Apparently my attempt to encourage people to read a little Margaret Atwood excited a flurry of unexpected flakes -- one, noting that my own views echo those of the great philosopher Baruch Spinoza; another, espousing Laztheism, a particularly appealing combination of navel-gazing-do-nothingness, and a third, the one mentioned in yesterday's post who challenged the notion that atheism is a religion, obviously still hoping for a knock-down-drag-out with somebody other than me.
Reading his passionate rant makes me think he needs a blog of his own, but, knowing him to be a retiring soul who is hesitant to put his name to anything on cyberspace, I'll give him a little of my space today.
It was I who questioned the notion that atheism could be categorized as a religion. Besides, not having the essential elements of dogma, rituals and orthodoxy, it lacks another vital component: The Why of things. One holding an atheistic position fundamentally is debunking any God connection to What Is, which in itself is not a bad idea; there are far too many God-connected ideas floating around that need debunking. It is causing more than one to adopt totally irrational views of things. But for a religious or philosophical concept to be of worth, it must address primarily the notion of What Is. Although references may be made to What Isn't as a way to get the reader or listener directed to the correct path, the concept has to be espoused principally in positive terms (What Is) rather than the negative (What Isn't). The diligent seekers of the truth will begin only to be satisfied when they believe that they have stumbled over the stones of What Is. Falling into the hole of What Isn't provides little satisfaction.
Throughout the millenia, man has been bedevilled by the questions that arise in his mind as he stared out into a star-studded night sky. Questions for which there seems no answers, yet he has the questions. From that perplexing observation, he necessarily asks himself, "Why do I have questions for which I find no answers?" Then he is off on the journey of wanting to know...know What Is.
Men have come up with ever so many questions: Are the workings of the Universe the product of intelligent design, or did a huge rock slide occur out there somewhere, and did we read something in stones, pebbles and dust that came tumbling down -- or up -- or sideways? What role does God play in our lives? Of what importance are we to God? Do extraterrestrials and hamsters have souls?
Do we have souls? I'm told we do, so what caused zombies to lose theirs? One of my favorite questions is, Is the devil for real or just an invented boogie man by church officials to keep the unenlightened in line?
I do hope some atheist rises to the challenge and defends the stance of atheism. It is always fascinating to hear such defenses, for it is usually done by intelligent people, although a fanatical atheist on a roll is a hilarious sight to see.
Don't get me wrong; I'm all in favor of the world having atheists. If nothing else, with well-presented arguments, they sometimes keep those with tendencies to be religious from being fanatical. That might be a good idea for use in the Middle East as away to off set an overabundance of religious zeal. Maybe a large contingency of UN-backed atheists could bring an end to all this senseless killing, maiming and suffering, most of which is done in the name of God. Don't you get it? If there is no God, there is no reason to defend his name, therefore peace. That's it -- Peace on Earth through Atheism! Let's run that by God and see what It has to say.
As a matter of fact, I hate to tell my friend that most of the atheists I know are defenders of peace, giving that exact reason. They are not so self-righteous as those who claim to be on a first name basis with God. They are, perhaps, smug, because they came to their belief through great and lengthy study, and think their conclusion to be scientific and the other -- that there is a god, or even that (as a committed agnostic says) there might be -- is just wishful thinking on the part of naifs with no proof of anything.
I think the acceptance of the possibility of god is like Dr. Andrew Weil says of what doubting, scientific medical men call the placebo effect. There is no scientific reason for it to work, but if it works, why not accept it? And I doubt that god thinks about our conclusions one way or the other.