Bad Grief

Certainly there is some rage against the idea of God, but the idea that theists are stupid because they’re theists is a stupid idea. Anyone who cares to could find out in about five seconds that there have been many theists who were frighteningly intelligent. There are many now. I don’t think belief in God is a question of intelligence to begin with, but I do think it’s a question of values. This isn’t a criticism. In the amusing documentary, Religulous, Bill Maher said to a few trucker-Christians that he considered atheism a luxury. He was right. Atheism is a luxury.

This is why atheism is a luxury:

Consider the point made by Ian McEwan in the ‘Unbelievers‘ movie. He pointed out that, at a funeral, a believer has no need to be upset because he should believe he will see the departed again in an afterlife. So why feel grief? McEwan suggests a funeral, for a believer at any rate, should be like waving someone goodbye at the quayside. Okay, goodbye, but I’ll see you again soon. This logic is perfectly sound.

Now take the logic and consider the psychological mess that Tennyson gets himself into at the end of the prologue to ‘In Memoriam’:

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

‘Confusions of a wasted youth’ is detestable. What torment Tennyson’s ‘speaker’ must be experiencing: the earnest agony at a loved-one lost, yet more agony he tortures himself with because the grief he experiences is itself a sin. He won’t accept his own feelings because his grief is a sign of weak faith.

Good grief.

Betrand Russell states in ‘Why I’m Not A Christian’ that persons don’t accept religion on the argumentation, they accept it for emotional reasons. This is why atheism is a luxury.

Those who achieve atheism, given serious emotional reasons to hope for an afterlife, deserve respect; those who believe in God for emotional reasons deserve respect; those who claim to believe in God for purely intellectual reasons deserve to be mocked.

Is that unreasonable?

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