Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Problem of Evil Christian Atheists.

I write often elsewhere recently on theodicy. Why would I, a self-admitted atheist, write about such things if not to disparage it, to claim it's all a result the efforts of the dominant capitalist narrative in the mind of the befogged? Well, I don't write Leftist critique cause I ain't fuckin stupid. Theodicy is relevant and important to the understanding of our Human life as it is, and no amount of social-working Christians is going to make it less so. In fact, apostate Christian Gnostics make the problems of theodicy all the more interesting to us who see the world's evils as essential to the rightness of life. They are evil themselves, these Christians, or... post-Christian Gnostic apostates. Even a non-believer can see in religious terms these fools for what they are.

Below we have two quotations frm the Internet on atheism and Christianity, and, I think, the problem of evil.

Mary Grabar, "The Cultural Illiteracy of the Easy Atheists."

...Consider the great works of literature written by Christian authors. Though I saw these authors mocked in graduate school, the force of their ideas prevails. Their wisdom and humanity contrasted sharply with the nonsensical nihilism put out by trendy authors.

Reading Milton led me back to the Bible. Shakespeare revealed the evil of atheism through characters like Iago. Dostoyevsky exposed the evils of pride and self-devised "justice."

How odd, then, for Hitchens to invoke literature as he does

"We are not immune to the lure of wonder and mystery and awe: we have music and art and literature, and find that the serious ethical dilemmas are better handled by Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Schiller and Dostoyevsky and George Eliot than in the mythical morality tales of the holy books."

But Hitchens must be banking on a readership that has not read Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky. These Christian authors dramatized the themes and stories of the holy book that Hitchens disparages.


Mark D. Tooley, "Christian Churches Moving Leftward Together." FrontPageMagazine.com | June 26, 2007

"Christian Churches Together" (CCT) was to have been the new, more spiritually vibrant alterative to the decaying, chronically left-wing National Council of Churches.

'Christian Churches Together' ... as lead by Richard Hamm, at least admitted the limitations of his influence. "Politicians know that mainline church leaders and assemblies seldom reflect the thinking of most of the people in our pews," he allowed. "Most of the people in our pews have a lifetime of acculturation that causes them to see the world through the same old American eyes of arrogance."

Like countless other mainline church bureaucrats of the last 50 years, Hamm has devoted himself to "educating" conservative church members, not about the Gospel per se, but about American "arrogance" and selfishness. ...

Milton understands the post-Lapsarian life and so does Sophocles, both available to Christopher Hitchens and others, so what's the problem? How hard is it to figure out that evil in a good thing? Why the phantasies of the Left? Why the lapse from reality and Humanness?

"All is vanity."


truepeers said...

"Even a non-believer can see in religious terms these fools for what they are."

Yes, I think that's right, but still, it's only scratching the surface of the question of what a non-believer who sees in religious terms is. But it seems as if you are on the road to reducing the difference between religiously aware non-believer and believer to something rather small, at least in theoretical terms. And then to show the real contrast, we will really have to answer your last question here in order to make the horizon (which we can never fully attain) of our movement clear: Freedom From Gnostics in Positions of Power

truepeers said...

a propos of that last question, why are the leftist so dependent on fantasies, here is Ross Douthat on Christopher Hitchens:

The book has been written with two main purposes in mind: to show that all religions are false, and to prove that their effects are near-universally pernicious. In each case, Hitchens's argument proceeds principally by anecdote, and at his best he is as convincing as that particular style allows, which is to say not terribly. He succeeds in demonstrating that many faiths are frauds and many prophets have been fakers, that believers commit all sorts of terrible crimes and that Buddhists are no more pacific than Southern Baptists, and that the Bible is neither a work of academic history nor a biology textbook. Then again, I was convinced of these points already, and hoped that Hitchens would pick a fight on more contested territory, such as the origin and nature of spiritual experience, which seems a more likely source for man's persistent religiosity than, say, the fear of thunderstorms or the stubborn refusal to crack open The Origin of Species. But like most apologists for atheism, he evinces little interest in the topic of religion as it is actually lived, preferring to stick to the safer ground of putting the godly in the dock and cataloguing their crimes against humanity.
More likely, though, the reader will come away unpersuaded of anything save the self-evident truth of the matter, which is that human beings, being a clannish and quarrelsome lot, tend to find all sorts of things to fight over, and that nearly every aspect of human affairs can serve as a powerful spur to actions both heroic and deplorable. So religion produces both Torquemada and Dorothy Day; philosophy spurs Socrates to die for truth and Heidegger to prostitute himself for Hitler; science cures polio and speeds our missiles on their way; the bonds of family provide the foundation for innumerable happy childhoods, but also for the Wars of the Roses. None of this is to excuse the crimes of religious believers; it's merely to suggest that the line between good and evil runs through every aspect of human affairs, and denouncing belief in God for poisoning the world is as absurd as denouncing "democracy" because it has empowered tyrants from Hitler down to Hugo Chavez, or "equality" because its partisans have included the Jacobins, the Khmer Rouge, and the KGB.

Of this last objection, at least, Hitchens seems well aware, and he devotes an entire chapter to arguing strenuously that both the Nazis and the Communists were effectively religious and effectively theocratic, their secular experiments poisoned by religion. But with this move he begins sawing off the very branch he occupies, since if faith tends to infect even secular politics, then what separates Hitchens from his religious enemies?
Though he casts himself as a chastened ex-Marxist, he slips all too easily into a boasting utopianism. There is the dream of near-immortality, thanks to "stupendous advances in medicine and life extension, derived from work on our elementary stem cells." There is the usual atheistic claptrap about how the "undreamed of vistas inside our own evolving cortex, in the farthest reaches of the known universe, and in the proteins and acids which constitute our nature" are a suitable replacement for the inspiration and consolation associated with religion. And inevitably, there is the fantasy of a sexual utopia, since "the divorce between the sexual life and fear, the sexual life and disease, and the sexual life and tyranny, can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse." (This last bit is the kind of nonsense that only an intellectual could believe—that religion, rather than biology and human nature, is responsible for making sex physically and emotionally perilous, or linking promiscuity with disease, or intertwining the personal and the political.)

At one point, summoning his readers to the salons and barricades of a new Age of Reason, Hitchens adds the caveat that "only the most naive utopian can believe that this new humane civilization will develop, like some dream of ‘progress,' in a straight line." This sounds admirably humble, until you read the next sentence—"we have to first transcend our prehistory, and escape the gnarled hands which reach out to drag us back to the catacombs and the reeking altars"—and realize that the only people standing between us and this "new humane civilization" are the unenlightened types who don't agree with Christopher Hitchens about the ultimate purpose of human affairs.

We've heard this kind of talk before—transcending the past, building a new humane civilization, escaping the outworn moralities and metaphysics of yore—and its results have tended to be unhappy for those unfortunate enough to be identified with the "prehistory" that needs to be transcended. Perhaps a more modest utopianism will be less pernicious than its predecessors; perhaps Hitchens really means it when he protests, in between the insults, that he only dislikes religion because it won't leave him well enough alone. But there's nothing, either in recent history or in the pages of this smug, incurious book, to give one any confidence of that.

dag said...

I see a clear line from Jan Hus onward, and I find it frightening and confusing. The proto-Protestant Hus is, to miy mind, a good actor in history, but if what he did has led to this travesty of religion, then count me out of his supporters, and one not likely to give up a life-time of American free-thinking Protestantism. What to do?

To carry on and wonder. To reach no conclusions beyond my ability. To wonder, perchance to sleep.