Over the last month I’ve seen a bunch of posts debating religious belief similar to this from Damon Linker:
Rather than explore the complex and daunting existential challenges involved in attempting to live a life without God, the new atheists rudely insist, usually without argument, that atheism is a glorious, unambiguous benefit to mankind both individually and collectively. There are no disappointments recorded in the pages of their books, no struggles or sense of loss… The studied insouciance of the new atheists can come to seem almost comically superficial and unserious.
I’m totally in the dark about why Linker thinks a loss of faith should be accompanied by a permanent sense of loss.
When a kid learns there’s no Santa Claus, there usually is a sense of loss: it’s sad to find out that there’s no benevolent toy-maker.
But this sense of loss is short-lived. It doesn’t take long to realize that Christmas is pretty awesome, even without Santa. You get time off work, you give and get presents, you spend time with family and splurge on food. Before long, you realize that Santa has nothing to do with what’s great about Christmas– and he never did.
A Santa-believing analog of Linker would say: “Those who claim to embrace happily a Santa-less Christmas have failed to grapple with the true horror of Santa-less-ness. I can respect those who don’t believe in Santa. I just can’t respect those who aren’t made permanently gloomy by their non-belief.” This is a silly thing to say! All the good stuff about Christmas is still there.
Hume on Miracles
By James E. Taylor, Westmont College (June 2007)