A day without religion?

January 12, 2011

“Every day,” Scott Brown writes, “more troubles are reported in the world that are directly caused by religion.” Really? Directly caused? How on earth does Mr. Brown know what is or isn’t directly caused by religion? For that matter, since no one practices this abstract thing called “religion,” his words are obviously false—and reductive in the extreme.

Human beings, after all, are incredibly complex organisms. I can’t pinpoint with certainty why I do the things that I do. My Christian faith motivates a part of some of my actions some of the time, but I can’t say to what extent other influences motivate these same actions.

Why am I writing these words? In part because of my faith, I suppose, but there are other reasons: I want to be a blogger who writes things. I want people to come to my blog and say, “Oh, look… Brent has written something new. He’s such a good blogger!” Also, I like to argue. And while I am genuinely amazed at the intellectual emptiness of the New Atheist movement, a part of me wishes I could write something that would attract an audience of their size. So there’s jealousy motivating this post, too.

“Purity of heart,” Kierkegaard wrote, “is to will one thing.” I’m not that pure.”

To whom is Brown directing his “Day Without Religion,” anyway? Are there people practicing a religion right now who don’t know what it’s like not to practice their religion for a day? I wish I were that innocent!

I’ve had plenty of “days without religion.” I’ve had far too many days without prayer or worship or Bible-reading or Christian service. I’ve had far too many days serving my own interests while hardly giving a thought to God or others.

Thank you, Scott, but I’ve lived far too many days as a practical atheist. I’ll pass on February 20.

Read a better post on this subject here.

2 Responses to “A day without religion?”

  1. Paul Wallace Says:

    Hi Brent. Thanks for the link. I like your post better. It’s more humble, for one: The Kierkegaard quote describes me not at all. We are such mixed bags.

    The recent swell of atheists seems so painfully naive. They seem fixated on a what-you-see-is-what-you-get viewpoint. What motivates human beings? A lot, lot more than reason and “human decency.”

    They’re just not pessimistic enough!

    • brentwhite Says:

      That’s exactly right, Paul. You said something in your post about a suitable anthropology. That’s exactly right! These people are profoundly optimistic about human nature, but why? If “religion” didn’t exist, humanity would have a million-and-one other means by which to do evil. Why is that not obvious to anyone on their side?

      This recent atheist movement is a mirror image of a kind of Christian evangelicalism I can’t stand. It’s glib. It’s indignant. It feels constantly put-upon. And with events like “A Day Without Religion,” they now have their own little symbolic protests.

      It’s adorable, really. Pretty soon the atheist high school students will be meeting at the flagpole before school.

      (http://blog.beliefnet.com/stuffchristianculturelikes/2010/09/191-see-you-at-the-pole.html)


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