The gifted journalist and atheist Christopher Hitchens died recently still insisting the “God thing” was a fairytale. The gifted physicist Stephen Hawking is still alive although recently he has shifted from a seeking agnostic to a Hitchens-like atheist. Both serious thinkers who rarely shoot-from-the- philosophical-hip. No, these are minds whose skepticism is to be taken seriously.
But how? How should a theist seriously grapple with their serious contention that God is — when all is said and done — mostly a figment of our frail human nature’s need for some kind of explanation and order in a complex universe of so much inexplicable and unordered chaos?
The campus, library and Internet dialogs of the world are pregnant with a staggering range of arguments and answers. One more here might be superfluous if not downright silly. But then paint me both >>>
* Hitchens is the harder of the two for me to reject for he insightfully reminds us: “All the world’s great religions began in a time when we really didn’t know very much.” These were the dark generations before our species had any understanding of birth, life and death; space, time and distance; nutrition, disease and medicine. But while this fact surely seems to makes God a reassuring crutch with which to travel one’s way through a mysterious existence, it is a fact that deals exclusively with the mind, the intellect, human cognition. What Hitchens never addresses is another fact. That in those generations of less informed minds, humans functioned with heightened emotions, intuitions and sensitivities to both the physical and metaphysical worlds around them. Like finely tuned jungle predators, we seem to have been far more connected with the invisible and the mysterious — surely a richer aura in which to discover a “God thing”
* Hawking, for all his brilliance, seems so much easier to reject. Especially when his brilliance often gets in the way of his common sense. For when some of us read Hawking we may not fathom everything he posits, but this much seems clear: He struggles brilliantly to justify the illogical intuition that something-cannot-come-from-nothing. So while Hawking’s exotic mathematical formulas may make sense in the research lab, they remain largely useless in my everyday world.
So here’s a tip of the hat to two outstanding atheists, but only one of whom makes it hard not to laugh at!
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