Tuesday, December 06, 2005

More Narnia-bashing from Polly Toynbee

Lewis: I was at that time living like many atheists; in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with him for creating a world. Why should creatures have the burden of existence forced on them without their consent?

I know atheists don't like this description. But what accounts for the incredible anger that comes from so many atheists?

9 comments:

brandon said...

He was the lamb, representing the meek of the earth, weak, poor and refusing to fight.

Ummm.... he trashed the temple and predicted it's destruction.

We need no holy guide books, only a very human moral compass.

Need we bring up the moral compass of the man behind the London blitzes?

Everyone needs ghosts, spirits, marvels and poetic imaginings, but we can do well without an Aslan.

That doesn't make sense. Aslan obviously haunts her.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Most atheists were raised Christian (or some other religion). No matter how atheist they are, they cannot excise this historical fact from their psyche. Unused and unbelieved thoughts pop up from the deep, thoughts about God, maxims about God in times of trouble, etc.. This is much like what happens after someone has removed himself from a powerful cult: ideation from the cult days come back during the strangest times.

When I first became an atheist a little over 10 (I was around 20 at the time), this involuntary ideation happened all the time, and I was admittedly somewhat angry about it, and was one of those combative atheists. I was naive about the power of history to shape our psyche, about the inertia which deep-rooted beliefs that guided my thinking wrt to morals, death, and other painful experiences. Nowadays when these vestigial psychological intruders invade my mind, they are like interesting butterflies.

Christian apologists are quite aware of this psychological inertia effect, and often seek to exploit it to convince people that "deep down" they really believe. This is bogus: try that out with the recovering anorexic who still has ideation about her fat stomach. Such manipulations by people witnessing still rouse my ire because it shows a lack of respect and sensitivity for complicated psychological evolution (my ire is in direct proportion to how shrill they are when they are peddling their goods, or how arrogant they are when trying to point out that it is "contradictory" to be an atheist and "mad at God").

Second-generation atheists, who have not been inculcated with a suite of beliefs about supernatural agents in their lives, typically don't have the same reaction.

Personally, when I became an atheist (itself a very slow and sometimes difficult process: not a single event), I was never mad at God for not existing. I was more mad at the thoughts that involuntarily popped into my mind, thoughts that I didn't believe anymore but were programmed in at a very young age.

Hopefully my kids won't have to suffer through such cognitive dissonance.

Blue Devil Knight said...

When in Sunday school, we all went to see ET one morning and then discussed the parallels with Christ's life. The irony, that Speilberg produced the movie, escaped me at the time. :)

Frankly, I wish I didn't know that the Chronicles was supposed to be a Christian allegory. That will be very distracting to me while I watch it, and probably make me like the movie less.

However, we now know from Gibson that Jesus sells, and the bottom line is what the studios ultimately care about. So Christians are probably in for a treat over the next N years!

Ray Schneider said...

The intellectual problem with Atheism is that it affirms a negative, the non-existence of something, which is logically impossible of proof.

So one of the things that is hard to understand is the passion with which they hold this non-existence. It is hard to escape the notion that they are really simply rejecting the obligations that believing in God would entail.

In other words, Atheism is simply a psychological form of the "non serviam" -- which lets them substitute their will as the highest imperative. But since it is a psychological rejection of a patent reality, like Lewis they are, deep down, faced with the contradition.

Blue Devil Knight said...

The intellectual problem with Atheism is that it affirms a negative, the non-existence of something, which is logically impossible of proof.

I am going to avoid getting into prolonged arguments about theism and its merits or lack thereof, but the above bologny is so prevalent, yet so obviously false, that it needs to be shot down every time it is uttered. Such arguments are typical in science, everyday reasoning, etc. Here is one counterexample:

1. If there exists a planet with three times the mass of Jupiter between Earth and the Sun, then we would expect such and such celestial dynamics.
2. We do not observe such and such celestial dynamics.
3. Therefore, there does not exist a planet with 3x the mass of Jupiter between Earth and the Sun.


At any rate, I don't know anybody whose beliefs about supernatural beings has those beliefs because of a single knock-down argument (this is because there are no such arguments to be found on either side of the issue). In practice, in the real world of people deciding how to make sense of loved ones dying, of impending death, of massive natural- disaster caused suffereing, such beliefs are nearly always based on a complicated critical mass of evidence. The evidence comes from lots of sources (psychosocial/cultural factors, science, traditional philosophy, historical scholarship).

Incidentally, as I have said before here, I became a non-Christian (though not an atheist) when some campus Crusaders asked me to search deep in my heart to see if I believed that Christ rose from the dead. I did it, and after being a lifelong Christian realized I thought that it was a preposterous thing to believe. I became a nonChristian theist for the next two years. For those witnessing, beware the argument via internal intuition: it can backfire! :) One person's "patent reality" (whatever that is) is another's patent absurdity.

Steven Carr said...

'Lewis: I was at that time living like many atheists; in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with him for creating a world. Why should creatures have the burden of existence forced on them without their consent?'

Lewis was clearly not the greatest thinker, was he?

Rasmus Møller said...

Being a great thinker does not exclude strong emotions. Being able - like Lewis - to account lucidly for those strong emotions, where they are relevant, in fact increases his credibility. Bigger things than mindgames are at stake.

Victor Reppert said...

Lewis was talking about what he believed as a teenager, and how he felt about it. And if you read Surprised by Joy, he did not completely censure the way his beliefs were formed.

brandon said...

But what accounts for the incredible anger that comes from so many atheists?


I know plenty of people who are mad at the way they were raised by religious hypocrites, particularly from Catholic backgrounds. On the other hand I've known a couple people raised by atheist parents and while usually not as angry as the theist turned atheist, they are nonetheless angry. I think it has to do with exclusion: being raised in a subculture that is still in the minority. There is definitely more there, I just don't know what it is.