Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Atheists I Admire

The kind of atheist whom I respect is one who wants to believe in "God," or whatever.  Most atheists for whom atheism is easy seem self-satisfied and to lack imagination.  Some atheists for whom atheism looks easy, however, do have a helluva a time.  

Life is scarier without a net.

A Stephen Dawkins, or Jean-Paul Sartre, or a Bill Mahr bore me.  Far more intriguing to me are those of us who grin and bear it, and who regularly hear out the sermons and sales pitches of the true believers, in hopes we'll learn something.  It's like living through open heart surgery every day.  The wound never closes.

For the true believers out there:  do not kid yourself that this is either an easier or less moral way to live.  The moral obligation of the self-doubting Atheist is intense, sometimes paralyzing, dangerously close to nihilism, and an open channel to empathy for others in far different walks of life than one's own.  Atheism is exhausting and possibly psychologically unhealthy (Twelve step groups DO have a point,) but since it may also be 'true,' it's morally serious and noble, too.

Atheists who 'want to believe' also know that belief or faith, and religion, are as much (if not more) about building or maintaining a community ethos as they are about other metaphysical truths; that is they are about the metaphysics of human community rather than (or as much as) about the metaphysics of ultimate reality.  The metaphysics of human community do not need a 'God' or a God stand-in to be made to function.  What they do need is shared recognition among the members of a community.   The wells from which mutual recognition is drawn may be various as well as deep or shallow, but none of them need an inviolable--i.e., unchanging--Prime Mover to be filled up, be that Prime Mover a God, or Gods, or Dialectical Materialism.

1 comment:

K said...

A bit late on the commenting. Totally agree with you on this. I believe a large segment among both believers and unbelievers are just people who want to get by and not ideologues who define themselves by where they stand in the faith/reason divide.