Atheists are closed to faith. Or to put it more accurately, atheists are devotees of a faith that God does not exist. The atheist faith fosters contempt for religious belief and denies itself the ability to understand why religious people believe as they do other than that they are credulous or mentally disturbed.
Since atheism is also a faith, the only meaningful question is how this faith – or any faith – affects the lives of its believers. Does it enrich or diminish them? Atheism constricts the vision of its adherents and flattens their thought, denying them access to many inexplicable dimensions of human experience. Agnosticism is skeptical but also keeps the mind open, making its adherents curious about the impact religious faith can have on the meanings of individual lives.
I confess that somebody who is touted as an intellectual should be so astonishingly ignorant, and yet at the same time so certain about it in a manner that is quite condescending towards those that do not actually believe, the very essence of hostility seeps and flows from the cracks between the words.
OK, let’s be clear about this, if he is indeed shy about actually talking to people who do not believe and instead actually bothered to grab a dictionary to look up the word “atheist”, then he would discover that it simply means a lack of belief in a god, and this is indeed distinctly different than the fanatical embrace of a cultural myth as “truth”, and is not some variation of faith.
He does get some things right, and so within the same article he writes …
I am an agnostic, a believer in mysteries that we cannot solve. Being an agnostic does not mean I am closed to faith. On the contrary, it is the humility to recognize that we do not know the answer to the fundamental questions of our existence – whether there is a Divinity that shapes our ends or whether life has no meaning other than that it stops.
… and so he might perhaps be astonished to discover that the vast majority of those that would identify with the label “atheist”, would agree and so would also deploy the label “agnostic” along with the label “atheist”.
It is a rather astonishing discovery to some that words such as “atheist” and “agnostic” describe distinctly different things and so they are not mutually exclusive terms, because the deployment of one does not preclude an equal adherence to the other. It works like this …
- I am an atheist – I do not have a belief that there is a god. I am aware that there are people who do believe, and I truly do understand that because I once also believed and can remember that.
- I am an agnostic – I do not know that there is or is not a god, I have no knowledge either way.
In other words, I’m an agnostic atheist.
Ah but those are terms that simply describe my views when it comes to one specific question : is there a god – and says nothing about anything else. So in addition to the confusion that “Atheism is a faith” and the promotion of the strange but popular idea that “atheism” and “agnosticism” are mutually exclusive words, we also have the assertion that those that reject cultural ideas that don’t have a jot of evidence are embracing an idea that … “flattens their thought, denying them access to many inexplicable dimensions of human experience”.
What are we to conclude except perhaps to ponder about the thickness of the walls of the bubble that Mr Horowitz resides within, because such words have no scope to flatten thinking or deny access to the vast dimensions of the human experience.
When it comes to Zeus, Athena, Apollo, Hera, or Poseidon, I would assume that Mr Horowitz is in reality an Atheist, and yet at the same time is perhaps also an agnostic because he cannot truly “know” that such entities do not actually exist and so can’t state that with 100% certainty, but would indeed find the concept to be highly improbable, and yet does that in any way “flatten his thinking“, or “deny him access to dimensions of human experience“? The Song of Ilium is accessible and inspirational to all regardless of any thoughts we might have regarding the reality of the divine actions of the gods described within.
When it comes to the currently popular god concept within the prevailing western culture, is it any different?
Additionally, beyond labels such as “atheist” and “agnostic”, which I would argue have a very narrow scope, there is a vast diversity of inspiration that is accessible universally … poetry, art, philosophy and the amazing progress that the scientific methodology is yielding. The sky above does not yield different shades of blue depending upon the specific belief or lack of one, and so nor does the assertion that people who reject specific cultural myths imply that they cannot find inspiration, poetry, and beauty all around