It is chiefly because of sex that most contemporary atheists have chosen to break with Christianity. “The worst feature of the Christian religion.” Bertrand Russell wrote in Why I Am Not a Christian, “is its attitude toward sex.” Hitchens writes that “the divorce between the sexual life and fear… can now at last be attempted on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse.”25 When an atheist gives elaborate justifications for why God does not exist and why traditional morality is an illusion, he is very likely thinking of his sex organs. It may well be that if it weren’t for that single commandment against adultery, Western man would still be Christian!

Malcolm Muggeridge, the noted commentator and convert to Catholicism, pointed out that eroticism is the mysticism of materialism. Oddly enough, this doctrine is set forth most clearly in the work of that apostle of sexual deviancy, the Marquis de Sade. His Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man features the dying man’s confession that abandoning a belief in God is the first step to unleashing the genitals and enjoying life. In Philosophy in the Bedroom, de Sade features a fifteen-year-old nun who has shed her faith in God and discovered in its place the delights of incest, sodomy, and sexual flagellation.

Most modern atheists find de Sade as excessive as Nietzsche, and they confine themselves to promiscuity, adultery, and other forms of illicit sex. I am not objecting to their passions here. These are completely understandable to every religious believer. Recall the newly converted Augustine, praying to God to make him chaste, “but not yet.” Augustine would not find it puzzling or mysterious that a whole generation of young people today rebel against Christianity because of its teachings on premarital sex, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and divorce.