Friday, 1 July 2011

What the new atheists don't see

Over the last 3  or 4 years there has been some assertive attacks on religion in general and Christianity in particular. Spearheaded I suppose by Richard Dawkins and his The God Delusion. It was good to read a brief trenchant rebuttal of many of the 'new atheists' points by Theodore Dalrymple, a profligate writer and commentator and recently retired doctor. He writes an excellent column in the British Medical Journal.

Writing as a self professed non believer himself his criticism of Dawkins et al is all the more interesting.

The British parliament’s first avowedly atheist member, Charles Bradlaugh, would stride into public meetings in the 1880s, take out his pocket watch, and challenge God to strike him dead in 60 seconds. God bided his time, but got Bradlaugh in the end. A slightly later atheist, Bertrand Russell, was once asked what he would do if it proved that he was mistaken and if he met his maker in the hereafter. He would demand to know, Russell replied with all the high-pitched fervor of his pedantry, why God had not made the evidence of his existence plainer and more irrefutable. And Samuel Beckett came up with a memorable line: “God doesn’t exist—the bastard!”
Sartre’s wonderful outburst of disappointed rage suggests that it is not as easy as one might suppose to rid oneself of the notion of God. (Perhaps this is the time to declare that I am not myself a believer.) At the very least, Beckett's line implies that God’s existence would solve some kind of problem—actually, a profound one: the transcendent purpose of human existence. Few of us, especially as we grow older, are entirely comfortable with the idea that life is full of sound and fury but signifies nothing.. read the rest here
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