THE QUOTABLE ATHEIST (PART 1)
I love quotation books. I like to keep them by my bed in case I can’t sleep. A few years ago I was working through a book called “The Quotable Atheist” by Jack Huberman. I was stunned late one night to realize the book had a section of quotations by me. It was one of the largest sections in the book, so I was quite flattered. Our church had gained noteriety for having an atheist join our congregation. I was stunned that, in addition to religious fundamentalist who were indignate over our action, there were also some atheists who were upset. As I tried to defend our church’s reasons to reporters, a group of quotations were collected on the web. Jack Huberman collected some of those quotes by me, and then made rebuttals. I thought he was incredibly fair. For the next few days I will post a series of quotes taken from that book. Feel free to comment.
“In my ministry, I have had to live in two worlds. I have spiritual friends who are trying to celebrate the mystery of life, and activist friends who are trying to actually change the world. Somehow these two enterprises have been separated. I do not believe either option represents a complete life. Apolitical spirituality runs the danger of giving charity instead of justice. Atheistic humanism runs the danger of giving facts instead of meaning. I believe this divide between spirituality and activism is a betrayal of the deeper roots of both.”
HUBERMAN’S REBUTTAL: “But spirituality runs other, worse dangers. And meaning must ultimately be based on facts. I’m just saying.”
We agree that meaning must be based on facts, but are facts self organizing? The author does not define what he means by the word “spirituality,” but it appears he is using the word as a synonym for “superstition.” Spirituality and religion can be superstitious, perhaps they usually are, but is that the only possibility? The scientific method requires us to set aside human purposes and values to seek out objectivity, but do we really want to live in a world denuded of any human meanings and values? What is the art of moving from facts to meaning? Even if we do not wish to call it “religion” some sort of first principles are necessary to organize our facts into a meaningful frame for living.