political correctness, leftists often drift deep into intellectual oblivion.

It may upset Ahlquist to learn that the Catholic Church – his favorite target – is largely credited with creating the university system. This includes the commitment to reason and all the scientific advancements that came to characterize Western Civilization. As historian Lowrie Daly reminds us, the Church was “the only institution in Europe [during the Middle Ages] that showed consistent interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge.”

It wasn’t until the academy was taken over by Ahlquist’s ilk that it rejected its initial devotion to reasoned debate, and became a temple for intellectual totalitarianism.

But how on Earth could “religious” people ever cultivate knowledge? This just isn’t conceivable for someone who perceives “the religious” as people whose philosophy is crafted from stupidity and/or a longing for an afterlife – rather than being born out of a cultural appetite for the truth.

In contrast, by their own presumptions, atheists have no claim to truth, and no reason to even pretend that they have an ability to discover it. As C.S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist, once explained, “Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: So I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

Talk about an “irresolvable paradox.”

Why, again, is Steven Ahlquist even speaking?

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left. 


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