Friday, February 10, 2012

An Atheist and a Christian Walk Into A Blood Donor Clinic

Whenever I’ve participated in interfaith projects, they’ve been things like hosting debates/discussions (something atheist groups do all the time), volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter (ditto), donating blood (yep), etc. It’s never anything unique to one faith or another, because there’s no common ground there. 
When you want to do good — with other people from different backgrounds — god stays out of the picture.

This is the Friendly Atheist's view of what it means for a diverse community of people to do good together. Our common ground is that we are rational human beings who have reasoned our way to what "good" means, and therefore we can leave god out of the picture and work together to achieve that good.

That sounds (somewhat) noble on the surface, but scratch beneath and it is not only idiotic, but immoral. The search for common ground is the sacrifice of real, meaningful difference for the sake of psuedo-community. What this atheist is saying is "Become like me, and then we can work together to achieve what humans like me have decided is good."

To such inanity I can only quote the sectarian tribal fideist Stanley Hauerwas:

What makes the church ‘radical’…is not that the church leans to the left on most social issues, but rather that the church knows Jesus whereas the world does not. In the churches view, the political left is not noticeably more interesting than the political right, both tend towards solutions that act as if the world has not ended and begun in Jesus. Big words like Peace and Justice, slogans the church adopts under the presumption that, even if people do not know what ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ means, they will know what Peace and Justice means, are words awaiting content. It is Jesus’ story that gives content to our faith, judges any institutional embodiment of our faith, and teaches us to be suspicious of any political slogan that does not need God to make itself credible…Most of our social activism is formed on the presumption that God is superfluous to the formation of a world of peace with justice.

That the Friendly Atheist can write what he writes is not evidence of positive, constructive atheist thought. (In my experience such thought is in short supply today, save for those atheists who grapple seriously with the persons of Jesus and Paul.) Rather, the Friendly Atheist can only write this because -- going back through centuries of Western thought -- Christians have trained him to think that way.

God damn us.


  1. My current module is "the Bible and Diversity" so you can imagine there's a lot of that type of thing going on. For all its supposed appreciation of difference, a lot of it just flattens us out into one homegenised (usually late, western modern) form

  2. What does your reading list for that module look like? I just finished a book called "Hospitality as Holiness" which was pretty good, and I'd be interested to know what else is out there on this topic.