National Atheist Day

(Hattip for the Atheist Barbie pic to its creator, Atheist Blogger Blag Hag.)  Another April 1 rolls around, and it is time again to observe National Atheist Day and salute those atheists who, as part of the herd of independent atheist thinkers, bravely assert that, yes, matter and energy did arise ex nihilo without God, and that belief in God is too silly for a person of intelligence.  (Sorry Saint Augustine and  Saint Thomas Aquinas!  Sir Isaac Newton you simply lacked the intellectual heft to embrace belief in non-theism.)

In honor of the day, I think Sir Francis Bacon’s essay Of Atheism from 1601 might be appropriate: 

I HAD rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore, God never wrought miracle, to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity. Nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus and Democritus and Epicurus. For it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite small portions, or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty, without a divine marshal. The Scripture saith, The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God; it is not said, The fool hath thought in his heart; so as he rather saith it, by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it. For none deny, there is a God, but those, for whom it maketh that there were no God. It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip, than in the heart of man, than by this; that atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as if they fainted in it, within themselves, and would be glad to be strengthened, by the consent of others. Nay more, you shall have atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects. And, which is most of all, you shall have of them, that will suffer for atheism, and not recant; whereas if they did truly think, that there were no such thing as God, why should they trouble themselves? Epicurus is charged, that he did but dissemble for his credit’s sake, when he affirmed there were blessed natures, but such as enjoyed themselves, without having respect to the government of the world. Wherein they say he did temporize; though in secret, he thought there was no God. But certainly he is traduced; for his words are noble and divine: Non deos vulgi negare profanum; sed vulgi opiniones diis applicare profanum. Plato could have said no more. And although he had the confidence, to deny the administration, he had not the power, to deny the nature. The Indians of the West, have names for their particular gods, though they have no name for God: as if the heathens should have had the names Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, etc., but not the word Deus; which shows that even those barbarous people have the notion, though they have not the latitude and extent of it. So that against atheists, the very savages take part, with the very subtlest philosophers. The contemplative atheist is rare: a Diagoras, a Bion, a Lucian perhaps, and some others; and yet they seem to be more than they are; for that all that impugn a received religion, or superstition, are by the adverse part branded with the name of atheists. But the great atheists, indeed are hypocrites; which are ever handling holy things, but without feeling; so as they must needs be cauterized in the end. The causes of atheism are: divisions in religion, if they be many; for any one main division, addeth zeal to both sides; but many divisions introduce atheism. Another is, scandal of priests; when it is come to that which St. Bernard saith, non est jam dicere, ut populus sic sacerdos; quia nec sic populus ut sacerdos. A third is, custom of profane scoffing in holy matters; which doth, by little and little, deface the reverence of religion. And lastly, learned times, specially with peace and prosperity; for troubles and adversities do more bow men’s minds to religion. They that deny a God, destroy man’s nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts, by his body; and, if he be not of kin to God, by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys likewise magnanimity, and the raising of human nature; for take an example of a dog, and mark what a generosity and courage he will put on, when he finds himself maintained by a man; who to him is instead of a God, or melior natura; which courage is manifestly such, as that creature, without that confidence of a better nature than his own, could never attain. So man, when he resteth and assureth himself, upon divine protection and favor, gathered a force and faith, which human nature in itself could not obtain. Therefore, as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself, above human frailty. As it is in particular persons, so it is in nations. Never was there such a state for magnanimity as Rome. Of this state hear what Cicero saith: Quam volumus licet, patres conscripti, nos amemus, tamen nec numero Hispanos, nec robore Gallos, nec calliditate Poenos, nec artibus Graecos, nec denique hoc ipso hujus gentis et terrae domestico nativoque sensu Italos ipsos et Latinos; sed pietate, ac religione, atque hac una sapientia, quod deorum immortalium numine omnia regi gubernarique perspeximus, omnes gentes nationesque superavimus.

Now a rebuttal from atheist Ricky Gervais:

  

Let us conclude our revels with The Atheist Song:

 

 

 

 

8 Responses to National Atheist Day

  • Hmm…Bacon is of course a cagey fellow, suspected of atheism during his own life, and in all probability aligned with some kind of esoteric materialist epicureanism. The quote from Epicurus he admires above, translated, runs something like: “There is no profanity in refusing to believe in the gods of the people: the profanity is in believing of the gods what the people believe of them.” I don’t find this to be a stalwart defense of classical theism, but rather a kind of muted and provisional expression of belief for an esoteric “God” available only to the minds of the philosophers and natural scientists.

    Likewise, the following passage is troublesome:

    Therefore, as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself, above human frailty. As it is in particular persons, so it is in nations. Never was there such a state for magnanimity as Rome.

    This suggests that theism is useful chiefly because it allows human nature “to exalt itself” and that this was evidenced, most of all, in the Roman civic religion. Of course, this runs directly opposite the traditional Christian view, which holds that in recognizing our dependence on God we recognize the inability of human nature “to exalt itself”–which, in point of fact, was the first sin. (See Augustine, De civitate Dei XIV, 12-13). Note also that “magnanimity” is the one Aristotelian (pagan) virtue that Aquinas struggles to redefine in terms of Christian humility. All I’m saying is that Bacon is a tricky figure, probably not the best exponent of the theist case.

  • “All I’m saying is that Bacon is a tricky figure, probably not the best exponent of the theist case.”

    No one is the best exponent of theism WJ except for God. I chose Bacon deliberately because of his belief in science and his arrogance which shines through most of his works. He reminds me of the New Atheists, in a few decades to be known as the Old Bore Atheists, in that regard. However, Bacon eventually decided through reason that atheism was untrue and his analysis of atheism in this essay and other writings is a telling look at atheism as a religion, which is what it truly is.

    “For none deny, there is a God, but those, for whom it maketh that there were no God. It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip, than in the heart of man, than by this; that atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as if they fainted in it, within themselves, and would be glad to be strengthened, by the consent of others. Nay more, you shall have atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects. And, which is most of all, you shall have of them, that will suffer for atheism, and not recant; whereas if they did truly think, that there were no such thing as God, why should they trouble themselves?”

  • I thought believers had all the holidays : )

  • mmm . . . bacon . . .

  • The bottom picture makes complete sense. You people should have learned that in middle school biology. What doesn’t make sense is how a man (god) was created from nothing? Explain that without referencing the bible. Then we’ll talk.

  • Look up Prime Mover on the internet Kevin and learn about the debate on that topic that has echoed through the centuries. What is depicted at the bottom of this post is an atheist “Just so” fable. How the natural came about without reference to a supernatural Supreme Being is a question that science has not answered, and probably is unable to ever answer.

  • Atheists don’t believe in God.

    But, some of them believe in ET, bigfoot, and, (many) that the state (supreme being) can (somehow, magically) provide for all of their earthly needs.

    I once was talking with an (I think) atheist with whom I hunt in the Adirondacks. The topic was me shooting bigfoot (if I saw it). He became agitated and explained I should not do it. “It would really anger the aliens!”

    Go figure.

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