Atheism is more than just the knowledge that gods do not exist, and that religion is either a mistake or a fraud. Atheism is an attitude, a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as a part of nature. Emmett F. Fields
They are everywhere.
I am not able to tell if Damon Linker is religious or not. Not that this is important to my thesis, but one gets tired with writers who think there is a right way to be atheistic. They behave as if they have a divine right in telling us how to live our godless lives. At such times I say stick it up.
Having said that, Linker writes, in part
It’s quite another to claim, as these authors also invariably do, that godlessness is not only true but also unambiguously good for human beings. It quite obviously is not
and I will gladly tell him that a thing isn’t obvious doesn’t make it wrong. The world has progressed simply because some men and women have dared to be different, to challenge what was believed as true. It is not to be construed as a weakness that the majority have not found atheism as true. It is to be blamed on their education and state of mind.
I disagree when he writes
If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we’re alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.
on the contrary it isn’t tragic if atheism is true because it is only on the recognition that we are alone that men and women will work towards building healthier societies here. It has to be borne in mind that not many people have the capacity or the wherewithal to commit horrific evils, whatever this maybe. Sad as it may seem, such people don’t last long and they are not many. And what does Linker mean when he says random events? Isn’t this another way of saying events he is ignorant of? And why is Linker involved in this ego trip? Why should our lives matter in a larger sense? Is it not enough that it matters to us?
And I find it ridiculous that he mentions Nietzsche and goes ahead to say he is the rank and file of the few honest atheists. But Nietzsche the sham smasher held that we should kill gods so humanity could prosper. That the love of gods and by extension faith is the antithesis in the search of truth and in all cases is opposed to progress. Belief in gods require that man surrenders everything to god. To tell us the death of god presents a bleak picture for humanity is not to have read Nietzsche and to undervalue human initiative.
That some atheists are nostalgic about the glory of god doesn’t in any way make god belief true. All we can deduce from it is they wish for a god to be, not that a god is or even that a god is necessary.
When Linker writes
To reject religion does not merely entail facing our finitude without comforting illusions. It also involves the denial of something noble. It is perfectly fitting, Larkin seems to say, for an atheist to lament his lack of belief in a God who bestows metaphysical meaning on the full range of human desires and experiences.
I must ask, how does getting rid of a delusion or a lie be less than noble. Why should we pretend that there is something noble in a lie, even if the lie is 2000 years old? There is nothing for the atheist to lament and if he must lament, then it should be for the lost time believing in ghosts. That is worth lament and sorrow, but the freedom from delusion, nay. That deserves celebration. Man can now raise themselves high knowing they having no overbearing overlord to fear and it is all up to them to build their kingdom.
And I contend, there is no truth that religion conceals as Linker wants us to believe when he writes
It is a striking image, capturing at once the dignified beauty of religious ritual and its capacity to conceal the truth under a layer of intricate artifice: The whole point of the liturgy performed on the church altar, Larkin implies, is to seduce us with the beautiful and supremely fulfilling illusion that our worldly compulsions have cosmological meaning and significance.
I contend that Linker is stretching the truth when he says
It is a need, a hunger that never can be permanently satiated. But religion tries, understanding and responding to this crucially important aspect of humanity perhaps more fully than any other institution or practice.
for in the contrary, all religion does and manages to achieve is blind obedience to absurdities. And if in its dealings it appears to eschew any such qualities, it is to be remembered that it is not religion per se but that it wants to associate with such human qualities. It is this association with the greatest of human needs that has enabled religion to last so long.
I contend that Linker has failed in his attempt to demonstrate atheists, new atheists as he refers to them, are dishonest. What he has managed to demonstrate by an about way is that many people are not ready to accept the truth of atheism and its tidings. This I say has nothing to do with atheism itself.