Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, May 18, 2015

Militant atheism and solar love

Interesting exchange between Krista Tippett and her guest Margaret Wertheim on a recent On Being:
Ms. Tippett: So you’ve — I think you've pointed at this, but I want to explicitly go here with you. You’ve said that you don't think neuroscience is going to — it's also finally going to have a theory of everything that explains us to ourselves. That explains happiness and love and pain and why we do what we do or whether we have a choice to do it. But you said you think there is something more that remains — that will remain. But I also want to say, you've spoken a lot and very movingly about your Catholic — about that legacy of Catholicism. But you also are atheist, is that correct? Now? I've heard you say that.
Ms. Wertheim: I — no, I'm not an atheist.
Ms. Tippett: OK.
Ms. Wertheim: What…
Ms. Tippett: You have to be careful what you say because it has eternal life online.
Ms. Wertheim: It has eternal life online. And when I was preparing for this interview, Krista, I thought, “I know this question's going to come up. I know it's going to come up, and what am I going to say?”
Ms. Tippett: Well, yeah. I don't need you to declare yourself unless you want to. But I…
Ms. Wertheim: I want to say very publicly I’m not an atheist.
Ms. Tippett: OK. All right.
Ms. Wertheim: So what is my beliefs? And I'd like to put it this way: I don't know that I believe in the existence of God in the Catholic sense. But my favorite book is the Divine Comedy. And at the end of the Divine Comedy, Dante pierces the skin of the universe and comes face to face with the love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe that there is a love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe in Dante’s vision. And so, in some sense, perhaps I could be said to believe in God. And I think part of the problem with the concept of, “Are you an atheist or not?” is that our conception of what divinity means has become so trivialized and banal that I think it's almost impossible to answer the question without dogma. And I think it's a very — I’m very, very saddened by the fact that militant atheism has become so to the fore of our society. I think it's destructive and unhelpful. And I don't think it does science any service... (continues)
Well... poetically speaking, many atheists can admire "the love that moves the sun" just as readily as we can appreciate the splendor of the rainbow. The problem isn't "militancy," it's reductionism and literalness and a tin ear for poetry. A vocal minority of atheists commit these errors.

But, it's an engaging conversation. Give a listen.

No comments:

Post a Comment