Is Atheisim even Possible?
I was reflecting this morning, while cooking my breakfast, about whether atheism is truly possible, at least a philosophicly examined form. Frequent readers (if there are any) may recall that a bit more than a year ago, I reviewed Daniel C. Dennett's Breaking the Spell. At the time, I noted that Dr. Dennett believed in love as his ultimate human value. Dr. Dennett is also a philosopher, which translates into a lover of wisdom. I am sure he like beauty too.
Readers of my book, Musings from the Christian Left may recognize that in my chapter on "How Christians Understand God" I relate that in Thomistic thought, Truth is identified as the Word of God, the Son and Love is identified as Holy Spirit, Perfection a.k.a. Beauty, is the Father.
It seems that Dr. Dennett and I are not so far apart, at least on the level of ideals.
There may be some difference, or may not be, as to our understanding of the existence of Love. I believe Love is a personified entity - however, that entity exists outside of time, although She acts within time. Is Love just a meme to Dr. Dennett or does the idea have its own existence. Put another way, do the concepts of love, truth and beauty have some existence outside of their speaking? Spiritualists believe they do although it may be a distinction without a difference since we can only experience these concepts through our experience of the world, which is entirely in time and space and entirely using language.
What is love anyway? There are many definitions. Let me try this one on for size. Love is the desire for good for oneself or another. The more one extends love to others, the more loving one is. Dennett, Hitchens and Dawkins - the modern atheist writers who the Christian Right love to hate (although in their analysis, I fail to see how they really land any blows effectively on Dennett other than by association) seem to me to base their analysis on the premisis that organized religion is not good for people. In order to make that stand, of course, one must love people. To believe that it is bad or wrong for the purveyors of organized religion to lie to people for their own gain is to take a stand for both Truth, Love and Beauty. Even if they are not professing Christianity, they are ontologically Christian, meaning they are being what Jesus said is a good thing to be - loving toward others. In the parable of the disobedient and obedient sons, one son agreed to obey his father and did not, while one resisted but eventually obeyed - doing his father's work.
It's like that with atheists. Examining life is dangerous ground. Once love and life are examined it is hard not to adopt some type of alturism that has one "be" Christian, even if one does not profess it.
The only truly evil people are the sociopaths who do not examine the question, but act from purely selfish motives in all they do. These people are not atheists (some even are professed believers). They are pathological (or if you prefer, evil). You don't find these people in philosophy courses.