Posts Tagged ‘atheism’
There are so many things I like about NY Times, or maybe you haven’t noticed that it’s my main feed! This morning I found this nugget that reminds me of my non-religious beliefs and a sound reason for them.
Yes, I am an agnostic and that’s the position that most philosophers accept as the most tenable one for human bein’s. But I beg your indulgence and say that I am no philosopher, even with my agnostic thinking. Though it’s true that I like to philosophize.
Here’s the quote from this morning’s piece about philosophy:
In these popular debates about God’s existence, the winners are neither theists nor atheists, but agnostics — the neglected step-children of religious controversy, who rightly point out that neither side in the debate has made its case. This is the position supported by the consensus of expert philosophical opinion.
So, I feel better in my conscious mind about my agnostic beliefs because the nonsense of an all powerful caring God Father in this universe of such immensity, violent beginnings and endings of star systems et al is just too obvious. I accept many of the moral teachings of Jesus, but God Incarnate, gimme a break!
Here’s the view of another agnostic who blogs at 3 Quarks:
Having recently spent two weeks in Cambridge (the one in the United Kingdom) on a Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship, being lectured to by believers and nonbelievers, I found myself feeling more than anything unconvinced by certainties on either side. And feeling the need for solidarity and identity with other doubters. Thus my call for a revivified agnosticism. Our T-shirt will read: I just don’t know.
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- An Agnostic Manifesto (3quarksdaily.com)
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I read the whole piece in the London Review of Books after seeing the link in Ross Douthat’s NY Times column about the Hitchens memoir and persona.
Yes, I kind of like Christopher Hitchens and especially the person/journalist described by Runciman!
What’s not to like about a contrarian talker like Hitch? I like most of him and his contrarianess!
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I was just browsing through author essays posted in the Powell Books web site and bumped into an essay by Chris Hedges discussing his thoughts about right wing Christians and New Atheists, like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens.
I have spent a lot of time reading New Atheists and about them and I have wondered about what I should or can believe. Since Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and spent a lot of time doing war journalism, especially in the Middle East, I feel that he has the mental and emotional wherewithal to say useful things about what’s wrong with belief systems in our Western society. Here is an excerpt from his essay that resonated for me:
These New Atheists and the Christian radicals they so resemble have built squalid little belief systems that are in the service of themselves and their own power. They urge us forward into a non-reality-based world, one where force and violence, where self-exaltation and blind nationalism go unquestioned and are considered good. They seek to make us afraid of what we do not know or understand. They use this fear to justify cruelty and war. They ask us to kneel before little idols that look and act like them, telling us that one day, if we trust enough in God or reason, we will have everything we desire.
I Don’t Believe in Atheists is a call to reject simplistic and utopian visions. It is a call to accept the severe limitations of being human. It is a call to face reality, a reality that in the coming decades is going to be bleak and difficult. Those who are blinded by utopian visions inevitably turn to force to make their impossible dreams and their noble ideals a reality. They believe the ends, no matter how barbaric, justify the means. Utopian ideologues, armed with the technology and mechanisms of industrial slaughter, have killed tens of millions of people over the last century. They ask us to inflict suffering and death in the name of virtue and truth. The New Atheists, in the end, offer us a new version of an old and dangerous faith. It is one we have seen before. It is one we must fight.
I often feel the “severe limitations of being human”. And I often feel the need to work through to a clearer sense of the reality of living and being a moral person versus being a religious person. I often feel that I must fight that “old and dangerous faith” based on dogmatic truths and beliefs about the higher morality of virtue in human affairs.
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- Profound Insight Into God (tuibguy.com)
- Why Do The New Atheists Lean Right? (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
- Move over Moses, Christopher Hitchens’s new commandments (cbc.ca)
He seems much more worried about spurious reports of a fictitious deathbed conversion being put about by his enemies after he dies. He is probably not joking at all when he says “I want to make damn sure there’s a tape recorder running for my last words.”
The article makes another interesting point about a campaign to raise funds for an atheistic cause:
On Tuesday, campaigners announced plans for an atheist advertising campaign to appear on the side of buses with the message: “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” The campaign, which was launched by TV comedy writer Ariane Sherine, blogging on Commentisfree.co.uk, hoped to raise £5,500 from supporters, which Dawkins had pledged to match with his own money, but by yesterday public donations had already raised more than £96,000.
I have a devilish image of having that kind of campaign in the US!
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I have just finished Walter Isaacson‘s biography “Einstein, His life and Universe”. The book told me the story of a man who left an indelible imprint on theoretical physics and our meager understanding of the Universe. He also had a sense of being a part of something much greater than himself.
He said more than once that he wasn’t an atheist, but that he did not believe that there was a God who interceded in human affairs and the unfolding of the Universe.
Here are some of his thoughts on this subject:
I’m not an atheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the Universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly unterstand these laws.
What separates me from most atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos. The fanatical atheists are like the slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who-in their grudge against traditional religion as the “opium of the masses”-cannot hear the music of the spheres. I prefer the attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and our own being. Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
According to Walter Issacson, “A tenet of Einstein’s faith was that nature was not cluttered with extraneous attributes. Thus, there must be a purpose to curiosity. For Einstein, it existed because it created minds that question, which produced an appreciation for the universe that he equated with religious feelings. “Curiosity has its own reasons for existing,” he once explained. “One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.”
More than a year after publication of Dawkins’ venturing into philosophy and criticism of theisms, the discussion continues, here!
Reading a series of blog/article links, I found this interesting review by Jim Holt, who writes about science and philosophy for NY Times. Any serious effort to challenge or support the notion of God’s existence or non-existence does get my attention via those bloggers that I have most respect for. That includes Sean Carroll, Jim Holt, Bob Wright, Theodore Dalrymple and such.