Monday, 24 August 2015

Atheism is Egotism

At the end of the piece on Creation and Evolution I asked the question "Why do human beings want to reject spiritual truth?", and I will seek to answer that question here. But first I have to say that it is a valid question as it is clear that many atheists are so not because of an act of intellect but one of will. The fact of God, a higher power of intelligence and love who is the source of our being, is graven on every human heart, even if many of us would deny this. To be sure, the present materialistic culture and artificial environment in which we live play a strong part in blinding us to the reality of the Creator, but there is more to it than this. A number of people nowadays are not just casually agnostic or uninterested in whether there may or may not be a God because they are too busy going about their daily business. They are not just spiritually indifferent but actively and assertively atheistic. They claim there is no evidence for God (a debatable view), maintain that science gives them all the answers about life they need (equally disputable since it actually gives none about life and its origin as such), and even condemn religion as morally reprehensible (confusing wrong-headed response to religious teaching with the teaching itself). They claim to be motivated entirely by reason, and at one time I thought that might be true and that they were wrong but honest. I now see that that is not the case, and that many people actually do not want there to be a God or Creator to whom they owe their existence. They are motivated not so much by reason as intellectual pride and arrogance.

I should say that this accusation is not leveled at everyone who doubts a spiritual reality to life. The world is too much with many people, and the idea of God simply doesn't matter to them unless and until they are brought low by suffering. However there are people who reject God not because of unbelief but because they hate the idea of God and of themselves as a created being. They disguise their true motives, probably even from themselves, which makes it very hard to discuss the matter with them. They are as wedded to their position as a religious fanatic is to his. Sometimes these people will try to be more morally pure than any believer because they need to prove to themselves, and to others, the superiority of their position, and show that they do not need God to be a good or principled person. However on examination it transpires that their morality is based precisely on their sense of superiority and an intellectual arrogance rather than simple goodness, kindness or a genuine concern for others. At best, it is a mentally based morality rather than one of the heart, echoing their own often highly developed intellect but lack of intuitive vision.

A confirmed atheist is always an egotist. Of course a believer may be, but an atheist always is because he has denied God, and the fundamental reason for denying the reality of God is the desire to assert the primacy of the self and to be beholden to no one. It is almost a form of teenage rebellion and dislike of being told what to do which leads me to think that many dogmatic atheists are simply people who have not grown up properly or who carry the wounds of childhood within them, often to the point of not wanting to be healed of these wounds because they feel defined by them; and to be healed would be to lose their sense of self-validating injustice, on the flames of which they feed.

For the plain truth is that atheism is not a reasoned and logical assessment of the situation in which we find ourselves. It is often no more than an angry rejection of God, and denial of the transcendent because of the implications of what that would mean for the atheist's sense of personal autonomy.

Now, of course, some people don't reject God so much as what they believe to be an anthropomorphic version of God, and this is understandable. Obviously the reality of God is far beyond any idea we might have about it. But the fact that we are made in His image (and we are since the nature of his being is manifested in us) means that we can, on some level, reflect His reality. This means that ideas we might have of Him are not completely false as long as they correspond to the highest we can find in ourselves. For instance, on the matter of anthropomorphising absolute reality, God is not a person but He has a personal aspect and this personal aspect is absolutely real. It is not that pure being or the impersonal aspect of God, the Godhead, the Absolute, is above intelligible being or the personal aspect of the One. It is that the two are different aspects of the same thing

Let me repeat this since it matters. God and the Godhead are both eternal. God does not emerge from the Godhead, as some esoteric philosophies believe. He does not come out of it or depend on it or derive from it as a subsidiary expression. He is it and it is Him, no difference. God is the actuality of the Godhead which represents abstract being to His real being. Hence there is no Absolute without God and no God without the Absolute, and the Absolute does not become God. They are the same One Reality. All of which means that God is no more impersonal than He is personal. There is no life in the abstract without its instantiation so those who seek the Absolute without fully acknowledging the Personal God will never find what they are looking for.

The doctrinaire atheist requires everything to be explainable in scientific terms, apparently not noticing that a great deal of our experience lies outside the limitations imposed by the senses which is the world explored (often in extraordinary detail) by science. But what this leads to is a denial of such things as goodness, beauty and truth as being in any way real. They become merely relative things, simple concepts or personal judgments, which evaporate when you look at them too closely. Now, there are no solid, intellectual grounds for doing this so it can only be a prejudice. The prejudice springs from a desire, and the desire is to reject God because the person does not want to think of himself as a creature, a created being accountable for his actions to a judge who has authority over him. He wants to be free but the freedom he wants is of and for the self. However to be bound by and to the self is the greatest captivity. The only true freedom is from the self, and this is only possible in God.


Robert said...

Merry Christmas William :) Another nice post. There is definitely a lot of pride in egotism. A verse from Baha'i scripture comes to mind; “The most grievous of all veils is the veil of knowledge”. Atheists, understand a tiny spec of reality and then they *know* there is no God. I would disagree on one point. I think atheism's reasoning is legitimate but so is the reasoning that proves God. Reasoning is a flawed method to know something. The senses deceive us all the time. If we have scripture we have to use our reasoning to interpret what it means so that is flawed since we said reasoning is flawed. Our reasoning, our senses, our heart, our intuition, our understanding can all guide us to truth but all have limitations and can make mistakes. If they didn't have limitations we would be God. Even atheists have to admit that point. Believing in atheism or theism absolutely is a choice of free will. Believing everything is meaningful or nothing is meaningful. Atheists deny this point. Atheists will say I like fishing so therefore fishing is meaningful for me. So they are their own God deciding meaning for themselves. Then everyone gets to chose their own meaning. I find punching people in the face is meaningful therefore its meaningful. As soon as they deny that their house of cards falls although they'll never admit it. No two men agree on anything. How could they agree on what is meaningful. Meaning, and all virtues come from something higher than ourselves which is why they are so compelling. This suggest a God to me and I don't want to be my own god.
“the mystery of eternal might vibrates within the innermost being of all created things.”

Robert said...

"No two men agree on anything"
That should say no to men agree on everything

William Wildblood said...

And a merry Christmas to you too, Robert. Reasoning is certainly flawed taken on its own, but I was just wondering in this post what an atheist's reasoning is really based on. My view is that on many occasions he uses his reason to argue for something on which he has already made up his mind so even his reasoning in this instance is very selective. To me the idea that there is no divine source for all the beauty and order in the world, and that life just arose by chance from basically nothing is entirely unreasonable but I know that reason cannot replace faith. Its proper function surely in the religious field is to back it up and give it flesh, as it were.

Robert said...

"My view is that on many occasions he uses his reason to argue for something on which he has already made up his mind." Well that is just another problem with reasoning. It's so easy to come up with a reason to justify any position and because its what you really want. But we all do this to some extent. Maybe an atheist accuses theists of not wanting to die so they are predisposed to believing in God. Some theists lose faith when something bad happens to them. Some atheists gain faith when something bad is about to happen to them. The Bible verse about knocking and you will receive an answer comes to mind. People choose to believe or not. If you choose to believe you must continually seek and eventually you get to the point where your faith is beyond the need for a logical proof. That answer is guaranteed if you seek. The kingdom is here in this moment, whether good things happen or bad and you are connected to the kingdom.

William Wildblood said...

Yes, it is surely true that some believers believe because of wishful thinking and some for superstitious reasons but others do because they sense the truth in their hearts and that pushes them towards faith which endures even in dark times.
My teachers told me that the mind can argue for or against any point of view but the truth can only be known, and that makes sense to me.