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4/23/09

Atheism Spirituality

This essay will present a sampling of atheism spirituality by means of a circumlocution that begins by considering that, I suppose, it was only a matter of time: Professor Richard Dawkins quoted comedians in his book “The God Delusion” and has subsequently picked an argument with a comedian. The comedian’s “sin” against militant activist atheism is that he is not an atheist but some sort of deist.

In his autobiography, The Sound Of Laughter, Peter Kay wrote, “I believe in a God of some kind, in some sort of higher being. Personally I find it very comforting.”

Prof. Richard Dawkins stated, “How can you take seriously someone who likes to believe something because he finds it ‘comforting’?” and furthermore, “If evidence were found for a supreme being I would change my mind instantly -with pride and with great surprise. Would I find it comforting? What matters is what is true, and we discover truth by evidence, not what we would ‘like.’” Apparently, whatever sense of atheism spirituality Prof. Richard Dawkins feels it is not about a comforting feeling.

Peter Kay has written,

“I believe that a man called Jesus did walk the earth at one time but I don't think he was the superhero that the Bible makes him out to be…I think Jesus was just an ordinary person, like me and you.”

Come on now Prof. Richard Dawkins, what is not to like about that?

As one post on this issue read,

“it would help if, just occasionally, he was a tad less humourless and relentless in his attacks on all that is even vaguely religious.”


Dawkins and Kay


I am not certain that we have enough of Peter Kay’s epistemology in his statement to claim that he is actually stating that he “likes to believe something because he finds it ‘comforting.’” He may have other reasons for believing it and also find it comforting. Moreover, would it really be shocking if God existed and that knowledge was comforting?

Sean McManus noted that during a lecture at the Society for Ethical Culture, Prof. Richard Dawkins, was asked “Doesn’t God provide people some solace?” His answer was, “Isn’t that a little childish? Just because something is comforting doesn’t mean it’s true.”
Again, apparently whatever sense of atheism spirituality Prof. Richard Dawkins feels it is not about a comforting feeling.

Moreover, Prof. Richard Dawkins has stated,

“I believe that, given proper encouragement to think, and given the best information available, people will courageously cast aside celestial comfort blankets and lead intellectually fulfilled, emotionally liberated lives”[1] (italics in original).

And yet again, Prof. Richard Dawkins’ atheism spirituality is not about a comforting feeling.

Now, let us turn to another of Prof. Richard Dawkins’ boasts about atheism as he stated it to Ben Stein in the movie Expelled, “people experience freedom when they leave religion or God.”
Perhaps not comfort based atheism spirituality but sense of freedom based.

And another from, A Devil's Chaplain, “There is deep refreshment to be had…you stand to gain ‘growth and happiness’; the joy of knowing that you have grown up” (perhaps Darwin’s Chaplain should be consulted).
Perhaps not comfort based atheism spirituality but sense of deep refreshment, happiness and joy based.

Prof. Richard Dawkins also stated,

“I think there is a poetic consolation to be found in science, and I tried to give expression to it.”[2]

Perhaps not comfort based atheism spirituality but sense of consolation based.

Also, in answer to fellow atheist Jonathan Miller:

you and I probably do have…feelings that may very well be akin to a kind of mystical…I experience, and I expect you experience, internal feelings which sound pretty much like um, what mystics feel, and they call it God. If - and I’ve been called a very religious person for that reason - if I am called a religious person, then my retort to that is, “Well, you're playing with words.”, because what the vast majority of people mean by religious is something utterly different from this sort of transcendent, mystical experience […] The transcendent sense…the transcendent, mystic sense, that people who are both religious and non-religious in my usage of the term, is something very very different. In that sense, I probably am a religious person. You probably are a religious person…the sense of wonder that one gets as a scientist contemplating the cosmos, or contemplating mitochondria is actually much grander than anything that you will get by contemplating the traditional objects of religious mysticism.[3]

Now we begin to get a view at the full Monty of a very popular form of atheism spirituality by means of the “mystical…experience…internal feelings…mystical experience…the transcendent, mystic sense…sense of wonder…contemplating” and atheism spirituality is holier than thou, “much grander.”

In his article, Is Science a Religion? Prof. Richard Dawkins wrote,

…science does have some of religion’s virtues…All the great religions have a place for awe, for ecstatic transport at the wonder and beauty of creation. And it’s exactly this feeling of spine-shivering, breath-catching awe — almost worship — this flooding of the chest with ecstatic wonder, that modern science can provide. And it does so beyond the wildest dreams of saints and mystics…
Science can offer a vision of life and the universe which, as I’ve already remarked, for humbling poetic inspiration far outclasses any of the mutually contradictory faiths and disappointingly recent traditions of the world’s religions.

Now we get a better view of the full Monty of this sort of atheism spirituality by means of the “awe… ecstatic transport…wonder and beauty…spine-shivering, breath-catching awe — almost worship…ecstatic wonder” and again, atheism spirituality is holier than thou, “beyond the wildest dreams of saints and mystics…far outclasses…the world’s religions.”

What have other atheists to state on the issue?

Carl Sagan personified this sort of atheism spirituality as he began the very first episode of “Cosmos” with an utterly unscientific statement,
The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.

His atheism spirituality incantation continued thusly,

Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us—there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as of a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

Presupposing a God-free reality; why it is that atheists seek transcendent experiences, atheism spirituality, remains unanswered.
Also, in referring to our ability to “step off the Earth and look back at ourselves,” as was done by Voyager 2, Carl Sagan stated,

I find that a chilling, spine-tingling, exciting, perspective-raising, consciousness-raising experience. It's said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.[4]

This is denotes an odd co-option of science for the purposes of filling the God shaped void in every human heart via atheism spirituality.

This sentiment was echoed by Michael Shermer whose study of evolution became atheism spirituality that is also holier than thou,

far more enlightening and transcendent, spiritual, than anything I had experienced in seven years of being a born again Christian.[5]

During his debate with Jonathan Wells “Why Darwin Matters” (video and audio) Michael Shermer referenced “the spiritual side of science” which he terms “sciensuality” this is the very definition of God replacing atheism spirituality.

Prof. Michael Ruse, who is an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian who has argued for the ACLU against the “balanced treatment” and professor of the philosophy of science and biology, wrote:

Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion…This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today…evolution as a kind of metaphysics rather than a straight science.[6]

This denotes a state sponsored, indoctrinating, tax payer funded, correlation of atheism and state form of atheism spirituality whereby “evolution” is co-opted as atheist propaganda (I noted the smuggling of atheism through the backdoor of science classrooms in this post).

Stephen S. Hall, Darwin’s Rottweiler - Sir Richard Dawkins: Evolution’s Fiercest Champion, Far Too Fierce

“Einsteinian religion is a kind of spirituality which is nonsupernatural…And that doesn’t mean that it’s somehow less than supernatural religion. Quite the contrary….It is something bigger, something grander, something that I believe any scientist can subscribe to, including those scientists whom I would call atheists…What I can’t understand is why we are expected to show respect for good scientists, even great scientists, who at the same time believe in a god who does things like listen to our prayers, forgive our sins, perform cheap miracles…I suppose my hope would be that science—the best kind of science, the sort of science which approaches the best sort of religion, the Einsteinian spirituality that I was talking about—is so inspiring, so exciting that it should be sellable to everybody…
We have something far better to offer…Why are we freethinking secular scientists not getting into that same marketplace…and selling what we’ve got to sell? Because it’s a far better product, and all we’ve got to do is hone our salesmanship to the level that they are already doing it. [italics in original]

This is, of course, all a part of the goal of many atheists, the ultimate institutionalization of atheism spirituality in the form of a one-world-atheist-neo-Pagan-religion. And it is a true and accurate vision of religion, the religion against which Christians protest: all the emotion and none of the substance.

This is also a fulfillment of the words of the apostle Paul:

…men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because the thing which may be known of God is clearly revealed within them, for God revealed it to them. For the unseen things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being realized by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, for them to be without excuse. Because, knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, neither were thankful. But they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man…
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness…For they changed the truth of God into a lie…they did not think fit to have God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:18b-28).

But isn’t atheism spirituality a little childish? Just because something is freeing, liberating, refreshing, joyful, consoling, transcendent, ecstatic, spine-shivering, spine-tingling, breath-catching, awe inspiring, chilling, exciting or sciensual doesn’t mean it’s true.

May we likewise state of Prof. Richard Dawkins,

How can you take seriously someone who likes to believe something, like in atheism spirituality, because he finds freedom, liberation, refreshment, joy, consol, transcendence, ecstasy, spine-shivering, spine-tingling, breath-catching, awe inspiration, chill, excitement or sciensuality in it. What matters is what is true, and we discover truth by evidence, not that in which we freedom, liberation, refreshment, joy or consolation”?

Moreover, it would be logical to ask if this “freedom” is the same sort of freedom that a bank robber, enjoying the fruits of his labor, feels once he has gotten away with it and is sipping margaritas on a tropical beach. Or the liberation felt and expressed by the domestic terrorist William Ayers when he stated, “Guilty as hell, free as a bird—America is a great country.”

Ex-atheist, the late C. S. Lewis, noted the following of a form of atheism spirituality which he referred to in terms of “Life-Force philosophy, or Creative Evolution, or Emergent Evolution”:

One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences.
When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest.
If, on the other hand, you want to do something rather shabby, the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children.
The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you.
All the thrills of religion and none of the cost.
Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen?[7]

Thus ends the great atheism spirituality experiment.

These are some of the reasons that atheism, particularly in the forms of atheism spirituality, is a consoling delusion; it is the delusion of absolute autonomy, the delusion of lack of ultimate accountability, of subjective meaning in an objectively meaningless universe, etc.

Seeking freedom, liberation, refreshment, joy, consol, transcendence, ecstasy, spine-shivering, spine-tingling, breath-catching, awe inspiration, chill, excitement and sciensuality in atheism spirituality is indicative of atheism as a consoling delusion—atheism is the valium of the people.

[1] Richard Dawkins, How Dare You Call Me a Fundamentalist - The Right to Criticise ‘Faith-Heads’
[2] Lawrence M. Krauss and Richard Dawkins, “Should Science Speak to Faith? (Extended version),” Scientific American, June 19, 2007
[3] The Atheism Tapes, Part 4: Richard Dawkins and Jonathan Miller
[4] Carl Sagan and Tom Head, Conversations with Carl Sagan (Univ. Press of Mississippi), p. 77
[5] Whoever posted it entitled the video Kent Hovind Schools Dr. Mike Shermer
[6] Michael Ruse, “How Evolution Became A Religion—Creationists Correct?: Darwinians Wrongly Mix Science With Morality, Politics,” National Post, May 13, 2000
[7] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Chapter 4: “What Lies Behind the Law”

10 comments:

  1. "...the sense of wonder that one gets as a scientist contemplating the cosmos, or contemplating mitochondria is actually much grander than anything that you will get by contemplating the traditional objects of religious mysticism..."
    In other words, evolutionary studies are fueled more by the Star Wars Imperative than it is by any supposed mechanical detachment during the "search for truth". Interesting.

    Dawkins' robot ethic is a canard. He would have any sort of comforting feeling that's connected to faith/transcendence be as a signpost of its intellectual want - yet as you've shown, he sports this "good feeling in the tummy" himself in spades.

    Really, his ploy is "Feel dumb for finding comfort in faith or God." Which of course, means more converts for his Blind Watchmaker Fanclub (and hence, more book sales) when the kids hear his spiel and start to feel self conscious whenever they are conscious of a higher power than themselves.

    I'm beginning to wonder if any modern high profile author or journalist isn't a snake oil salesman right from the get go. The love of mammon, one could say.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "why it is that atheists seek transcendent experiences, atheism spirituality, remains unanswered."

    Atheists do not "seek" such experiences. But humans have evolved to be amazed at the immensity of the Cosmos. So what?

    "Atheism spirituality" remains an oxymoron.

    "... in atheism spirituality is indicative of atheism as a consoling delusion."

    That's crazy. It would be much better to go along to get along in today's society. Atheism is simply a "default" position - since there's no evidence of anything that would indicate that this default position is incorrect.

    ReplyDelete
  3. onein6billion,
    Thanks for the comments.
    I wonder who gave you the authority to determine for all atheists that “Atheists do not ‘seek’ such experiences.” The quotations that I provided discredit your all encompassing notion.

    Theism is the “default” position until such time, if there ever be such a time, when it is evidenced that the universe and absolutely everything in it can be explained by absolutely materialistic means. Meanwhile our best science and philosophy imply a creator.

    aDios,
    Mariano .

    ReplyDelete
  4. The New Atheists are busybodies. They think they are the spokespersons for all un-belief. I guess Dawkins thinks he is their Pope & other three horsemen are his Cardinals or Patriarchs.

    I confess I have a soft spot for classical internet Nietzscheian Atheist who likes to tell these people to go [explicitive deleted] themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  5. BenYachov,
    Indeed, Nietzsche is too internally consistent and in your face (face the facts of an atheist reality) for the modern Judeo-Christian influenced atheist.

    aDios,
    Mariano .

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Theism is the “default” position"

    Hilarious. The old "burden of proof" nonsense.

    Of course "theism" was the default position for stone-age humans 10,000 years ago. But I would have thought that humanity would have advanced a little bit in 10,000 years.

    ReplyDelete
  7. They did apparently, according to the atheist yardstick - Nazi Germany and Bolshevik Russia. They certainly "moved mountains" in a modern sense - launching rockets, synthesizing new materials and chemicals, inventing new ways to torture peoples both foreign and domestic - and all of this via a political bulldozer. And the inertia of over a hundred million corpses.

    And without an inkling of God in their political program either. Such efficiency.

    If theism is "stone age", then it's a pretty good case study of how ancient man was wiser than the modern revolutionary.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "If theism is "stone age", then it's a pretty good case study of how ancient man was wiser than the modern revolutionary."

    Well, I'm sure you are ready to give up the modern world and go back to the Stone Age. Life really was nasty, brutish and short.

    Yes, religion came from the Stone Age and would prefer the Stone Age is a compelling argument.

    ReplyDelete
  9. kh123.

    Hitler was a devout Christian, The German nation were and all ways a devout catholics. The whole nation didn't convert from catholics to atheists and back again in a the span of hitlers reigen.

    This might be out of your opened minded comfort range.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc3mySt2hx0

    Look pretty compelling to me?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Atheists and Christianity seem to have alot in common. http://www.apocatastasis.net/God/ATHEISM.html

    P.S Hitler wasnt a christian, he used it as a propagandist way to endourse nazism.http://answers.org/apologetics/hitquote.html

    ReplyDelete