What Is Atheism?
There was a political
ad some years ago in which an incumbent tried to discredit a challenger
by posting a picture on her with a voice-over saying, “There is no God,”
in a tone of voice that struck “zero to the bone,” to use the phrase of
Emily Dickinson. The voice wasn’t even that of the challenger who, as
a matter of fact, was also a Sunday school teacher. But suppose she
hadn’t been a Sunday school teacher. Suppose she hadn’t been a church
There are FB posts
celebrating an imaginary episode of a little girl standing up to a
But atheists don’t
proselytize. What little girls and boys, as well as everyone, has to be
afraid of is cultists such as Jim Jones, for example, who led his
followers into Guyana where he established Jonestown and murdered every
last one of those followers included tiny babies. He was embraced by
Jimmy and Rosalind Carter, among others, because he was a Christian.
Belief systems are
I am not an atheist.
The term simply does not describe me. The most moral people I have ever
known, those with the highest integrity, however, have described
themselves as such.
It is those who are
moral because it is the right thing who are the most noble. They do
what’s right because it’s right, not for the hope of ultimate reward nor
the fear of ultimate punishment. That’s nobility, that’s morality.
The great American
Founders established separation of Church and State just because
religion can be too easily twisted, and often has been, with zealots
murdering people with shades of variance in belief systems. When we
start blurring the lines, as many are attempting to do during the
current age, we imperil justice and integrity.
Edgar Lee Master’s book,
Spoon River Anthology, published in April 1915, is a collection
of short free verse poems that narrate epitaphs of the residents of
Spoon River, a fictional small town named after the real Spoon River
that ran near his hometown of Lewistown, Illinois.
The anthology reveals
the interlocking lives and secrets of those who lived and died in the
town. Some are noble, some ignoble. Those he admires the most are
Lucinda and Davis Matlock said to be modeled after his grandparents:
At ninety-six I had lived enough,
that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and
Anger, discontent and drooping
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you—
It takes life to love Life.
And you must bear the burden of
As well as the urge from your
spirit's excess —
Well, I say to live it out like a
Sure of immortal life, though you
are in doubt,
Is the way to live it.
If that doesn't make God proud of
Then God is nothing but
Or sleep is the golden goal.
William Butler Yeats
wrote about the coming times—what is now our times—in The Second
The best lack all
conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
We’ve seen it proven
again and again that it’s not those who say they don’t know if there is
a God whom we need to fear; we need to fear, and fear greatly, those who
say they know exactly who and what God is and thinks and wants, those
who freely, without reservation, speak for God.