Over the last few days, several bloggers here in Iceland have been involved in a debate about whether or not atheism is a religion. Now of course that sounds preposterous in a way, since atheists do not believe in a god. But if one looks closely at the details, it is apparent that there is an "atheist movement" in Iceland led by a group of people who: meet regularly in private to discuss their ideas; actively lobby the government to change its spending practices; and hold public events wherein they try to gather more supporters. It was on this basis, the tendency to proselytize, that at least some of the argument turned.

One blogger in fact found this tendency especially annoying, and compared it to the religious person who did not make a big deal out of going to church, who was fine with the idea of the Bible being written by man but inspired by God, and believed in evolution with the caveat that God started it, etc.

I woke up this morning thinking about this, about this type of religious person. And I realized that actually I  had formed the opinion quite some time ago that this type of religious person and some types of atheists are exactly alike, believe in fact the same thing.

I consider myself a Christian who has decided that the Bible is not literal and I do not feel the need to go to church regularly, so I will make the supposition that Christians like this are Christians who have taken the words of the Apostle Paul rather seriously. And by this I mean specifically Paul's ideas about love. Paul believed that the greatest emotion was love, and that simply God is Love.

In the clarity of thought that comes first thing in the morning, I came up with the idea that for other religions, other emotions are paramount. Buddhist focus on harmony and peace, for instance. Anthropologists seem to think many primitive religions focused on sexuality and fertility. Certainly many politicians believe other religions focus on hate and punishment.

The Christian-light movement of the United States focuses a lot on love. Love carries with it a certain proselytizing element, because love is a proactive emotion. Jesus acted out of love when he stormed into the temple and threw out all the merchants. Love is not a passive wishing and hoping and daydreaming type of emotion. Love is the thing that makes a parent run into a burning building to save their child. Love binds us to those around us in such a way that all we want to do is improve the world for those we love.

I read some articles by some atheists that actually said the same thing, that they believed in and admired the human capacity for love and that they were trying to expand the role of love in their own lives. When I read that, I lost a lot of my suspicion or fear over atheists. Before then, I had rather thought the emotion they subscribed to most of all was cynicism.

But that was very cynical of me.


Pierre said…
Hello girl. Talks on life seem to be endless. This is not a reason to stop talking. P. M.
Jon said…
Good point Pierre. All you need is love (thank you Beatles).

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