The attraction of atheism

Chris Van Allsburg is a Christian blogger, but he ponders in a recent post why atheism could be attractive.
Feb 1, 2014

"Look at the trees, and observe the effects of the wind," Van Allsburg wrote. "Look at the sky. Does it seem friendly to you? Does it seem silent? Does it frown? Is there anything (God) that brought it into being? If so, can God be known from these observations? 

"If you feel angst, or if you feel alone, or if it seems that often times, God is rather silent, you are not alone," the former Grand Haven resident continued. "Perhaps you are observing trees, wind and sky, and nothing more. Maybe it's a good day to be an atheist, after all. Maybe the silence in the natural order is the silence of God, too. And the silence means no one is there."

Van Allsburg says what philosophers, theologians and biblical prophets call "the hiddenness of God" is a troublesome one. "If God is there, why isn't he more obvious?" he poses.

Don't stop here; you'll be missing his point. To read the whole blog, CLICK HERE.

The opinions expressed by local bloggers are not necessarily shared by the Grand Haven Tribune or its employees. They are the sole opinion of the bloggers, who are not employed by or compensated by the Tribune.

Comments

Be

These are straw man arguments. I don't look at the sky and the trees and say 'no one is there'. I just don't need a 'he' to explain things adequately. Not believing in childish literalism of religion doesn't mean one can't look at actually deeper perspectives on why things exist. If god is 'light' (as the bible says), then everything we experience is god. That's called monastic polytheism. The problem, however, with the christian perspective is that anyone who doesn't assign an anthropomorphic 'he' to things is labelled an atheist. It would be better to widen one's viewpoint rather than try to convince others to narrow theirs.

Former Grandhavenite

I find both theism and atheism rather arrogant because it's foolhardy to think that one can definitively know with 100% certainty whether or not a god of some sort exists. Agnosticism makes more sense to me as an answer when the question itself is quite literally impossible to answer and can never be proven either way.

The attraction of religion is strong. I'd love to think that there's an all-powerful force promoting good that will protect and nurture us, smite our enemies, bring us back from the dead, and all the other rewards of belief. I'd much prefer that my deceased friends and relatives are partying it up together in eternal paradise as opposed to the alternative that they've simply ceased to exist. Death is scary, and the belief that you have an ace up your sleeve to overcome it is very attractive, which is why there are no atheists in foxholes as the saying goes. The universe is complicated and it's nice to have a general-purpose answer to explain anything that we don't understand. On a more practical level, lots of other people believe in god so you get many social benefits as a believer ranging from meeting new friends at church, to not being executed for blasphemy or apostasy in Saudi Arabia.

On the other hand, I have to face the reality that my preference has no bearing on what's actually true, and there very likely is no god. There just isn't enough evidence to convince me that god created man, and the evidence suggesting that instead man created god is more compelling. If we accept that Thor, Zeus, and the thousands of other gods that have been worshiped in history do not exist, then the odds are also pretty slim that Yahweh exists. If there is one true god, the odds that any of us have picked the right one are pretty slim. If we accept that Osama bin Laden didn't wake up in paradise surrounded by 72 virgins immediately after becoming acquainted with SEAL Team Six, then we have to acknowledge that we also may not have an all expense paid one-way ticket to paradise.

I pray from time to time even though I'm about 99% convinced that nobody is receiving the message, because hey it can't hurt. I tell believers that although I doubt they're right, I sure hope that they are and that I'm wrong!

jlebrasseur

Well said.

zwesterhouse

It must be nice to be able to sit around and play acrobatics of the mind. I got a job - all I know is that it sucks. Overtime sucks. Working in the Tool and Die industry is the pits. Don't have time or energy to look at trees and the "Natural Order" or what ever. The only natural order I see is that condemned property tax bill that comes in twice a year whether a person is sick or out of a job - it doesn't care, that system never breaks or shuts down. That condemned tax bill keeps coming in the mail. The only "natural order" I smell is the bad putrid breath out of the bosses mouth that I have to work 70 hours including Sat/Sun. Does it seem friendly to me? Ya right as I'm putting in a 12 hours day in this stinking stamping plant. They sky? get real -- all I see is the dirty ceiling. Does it frown? sure does in June, July and August with industries lousy vacation and time off packages. If I had a traditional 40 hour week - I could enjoy an article like this.

Former Grandhavenite

Man, hang in there! I have infinitely more respect for people grinding it out every day in jobs like yours than I do for someone making thousands of times more income without breaking a sweat on Wall Street. Of course, the respect of some random dude on the internet and $4.99 will get you an overpriced coffee at Starbucks.

I used to work on an assembly line on the 3:00 - 11:00PM shift, often staying later if it was a good month for auto sales. I never wanted to go to bed immediately after getting home, so I'd stay up late, sleep most of the morning and only rarely see the sun or the sky. For some reason there was just a single skylight on the plant's ceiling, and dramatic rays of sun would stream in for just a few minutes when the sun was at a very specific position. It became something I looked forward to and strangely made me feel better about being stuck there, which I generally hated. In a weird way, it gave me the strength to push on. A religious person would probably say it was the work of God (especially since it resembled that famous painting of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments while bathed in sunlight on a mountaintop). I think more likely it was just a skylight doing what skylights do, with an assist from the earth's rotation. Either way, it 'worked' which I think is often how religion 'works' in helping people get through tough times. I hope you can find a skylight of your own somewhere in there.

Former Grandhavenite

Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner here! Registered your account just over an hour ago- Check. Generically worded reply intended to look like a legit comment- Check. Spammy link attached to every post you make- Check.

When will they learn that you have to tell people they're going to hell based on their political beliefs if you want to fit in around here and pose as a legit commenter.

mmjproud

His Web Cam self pic is to much...he thinks he's some kind of badass..lol

theQuin

My only question is how does the editor of this paper chose so-called "community columnists"? Why do a few people get the opportunity to vent every opinion from spoiled rich women harping on local restaurants to "Christian" outlooks on "pagans" to socialist rants against Republicans, while the rest of us are relegated to 250- word letters to the editor?

Lanivan

You are given every opportunity daily to express your views on any or all articles online - your choice, and except for rare instances, are generally not moderated. If you are sincerely interested in being a community columnist, contact Mark Brooky. Another thing - apparently you are reading these opinion pieces and forming your own opinions about them, which I suppose is the purpose of the columns; within that framework, the community columnist section appears to be successful.

Tri-cities realist

Good points all around Lanny.

theQuin

You cannot truly believe that an online comment is as high profile as a featured community column??????
The impact of these columns cannot be judged by people "forming opinions" on the subject matter. To me, this is a question of newspaper bias in choosing these columnists.

EINSTEIN

From one agnostic to another, Former Grandhavenite, your intelligence is showing again...ha ha...You have expressed my feelings about religion perfectly. I could not have said it better.

happycamper

Let there be peace to every storms you are facing, anything that seems impossible in your life, shall be possible beginning from today, kings shall come to your rising, no more delay again in your life, beginning from today you shall experience supernatural speed in whatever you tend to achieve in life. So shall it be in Jesus name! If you believe, Why not say Amen?

bigdeal

I'll pass happy, but real glad you found that shift key!

Tri-cities realist

To study the human body in all of its complexity, along with all of the intricacies found in nature, and witness the virtual maracle that is birth, I find it difficult to fathom that all of this occurred by chance, random evolution over many years from single celled organisms, with no influence from a higher power. That is my belief, I would like to try to understand those who think differently.

Wolverine49457

Atheism is an attempt to shed guilt from Sin.

happycamper

I think of Atheism as, someone is lost and don't know what to believe, they are lost in the world, in denial that maybe there is something more divine that exists then, themselves, i feel pity for them

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