The “Christian Science Monitor” had an effervescent book review this morning of Karen Armstrong’s latest attempt to devolve the debate over gods and religions into her own personal Neverland of transcendent gobblygook. Mindful of Christopher Hitchens’ comment, “That which can be asserted with no evidence can be dismissed with no evidence, I responded with the following:
So Ms Armstrong thinks atheists have a shallow understanding of theology. Exactly how, I beg to ask, does one acquire a deep understanding of the invisible and the non-existent?
What Ms Armstrong is really doing, although she will be the first to deny it, is inventing her own peculiar god, one that is less likely to set off the alarm bells of cognitive dissonance that apparently haunt her understanding of the traditional god of the Abrahamic faiths.
While she may be correct in identifying within the human spirit a desire for “the transcendent”; where she errs is in assuming that it takes a god or religion to fulfill that desire.
The wonders opened up to us by science, from the cosmic to the sub-atomic, can be just as satisfactory a source of the awe she seeks as the invisible nothing she worships. The love of family and friends, the beauty of nature, and the joy of fine wine or good poetry are far more real examples of a transcendence we can experience than any of the pap she serves up. The fact that we are all made of stardust, along with the knowledge that we are the only life forms on earth capable of that understanding, is transcendent experience enough to last a lifetime. Indeed, that we were so lucky to have been born at all, considering the incredible odds, is enough to set spirits soaring as no phony, contrived belief system can ever do.
Sorry, but Ms Armstrong’s latest swipe at the rational is no more compelling than her previous attempts to justify mythology at the expense of reality.