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Thread: Twilight of Atheism

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    tWebber
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    Twilight of Atheism

    Hi All,

    In my quest to get out of my dark night of the soul, I have started reading again.

    I just finished The Twilight of Atheist by Alister McGrath. I wasn't what I expected to be honest but it was a very interesting read nonetheless.

    I have to admit that I was ignorant on the history of atheism and the enlightenment which this book covered in pretty great detail. I just assumed that the atheism of the enlightenment was a result of science / rational argument. Apparently, this was way off. In fact, Voltaire wasn't an atheist...he was a deist who thought that the church had corrupted the image of the one true God.

    A lot of the "leaders" of the enlightenment were atheists not because of rational argument but by a choice. They chose to throw off the shackles of God in order to be their own sources of meaning, truth, morals, etc.

    This started me to wonder about a lot of the atheists that I encounter on the internet. A lot, not all, of them seem to be more angry at God rather than simply not believing in him. I couldn't imagine going to a astrology forum and trolling all of the people on the forum for believing in horoscopes or tarot cards.

    Freud's suggestion cuts both ways. It could be wish fulfillment that people believe in God to make them feel safe, but it could also be wish fulfillment that people don't believe in God to bypass judgement. Any thoughts on this idea that atheism may be a form of wish fulfillment?

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    Quote Originally Posted by element771 View Post
    Hi All,

    In my quest to get out of my dark night of the soul, I have started reading again.

    I just finished The Twilight of Atheist by Alister McGrath. I wasn't what I expected to be honest but it was a very interesting read nonetheless.

    I have to admit that I was ignorant on the history of atheism and the enlightenment which this book covered in pretty great detail. I just assumed that the atheism of the enlightenment was a result of science / rational argument. Apparently, this was way off. In fact, Voltaire wasn't an atheist...he was a deist who thought that the church had corrupted the image of the one true God.

    A lot of the "leaders" of the enlightenment were atheists not because of rational argument but by a choice. They chose to throw off the shackles of God in order to be their own sources of meaning, truth, morals, etc.

    This started me to wonder about a lot of the atheists that I encounter on the internet. A lot, not all, of them seem to be more angry at God rather than simply not believing in him. I couldn't imagine going to a astrology forum and trolling all of the people on the forum for believing in horoscopes or tarot cards.

    Freud's suggestion cuts both ways. It could be wish fulfillment that people believe in God to make them feel safe, but it could also be wish fulfillment that people don't believe in God to bypass judgement. Any thoughts on this idea that atheism may be a form of wish fulfillment?
    Thought provoking. I have not read much at all by Alistair McGrath, so I cannot comment on his arguments. But sometimes I do wonder if many Christians are not functional atheists, behaving as if our deity did not exist, in spite of the arguments made. (And sometimes I wonder if some atheists are really closeted deists)

    I have heard the arguments on Voltaire, and I have even gone back over some of his writings after the discussions. I confess that I cannot read him without thinking that he is an atheist (or more correctly, a functional atheist).

    I think that authority and liberty are two concepts which we hold in tension, and the ultimate authority is G-d. Perhaps the whole of scripture can be read through the lens of authority/liberty. So I would agree that there is a form of "wish fulfillment" in play.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplicio View Post
    Thought provoking. I have not read much at all by Alistair McGrath, so I cannot comment on his arguments. But sometimes I do wonder if many Christians are not functional atheists, behaving as if our deity did not exist, in spite of the arguments made. (And sometimes I wonder if some atheists are really closeted deists)

    I have heard the arguments on Voltaire, and I have even gone back over some of his writings after the discussions. I confess that I cannot read him without thinking that he is an atheist (or more correctly, a functional atheist).

    I think that authority and liberty are two concepts which we hold in tension, and the ultimate authority is G-d. Perhaps the whole of scripture can be read through the lens of authority/liberty. So I would agree that there is a form of "wish fulfillment" in play.
    Here is a quote from Voltaire.

    ďWhat is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason."

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    Professor and Chaplain Littlejoe's Avatar
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    ISTM, whether atheist or believer, that the loudest, most ardent opposition voices you find arguing against something...are usually trying very hard to convince themselves that what they are saying is the truth. I've seen this in my own life as well. When I'm the MOST sure of my beliefs, I find the need to defend them less imperative.

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    Quote Originally Posted by element771 View Post
    Here is a quote from Voltaire.

    ďWhat is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason."
    He also wrote quite a bit more, which suggest his being a functional atheist. He was vitriolic and sarcastic in an age of heavy handed censorship, and he knew the danger of running afoul of the authorities, whether religious or the state. The same essay you quoted compares to the "asiatics'" belief in Mohammed and Vishnu, arguing that their only choice was to give assent or face punishment (death). "To order to know what [Jesus] has said, we must consult the Church,........we ought, therefore, to listen to the Church, that we may not be disgraced. . . .Such is the Christian faith, which is "the faith "par excellence". . . ." Which seems to sing the praises of the Christian and Catholic faith.

    I think that essay is in fact ridiculing faith in general and the Catholic faith in particular. because those passages are interspersed with arguments of faith as an annihilation of reason, scripture as nonsensical absurdities, and an imagined discourse between Alexander VI (a corrupt renaissance Pope) and the humanist Pico de Mirandola, with "faith consists of believing in things because they are impossible" and " a man who says that he believes what is impossible to believe is a liar".

    Voltaire is paradoxical some see a deist, others see an atheist.

    Not sure what type of reading you do, but have you read any of Charles Colson's stuff?

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    tWebber The Remonstrant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by element771 View Post
    A lot of the "leaders" of the enlightenment were atheists not because of rational argument[,] but by a choice. They chose to throw off the shackles of God in order to be their own sources of meaning, truth, morals, etc. [par. 5]

    This started me to wonder about a lot of the atheists that I encounter on the internet. A lot, not all, of them seem to be more angry at God rather than simply not believing in him. I couldn't imagine going to a astrology forum and trolling all of the people on the forum for believing in horoscopes or tarot cards. [par. 6]
    At an experiential level, perceiving the problem of suffering and death (human and animal), and the pervasiveness of evil and injustice are, for me, the greatest hurdles of the faith to overcome. The scriptural connection, of course, is that sin leads to death. Suffering, in its many forms, and diseases are but precursors to death: the return and reduction of a previously living (and possibly flourishing) creature to a state of non-life.

    We can affirm the notion that all humans are sinners, but this does not negate the fact that some persons are far more vile and depraved than others. Some individuals leave tremendous devastation in their wake. Innocent parties can and do suffer gross injustices. Not all temporal suffering is in some way merited by those affected.

    Maintaining belief in Godís goodness, faithfulness, and love in spite of the horrific afflictions and evils that take place in this age can be a great challenge. There is a very real sense, then, where I must choose whether to believe and trust in Godís word, that he is good. Is God indifferent or does he merely seem to be? If I do not believe that he is good, how can I possibly love or worship him?
    [I]f what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. Ö The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 Jn 2.24; 5.12, LEB)

    <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>


    Farewell. (Sat., 24 Mar. 2018)

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    tWebber The Remonstrant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Littlejoe View Post
    ISTM, whether atheist or believer, that the loudest, most ardent opposition voices you find arguing against something...are usually trying very hard to convince themselves that what they are saying is the truth. I've seen this in my own life as well. When I'm the MOST sure of my beliefs, I find the need to defend them less imperative.
    If the professed atheist believes Satanís lie that God is capricious and unjust, s/he will assuredly want nothing to do with him. Satanís lies are extremely powerful: they cannot be overcome simply by engagement with the intellectual faculties.
    [I]f what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. Ö The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 Jn 2.24; 5.12, LEB)

    <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>


    Farewell. (Sat., 24 Mar. 2018)

  11. Amen Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Thoughtful Monk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    At an experiential level, perceiving the problem of suffering and death (human and animal), and the pervasiveness of evil and injustice are, for me, the greatest hurdles of the faith to overcome. The scriptural connection, of course, is that sin leads to death. Suffering, in its many forms, and diseases are but precursors to death: the return and reduction of a previously living (and possibly flourishing) creature to a state of non-life.

    We can affirm the notion that all humans are sinners, but this does not negate the fact that some persons are far more vile and depraved than others. Some individuals leave tremendous devastation in their wake. Innocent parties can and do suffer gross injustices. Not all temporal suffering is in some way merited by those affected.

    Maintaining belief in Godís goodness, faithfulness, and love in spite of the horrific afflictions and evils that take place in this age can be a great challenge. There is a very real sense, then, where I must choose whether to believe and trust in Godís word, that he is good. Is God indifferent or does he merely seem to be? If I do not believe that he is good, how can I possibly love or worship him?
    I think you've brought up a topic that doesn't get the attention it deserves. Most preaching on sin focuses on the individuals need to repent. This is certainly important. However, it is not the full story of sin in the world.

    We need more recognition of sin's impact on the world. Even if I don't sin, I am impacted by other's sin. As you describe, even if your not personally involved, seeing what others do can drag you down. Then you can start having trouble maintaining belief in God's goodness, faithfulness, and love. You may even end in a place where God feels absent and you're in a dark night of the soul.

    I know I don't take care of my soul very well. I think it would help if there was more teaching on how to do that.
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    My time to be on TWeb is unpredictable. It may take a few days for me to see your post and respond.

  13. Amen The Remonstrant, Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.

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