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Atheism and Facts and the Escape from Oneself

A recent commenter said:  “Well I don’t believe in invisible entities like gods, angels, spirits, or pixies, faeries,etc…”

I immediately thought to myself all the invisible things that he does believe in.   I thought of the invisible things that the scientific community believes in- like all the missing dark matter and the millions of years which life is said to have evolved in which is ever and always invisible to direct observation- and realized with a start a fact which of course I have long been aware of… atheists who hide behind science in their mockery of those who believe in invisible realities mask their true objection- not that invisible realities might exist, but that these realities might be an entity.

For my part, once one has contented oneself with the fact that there are invisible realities, I see no justification for the belief that they cannot be personal.   I’m not saying that they are all personal… I’m saying I don’t see why they couldn’t be.  This curious denouncement of beliefs in invisible things as though making it is a mark of self-evident intellectual superiority combined with the contradictory fact that one lives every day on the presumption that there are invisible realities- yes, even atheists do- reminded me of two passages I’ve read in the last year.

I’ll quote them and let the reader make the connections.

The first from Charles Williams and his Desecent Into Hell:

The shock almost restored him.  If he had ever hated Sir Aston because of a passion for austere truth, he might even then have laid hold on the thing that was abroad in the world and been saved.  If he had been hopelessly wrong in his facts and yet believed them so, and believed they were important in themselves, he might have felt a touch of the fire in which the Marian martyr had gone to his glory, and still be saved.  In the world of suicides, physical or spiritual, he might have heard another voice than his and seen another face.  He looked at Sir Aston and thought, not “He was wrong in his facts”, but “I’ve been cheated”.  It was his last consecutive thought.

The second from the diary of CS Lewis All My Road Before Me, all written before Lewis was a Christian, and while he himself was an atheist:

I forgot to say that yesterday I met Fasnacht in town… We discussed the ideal of extinction for the planet: he admitted that it was hopeless, as you couldn’t destroy all life before you retired yourself, and even if you did, nature might still have something up her sleeve.  He then went on to expound what he called Idealistic Nihilism- the theory [that] nothing at all exists…. I attempted to give a serious answer to Fasnacht’s theory and this led to an argument on Nothing.  … Fasnacht was once more proof how little purely intellectual powers avail to make a big man.  I thought that he had not lived a single one of his theories:  he had worked them with his brain but not with his blood. … When he went I walked with him to the corner of the road.  I said I believed the things I had said but he had been playing with counters.  He admitted he could only clinch his view by committing suicide.  He then left me. [italics his]


1 comment

    • Samuel Skinner on June 9, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Dark Matter is matter that doesn’t give off light. It does have a gravitational pull and that can (and is) observed.

    Time is not a physical object. In addition, it isn’t a leap to be a uniformitarian- look at the geologic layers.

    “Invisible realities”? I hold that there are things I can’t see- however, I don’t believe in things we can’t interact with or measure.

    Yes, nihlism and sophism are senseless- that is why most atheists are neither.

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