Mark 9:24

Posts Tagged ‘Atheism’

Horror at the mob of Christians

In On Atheism on March 31, 2012 at 1:23 am

New Atheists invoke the curious case of Hypatia in their mythology of the Christian mob, seeking to undermine the Christian claim of imitating Christ. Though New Atheists abandon good sense along the way, they certainly have the right sense. While Christianity rarely resembles a mob as much as the New Atheism, Christian mobs are always worse.

As Jeremiah laments the destruction of Jerusalem, all Christians must lament the watering down of Christianity. Only the repentant return from Babylon, and rarely if ever have all returned.

Let us remember: In the atheist age of Dawkins, there is no common ground among men opposed to God but a single cri de coeur — or is it cri du jour? — for it is a fist in flickering torchlight, raised alone against the Manor and, often, manners. As a whole, New Atheism is led not so much by figureheads but by acclamation, by which their Adams ascend and fall. They are not a community but for one purpose. If some elements dispute this characterization as odious dictionary atheism, it stands that some dispute it and some defend it. The New Atheism is self-devouring in many senses.

If I particularize the New Atheists, do not confuse this with condemning them more than anyone else. Such as it is in the eternal human story, found among pagans of every stripe. Larger devours smaller, shouts drown out saner voices. With no cause but one, such men band together only as barbarians against the eternal city — long enough to divide the spoils, but not so long as to linger together when back home. But Christians — Christians are not made for division.  Read the rest of this entry »

With trembling hands, bear the sacred

In Lay Meditations on January 2, 2012 at 9:11 am

Fascinating exchanges have taken up the bulk of my writing lately, and I think it’s well worth at least my time to debrief. This first point involves the question of the two sorts of theist-atheist arguments — first, there’s the popular one which posits shiny Evangelical treacle of mammon against slick Freedom from Religion Foundation trickle of mammon, where the War on Christmas rages on and the causalities are always far fewer than reported.

It is no boastfulness to talk of men as swine, for we must always approach our fellow men as fellow sinners.

Darrow vs. Bryan, reads yesterday’s banner; Dawkins vs. Craig, reads tomorrow’s; and boy, in my twisted imagination do the atheists always get the top billing, because man, they do not always win.

I am utterly uninterested in this hysteria. Clearer arguments come from surprising corners, which is to say between that endangered creature, the real atheist who yet is polite, and we the backwards relics of the Dark Ages, we lockstep sheep and papist throwbacks. We are not utterly opposed: We both, for example, submit to actual science on the question of evolution. Leah of Unequally Yoked, admirably, takes the tack of our latter route, but, dissenting, here writes an atheist with the earnest name of Heartfout, a reader over at a much better blog than mine. Read the rest of this entry »

Admirable atheists and the schizoid man

In On Atheism on August 21, 2011 at 5:27 am

There are a few atheist personalities I admire with splagchnizomai, and because of their love for truth. Doctrinally, we know atheists can have truth because God is good and without God exists nothing and nobody, and this parallels the notion introduced to me by annotations in The Divine Comedy that every vice is a twisted virtue. Lewis confirms this, most notably in Out of the Silent Planet, where “evil”  has no closer analogue in the Martian language than “bent.”

Truth is always the priority.

I repeat myself: it is a plain fact that there is truth everywhere. Indeed, it is so plain that we need not resort to religious reasoning to make heads or tails of it, though I did take that liberty. Starting from the premise that no man is wholly without virtue or truth, here are at least a few admirable trends in what so many atheists call simply, “the movement.”

  • Fidelity to truth. Rejection of Christianity may often be the first religious experience an atheist has, if from a place of reverence for truth. If from a place of mockery and iconoclasm for the sake of iconoclasm, however, it is a hollow movement.
  • Believing firmly that belief matters. Fr. Robert Barron pointed out the now-obvious observation that atheists care about religion as much as the deeply devout.
  • They are very vocal. In an age when the Gospel is stifled by pseudo-evangelical compromises and platitudes and doing your own thing, atheism rings like a clear bell in a foggy swamp, to borrow a phrase.

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Do nothing thoughtlessly

In Lay Meditations on August 16, 2011 at 11:07 am

For freethinkers, atheists seem awfully fond of catchphrases. In response you may fairly say that atheists are not necessarily freethinkers, but in so saying you affirm what I have already said. In any case, despite insisting that they have no dogma they do share a great number of high-fivin’ bon mots stripped of context. In most of these we can see a strong pattern, even aside from the mobbish iconoclasm that seems to think breaking the symbols of a thing breaks the thing.

Your ability to whip up righteous indignation does not mean you are right. It means you know how to press buttons.

One of the favorites comes from John Stuart Mill:

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.

Is it possible to say such a thing without smirking? I congratulate anyone who avoids that gaping trap without conscious effort, for on the face of things it seems this taken in and of itself can only be said by a man who believes human beings are pigs and he is something more even than that.

This takes a peculiar turn if said by a former Christian. He means to say he was formerly a pig. This would mean that he became not-pig from pig, this despite there being no natural progression between the two. He might as well believe that a thing may come from nothing, and he does.

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Truth even in desecration

In On Atheism on July 27, 2011 at 7:22 am

Looking again at PZ Myers’ desecration of the Eucharist, we here more, albeit smaller, nuggets of truth:

By the way, I didn’t want to single out just the cracker, so I nailed it to a few ripped-out pages from the Qur’an and The God Delusion. They are just paper. Nothing must be held sacred. Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your lord, you are not disciples of any charismatic prophet.

Without faith --- trust --- in even one particular other, we marvel only at our distorted self-image.

Regarding the comments about a cracker, we should respond as Peter Kreeft:

Our enemies are not anti-Catholic bigots who want to crucify us. They are the ones we’re trying to save. They are our patients, not our disease. Our word for them is Christ’s: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We say this of the Chinese communist totalitarians who imprison and persecute Catholics, and to the Sudanese Muslim terrorists who enslave and murder Catholics. They are not our enemies, they are our patients. We are Christ’s nurses. The patients think the nurses are their enemies, but the nurses know better.

Kreeft is at times too snarky and polemical for my taste, but in this he hit the nail on the head. Again, there is at least a little truth everywhere.

Myers, for his part, is right to say that The God Delusion certainly must not be held sacred, and not for the reasons an atheist might think I mean.

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Idols of horsemen

In On Atheism on July 19, 2011 at 5:40 am

Among atheists most follow the pattern Kreeft notes: “If we do not worship God, we will worship idols, for we are by nature worshipers.” I’ve seen intellect, sensation and an abstract subjective happiness. Some, perhaps like men who very shallowly read Asimov, instead have faith in identifying the vague progress of science as a science of universal progress. They transpose the proper utility of science in the material and use it as a weapon, aiming at the immaterial. They ignore the simple fact that we recognize metaphysics because Aristotle knew physics answers only hows and is useless toward whys.

What is founded on the world does not reach very high beyond it, and will shudder with the earth.

Read Asimov a little deeper, though, and we see he realizes that science cannot correct what is wrong with men. It does not take much knowledge of the deterioration of the Spacers, or of the Empire, or even of the Foundation to disassociate Asimov from utopianism. However clever Hari Seldon, his psychohistory fails. As Lewis notes in his explanation of original sin:

That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended — civilizations are built up — excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin.

We also see some elite condescension in atheist circles which, although it has a parallel in certain prelates who disdained drumming in St. Peter’s when the African bishops were scheduled for Rome, has no parallel in the man who said, “the more African, the better.” Some atheists, observably not despairing of anything but Christians, have a kind of pride we find in every heresy — even the Gnostics thought they were bearers of a secret immortal truth available to an elite few, and they believed that the deluded Christians should be dissuaded with absurdities. We see it in the state endorsement of Arianism, in the mockeries of the Manichees and throughout materialist scientism.

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Everywhere, at least a little truth

In Pursue Truth on July 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Even as atheist blogger PZ Myers desecrated the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, there are specific points of wisdom in which Myers might as well be Aquinas, though we must take care to rope off his modern chauvinism.

You are all human beings who must make your way through your life by thinking and learning, and you have the job of advancing humanity’s knowledge by winnowing out the errors of past generations and finding deeper understanding of reality.

The Temptation of St. Thomas Aquinas, by Diego Velazquez. St. Thomas here shows us his virtue, but it is not his intelligence. Intelligence, though good, is not a virtue.

His call to thinking and learning parallels the affirmation by Thomas Aquinas that we should use, we should exercise our God-given faculties. While he cites glory of God and gratitude for His blessings, the effect is certainly to advance humanity’s knowledge, and this is a solemn duty for those capable. If we are free to dismiss this as him being a distant heir of Aquinas through his association with a university — Scholasticism being the immediate progenitor of the universities — we at least then see the incredible debt any sort of intelligentsia has to Christendom.

Moreover, atheists do winnow out the errors of the temporal Church Militant, the excesses and absurdities of unsophisticated fundamentalism as much as the greatest wickedness and sins of Catholics. For this service we owe them gratitude. No man can have too much humility.

He spoils it all with a final falsehood.

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