Posted by: Jaime | April 22, 2009

Na Na – My God Can Beat Up Your God

The New Atheist preach that we are already atheist to all the greek gods, tooth fairy, sprites, etc… and all they have done is gone one god further.

Not necessarily.

Everyone who wrote their paper on faith is painfully aware that faith is not fact claim that doesn’t need any evidence to back it up. It is being ultimately concerned. Without faith we can not function because of the active aspect of loyalty faith calls for. For instance, when someone I trust lets me down I can not put my faith in them and it is impossible for us to interact at the level we did before.

The objects of our faiths are gods. Another way to think of a god is as a value center. I need something outside of myself to give me value. I may say, “I love myself strongly and feel complete.” Here I find have put my faith in ‘Love’ which I choose over a value center of hate.

I depend on this god for my sense of value. It also gives me a necessary object for my loyalty and all of my actions are based around serving this god. If music is my god I spend my time listening and researching music. I work to afford tickets to concerts and they get prominent places in my schedule. My conversations are based around what type of music other people like and what shows they have been to.

This god also determines the value of everything else I come across. If I put my faith in America everything’s ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ is determined by whether or not the contribute to the greatness and ongoing life of the nation. Even my personal enemies are valuable insofar as they are contributing to the state.

In short, faith is the force of vitality of life. It is the trust in life’s meaning. Without it there would be no reason to remain living. It is always directed at something outside of the self on which it depends for value and the ordering of life.

We have to have faith and therefore we necessarily have to have gods. Here are the different positions we can take toward the gods.

Henotheism

This is to know there are many gods but to put faith in only my god as the best. The nationalists recognize that there are many other states to choose from but their state is the best.

Polytheism

This is spreading out my faith in many different gods. I find meaning and value in my work, my family, my friends and dish out my loyalties to them as I deem fit.

Radical Monotheism

This is what the German Protestant Theologian Richard Niebuhr recommends as the only true place to put our faith. All of the gods found through henotheism and polytheism can give me value for only a limited amount of time. Everything in this world passes. Everything is finite. Our works, ideas, social movements, friends, family, and material possessions all pass. When I put my faith in multiple gods I feel anxiety when they conflict and I cannot give my loyalty to both. When I give our loyalty to one god over the others I am forced to ask, ‘What’s the point,” rationally knowing that it takes only so much time for my life’s work to be of non consequence when the finite cause I put my heart into passes away as well.

But faith is the knowledge that life is meaningful and to keep living I have to put my faith in something. Niebuhr here describes the odd occurrence in history where human beings put their faith in the Slayer of all the other gods. We put our faith in the Void from which everything comes into existence and into which everything returns (a quick note: naturalism doesn’t account for the existence of ideas and creative actions aka our consciousness, though dependant, is not a slave to our physical makeup). So Job says, “Thou it slay me still I will trust in it.” So it is said in the Void we live and move and have our being. It seems to me that the greatest work of theologians is identifying their is an affected change in our lives (not solely our creation) when we throw loves line off into the dark and ask as Rahnger did, “how are you disposed to me?”

In reality there is no such thing as an atheist in the sense of a person having no gods though we may still argue that there is nothing beyond the physical. What god therefore is worth devoting our one precious life to?

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