|A bus in the desert. Source: desertskytours.com|
- By denying the existence of the divine (including the human spirit which continues on after death) atheism implicitly advocates the supremacy of a profaned material world.
- Taken to its logical conclusion atheism gives us no reason to live; each of us is as Sisyphus, pointlessly labouring for a lifetime with nothing more fleeting than pleasure to console us.
- Atheism gives us only reason and logic to trust in, but reason and logic can only get us so far. The unreasonable, emotional, imaginative, fertile and wild attraction of the Bacchanalia (and similar) will continually unfetter itself so long as life itself prevails.
- Atheism invites us to ignore, dismiss and degrade past personal experiences of the sacred as mere delusions and encourages us to shut our minds and our hearts to the possibility of future experiences of the divine. In this respect it lacks the very spirit of enquiry and curiosity that its adherents so often proclaim to elevate.
- Hard atheism amounts to the desertification of the human condition by implying the futility of religious action (though soft atheism allows for a more open mind).
- Atheism is boring (but science is interesting; contrary to what we sometimes read, atheism and science are not the same, and not all scientists are atheists).
- The most ardent proclaimers of atheism are (at least when they start talking about religion) frequently smug, cynical, arrogant and difficult to admire. Whereas the most committed adherents of religion are able to inspire us through their serene dispositions, quiet confidence, wisdom and kindness.
- The sacred does exist and evidence of this is continually provided, for example, when we feel sunlight on our skin, or when lightning thunders. The polytheist recognises the sacred forces of nature but the atheist struggles to see it. Cicero wrote “the Gods frequently manifest their power in actual presence”, but it is a question of perception. For example, at various points in history various philosophers, theologians and other leading thinkers have put forward the assertion that women are so intellectually, morally and psychologically (or emotionally) inferior to men that female intelligence is fundamentally flawed and feeble. Consequently, swathes of people throughout time have refused to acknowledge the intellectual capacities of their mothers, daughters and wives. Believing what they were taught – that women’s intelligence was mediocre, if not negligible – they could not see what in fact was there. In the same way, atheism (potentially) blocks the ability of its adherents to perceive the world in its full range.
- At the end of the day atheism is a philosophy of negation, and that is its Achilles' heel. Religion will persist so long as people aspire to be part of something transcendent, and this will always be so. Bring on the candles and incense; pass me the flowers and wine;p
* Although I have criticised Christianity in some earlier posts, I would like to point out that I do think there are some very nice things about Christian teachings. Those things include:
- An emphasis on the inherent (potential) dignity of all people, regardless or class, race, etc. The love of God and a state of grace is accessible to all.
- An emphasis on the value of life-long marriage between two people. Whilst this may not be achievable for everyone, it seems to me that people married according Christian custom enjoy greater security and dignity than those who feel the threat of divorce to be a distinctly real possibility or who are (non-consensually) subject to polygamous unions.
- A belief in the inviolability of a sworn oath.
- A strong ongoing tradition of charity for the homeless and destitute.
- Teachings about the love of God, mercy and forgiveness. Any religion that genuinely helps bring love and compassion into the hearts of people is at least partly praiseworthy.
- An emphasis on the virtues of frugality and self-restraint.
- Having enough confidence in the power of God (as they conceive him to be) that they don't feel the need to wage "holy wars" against people who insult their religion, rather they are encouraged to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", to love their enemies and to pray for those who persecute them.
- The aspiration to become a Saint, which constitutes a beautiful, transcendent goal.
- The sound of Church bells, which I always think are lovely and reassuring.
** I feel I should point out that when I mention atheism I refer to self-identifying atheists and the atheist movement, and definitely not people who are merely non-practicing or agnostics.
Sources: written ad lib. The quote from Cicero is sourced from oll.libertyfund.org.