This post is somewhat atypical in that it is not meant to present arguments “for” or “against” religion. Instead, it is more of an inquiry from a curious Christian. As many De-Conversion readers know, Christian theology is full of text regarding the afterlife, Kingdom of God, and so on. Many Christians find it comforting in knowing that death has been conquered, relieving humanity from guilt and fear. But what does the Atheist think?
No, I am not wondering about what the Atheist thinks about the Christian view of death. I am curious to know the thoughts and feelings Atheists have regarding it. This can be hard to do (for Christians and Atheists alike) in that we often talk about death philisophically. In other words, we often forget that we will die. Reflecting on that very notion and making it a reality can be troublesome…
Well I have a bit of a confession to make to this website…I have been struggling as of late as to what to contribute (especially since traffic has exploded the past couple weeks). During my time on the sidelines, I have enjoyed reading the various posts and people’s reactions to them. I admit that I have not jumped in as frequently as I once did due to an upcoming move I am preparing for.
It was during my time on the outskirts of this forum that I began to ponder the (for lack of a more sensitive term) “point” of agnostic/atheist websites such as de-conversion. Now this is not meant to be an insult, but maybe more of a sociological question and hypothesis. To do a comprehensive study on the posts of this blog would take a substantial amount of time. However, in my informal examination, I came to a few conclusions…
The other contributors on this website do a great job offering ideas and concepts they find regarding religion, God, atheism, and the like. In lieu of this, I would like to share some wisdom from theologian Huston Smith. Smith is Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, of Syracuse University (to learn more, visit his website).
For fifteen years he was Professor of Philosophy at M.I.T. and for a decade before that he taught at Washington University in St. Louis. Most recently he has served as Visiting Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Berkeley. In addition, Smith holds 12 honorary degrees and has written 14 books (some titles include: Why Religion Matters, The World’s Religions, and The Soul of Christianity). That being said, it is from some of Smith’s writings that I base this post.
In a few replies on this website (for which I am a theist contributor), I find myself telling participants that we must use the scientific method correctly. In other words, the scientific method is a great tool to understanding the world around us, but it is horrible in regards to learning about God. Unfortunately, we live in a society where perception has an uncharacteristic “trump card” over philosophy and proclamation of religious faith. Many believe that the only way to perceive the world around them is with the five senses. Yet, I tell you that no one has ever seen a thought. No one has ever seen a feeling and we still believe them to exist (no, seeing neuron activity doesn’t count). Scientific method can’t explain existential meanings. Individuals try to use scientific method to learn more about faith and God. I will tell you right now that if you are waiting to physically see, touch, smell, taste, or hear God, He will never be revealed to you.
The skeptic will say, “Why not use the scientific method? The scientific method teaches us about everything we know. It is the ultimate tool for knowledge.” Well, there are a variety of reasons. Consider that God exists outside of the physical world that we know; He is outside of time. This is a hard concept to grasp for many, but you actually deal with this concept all the time…
Granted, I have a bias (like everyone does) on this issue, and mine happens to be a Christian one. Yet, before any tenets of the arguments were discussed, the first thing I noticed was the anger – and this theme continued throughout the whole documentary. Perhaps they caught the atheists on a rough day, but I have never seen a group of people so consumed by anger. I truly feel bad for them. Unfortunately, this anger led to disrespect. Interestingly, the atheists were the ones sporting the “Holier than thou” attitude as it was evident through their remarks, reactions, and body language. The Christian debaters trumped the atheists in regards to civility.
Simply put, I admire Atheists. You would think, given my religious perspective and convictions, that an Atheist would be considered my “Darth Vader” (like they are to many believers), but such is not the case. I honestly believe that today’s Theist can, and should, adopt some vital lessons from the 21st century Atheists.
Atheism requires a continuous quest for knowledge. As a result, the Atheist often advances their own cognitive condition by subjecting themselves to a wealth of information with an overall goal to progress in their beliefs. Information at the Atheist’s fingertips comes from personal experience, psychology, physiology, astronomy, mathematics, history, philosophy, and countless other sources. The Atheist attempts to maximize their potential through continuous self-improvement. The “church” of Atheism provides a supportive, collaborative mechanism for such progression to occur.
The Atheist is quite admirable…