-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Damon Linker doesn’t see the need of another book about atheism. This time it’s British philosopher A.C. Grayling’s The God Argument – The Case against Religion and for Humanism, to be published on March 26. Linker quotes honest atheist and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche when Nietzsche proclaimed that the death of God would be an “awe-inspiring catastrophe” for mankind. Although numerous gods from humanity’s past have lost their imagined effect on the human condition without catastrophic results, Nietzsche seems to think the passing of this god will be different.
If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we’re alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.
The claim that “we’re alone in the universe,” attempts to lump all of humanity into one group that will be alone with Linker’s god. However, since only individuals can feel loneliness, humanity may be alone but will not be lonely. The search for intelligent extra-terrestrial beings echos the same need for humanity to not be alone.
The lament that “no one hears or answers our prayers,” reminds me of a child’s devastation when that child learns that Santa doesn’t read the letters that they have written.
Linker thinks that under atheism, “humanity is entirely the product of random events.” Evolution puts lie to Linker’s straw man fallacy. Natural selection is not a random process. Randomness shouldn’t scare us. Humanity is used to the randomness of which sperm will penetrate the egg, making everyone’s identity the result of a random event.
While atheism does hold that we “face certain annihilation in death,” that annihilation makes life all the more precious. The world got along just fine before we were born, it will get along just fine after we’re dead. We live on only in the minds of those who survive our death. How we’re remembered is all that matters because that is all that remains.
Linker’s religion inflates its followers’ egos by claiming an all-powerful being loves them. The loss of that all-powerful being is a blow to the ego few theists are willing to accept. The feeling of being special in a world teeming with humans is seductive. Religion’s seductiveness also extends to the human desire for revenge. However, it is this very seductiveness that should make us skeptical of its truth.
We have followed the repeated attacks on atheists by political and religious leaders and Linker can be added to hall of shame. Linker believes, contrary to the Constitution’s requirement of “no religious test,” that “radical atheists” are “simply incompatible with high office, and sometimes even active citizenship, in a democracy.” Jews are atheistic regarding the Christian god. Is being Jewish also incompatible with high office?
In the case of Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), unanimous in the result it was the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion that:
We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person “to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.”