Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Atheism. It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore.

Gaghdad Bob has atheism for breakfast in this post. He takes atheists to task for pontificating against genuine religious experience. For folks to whom God and revelation are data and not merely theoretical conclusions, "shut up" is not much of a convincing argument.

There's a lot of good stuff in the piece. Here's a teaser:

I do not know the first thing about wine. And yet, I know that I do not know, and I also know full well that there are enologists who do know what I don’t. In fact, I am one hundred percent certain both of my ignorance and their expertise in this area. But since I am ignorant, how do I know this? Among other reasons, I know it because it would be absurd to deny the testimony of thousands of enologists who have trained themselves to make subtle discriminations in the realm of wine. If I were to object and tell them that they are fooling themselves and that there is no empirical proof that one wine is any better than another, they would properly regard me as a gustatory moron with a boorish and cretinous palate.

While numbers aren’t everything, needless to say, the numbers are on my side, in that billions of human beings have personally experienced the Divine, whereas atheism is an absurdity that makes no sense to all but a few eccentrics and misfits. More importantly, there are any number spiritual geniuses who have left maps of the domain of spirit that are every bit as subtle and detailed as the maps of science. I have been guided by these maps, so I know the territory they describe is ontologically real.

One atheist yesterday took me to task for “trashing” atheism because I hadn’t personally experienced it, but that is false. There was a time that I was an atheist, but I eventually found its philosophical foundation to be utterly lacking. When I wrote yesterday that positive atheism was naively self-contradictory at every turn, I meant that literally, not as an insult. Most bad metaphysics can be dismissed with a single insurmountable sentence or two, and atheism is no exception. To declare that it is absolutely true that only relative truth exists is nonsensical. And to declare that absolute truth exists is to make a statement so pregnant with metaphysical implications that one could write a whole book on the subject, which I done went and did.

One commenter proclaimed yesterday that “I am an Atheist because the universe makes perfect sense to me without putting God in the equation. You say God is easily provable. That is horse manure. There is absolutely no evidence God exists. God is nothing but a manmade idea in order to give one hope for meaning and even everlasting life.”

He dismisses all religion as an “invisible myth that you cling on to. In fact, I now have as much justification that there is an invisible man living under my bed, as there is a God. In other words, I have no reason to believe in either, as no evidence exists that either God or the invisible man under my bed exists.”

How does one respond to such invincible ignorance? “There is no evidence that God exists.” Of course there is evidence. It's just that he is either unfamiliar with the evidence or has chosen to reject or ignore it, which he is naturally free to do. As for the statement that religious belief is an “invisible myth,” the reverse is true: it is only possible to cling to the invisible myth of atheism in a hermetically sealed environment of fellow fervent believers who are similarly innocent of any direct encounter with transcendent reality. They are free to insist that “all wines are identical,” just as I am free to dismiss them as possessing barbarous palates.


Michael Poole said...

"Of course there is evidence that God exists." There is at least as much evidence that no god exists. It is not the atheists' fault that people are so easily confused by synaptic misfires. Theists simply ignore the evidence that goes against their chosen or ingrained beliefs.

It's easy to play the "appeal to authority" game. It's also easy to pick apart poor analogies, such as those between the explicitly tangible and the by-definition intangible.

Wardon said...


Just discovered your blog, via the Anchoress. As a devotee of Gagdad Bob, Dr. Sanity, ShrinkWrapped, etc, I will be visiting here regularly!

I see that we have been influenced by the same Christian authors, and have followed a somewhat similar philosophical trajectory. I never went through an atheist stage, however. My path was from Eastern/New Age pantheism/mysticism and philosophical idealism to Christianity. Also, unlike you, I became a political conservative long before I became a Christian. I am being pulled strongly - at age 47 - into the Roman Catholic Church (currently Episcopalian). Haven't taken the final plunge yet, but it'll happen in the next year or two, if not sooner. He's quite insistent about it. :-)

As for Gagdad Bob - I identify with him strongly, because he's where I was a couple of years ago. Trying to reconcile my basically Vedantic belief system (Aurobindo, etc) with an unexpected tug towards traditional Christianity. Like him, I did this mostly through writers like Schuon. I didn't take the final step into true Christianity myself, rather I was grabbed and pulled across. I sense that a similar surprise is in the Gagster's future, but who knows?

(P. S. Having recently read The Everlasting Man, I LOVE the title of your blog!)

Matteo said...


Thanks for stopping by. As for myself, it was reading "Meditations On The Tarot" which really got me turned toward Catholicism. Gagdad Bob features that one prominently on his website, and occasionally he makes reference to the concepts in there. I now regard the book as semi-heretical, but man, oh, man, it speaks to you when you've got the Eastern outlook. I regard Catholicism and friendship with the Trinity and the Communion of Saints as fulfilling my wildest Eastern dreams and then some. At some point, I expect Bob to discover that he has the opportunity to be nourished by the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Son of God in the Eucharist, and he probably won't want to pass that up!

Doc said...

On the topic of aetheism, the WaPo had a spread on Sam Harris yesterday. I had a little fun with it over on my blog. Thought you might get a kick out of it.