Atheism Leads to Authoritarianism
As a statement about societies this is a reasonable argument. The most authoritarian regime of recent times was Communism and it was certainly atheistic. But are individual atheists automatically more supportive of authority? As a libertarian and an atheist I would have to say No.
There is certainly not a 1-to-1 correspondence between atheism and personal authoritarianism but there would appear to be some connection. Leftists are great promoters of government control of most things and Leftists are often atheistic. So faith would appear to be some protection against government authoritarianism
On the other hand, religion can be very authoritarian. Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses (etc.) demand a lot of their followers -- and get obedience to it
Perhaps it all boils down to what authority you respect, as my research into political authoritarianism suggested. Left and Right simply respect different authorities. See here and here
Conservative Christian author and radio host Eric Metaxas has written several best-selling biographies, including one about the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Metaxas released another book not long ago with the provocative title Is Atheism Dead?. The title was clearly intended as a nod to the 1966 Time Magazine title “Is God Dead?”
Metaxas argues that recent scientific research and historic archeological discoveries have served only to further point to God’s existence and against the atheist claim of there being no compelling evidence for God.
So, while Metaxas makes his impressive case that science is indeed favorable to theism rather than opposed to it, the answer to his question as to whether atheism is dead has long been answered. And that answer is “no.”
In fact, the Bible itself says as much. In the first chapter of the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul points out that the truth of God’s existence and power has been made plain to all humanity in creation (Rom. 1:19-21). However, humans in their state of sinful rebellion actively work to suppress this truth. God, therefore, gives them over to their foolish thinking and as a result they become effectively blind to Him. Practically speaking they become atheists, rejecting any evidence for God that is built into the fabric of creation everywhere as merely a convent coincident but with no greater reality behind it.
There have been times throughout history where atheism has ebbed and flowed. One of those times when it ebbed was during the birth of this nation, as America’s founders, though not all Christians, still recognized the fact that only a God-believing people could be motivated to uphold the virtues necessary for a free society. Logically, less government is needed when everyone is careful to do the right thing by their neighbor. A free people that is law-abiding doesn’t need a big controlling government.
However, as Metaxas observes, “When we become less active in governing ourselves we look to the government for solutions. Government thereby grows and our abilities to govern ourselves quickly atrophy.” When atheism grows, so does authoritarian government. If people don’t recognize that our Creator God is watching their every action and thought, and that He will hold every individual to account for not only their actions, but their very words and thoughts, then immorality and lawlessness grows.
A truly free people are those who are held by a personal virtue that is based upon a knowledge of God. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” said John Adams. “It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”