Friday, May 2, 2014

Atheists can still believe in God. What?!

Unfortunately for my blood pressure, today's Irish Times features an interview with the author of 'Anatheism: Returning to God after God' under the provocative headline 'How atheists can still believe in God.'

Ok, I'll bite. What is Anatheism and how can atheists still believe in God?
It’s neither dogmatic theism nor dogmatic atheism but it’s an alternative to both of them. The word ‘ana’ in Greek simply means ‘again’. I’m with both the Enlightenment and the French revolution and the atheistic, humanist critique of the God of power and punishment – what I call the omnigod, who also died in Auschwitz – and then I ask, what’s left? Can something come back? That’s not to invent some new-age god, but can things come back that were there, that needed to crumble for something to be reborn.
 The interesting thing is God is a name that is constantly being revised and reinterpreted not only in different religions but within those religions. That’s the idea of ‘ana’, or ‘after’: God after God after God, and if you ever stop deconstructing God and then reconstructing God, you get an idol. So you’ve got to see God as a symbol that constantly requires reinterpretation, retrieving, reliving.
The bottom line for me in anatheism is genuine religion begins with the movement from hostility to hospitality, that is to say openness to the impossible stranger. That’s always been the way: Abraham to the strangers; Mary to Gabriel, who was the stranger; Jesus to the Samarian woman to the Phoenician woman.  
And ... I'm none the wiser. We are told Anatheism is an alternative to dogmatic theism and dogmatic atheism, which generally means the author has found a way to feel superior to both groups. The author then tosses in some postmodern bollocks about endlessly deconstructing and reconstructing God. Oh, and there's an 'impossible stranger' lurking around.

The remainder of the interview is just as bad. Anatheism must begin with atheism because "Christ on the cross was an atheist when he said: ‘my God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’", the impossible lurking stranger is also a "vulnerable, fragile stranger " who spends his every moment knocking on your door. And the impossible, vulnerable, fragile, door knocking stranger is always  new because "What gives life is divine; what does not is non-divine. And what gives life is always new, and therefore it’s always strange."

The full interview is here: How atheists can still believe in God
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