Home

French philospher and superstar of atheism Michel Onfray’s (Onfray 2007) movement of evangelical secularism depends on a moral mathematics of risk society. At its most extreme it advocates a form of instrumentalist social atomism and radical anthropocentrism.

Onfray refers to the influential writings of Nietzsche, who combines philosophy with a searing aesthetic to unsettle 19th century ethics, ethos and morals. Nietzsche work is permeated with a heightened moral relativism where individuals are free to choose their own virtues and vices subjectively and interchangeably. But Nietzsche’s avatar Zarathustra is not advocating a new religion. He is following in the Enlightenment tradition wherein the modern individual perceives religion to be pitiably self-delusional and comfortable. And I never forget that Nietzsche wrote against a late 19th century backdrop of a distorted form of Christian/utilitarianism driving unfettered destructive colonial expansion.

These masters of today- surpass them, O my brethren- these petty
people: they are the Superman’s greatest danger!
Surpass, ye higher men, the petty virtues, the petty policy, the
sand-grain considerateness, the ant-hill trumpery, the pitiable
comfortableness, the “happiness of the greatest number”-!
And rather despair than submit yourselves. And verily, I love you,
because ye know not today how to live, ye higher men! For thus do ye
live- best! (Nietzsche 1892)

The brilliance of the canonical writing of Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, Deleuze and even Derrida, is not enough to provide incentive to transform inner ethical orientations or to change outward moral behaviour. Marx was not a Marxist. Derrida himself deconstructed the Author. These leaders of thought provide useful concepts and robust arguments but not comprehensive systems intended for universal adoption. Their space-time dependent oeuvre never claimed to provide comprehensive manifestos with an ethos, code of ethics and a will for social change under accidental temporal and spatial conditions.

Moral orientation imposed through legislation and education aims at protecting current and dominant (not necessarily democratic) concerns of society. Such ordinances and curriculum are necessary in a civil society but they provide at most a minimalist state protection for those at-risk of social exclusion. At their worst the algorithms of moral mathematics ensure a legal and civil method to heighten the vulnerability of the most vulnerable. See Foucault on crime, punishment and discipline.

Nietzsche’s concept of authenticity which is a form of self-making in the register of the aesthetic is incompatible with that form of imposed morality, the Christian-inspired ethic of charity for the Other crushes an individual’s elemental, instinctive and powerful desires (Taylor 1991:65).

In contrast the inner ethical orientations ( BIC 2006 ) of moderate civil religion relevant to social, historical, economic and political context are constituted by a concept of faith as conscious knowledge expressed in action (‘Abdu’l-Baha 1915:549) combined with an an ethos of caring and mutual trust. This concept of faith is held in tension by the use of the faculty of reason to prevent fanaticism and superstition. First it is to know and then to do (‘Abdu’l-Baha 1915:549).

Taylor (1991:10) describes the fading of moral horizons, the loss of meaning, the eclipse of ends, rampant instrumental reason and the loss of freedoms as all part of the malaise of modernity. He cautions that atomist and instrumentalist approaches promote a debased and shallow form of authenticity (1991:120).

keywords: moral mathematics, consequentialism vs deontology, 

Webliography and Bibliography

‘Abdu’l-Baha. 1915. Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

Bahá’í International Community (BIC). 2006. “A New Vision for Humanity’s Future.

Colbert, Stephen. 2007. Unquisition. May 3.

Derrida (1990) in Le droit à la philosophie du point de vue cosmopolitique.

Etzioni, Amitai. 2007a.”The West Needs a Spiritual Surge” >> Amitai Etzioni Notes. March 6, 2007.

Etzioni, Amitai. 2007b. L’Occident aussi a besoin d’un renouveau spirituel.” Le Monde. 7 avril.

Hitchens, Christopher. 2007. God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Twelve/Warner Books.

Higgins, Andrew. 2007. As religious strife grows, atheists seize pulpit.” Northwest Herald. >> nwherald.com. April 13.

Kinsley, Michael. 2007. “In God, Distrust.” Sunday Book Review. New York Times. May 13.

Lacroix, Alexandre, Truong, Nicolas. 2007. “Nicolas Sarkozy et Michel Onfray: Confidences entre Ennemis.” Philosophie Mag. No. 8. >> Philomag.com

Onfray, Michel. 2007. Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1892. Thus Spake Zarathustra. Trans. Common, Thomas.Taylor, Charles. The Malaise of Modernity. Concord, Ontario: House of Anansi Press.


Stephen Colbert patented the WORD unquisition in honour of Onfray. He describes the work of unquisitionists as, “Missionary secularists [who] are working hard to convince the faithful not not believe what they don’t.” (Colbert 2007).

Karen Armstrong, a prominent British author on religion, claims that missionary secularism mimics the ardor of Christianity, Islam and Marxism, all of which have at their core an urge to convert nonbelievers to their world view (Higgins 2007 ).

Michel Onfray chose Delacroix’s Jacob Fighting the Devil for the cover of his controversial book entitled Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (2007). It is one of a series of publications that are part of the rise in missionary secularists’ Atheist manifestos such as Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation, and Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Michel Onfray’s Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. and Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Michel Onfray, who has a enormous cult following as philosopher and high-priest of atheism, advocates work by Marx, Foucault, Nietzche, Gilles Deleuze, and Jeremny Bentham instead of the Bible or the Koran. His interview with Nicolas Sarkozy on Philosophie Mag has an enormous impact.

D’un côté, un philosophe athée, antilibéral, hédoniste et libertaire. De l’autre, un candidat à la présidentielle n’hésitant pas à remettre en cause la loi sur la séparation de l’Église et de l’État, un ministre de l’Intérieur rêvant au rétablissement de l’autorité. À notre initiative, les deux hommes se sont rencontrés. On s’attendait à un choc frontal, il a été question de la croyance, du mal, de la liberté, de la transgression (Nicolas Sarkozy et Michel Onfray: Confidences entre Ennemis).

In the course of the interview Onfray ceremoniously offered Sarkozy gifts of his own secular bibles:

Totem et Tabou, je vous l’offre parce que Sigmund Freud y traite du meurtre du père et de l’exercice du pouvoir dans la horde. L’Antéchrist de Friedrich Nietzsche, pour la question de la religion, la critique radicale de la morale chrétienne à vous qui, parfois, allez à la messe en famille. Michel Foucault, c’est une lecture que je recommande plus particulièrement au ministre de l’Intérieur, adepte des solutions disciplinaires. Dans Surveiller et punir, Michel Foucault analyse le rôle du système carcéral et de l’emprisonnement, puis de leur relation avec la norme libérale. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, enfin, car il montre qu’on peut ne pas être libéral sans pour autant être communiste (Nicolas Sarkozy et Michel Onfray: Confidences entre Ennemis).

Delacroix’ painting Jacob Fighting the Devil is visible on this theatrical poster for Director Sally Potter’s (1997) film The Tango Lesson.

Poster provided through Wikipedia by Sony2.

Key words: evangelical atheist, Unquisition, Atheist, Awakening Secular, Selling Nothingness, Colbert, Michel Onfray, Christopher Hitchens vs Lou Dobs,

Notes
1. This is a file from the Wikimedia CommonsThis illustration was made by Gloumouth1. Please credit this : Gloumouth1, http://gloumouth1.free.fr (An email to gloumouth1 at laposte.net would be appreciated too).

2. Wikipedia advises that the use of scaled-down, low-resolution images of posters to illustrate the film, event, etc. in question or to provide critical analysis of the poster content or artworkEnglish-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law. Any other uses of this image, on Wikipedia or elsewhere, may be copyright infringement. See Wikipedia:Non-free content for more information. To the uploader: please add a detailed fair use rationale for each use, as described on Wikipedia:Image description page, as well as the source of the work and copyright information. Fair use rationale:This image is being used to illustrate the article of the movie in question and is used for informational purposes only. This image is of low resolution. It is believed that this image will not devalue the ability of the copyright holder to profit from the original work. Image used for comment, reporting, and teaching qualifies as Fair Use.

3. Images are only available in the Google docs version Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. >> http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_233dqs84d”> “Unquisition: Selling Nothingness.”

Webliography and Bibliography

Colbert, Stephen. 2007. Unquisition. May 3.

Delacroix, Eugène. Jacob Fighting the Devil. Lutte de Jacob avec l’Ange. Eglise Saint Sulpice Detail. 2005.1

Hitchens, Christopher. 2007. God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Twelve/Warner Books. 

“Jacob Fighting the Devil.” chapter 32 of Genesis

Kinsley, Michael. 2007. “In God, Distrust.” Sunday Book Review. New York Times. May 13.
Lacroix, Alexandre, Truong, Nicolas. 2007. “Nicolas Sarkozy et Michel Onfray: Confidences entre Ennemis.” Philosophie Mag. No. 8. >> Philomag.com

Onfray, Michel. Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Higgins, Andrew. 2007. As religious strife grows, atheists seize pulpit.” Northwest Herald. >> nwherald.com. April 13.