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Why atheism damps out

December 31st, 2011 · 4 Comments

We see a surge in atheism at the moment, but I doubt if that trend will prove the end of the matter. The whole initiative is likely to fade out as it reaches a plateau. The new atheists could be stopped in their tracks by anyone but Christian theologians trying to defend side issues. And that’s the point, perhaps: the ‘theism’ of everyday Christian belief is so confused and infantile that it is small wonder skeptics would say, enough. Christians (I won’t include Muslims, but I wonder) have so trivialized the ‘god’ reference with false prayer beliefs, and personalized ‘divine agency’ fictions that a kind of clearing of the undergrowth becomes necessary.
But the irony is that the atheism of the new atheists is almost as superstitious as anything in religion. The reason is simple: you can’t negate what you won’t define. To declare the non-existence of ‘god’ is without meaning if you won’t define god, and take that in association with five to fifty other things also to be negated or affirmed. Thus ‘atheism’ means also that ‘soul’ doesn’t exist, and that Darwinism is an abolutely correct theory, etc… You just do this in such a sloppy way. It is all gibberish.
Since noone knows what they are talking about it is hard to make a serious case either for the existence or non-existence of god.
Meanwhile, buddhists who, after a fashion, are atheists of long standing are baffled that they are out in the cold. What will satisfy these new atheists.
Meanwhile an important absurdity lurks near this discussion. As J. G. Bennet points out (but I will speak for myself in my own version), the issue of ‘god’s’ existence is a misunderstanding. The failure to distinguish ‘being’ from existence pervades all discussion. But if you consider ‘god’ to be outside ‘existence’ (say, in relation to the Big Bang) then the whole debate is nonsense. I note that Muslims often speak, btw, of the ‘will of god’, and this echoes the distinction of being and will in Bennett, et al.(It is not his original idea). The point is that the ‘existence’ of the universe (evidentally since the big bang, if we accept that cosmology) and the putative ‘existence’ (or being) of ‘god’ can’t be put into the same category. You can sense if not define the difference between being and existence by thinking of isoceles triangles (etc,…): an isoceles triangle is a mathematical abstraction (Platonic idea) that has ‘being’ in some sense but no existence until it is realized in, say, a diagram, which can only approximate the idea in the creator’s mind, as he examines a triangular drawing. Failure to be clear what is being said is therefore a characteristic of this false debate. Actually, as this example shows, we can’t proceed toward meaningful statements about god, a statement that is not atheistic.

Tags: General

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kim // Dec 31, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I agree that atheism will fade away, but I believe that it will be science that brings it about. Every year as scientist delve deeper and deeper into cosmology and biology the evidence mounts exponentially for the presence of a Creator, a Designer, and Intelligence beyond anything we can imagine.

    People are becoming aware that reason is not a source of value; it is not by itself a reliable guide to the right or the good. History shows that reason does not free the mind of dogmatism or tribalism. It does not free the mind of prejudice. It does not free the mind of cruelty.

    The new atheism started out with a bang and shook a lot of crap out of organised religion. That was a good think. Of course, leave it to atheists to turn liberation into a new round of tribalism, as the supposed reformers waged war on the unreformed and vice versa. Leave it to atheists to begin to take on the tribalism it so vehemently and rightfully fought against. As a historical matter, reason did not free human being from dogmatism or tribalism or the worst cruelties – as we have witnessed firsthand well into our own century. The rational or “scientific” faith of Marxist-Leninist ideology sanctioned cruelties of a type and on a scale hardly imagine by the Inquisition in its darkest hours.. Moreover, scientific rationalism, ironically, became the basis of the most absurd form of dogma and dogmatism that history records – the “scientific” ideology of Marxism – Leninism.

    Yes, atheism will indeed fade as reason and logic and scientific evidence force it to the fringes of history.

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  • 3 LZ // Jan 1, 2012 at 6:49 am

    The new atheists threw away a huge advantage and seemed doomed to lose out to religionists.

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