From Reg Le Sueur.
I NOTED with interest a Talking Point article in the JEP Faith section on April 17 by Derek Le Maistre and felt that I had to comment on a couple of things.
No one objects to Christians discussing their faith among themselves, but unfortunately they just have to proselytise and criticise the opinions of others. I hold my commitment to rationalism as dearly as they hold their own metaphysical system, so atheists, who are targeted in the article, are forced to defend their position from attack.
Faith is not knowledge; faith is a claim to have knowledge about the earth, universe, life and everything, but it has failed to deliver any utilisable facts. We live, now more than ever, in a world where knowledge is king; the world cannot function without reliable, repeatable, dependable knowledge.
The trouble is, Christians worship not only Jesus but apparently also St Paul and St Augustine – both of whom despised knowledge (read Corinthians about how ‘God will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring it to naught’).
The world does not work like that. You cannot build and fly a jumbo jet on faith and prayer. Knowledge is therefore the enemy and antithesis of Christianity. We atheists, the majority of whom are serious and philosophical about it, have reached our conclusions for good reasons.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and we hold that Jesus, with all his miracles and the general defiance of natural law in the Bible, is far less credible than Sherlock Holmes, and equally fictitious, as far as the miracles and resurrection are concerned.
Of course, it is quite likely that the Romans did execute a troublesome Jewish rabbi with zealot tendencies, possibly called Yeshua or Ieseous, but that is no reason for us to worship him and pretend that he saved us from sin by getting himself killed. We still have sin and death, just like before.
A moral system that thinks it can abrogate responsibility for its actions by brutally murdering an innocent scapegoat is a despicable system. Or, as Charles Darwin put it: ‘This is a damnable doctrine.’
So we do not miss Jesus, we are not deprived of anything and there is no need for the writer to feel puzzled that we do not accept assertions which pretend to be a sort of pseudo-science, but plainly are just claims in a book and nothing else.
He mentions ‘Christian altruism’. Christians are human, too, and perform charities like the rest of us; we just don’t boast about it and say the atheist equivalent of ‘Look at me, I am a Christian, I do good works, so I am holier than thou.’ We just get on with it quietly, giving to charities, founding our own and working for humanity rather than an unknown God.
The first recorded hospital was founded by atheistic Buddhists in the third century BCE. In the past, atheists were banned, and could not ‘out’ themselves for fear of severe punishments.
For anyone who cares to research the subject, there are many examples of ‘noble atheists’, active in social reform, charity work and the care of the sick who are now able to be bold, and not hide behind cautious labels like ‘deist’ or ‘agnostic’.
Rue des Vignes,