Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Why We Need Religion" by Jeff Jacoby

This editorial by Jeff Jacobs appearedin today's Boston Globe:

Have at it, gang.

I appreciate that for once, a conservative writer admits that atheists can still be good and moral people (THANKya, Jesus), and I really--especially lately -- appreciate his point that the philanthropic spirit is not as natural to human beings as self-interest. It takes some kind of moral discipline to develop the benevolent, community-oriented ethic that the pastors he references obviously have. Religion is one way to get that.

But I wonder about his final statement asserting that a world without God in it would be "an evil place indeed."

How does he know?

Does he mean ontologically, or socially, or what?

I mean, if there is a God that can be said to even vaguely resemble our our limited human intuitions and descriptions of It (mysterium tremendum, LORD, Oversoul, inexpressible magnificent intensity, etc.), isn't it a little silly to even posit a world without that God? Including evil, which, according to most theistic concepts, is part of the created order?

And if there isn't a God, what would get more evil about this world, really?

Maybe Jeff hasn't figured out that millions of us God-believing folk aren't so much honoring a reality that we're sure of as honoring an Ideal, whether it actually "exists" or not.

All of this Atheism-vs-Theism stuff is just the latest Big Popular Unnecessary Polarization, anyway. As the globe gets smaller and we really see that all humans are just human, we'll grasp at anything we can find to put ourselves into separate, antagonistic camps. Both rationalism and theism, in their distinct ways, counsel against such polarities, but hey, if it makes a buck and gives people a reason to fight, it ain't going away anytime soon.


Blogger Bill Baar said...

I appreciate that for once, a conservative writer admits that atheists can still be good and moral people...

Which ones say atheists aren't?

Chicago's Tom Roeser said everyone has an atheist in their family. They make a big point of boring you with it. Having been one of those bores, I know where he is coming from.


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