Friday, November 03, 2006

The Village Atheist

Frederick Turner over at TCSDaily has an article about religious faith in which the Village Atheist figures prominently. This type of public relations has professional ramifications for Village Idiots, as many villages decide they cannot afford to keep a Town Drunk, a VA, and a VI. Many of us are encouraged to take cross-training in this age of budget cuts, but I believe that encourages a drop in professional standards. I am a specialist.

Fortunately, Turner has some appropriately critical things to say about Village Atheists, though he does not address the issue of certification. VA’s have generally not kept up with philosophical trends over the last few centuries, which is illustrated nicely in the article.

Turner writes from a Natural Religion perspective, which is an intriguing, though sometimes maddening, POV. From the article:
The figure of the village atheist is a rather comic one. He proves his superior intelligence by mocking the sheeplike conformity of the poor benighted believers. The old word "enlightened" has now been replaced by the word "bright" as the self-description of this sort of atheist. He is a variant of the "Cliffie the mailman" wonk who knows it all, or Sportin' Life the cynic in Porgy and Bess. An older version is Flaubert's character Homais the bourgeois anticlerical pharmacist in Madame Bovary, and an even older one is Thersites the scurrilous doubter in Shakespeare and Homer. Much pleased by their own originality, they take their mishaps as the martyrdom of the bold intellectual pioneer, and they have produced a group of arguments that should probably be taken apart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, AVI, I read the article, and I agree with a lot of what he has to say, especially in the logical/pragmatic evidences of the existence of God. However, I think he totally misses the finest point about Christianity: That we have a Savior, and that He works on our behalf.

Turner seems to think that "God" set things in motion, and then sat back - what I believe is loosely called a "closed universe." I disagree. The whole point of the NT is to show that the universe is not only open to God's actions, but that God all but "ripped the universe a new one" to prove His authority, sovereignty, and grace.

Turner does not differentiate between Judaism and Christianity; in fact, he only uses quotes from the OT. His references to Job totally miss the point. Job was not suddenly "shook" with the evidence of God's greatness, God SHOOK him with that evidence. It's a passive versus active thing.

He also misquotes Genesis, and reads things into the rest of the Bible that aren't there: We are not supposed to become "as much the image of God as we can", we WERE created in the image of God. We are not able to become "like God." Our Savior "did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation." Why would we try to be better than Christ? The only way we can become any better is to turn our lives over to God's control, a concept that seems foreign to Turner.

Yes, it is nice to see a rational explanation for why God not only could exist, but why He must exist. But having someone throw scriptures around in such a haphazard manner makes me question the legitimacy of his conclusions, even if they agree with my worldview.