It is extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact time unbelief in the existence of God became a strongly-felt principle that compelled our civilization to act in ways it had never previously acted before. Nevertheless, somewhere in the above-mentioned span of history lies a tipping point - a point at which all the small, accumulated changes accrued over the centuries initiated a significant change in the world. Somewhere within that stretch of time, rejecting the existence of God went from being considered an acceptable thing to do to being considered the right thing to do.
The moral imperative driving atheism has held up rather effectively. Unbelief in the existence of God is now viewed as a sign of sophistication, reason, and intelligence. Atheism is the mark of self-respecting individuals who understand 'scientific' reality and refuse to let their lives be cowed by superstitious fairy tales and obsolete medieval morality.
Nevertheless, early self-professed atheists understood that their right to un-believe in the existence of the Divine was intrinsically connected to the rights of others to continue believing. Though most atheists considered theists to be misguided, superstitious, and foolish, they tended to respect the right of believers to be believers. But as is the case with most issues that boil down to rights, this ideal state of mutual respect became untenable. As the moral imperative driving atheism continued to expand and strengthen, it gradually drove believer norms, practices, and symbols out of the public domain. Thus religious unbelief, which began as a private, individual right, soon became a public moral imperative, while religious belief, more specifically in the West, Christianity, was systematically relegated to the margins of the public sphere.
The moral imperative driving atheism began to fade the moment unbelief in the existence of God became dominant. Once atheism (Godless leftism) became the dominant belief system in the West, it ceased being a moral imperative and became more of a prerequisite. Within this framework, belief in the existence God was still technically permitted, but only if it was subordinated to the ruling temporal system of unbelief represented by idols such as science, reason, humanity, democracy, equality, liberalism, and all the rest of it. As a result, belief in God has become a moot point. Though the issue of belief versus unbelief in the existence of the Divine technically remains open to debate, the debate itself has been declared unimportant and devoid of any practical value.
When this occurred, atheism began to shift toward the moral imperative of antitheism. To truly do the right thing and live in the right way, atheists had to do far more than harbor unbelief; they had to adopt the view that belief in God was not only silly and misguided, but positively wrong and harmful. Thus, antitheism - recently promulgated and made famous in the public sphere by Dawkins, Hitchens, et. al - has replaced atheism as the new moral imperative.
In this time and place, unbelief in God is no longer sufficient. Being on the right side of civilization and history now demands belief in the existence of God be vociferously attacked, criticized, and ridiculed in the public sphere. Furthermore, the moral imperative of antitheism also demands religion and belief in God be ruthlessly singled out and blamed as the root cause for nearly all of humanity's maladies and suffering. This milieu makes it morally unacceptable for atheists to remain purely atheists; being accepted as politically and, more significantly, morally correct requires far more than mere unbelief; it also entails treating all belief in the existence of God as positively stupid, offensive, and, at its core, evil.
The moral imperative of antitheism continues to drive our current time and place, but in my estimation we are coming to the tail end of this period. Though atheism and antitheism have both proven extremely effective in turning people away from God, I get the sense both of these moral imperatives have essentially served their respective purposes in the spiritual war. Atheism has lured people into consciously and willingly rejecting the very idea of the existence of God and the existence of the Truth that God radiates, while antitheism has succeeded in relentlessly attacking and undermining those who continue to maintain their belief and faith in the Divine and Divine Truth.
Don't get me wrong, not believing in the existence of God and denigrating anyone who believes in the existence of God are still 'the right things to do' in the here and now and will continue on unabated, but I get the sense that this poisonous fusion of atheism/antitheism will soon be augmented by a new overarching moral imperative, one specifically crafted for the times we are currently experiencing. This new moral imperative will appear in the form of active and open misotheism - that is, in the form of explicit expressed hatred of God.
Here's the thing - atheism and antitheism both stem from the principle of unbelief. The atheist and antitheist rejection of God and Truth is based on the relativist, positivist, and reductionist conviction that God and Truth do not and cannot exist in reality. However, the metaphysical rejection of the existence of God also includes the metaphysical rejection of the existence of supernatural evil. Put another way, for most modern people, the active and willing atheist and antitheist rejection of God also denotes a refusal to believe in the existence of the devil. For the atheist/antitheist, neither God nor Satan are real.
For the demonic forces waging war against God, Truth, and Creation, this arrangement represents a compromise. It has been argued that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist, and the devil has certainly succeeded in doing that. The demonic forces understand that tempting people away from belief in God also necessitates the relinquishing of belief in Satan. This unbelief in both God and Satan alleviates the explicitness of rejecting Good in favor of Evil, but it has come at the price of compromise. I suspect this time of compromise will soon come to an end.
Unlike their victims and minions, demons cannot harbor unbelief in God for the simple reason that they know God exists - they know God is real. They know God is real because they know they themselves are real. In light of this, they understand that God and Creation are Good, and that Satan and Destruction are evil. They know the value of Truth, Beauty, and Virtue. They are painfully aware of the beauty and truth of Creation and the promise of eternal life in Heaven beyond this world, but they reject it - all of it - and work feverishly to tempt every individual human soul to do the same.
As stated earlier, inspiring unbelief in the existence of God has served the demonic forces well, but it has come at the price of inspiring unbelief in the existence of Satan. Under this arrangement, demonic forces have successfully manipulated people into believing that turning away from God does not implicitly or explicitly involve turning toward the devil, but instead involves a turning toward a 'real' higher good (humanism, equality, democracy, hedonism, whatever) that exists firmly within perceived material reality.
This paradigm is quickly coming to an end. The devil no longer desire to convince the world of his nonexistence. On the contrary, he wants to emphatically assert the reality of his existence, but he understands that any true validation of his existence can only occur through the full acknowledgement of the existence and reality of God. Consequently, we have reached a stage in which the demonic forces feel confident enough to push humanity from the unbelief path to damnation and steer it firmly onto the path of fully conscious and aware self-damnation. Demonic forces are working to make the reality of their existence obvious to everyone, but this endeavor automatically includes raising human awareness about the existence of God as well. Like God, the devil now seems to want people to become fully aware of the metaphysical reality of Good and Evil; to ensure everyone knows that he and God are real.
The inversions and manipulations the demonic forces have utilized over the centuries to turn people away from God are becoming increasingly blatant and transparent. The perceived gray area in which many have erroneously sheltered is diminishing and will soon disappear. The reality of Good and Evil is becoming evermore obvious and undeniable, even to those who refuse to believe in such realities. Satan is currently asserting the reality of his existence. The Prince of Lies wants every soul in the world to accept the reality of his truth and make it a new moral imperative going forward. And what is the reality of Satan's truth?
Misotheism - a voracious and limitless hatred of God.
Declared, open, and explicit hatred of the Divine - a hatred based on firm belief rather than on unbelief in the existence of God - will become the moral imperative of these times. The demonic forces are confident that the vast majority of humans will reject the Divine even after the reality of God's existence is made explicitly clear. More than that, the devil seems convinced most humans will actively choose to join his endless and terrible hatred of God, and by doing so, become fully and consciously committed to destruction and their own self-damnation via a choice made from a position of belief rather than from a position of unbelief.
I harbor hope and faith in an opposite outcome for many individuals. In the meantime, I suspect the moral imperative of misotheism will become increasingly detectable and prevalent in the coming weeks and months.