Religion 101: the Great Atheistic Conceit
It’s easy to be an atheist in these modern times of high-tech and low intellect, thoroughly modern atheism something of a nod to the zeitgeist every bit as much as its opposite, Islamic fundamentalism, the two something of an odd couple of misplaced ideals gone horribly wrong, carrying an argument to its logical conclusion of death and despair, even when other options are available, most of them no little bit cheerier and more uplifting…
But this is the era of ‘likes’ and lack, spiritual lack, in the midst of the greatest abundance ever known to ours or any species. For all the inequality inherent in the distribution of wealth, the sheer quantity of it cannot be denied but by only the most jaded and unappreciative of civilization’s overweight and overindulged malcontents. This is truly the era of abundance.
But that can change in an instant. As in the principle of ‘yin-yang’: the seeds of one are in the other. Religion can help ease the transition and make sense of the ultimate realities. Ch-ch-ch-changes will likely be most difficult for those who are today most comfortable.
The main problem most atheists have with religion is its lack of scientific objectivity. This is its first conceit, and not an insignificant one: no doubt Creationists do themselves no good by trying to enforce a literal interpretation of the Bible upon a scientific age of great technical accomplishment. But Science has not figured everything out, either, and never will, and that’s where the conceit comes in, assuming that such a thing is even possible. Science is all about a process of discovery. Religion is all about absolutes. Religion takes up where science leaves off. Any contradiction is only apparent, not real.
A misplaced belief in history is another great conceit of atheism. This attitude assumes that all our problems were created by religion, and that in some golden age prior, everything was fine and hunky-dory. That is absurd, of course. It’s no accident that all the great religions came to exist in the thousand years, more or less, that occur with the beginning of the Common Era in the middle. Life was brutal before that, brutal and short, as any reading of the Old Testament will easily confirm.
Religion was the greatest civilizing influence that has ever occurred, and monotheism was the method. Even Buddhism is more about monotheizing Hinduism than anything else, that and removing the inherent racism of its caste system, a process continued by Islam. Buddhism as philosophy, of course, needs no gods, nor faces, another process perfected by Islam, though the Buddha image itself is used far and wide as an object of worship, however varied the image. But it gives a point of focus, and is much better than the myriad of divinities that preceded it. It certainly beats chasing the latest god-fad…
The most disturbing conceit of atheism is love of self, that somehow ones self is something greater than anything that religion could ever offer. This is truly sad, and I feel very sorry for those people who “believe in themselves” above all else. This, in fact, is religion’s greatest role, the offering of something larger than us to lose ourselves in, find ourselves in, something to worship, something good and strong and true and beautiful, an act probably best exemplified by Islamic ‘surrender’. “Those who love their life in this world will lose it,” etc…..
But the greatest conceit of atheism is that it can somehow defeat religion, even while it itself is little more than a cheap-ass variation of it, all the false certainty, with none of the inspiration. Like the Jim Carroll line in ‘Basketball Diaries’ that “junk is just another nine to five gig in the end,” or something like that, so atheism is just another cheap ad hoc religion, complete with cheap ads and full of cheap hock, or other inexpensive cuts of meat. Somebody’s missing the point. We can do better than that.
Of course a hard-core atheist (is there any other kind?) might claim that I’m missing the point and reference to some postulated deity is simply not God, and defining what God is not should not be taken as proof that God is, that I can’t simply declare the existence of God without any proof and act on that assumption as fact. I say to that that there IS proof and nominate that little voice inside as the messenger of it. Now we could dice and splice that notion with a sharp-edge and even throw in a God gene for spice and leavening, but I’ll save that for a later date. Salaam. Shalom. Peace. สาธุ