The faith of atheists

NEAR the end of his life, atheist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre – who had long said the existence of God was impossible – made a surprising admission.

“I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured,’’ he said, In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here; and this idea of a creating hand refers to God.’’

Hearing the news, Satre’s fellow existentialist and long-time companion, Simone de Beauvoir, called him a “turncoat’’.

Nobel prize-winning writer George Bernard Shaw had a similar about-face: “The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt,’’ he wrote shortly before his death. “Witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.’’

Acclaimed natural historian and evolutionist Sir David Attenborough confessed that he now thought there might, after all, be a God. Therefore, he was no longer describing himself as an atheist but as an agnostic.

Attenborough said there was no inconsistency between belief in evolution and belief in God.

“I don’t think an understanding and an acceptance of the four billion-year-long history of life is any way inconsistent with a belief in a supreme being,’’ he said in a BBC interview. “And I am not so confident as to say that I am an atheist.’’

A.N.Wilson, once the committed atheist said:

“Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.

“To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.

“This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.”

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17 thoughts on “The faith of atheists

  1. Pingback: The faith of atheists | churchbus71

    • Bryan,
      Hmmm, well the Bernard Shaw quote actually was put into the mouth of a character in one of his writings. Admittedly some believe that it represented Shaw’s own thinking late in his life. I dont think we can be too shaw – oops sure, about that.
      Rian.

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      • “There is a technical, literary term for those who mistake the opinions and beliefs of characters in a novel for those of the author. The term is ‘idiot’.”
        ― Larry Niven

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      • I guess no-one can be Shaw Rian!

        But In his will, Shaw stated that his “religious convictions and scientific views cannot at present be more specifically defined than as those of a believer in Creative Evolution”.
        In the 1890s, Shaw renounced Atheism. Shaw wrote explicitly about his beliefs, such as in “The New Theology” in 1907, and these beliefs were also espoused through his fictional plays.

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  2. Just a bunch of whiney old men facing their mortality for the first time and not being able to handle it.
    Compare them to Mark Read, an atheist who died with his manliness, conscience and his honour intact. (not to mention his brains)

    (In case you’ve forgotten,he was offered an extended life via a liver transplant and said they should give it to someone more worthy, like a child.)

    Satre, Shaw, whoever may have been entertaining writers, but that doesn’t qualify them in any other field. Particularly science.

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      • Hm. I thought you had that jesuit-streak neurosis under control young feller; but it appears you’ve only disguised it as a strawman.

        Mark (his name was ‘Mark’, after the disciple ~ not ‘Chopper’ after some religious slaughterman) was never convicted of murder.

        Neither did I ~ nor would I ever ~ claim ‘integrity’ on his behalf, given the definition of the word.—>
        1….”An undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting”
        2….Moral soundness (as in: “”he expects to find in us the common honesty and integrity of men of business”;”)!!
        3…unity. wholeness.

        If you can name anyone with those qualities I’d first of all question their humaness….and ask how they managed to achieve sinlessness.
        No man who claims ‘integrity’ may ~ in principle ~ be trusted.

        And you can take it from me: love him or hate him, Mark Read could be trusted to be honest; there was nothing deceptive or treacherous about him. Other than Pope Francis, perhaps, I’d be surprised if you could name a godbotherer about whom the same could be said.

        A “thug”? No doubt. And differently directed he’d have made a great politician, policeman or Special-Services soldier.
        Just because his values and philosophies were different from yours doesn’t mean they were any less legitimate. He behaved according to the rules of the world in which he lived.
        And he lived ‘true to himself’ ~ and died that way too:-

        “I’m not going to ask for a liver transplant, it’s not fair. I’m 55 years old; I’m not going to put my name down against some 10-year-old kid.”

        There are lotsa christians/moslems/jews who’d never conceive of such an idea.
        ….aren’t there?

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  3. And Attenborough’s assertion that “…. there was no inconsistency between belief in evolution and belief in God.” could ONLY have any justification if it included the rider that suggested ‘god’ was NOT the god of the bible (nor any other religion of which I’m aware), but some yet undiscovered entity.

    ‘Evolution’ and religion are ENTIRELY inconsistent in every detail ~ not to mention Timeline! ~ and contradict each other all the way down the line.

    And in either case, he’s doing no more than expressing “belief-based” opinions, with nary a fact in sight.
    Reality is purely a matter of FACT; it requires no “belief” other than we are able to discover more facts.
    Religion is just as purely a matter of “belief”; it has no facts to offer, nor even the hope of discovering any, because many of those claims have proven FACTUALLY impossible.

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    • Does it take more pride to be a believer or a non believer?

      Surely there’s atheistic pride in the concept of self-worship. The concept that there is no truth beyond what the atheist can perceive through wordly eyes and ears. Where;s the humility or logic in that?

      Pride is when we are motivated by self-interest, self-indulgence, and a false sense of self-sufficiency to pursue self-glorification?

      A friend once wrote to me saying “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” That’s what the priest and pastors say when marking foreheads with ashes on Ash Wednesday. It’s a fitting beginning for the forty-day penitential season that we Christians call Lent. We’re called to remember that we are finite creatures—that we were created from dust, and that we will one day return to dust.”

      “It’s not a bad thing to be reminded of our finitude, particularly in a world that is full of violence, greed, and suffering”..

      He went on to say that we should also remember we are also part of the divine. We are creations of the divine. Does that make us proud? No it makes us humble.

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      • “Surely there’s atheistic pride in the concept of self-worship”

        Why does atheism imply self worship? Wouldn’t it more imply a lack of worship of anything ?

        “…. no truth beyond what the atheist can perceive through wordly eyes and ears”

        There’s lots beyond my eyes and ears, but that doesn’t automatically mean your God is out there. Quarks are beyond my eyes and ears too but I have no doubt they exist.

        “We’re called to remember that we are finite creatures—that we were created from dust, and that we will one day return to dust.”

        Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t your belief system also include an immortal component to humanity ? With a place especially reserved for you in the afterlife in of those “many rooms” ?

        “We are creations of the divine. Does that make us proud? No it makes us humble”

        If I’m reading this correctly you believe yourself to be a divine creation and yet that is humbling? Seems an inherent contradiction in that position.

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      • We can’t even count on self-described atheists to be strict rationalists. According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s monumental “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey” that was issued in June, 21% of self-proclaimed atheists believe in either a personal God or an impersonal force. Ten percent of atheists pray at least weekly and 12% believe in heaven

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  4. The problem I see is that both sides insist on exclusivity. Either creation or evolution. This is ignoring the. Possibility that one does not exclude the other. This so called god created a matrix, a great plan, the law by which the physical worlds evolve to desired perfection. When both sides can see this we stop calling ourselves believers or atheists and become one.

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