New Atheists invoke the curious case of Hypatia in their mythology of the Christian mob, seeking to undermine the Christian claim of imitating Christ. Though New Atheists abandon good sense along the way, they certainly have the right sense. While Christianity rarely resembles a mob as much as the New Atheism, Christian mobs are always worse.
Let us remember: In the atheist age of Dawkins, there is no common ground among men opposed to God but a single cri de coeur — or is it cri du jour? — for it is a fist in flickering torchlight, raised alone against the Manor and, often, manners. As a whole, New Atheism is led not so much by figureheads but by acclamation, by which their Adams ascend and fall. They are not a community but for one purpose. If some elements dispute this characterization as odious dictionary atheism, it stands that some dispute it and some defend it. The New Atheism is self-devouring in many senses.
If I particularize the New Atheists, do not confuse this with condemning them more than anyone else. Such as it is in the eternal human story, found among pagans of every stripe. Larger devours smaller, shouts drown out saner voices. With no cause but one, such men band together only as barbarians against the eternal city — long enough to divide the spoils, but not so long as to linger together when back home. But Christians — Christians are not made for division.
For the same reason Israelite idolatry is worse than Egyptian idolatry, Christian mobbishness is worse than atheist mobbishness. Where atheists remit sins and especially theirs by denying even sin, when Christians pretend this way they know men have no such power. Where most men know better than a mob, and all men know better than to mob, Christians may not hide in the coward’s nest that is feigning ignorance, and they certainly may not formalize it as the Problem of Induction. Christians as Christians know better, and they know they know better. Christian sin is never ordinary sin; it always involves a kind of sacrilege.
If there is ever an acquittal of the New Atheism it will be because the New Atheism as a thing is not much of a thing. New Atheism admits nothing but the thrust of pitchfork into the empty, cold air of night. Because it lacks common principles, which is to say that the Narrow Way is there uncommonly uncommon, it is more like a caliphate from anarchy. It is not diversity but disorganization. Such an organism cannot so much grow as metastasize; in words more Americans know from Lincoln than from Christ, a house divided against itself cannot stand. The New Atheism is hardly a lean-to, much less a house; Christians cannot use that out. God gave us a house, a tabernacle of authority. Though we are at least as tempted as any man, we know to resist. We know to Whom to turn when we’re beset by world, or flesh, or Devil.
Should we cave, we ape the natural temptations of man. When we are not acting as Christians, and we are in fact worse than men ignorant of God. What greater betrayal than Judas? What greater scandal than Borgia? What modernism worse than a clown-puppet Mass, or desecration worse than the Black Mass?
Christians are good at desecrating not because Christians are desecrators, for though Christians Christ makes certain things holy in the first place. Christians are the best desecrators because Christians know where the holy things are, because Christians have an idea why they’re holy. There’s no job like an inside job. If, correlatively, there’s no mob so bad as a Christian mob, it is because the Church, founded on clear and constant common principles — founded on authority both transcendent and imminent to man! — is utterly against mobbishness.