Monday, March 08, 2010
You Atheists, Always Talkin' 'Bout Gawd!
Of course, talking about God these days usually means talking about the non-existence of God. In this sense, the subject may more properly be identified as ontology or observation rather than God him/her/itself. Less frequently, I talk about how in the Bibles, God really is quite a wicked character.
No question, though: God comes up in conversation quite often in my original posts and in replies to commentators. Amused believers read all my God-text and are pleased to suggest that I harbor latent theistic beliefs. Or they trot out a popular quote from G.K. Chesterton: "If there were no God, there would be no atheists."
Now, Chesterton's aphorism makes a nice sound bite, but it's not correct. Were I slightly cheekier, I would retort, "If there were no evolution, there would be no creationists." My proverb, at least, has the benefit of being factually true.
But the best and most direct response to Chesterton is to correct him: if there were no religion, there would be no atheists. Religion and its conjoined sibling, dogma, are the conditions that lead to people self-identifying as Atheists. God the being is, well, incidental. As ever, when we really start to look into matters, God is actually irrelevant.
Indeed, if it weren't for atheists, God would not be brought up nearly as much. Many believers are actually ashamed of God and uncomfortable with their belief. They simply do not want it challenged.
I bring up God, then, to expose the whole idea to inquiry. When the concept is brought into the foreground, we can clearly see its flaws and chips and patches and scratches. The believer wants God to be the eternal mystery, the thing we will never attain or know. The Atheist wants to talk about God. The fact is, we know all too much about him/her/it.
As for Chesterton, I have never been impressed with him. To me, he lives on that tier well below Wilde and Shaw. His little quip here opens itself up to reverse formulations that make much more sense, such as if there were a God, there would be no atheists. We Atheists "are," after all, because he/she/it is not.
So, believers, let's talk about God. Let's discuss your concept of God. Why not? What are you afraid of?