A Dignified Insanity

15 06 2011

There’s a certain dignity inherent in the quiet atheist who accepts life on its own terms. The trouble, though, is that life considered from this perspective doesn’t add up. The individual parts are each greater than the whole. Take, for example, evolution. Evolution is a blind man (random chance) with this quirky proclivity for moving in a specific direction towards greater order, which leads to improbable design, which apparently is a random coincidence repeated over and over again. And it also produces what amounts to its own consciousness ~ us.

Which has always begged the question for me about the materialist’s worldview: How can evolution’s crowning consciousness (us) be so wrong about itself ~ namely, in believing that we are infinite (that there is a God, in other words) if we are not (and there is not)? Why this rather severe, and stubbornly persistent, detour? Why all this hullabaloo about living forever anyway? What’s the point? Haven’t we had 10,000 years of evidence to the contrary? Maybe we’re not such a crowning achievement after all. Naturalistic evolution’s explanation of things begs for a faith larger than a mustard seed. Religious faith, in comparison, begins not to look so incredulous.

With atheism, you’re left with an over-determined worldview that admits no ultimate purpose and provides no meaningful exit. You’re condemned, if you are a committed atheist intent on any sense of meaningful action, to remain alive for no reason other than to stay alive. You’re sentenced to, at most, a dignified insanity and then expected to make the best of it. A night of deep conversation with good friends, for example, becomes nothing more than a socialized collective of synapses-driven agents huddling against the void by a hard-wired will to survive. There’s nothing good nor friendly about it. Sure, we’ll have made an implicit social contract in the meantime ~ we will agree, more or less, to “rage, rage against the dying of the light,” but to what purpose? To simply make meaning in a vacuum? In a word, yes. But then, of course, the parts no longer are larger than the whole but rather less than themselves.

As an atheist, you are condemned to your own absurdity, and the only remedy is to keep yourself distracted, because considered for too long, the whole conceit of its philosophy falls apart. It happens that atheism takes itself too seriously to be taken seriously. Everything becomes a matter of life and death for those who accept its tenets, and laughter becomes the opiate, the ultimate distraction, the final vestige of dignity in an otherwise hostile and indifferent world. Life becomes its own tautology, and its crowning achievement becomes its executioner.

It should not be surprising, then, that the rate of suicide among atheists is greater than among religiously affiliated people. An article in the American Journal of Psychiatry took this matter up several years ago and can be found here: (http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/12/2303). This is perhaps the most insidious element of this system of thought: it cannot bear the weight of its own philosophy and eventually crumbles under its own weight, and it induces too many of its adherents to do the same.

Atheism, for all its bluster, is morbid to the core, a white-washed sepulcher made to look dignified for its gilded headstones and courageous-sounding epitaphs. But it’s a grave all the same, with a rotting corpse within, unable, and finally unwilling, to keep even itself alive.

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