Posts tagged ‘theism’
In my previous blog, Can an Atheist be Spiritual?, I showed how we non-theists can borrow, from religious liberals, what I think is a beautiful and evocative language to talk about spirituality – without buying into the ontology that is tacked on to it. For my part, I consider myself a religious naturalist, meaning I do not believe in any supernatural being, but I nevertheless find religious language uniquely suited to capture and evoke that wonder and beauty and goodness – there is no better word than “holiness” – that I find in the world. In this post, let me briefly elaborate on my own experience (as the case study I personally know the best) about non-theistic spirituality.
When I left Christianity, I found I suddenly had to face the world without all the comforting illusions evangelical Christianity had provided for me. I was no longer “special” in that Christian sense – no longer one of the elect, who “got” the world as no other group did, who was destined for eternal glory. Moreover, I could no longer expect rescue or protection from life’s most painful truths: we are finite and vulnerable, we all die, we are all alone in the world, we are responsible for our own lives with no one to blame, that we must find our own meaning in life.
Yet it was exactly in that encounter with these existential “givens” in life – with the tenuousness and frailty of human life – that I, for the first time, saw its true value. For the first time I could see just how infinitely precious human life really is…
The Political Inquirer will be hosting a three round debate between “M” of the group blog ATHEISM IS DEAD and Leo Pardus of DE-CONVERSION. The “thesis questions” of this debate are these, “Is Atheism beneficial or dangerous to society?” and similarly, “Is Theism beneficial or dangerous to society?”
The debate is moderated by Brian LePort, a Political Inquirer contributor.
- Introduction: God in Society, an Atheism-Theism Debate
- Round One: Five Questions and Responses
- Round Two: The Next Set of Questions and Answers
- Final Statement 1: Why I am a Theist – M
- Final Statement 2: Why I am an Atheist – LeoPardus
Recently, many books and websites have been written on the dangers of theism. Theism is described as an irrational belief leading to irrational actions including flying planes into buildings, bombing abortion clinics, or considering prayer to be an appropriate alternative to seeking medical care. Because these actions can affect more people than the acting theist alone, and sometimes affect them in a fatal manner, non-theists are being called to not settle for being non-theist, but to become anti-theist.
There are choices to be made, though, in what goals one will choose to pursue, and what means one will employ to pursue those goals. Is it best to spend time and energy challenging every theist or even every theistic argument one encounters? Or is this like giving money to an individual begging you for money instead of giving to a charity that provides food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, or medicine for the sick? I have heard this latter question debated in classrooms and hallways, on Internet forums and television shows. In some ways, it depends on what you are trying to accomplish by giving your money away…
I have come to the conclusion that there is little difference, for better or for worst, between a theist and an atheist – specifically in the way we act, talk, and generally live our lives.
Morality: It doesn’t matter whether conservative theists cannot understand where a non-believer receives their morals, the fact is we share a common thread of ethical decency. Even in cases that their are tangible radical differences, such as sexual license, et al., an unbeliever is no more likely to engage in orgies, sexual crimes, divorce, and/or promiscuity than theists. Non-theists are simply more likely to admit it (it takes less than a semester at a conservative Bible college to figure this out).
Intellectualism: Atheists are not smarter than theists. Theists, likewise, are not smarter than atheists. While I do believe that fundamentalists suffer in the realm of academic integrity, the majority of sophisticated mainstream Christian scholars are exceptional scholars. The belief or non-belief in God is an issue of whether one can accept the value of faith or not.
Happiness/Joy/Peace: There was little joy when Jesus died on the cross, or even when he, according to the Bible, resurrected – unless you want to read into something that isn’t there…