When Atheists Criticize Religion

When Atheists Criticize Religion

“New Atheists.” These are attitudes masquerading as ideas, emotional commitments disguised as intellectual honesty”.[i]

When atheists criticize religion, for the most part, they are simply criticizing the human condition, which is one of ignorance, sinfulness and hypocrisy.  These characteristics can be found in any society, culture, civilization and for that matter, in every person.  These traits are found in religious cultures, secular cultures and atheist cultures and they are common to all men.  Pointing these things out in any culture does not take a great deal of intelligence nor understanding and it reflects a pretentious virtue to criticize others and it also demonstrates a shallow understanding of human nature. Given the same circumstances and conditions most humans will react in the same way as others.  Much of the criticism of religion by atheism is nothing more than self-righteous virtue signaling at best and total moral egotism at its worst.  It proofs nothing other than humanity is ignorant, sinful and hypocritical.

The truth is that atheism as an ideology, or as a foundational philosophy for a culture, has demonstrated itself to be totally inadequate in supporting a virtuous culture,  no more than religion has done.  Moreover, the atheist criticism of Christianity represents a shallow understanding of the message of Jesus.  A casual reading of the New Testament would demonstrate to any rational person that Jesus never intended his teachings to be the foundation of any large society, for his teachings are too demanding for the masses.  However, many atheists continue to attack the teachings of Western Christianity, as though people could live the pristine teachings of Jesus. Therein the atheist demonstrates their ignorance of Scripture or their dishonesty.  In the majority of cases, it is ignorance.  The scriptures clearly teach that no one can live out the teachings of Jesus.  His teachings were not meant to be a moral code for the masses. The apostle John speaking to Christians said, “If you say you are without sin you are a liar and the truth is not in you” (I Jn 1:8).

Many atheists also have a very shallow and fundamentalist view of religion.  Religion is a concept that is multilevel and as deep as the ocean, which means that it can have numerous shades of meaning.  Many atheists want to reduce it to organized religion, i.e. Catholicism and Protestantism, etc.  In doing so, they oversimply the word and in essence, destroy it.  They refuse to see the difference between concepts like faith, spirituality and religion.  Moreover, they refuse to see the difference between the history of Catholicism and let’s say Protestantism and other smaller sects of Christianity.  In this, they pick out the weakest and most corrupted form of Christianity to criticize and justify it by saying there is only one form of Christianity. That is like saying that all government is evil because one form is corrupt.

[i] “Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies” by David Bentley Hart

The Idea Of The Holy

The Idea Of The Holy

Albert Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms — this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.”

Rudolf Otto wrote a book entitled ‘The Idea Of The Holy’ in which he attempts to explain the spiritual experience that Einstein describes and what Otto goes on to refer to as the numinous, which he believes is a sign which points to the deity and could be likened to the voice of God that beckons man to his true center.

The sub-title to Otto’s book of ‘The Idea of the Holy’ is ‘An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation·to the Rational’,  In the book Otto points out that numinous is not rational or reasonable but it not irrational or unreasonable, it is simply outside of those categories.  You might call it is super-rational.

It is this numinous experience that the atheist lacks.  Because he has not experienced it, it is impossible for him to understand someone who has experienced it like Albert Einstein.  Einstein had experienced the Totally Other which was beyond his explanatory powers to communicate it to those who had not experienced it, those that he referred to as dead or blind. Otto’s book is the best attempt I have seen to put the experience into words.  You can get a PDF copy at the below address.