Are we all Atheists?

Ecclesiastes, (קֹהֶלֶת, Kohelet, "son of ...
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We are quickly losing our Christianity to secularism because, in the end, we are nothing by atheists. I generalize here, and do not mean anyone in particular, but if you look across our cultural landscape, I believe you’ll see what I mean. Frankly, I blame the American idea of an individualistic faith. I think that the notion of separating our faith into a private realm and forgoing any and all public expression of it in an effort not to offend anyone helps us to forget the immanent God. I think that for us, we have forgotten to live our faith, and instead shield it, suffocating it until it is gone all the while pretending we still have it.

We criticize atheists because in reality, we either fear them or are jealous of them because they have gone were we fear we are going. They at least have the courage to stand up and say that they have killed God. Many of us in the West simply like to pretend that God is on life support somewhere, ready to spring to life, if and when we need him. Generally, however, we don’t. We no longer need God to help us explain anything. The Weather Channel generally does a pretty good job of telling us about storms. God is no longer angry. Science tells us about the reality of creation; no longer do we need to remember the mystery of God’s physics and molecular imagination in singing the hymns of Creation. As a matter of fact, we no longer need to have the divine imagination, reverence or fear, in looking at the world around us. We can run to a book to tell us how something happens. We forget, however, the important question of Why and Who.

But, I digress. Not really. We look at the State as our benefactor and our protector and like more pre-modern cultures and their gods, seek to constantly kill it. We forget that God is the one who sets us and pulls down kingdoms. Frankly, ever since 1776, we have taken that right upon ourselves. And beyond that, we no longer need to live our faith where we are at. What we need to do is to be quiet. We don’t want to offend anyone, after all, in a pluralist society. Thus, God is no longer seen. God is forgotten. We are just atheists waiting to shed our lest vestigial longing to be reunited with the Divine. After all, as the author of Ecclesiastes says, this life is all that we have. Just drink, be merry, and have fun. Granted, the book of Wisdom counters this and reminds us that the Righteous will be vindicated because they had the promise of Life in what comes after. But, if we are all righteous, there is no wicked. And if no wicked, no righteous. We are all simply the same. Christ was just a good teacher, and did nothing really for us. We can be Jesus-y if we want, but we should acknowledge that everyone was his and our equal. And if we are all equal, then no election, no need for salvation, no need for God.

No need to live our faith in hopes of sparing someone else the danger of punishment in the world to come. No world to come, really, because we have no scientific proof and we have proof of everything, don’t we? No need for mystery or hope. Why? Because we know everything already. We have been revealed through the destruction of Western Christianity, while so many fall away from their belief in God, as God ourselves. We sit in what was one his mysterious temple, and display ourselves, our learning, our technological marvels, magic and science and exalt these things over the mystery of God himself.

We are at best Deists with a tradition. Aren’t we?

Do you live your faith? Does God still answer prayers? Is God still, even now, behind the science of the how, providing the ultimate why?

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14 Replies to “Are we all Atheists?”

    1. Better than singing solo! This was sparked by several conversations in the last few days, coming from SBL, etc… the confluence of thought amazes me at times

  1. Are those who seek knowledge and answers growing increasingly more agnostic/mystical and less oriented toward dogmatic/doctrinal/institutio-religio approaches?

  2. I’m sure this is mostly intended as a witness to your musings rather than as a prescription for how we should believe and behave — excepting your obligatory old saws about “don’t be individualistic” and “don’t want smaller government”, of course.

    But just in case you’ve thought further along, what is your answer? Should we cease believing science has good explanations for natural phenomena so as to give God a place? Should we decide that God is after all angry and intent upon torturing sinners in the world to come? Should those who are convinced that Jesus was one way among many just decide that he offered something indispensably unique after all, just to sidestep your remarks?

    How can those who are convinced of many of these things avoid your critique? Or are you also asking this question?

    1. I’m not sure I mentioned government. I’m all for a less intrusive government, actually, and a smaller one, believing that a more efficient one could better sever the American people.

      I’m asking those questions as well, well most of them. I do believe in the exclusivity of Christ, but on a different level than most – and I believe you know what I mean. I like all of those questions myself, and continue to probe myself and God for the answers.

      But, my concern is that we disconnect ourselves from the mystery of God.

      Can we have both? I think so.

      1. I see your point more clearly now, Joel. I, too, have grown disillusioned of the merely intellectual Christianity I tried to concoct for so long. I tried to purge my theology of all experiential or subjective elements, but I grew tired of beating around the burning bush in my own life. Both the conservative systematic theologians and the “liberal” Christian biblical scholars are devoted to stripping away an irreducible layer of mystery to the whole affair of faith. Christians, conservative and liberal, should not forget that either that layer of mystery exists independently of our intellectual attempts to explain our faith (whether we undertake them by inerrancy or critical scholarship) and should be our faith’s proper focus, or we are functional materialists. Any god that is fully understandable is not worthy of worship.

        (But you certainly mentioned government. 😉 )

  3. Hi Steve, And Joel. Let’s also ask this question: If we agree that things like hitting a pothole and losing control, or manufacturer’s malfunctions and/or road accidents during rush hour, or catching a stray germ, or forgetting to wash one’s hands or clean one’s poultry adequately, or an asteroid strike,or tidal wave wiping out lots of people — are not examples of God singling out individuals to punish, then how can one conclude that God is indeed in the business of singling out people to punish?

    1. I’m not sure He is, Edward. I do believe that He has pre-selected certain people for certain things, good or bad, but I think that this is because we are moving towards the New Creation.

      1. We agree we’re moving. But are we moving toward the New Creation? What is “the New Creation” besides a guess, an hypothesis?

        How can we be sure what such a term means, or that only a Christian “new creation” can be envisaged, baring other ideas of an afterlife? NDEs and OBEs and visions are remarkably diverse.

        I hope there’s a personal afterlife. But I don’t feel confident enough to advocate it in some specific fashion. It could be a ghostly experience. It could last a finite length of time. Memories might be forgotten, or conversely, there could be a lengthy process of learning during stages of the afterlife.

        Speaking of scientific evidence, I have read about split brain experiments in which different sides of the brain respond simultaneously to different questions. A split-brain person seems to have two “deciders” in one skull.

        I’ve also read about joined brains (recently two babies were born with a connected brain and they can apparently read each other’s thoughts and see out of each other’s eyes — at least one eye). These kids will spend their lives sharing knowledge and experiences directly with one another’s minds. Are they like two separate minds, or more like one and a half minds? Will they disagree or agree on all things if they read the same books? Will they like the same music? I wonder what’s going to happen?

        I’ve also read that embryonic human brain cells were injected into an embryonic rat’s brain and the human brain cells took root (not a lot of them were injected, just enough to test later for their receptivity and incorporation into the rat’s brain). And the human brain cells exhibited electrical activity as expected, so it’s possible in theory to inject lots of embryonic human brain cells into an embryonic chimpanzee brain (scooping out the cells there to make room for more human ones) and produce a chimpanzee with human-like mental activities. Would that chimp be human, would it have a soul?

        And what about “enhancing” the embryonic brains of humans by adding “extra” amounts of brain cells while it’s still an embryo, giving it’s brain development a “boost” and “head start” in the womb, and then when the human “big head” is born via Caesarian, give it the most intelligent and loving tutors and see what happens!?

        What about once we develop quantum computers with processing power equal or surpassing that of the human brain with its billions of neurons and trillions of synaptic connections? Will we develop a quantum based learning machine capable of building on previous lessons learned and eventually developing a consciousness, even a personality depending on the input?

        All of these are questions to me.

  4. Steve :

    Christians, conservative and liberal, should not forget that either that layer of mystery exists independently of our intellectual attempts to explain our faith (whether we undertake them by inerrancy or critical scholarship) and should be our faith’s proper focus, or we are functional materialists. Any god that is fully understandable is not worthy of worship.

    ;-) )

    Amen and Amen, Steve.

  5. Edward T. Babinski :

    We agree we’re moving. But are we moving toward the New Creation? What is “the New Creation” besides a guess, an hypothesis?

    ….

    All of these are questions to me.

    I tend to believe the Judeo-Christian version of the New Creation (early, not this late contraption that is near and dear to the hearts of so many).

    I hear today that they have somewhat reverse the aging process in mice. Can you imagine reversing the aging of our greatest minds?

    Beyond that, questions…

  6. “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.”

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that the famous quote from Psalms is not about intellectual denial of God’s existence, but a personal and practical denial of a God who matters. If so, we are far too often what we might call “Psalms atheists.” May we live each day more awake.

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