Courage?

13 10 2010

The certainty with which atheists hold their position is sheer arrogance. To assume that their preferred method of knowing is the only legitimate method, and that they can be absolutely certain about something that cannot be proven (that belief in God is delusional), means their arrogance is not only bad faith, it’s bad science. Undaunted, they beat their chests and congratulate themselves for not taking the opiate of religion. They, the few and proud, can face the truth with unbridled courage.

Indeed, one of the central convictions of atheists is that their position requires courage because they’re willing to face the naked truth about existence, which I assume takes courage because their “naked truth” is very unpleasant. Just ask Nietzsche, or Sartre, or Camus, or Macbeth, who gave the epitaph to every atheist:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Courage? As it happens, any virtue taken too far becomes lunacy. Patience taken too far becomes nothing but the fear of confrontation. Honesty taken too far becomes lack of discretion. Kindness taken too far becomes complicity in cruelty. And courage taken too far becomes foolhardiness. Nothing courageous about someone standing on a bridge about to jump off. Suicide is the coward’s way out. So is mental suicide. Some virtues taken too far become their opposites.

Which is why you’ve got to hand it to Nietzsche, who at least was willing to face the brutal facts of what a denial of God entailed. So any self-proclaimed atheists who tell you that they’re just fine with their creed and don’t see anything unpleasant about it are asking you to believe them over Nietzsche, and Sartre, and Camus, and Macbeth (via Shakespeare). Don’t take the bait. They’re inviting you over to the dark side and into this thing called denial.

Whence the denial? The materialist worldview is, at bottom, impossible to sustain in polite company. As G.K. Chesterton made clear, atheists can’t finally even say “thank you” for passing the mustard if they wish to remain consistent in their view of things (i.e. how can you thank someone for engaging in nothing more than a neuro-chemical impulse wrought by primal instincts of social cohesion?) Think about it. Turns out, some denial runs deeper than others.

And if an atheist denies they’re living in denial, ask him when the last time was he actually said he loved someone. Because for a materialist, “love” in the way most rational people mean it (as a transcendent reality with objective value that is shared between two people) isn’t finally a real option, since it’s nothing but (yawn) a bio-chemical phenomenon ~ in other words, not exactly the thing people have been versifying and singing about for millenia. In other words, for the atheist, the expression “I love you” is no more profound than saying “I love pizza,” and frankly, less honest, since presumably you mean something more when you express love for a person than for a thick-crust pepperoni. But in the materialist world of atheism, you can’t mean anything more and hope to be telling the truth, since both expressions come from the same biological impulse to survive.

Welcome to a world shorn of transcendence, shorn of true beauty and real goodness (since, without an ultimate and objective referent, what are beauty and goodness but mere human concoctions?). In the end, all you’re left with is the “truth,” and frankly, it’s not a truth worth believing.

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