Saturday, November 04, 2006 Disbelief requires a faith all its own Disbelief requires a faith all its own:

October 31, 2006

"The first book I was assigned to read as a college freshman half a century ago was "Unpopular Essays" by the English earl, Bertrand Russell. His book bore that title because Lord Russell was the most devoted and articulate atheist of his time, with a self-imposed mission to persuade readers that there was no God.

Our philosophy professor, himself a Christian, assigned the book to challenge the comfortable complacencies of a classroom full of Christians and Jews not yet out of our teens. In one of his essays, "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish," Russell related the story of an American prophetess who, in 1820, gathered thousands of her disciples by a lake in northern New York State. ..."

David Yount, author of Celebrating the Rest of Your Life: A Baby Boomer's Guide to Spirituality, lays out a good case for atheism being a faith-based system of belief. Yount makes an interesting point in his article -- science and faith are both best pursued with a humble attitude, and both are strengthened when faith is tempered with doubt.


kairos said...

If faith is "ultimate concern," to use Tillich, or some form of a response to questions of ultimate concern, then atheism is a faith. H. Richard Neibuhr spoke of faith as that to which we put our core allegiances, our trust. You can put your deep trust in a 'no' answer to the question of God.

Agnosticism, on the other hand, is the arena where there might be no faith, or better, no decision or "leap" (to turn to Kierkegaard) on these questions.

Good post!

Denis Hancock said...

Thanks for you comment, Kairos.

I have tended toward viewing agnostics as being more amenable to rational and fruitful discussion than the hard-core atheists. And truth be told, we Christians have to indulge in a little "reverent agnosticism" when dealing with such topics as the Incarnation. i.e. we can believe it, but can't come up with a scientific explanation for it.