There are always debates between atheists and believers. They have been going on forever but they seem to have ramped up ever since a dedicated group of “new atheists” began writing popular works that captured the secular imagination.
You know who they are: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and the rest of their dreary crew who are out to prove how stupid religious people are.
Recently Hitchens and former British prime minister Tony Blair debated in Toronto and ever since I have read bits and pieces about who bested whom.
Blair probably should not have even bothered and instead should have gone to mass that night or spent an evening helping out at a shelter or visiting someone who was lonely and sick in a hospital. That would have said a lot more about his faith than wasting a lot of words on a pompous ass whose main intellectual arsenal is sneering and using sarcasm.
This perennial debate between atheists and the religious has no end in sight. It seems to sell tickets and for a certain type of intellectual it is like watching boxing without the blood.
But the debate is useless for one simple reason: most atheists do not have a clue what religion is about. They see religious people as blind sheep following a series of incomprehensible rules and dogmas and then scoff at their lack of enlightenment. They find the flaw in the painting and say it is all now ruined. Atheists are utopians who believe a perfect society can be built if only religion was not in the way. [Emphasis mine]
As far as I can see, those Godless societies have not done too well, unless you consider North Korea a success.
. . .
Thomas Merton, the great monk and mystic, wrote: “Faith is a light of such supreme brilliance that it dazzles the mind and darkens all its visions of other realities, but in the end when we become used to the new light, we gain a new view of all reality transfigured and elevated in the light itself.”
Atheists are under the ridiculous illusion that religious people think that all they have to do is call out to God and help will be on the way. If it were so, Jesus never would have gone up on the cross. The crucifixion is not a contradiction and the anti-religious cannot get their heads around that. Faith is not the avoidance of trouble, it is facing it head on and then finding holiness. [Emphasis mine]
Faith is not up for debate. I do not care whether Christopher Hitchens or the guy who sits three rows away thinks I am living in a fantasy. Why would I care? If faith could be broken by mindless criticism then it would not be faith. And the old woman kneeling in the pew every Sunday, or the Orthodox Jew who would never miss a Sabbath in Synagogue, have no need to ask permission of anyone to justify what they do and what they believe. They are far tougher than the people who criticize.
Thomas Merton also said: “Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.”
He could have said the same thing about faith.
Read the full article: Dear atheists: most of us don’t care what you think | Holy Post | National Post