A while back I criticised dogmatism among atheists as well as an excess of certainty in belief. The question of theodicy, as I noted a few days ago, is popping up again and again in the wake of the Tsunami tragedy. To some degree, I think this debate now has a momentum of its own, which I regard as positive, though not the opportunity that some have taken of using it as a springboard for point-scoring.
Immanuel Rant blogs on Cardinal Pell’s entry into the lists. I find Dr Pell’s theology much more palatable than Philip Jensen’s, though I don’t subscribe to all of it. But I join with Irant in rejecting this assertion:
Atheists have no explanation. For them life is a fluke, with no purpose. Only a good God requires and gives sense to universal love and is able to balance out human suffering in the next life.
There is no doubt that atheists can have a deeply motivated sense of purpose in life, and that there are very good humanist motivations for meaning and social action. It’s highly pertinent to observe here that as I said in my original post on atheism and dogmatism, the terms of the theism vs. atheism argument are very much a product of the Abrahamic faith tradition, and arguably of European modernity. Just as it makes little sense to speak of a philosophical atheism in Hindu and Buddhist cultures, so too is the understanding of life’s meaning very different in the other World Religions. Very little is gained by casting stones. Religious leaders would do better, like Hans K¼ng, to engage seriously with atheism and the search for meaning that unites atheists and theists in Western culture.