Monday, 21 June 2010

Distorted echos of a manic logic

Reading the new atheists for an assignment when I worked for UCCF, I became rather frustrated. Not because they were attacking Christian belief, but precisely because they weren't. They didn't appear to know Christian belief, so made up their own version to attack. And when they did know something about Christian understanding, they played God and fabricated stones out of nothing, to throw. So, I read Nietzche. Few students would be reading him, admittedly. But I became convinced that our culture lives in his shadow. 

My frustration with our contemporary god-rejection is that it is that - a shadow. Nietzche got the cross, though he despised it. He saw that we worship not a God of the gaps, but a God who contracted himself into history and reigned from the tree. He considered the values of a messiah a horrendous thing - care for the weak and outcast, humility, repentence and trust in someone outside of oneself. Better by far: strength, pride, greed, and getting rid of the weaker ones in the way of man's progress.

Today's atheists play around with Christian ethics, while making vain attempts at logic and far-fetched attempts at philosophy, to deny a god in whom none of us believe. Our cultural thinking has been in Nietzsche's shadow, but it has been just that: an insubstantial ghost of his thought, a distorted echo of his manically logical laughter. Martin Downes quotes a brilliant essay in a recent post, by David Bentley Hart, who explains and analyses this far better than I do (and fairly amusingly): New Atheists in Short Trousers.
[T]he latest trend in à la mode godlessness, it seems to me, has by now proved itself to be so intellectually and morally trivial that it has to be classified as just a form of light entertainment, and popular culture always tires of its diversions sooner or later and moves on to other, equally ephemeral toys.

The principal source of my melancholy, however, is my firm conviction that today’s most obstreperous infidels lack the courage, moral intelligence, and thoughtfulness of their forefathers in faithlessness.
What I find chiefly offensive about them is not that they are skeptics or atheists; rather, it is that they are not skeptics at all and have purchased their atheism cheaply, with the sort of boorish arrogance that might make a man believe himself a great strategist because his tanks overwhelmed a town of unarmed peasants, or a great lover because he can afford the price of admission to a brothel. [Read the whole.]

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