Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Way Beyond Atheism

In this essay, Paul Wallace observes that most Atheists are committed to mere inversions of some brand or another of Christianity that they, in truth, know only on a superficial level. Wallace goes on to explain Christian apophatic theology (or, negation theology) which attempts to describe God by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about God.

Wallace was inspired by an essay written by Denys Turner, a Professor of Theology at Yale in which Turner wrote "The atheisms of most committed, principled atheists are often not more than mirror images—inversions—of the theisms they negate.” “Atheists reject too little,” Turner writes, “This is why their atheisms lack theological interest. The routine principled atheist has but tinkered with religion.”

Wallace goes on to unpack Turner’s statements in the rest of his essay, challenging Atheists to be as honest as Christians in challenging their assumptions:

Most principled atheists do not go beyond the second level of thought, that of simple denial. They refuse to go further, to seriously question the ground beneath their feet. And, by holding on, consciously or not, to their unjustified assumptions, they end up rejecting far too little.

Most atheists reject far too little. They only have to be one kind of atheist: The atheist who stands against some kind of ridiculous super-object in the sky, who stands against a child’s theology. Christians, who, like Jews, are commanded to have no gods before God, do not have the luxury of disbelieving in so few things. In Turner’s words, “In order to deny every kind of idolatry possible, a Christian must be every kind of atheist possible.” We are required to have faith in no thing at all; only then will our faith have any chance of finding its true home in God.

An outstanding and provocative essay. Highly recommended.

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