Let’s Begin

I am scared to start, so let’s begin.

We’ll begin with a question and go on to the end.

The Question: “Is there a God?” I won’t say “Does God exist?” because I can already see us arguing over that word “exist” – What does it mean? Sounds suspiciously anthropomorphic to me. Some of you in the back would assume that “to exist” means detectable by our own tawdry, disappointing senses, or something, and I’m not at all convinced that’s where we’re going. Where are we going? Who knows? Is this story to be nothing but questions? And is that the point?

So: the Question.

Now on to the end:

Today we have the so-called New Atheists, who are definitely atheists – that is, they believe that whatever we think we are talking about when we talk about “God” is, to use Richard Dawkins’ word, a “Delusion.” But are they so “New”?

Of course not.

There’s atheism in the Hebrew Bible. Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Aristotle mentioned a God, but it didn’t intervene in human life and didn’t much care. Practically speaking, it might as well not be there. Buddhists are supposed to be atheists.

Outright, full-throated skeptics have been screaming out loud since the Enlightenment, and everybody knows Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche absolutely killed, slaughtered, pummeled and eviscerated someone they called God so badly – so utterly convincingly – that anyone who puts down Freud’s The Future of an Illusion and heads off to church must feel like a total asshole.

And yet.

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