Material so far off the top of my head…
I am getting requests from a sufi source//Gold? to develop an approach to atheism, if not for moslems or sufis, then in a general sense beyond the wrongheaded brand of the ‘new atheists’. I can’t do that: I am not an atheist…or a theist. I can’t develop a brand of atheism that will be used to reverse brainwash theists. But at the same time the task in another form is overdue and can be taken up as a form of dialectic: issues for and against theism/atheism…there are no solutions logically to the god question…
In the second chapter of WHEE, I consider a triple dialectic/circular firing squad approach negating theism, atheism, agnosticism. Observe your thinking over time, it will move between these three spontaneously unless you are a strong theist in a state of constant prayer.
But I won’t address the question for moslems: how could I? I have never been to a moslem country, and have had no relationships whatever with muslims (beyond the notorious ‘theft of baraka’ episode years ago). After the spectacular cruelty of that episode, my sole interaction with molsems, I have always been afraid or wary of muslims, but polite and in general not prejudiced in any way. I probably know more about sufism than most sufis so-called, but I have never had any contact with actual sufis to speak of. I have never been invited to any sufi congregation or school and am persona non grata after sufi excommunication (for what reason I don’t know). Since taking up this blog, contact with sufis has been out of the question. No loss there. Never met any, apart from deformed joker sufi monsters from Brooklyn like Gold.
I am also wary of this kind of thing from sufis: it is a good way to get someone killed…to suggest this. But I think the case is sincere. The confusion created by ‘secular humanism’ is unnecessary.
Why can’t they do this for themselves?
Sufism has a lot of crypto-atheists, pantheists, proto-Spinozists, but the actual character of sufism in moslem countries is unknown to me.
The issue is simple: buddhist ‘atheism’ has been an clarifying issue/perspective for centuries. It is soft/indirect atheism: we enter a tacit dimension of metaphysical reserve. And this is compatible with ‘polytheism’ within nature.
Consider Gurdjieff, is he really a theist? He is a closet nihilist, it seems, and has a very strange take on morality. Not much of a theist.
Consider Bennett’s The Dramatic Universe: he goes through the whole history of Xtianity but is he really a theist? ‘God’ is related to the ‘third force’ factor in the levels of the ray of creation. Ingenious, but suspiciously ‘not your idea of god’.
The question of ‘god’ was always proto-kantian in its perspective until the real Kant came along: he is hard to figure at some points, but his critique of metaphysics leaves little save the possibility of faith, in his sense. He was critical of theistic ethics and tried to make ethical reasoning independent from divinity.
Theism in mainstream monotheism tends to be very dubious in its infantile proliferation of beliefs in a personal ‘god’. It is an unreasonable confusion of thought in the way the ‘person’ of god is the object of Xtian prayer for a profusion of demands, wishes, hopes and desires. Surely it is obvious this confusion cannot stand, but it can’t be challenged by the mainstream religious theologians. The history of Islam shows a lot of critique of Christian confusions, and its ritual of prayer is a dignified ‘dialectic of theism, atheism and a transcendence of the opposition: ‘there is no God, but God’.
The ancient Israelites inherit a tradition of silence on ‘god names’: IHVH, which promptly became a new form of god talk: Jehovah…
The question of atheism emerges promptly in the modern transition in the sixteenth century and is one of the constant companions of emergent modernity, but not a defining characteristic. The Reformation perpetuated theism in modernity and it is incorrect to speak of ‘secularism’ as atheism. Secularism emerges as a term associated with a new era (‘saeculum’) in the sixteenth century. But the modern transition (1500 to 1800) shows no final equation of the modern with either theism or atheism.
The work of Kant onward shows how the critique of metaphysics and thence theology is double-edged, the ‘metaphysics’ of scientism is almost as flagrant.
The new atheists, in the footsteps of the early secular humanists of he nineteenth century, have produced an anomalous atheism that is almost a fraud: we are served up a crooked version of darwinism, exposed over and over again, as a mainstay in the ‘refutation’ of the design argument. And the stance of the new atheists seems to waver between theistic religions and then take on atheist religions like buddhism. It is thus not clear where they are coming from. The solution to the riddle is the allegiance to crude scientism, which can’t handle the concept of ‘enlightenment’. It is hard to believe but the new atheists have tried to negate buddhist concepts of ‘enlightenment’ because they are not ‘naturalistic’. Beyond belief.
Keep in mind that scientists, while usually highly intelligent, suffer from narrow education and are able to replace thought with mathematical reasoning an invaluable crutch. But without that scientists/physicists can’t handle anything outside of physics very well. Physicists adept in super advanced math suddenly flunk the statistical confusions of darwinism, as pointed to by Hoyle. That is puzzling, and a sign of atrophied reasoning powers, as opposed to mathematical theorizing.
The question of atheism has been almost ‘standard’ since the era of Spinoza (who never quite called himself an atheist, deus siva natura) started the genre which is now the crux of modernity for many. But theism did not die with either Spinoza or science after Newton.
The issue of atheism is confused with the crude beliefs of many believers in the near Santa Claus versions of god so common in mainstream churches. People thus snap out of ‘god’ in these senses but the issue of ‘god’ is potentially far more elusive. Atheists have consistently failed to produce a reasonable successor to religion. The whole effort ends askew with botched cults like the new atheism.
The questions of theism revolve around many of the metaphysical problems exposed by Kant and this and its larger culture of critical metaphysics induces a kind of long-term nosedive in the public culture of belief. But the core of the ‘god’ question awaits what we are recently seeing: something like Krauss’ (the physicist author of books on the Nothing) ideas of something from nothing. We confront the antinomial issues raised by Kant and this cannot resolve itself. The idea of ‘something from nothing’ is the stage of physics confronting the kantian antinomy: there is a beginning in time, there is no beginning in time. We cannot resolve the question of something and nothing.
I will try to continue this further, but overall the stance of atheism is strengthening: the confusions of theology are increasingly evident to many Christians themselves. But it takes time to realize that the antinomial issues at the core of the ‘god’ idea have no resolution one way or the other.