Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a story called ‘The Parable of the Madman’. In the story, the madman runs into the marketplace in search of God. No one can tell him where God is and so he cries out the immortal words:
“Whither is God?…I will tell you. We have killed him — you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
This is probably one of the most profound and poetically beautiful pieces of atheist expression in literature ever. Written in 1882, Nietzsche was confronting the awful, existential absurdity of life without the Judeo-Christian God.
Contrast this profundity and ability to confront the bleakness of reality with a moronically childish argument between Alain de Botton and Richard Dawkins about de Botton’s so-called ‘Temple for Atheists’ described in this article from about a year ago in the Sydney Morning Herald.
I don’t know which one of these attempts to frame atheism positively is more ridiculous and demonstrably absurd. What is the meaning of de Botton’s life’s dream of erecting a temple to atheism in the middle of London? Well, the SMH explains to us
Rather than attack religion, Mr de Botton said he wants to borrow the idea of awe-inspiring buildings that give people a better sense of perspective on life.
”Normally a temple is to Jesus, Mary or Buddha but you can build a temple to anything that’s positive and good,” he said. ”That could mean a temple to love, friendship, calm or perspective”
Oooh, I can’t wait for someone near me to build a ‘temple to perspective’! That sounds like a great place. It’s a pity Nietzsche didn’t know about these innovative atheistic ideas or else he probably wouldn’t have been such a downer.
The SMH goes on,
The spat came as Mr de Botton revealed details of the temple. Each centimetre of the tapering tower’s interior has been designed to represent 1 million of the 300 million years of life on Earth and a narrow band of gold will illustrate the relatively tiny amount of time humans have walked the planet. The exterior would be inscribed with a binary code denoting the human genome sequence.
What I like about de Botton is that, unlike Dawkins, he values the aesthetic side of life. The problem is that his aesthetic values and ideas are excrement and verging on self-parody. ‘Oh, I’ve just been diagnosed with cancer and I’m going to die an agonising death. I know what will soothe my aching pain, a trip to the atheist temple, which will remind me that the planet is very old and that human beings haven’t been around for very long!’
You can almost see and hear Dawkins, in his supremely tight-fisted and grasping manner, seething and spitting through his teeth, “Atheists don’t need temples…I think there are better things to spend this kind of money on. If you are going to spend money on atheism you could improve secular education and build non-religious schools which teach rational, sceptical critical thinking.”
The world according to Dawkins is a very sad place in which nothing is built for aesthetic beauty or spirituality. No one ever smiles or tells a joke or writes a poem. Children are discouraged from talking about anything that cannot be strictly proven by science like love or emotions. Dissections of animals are common. There are no cathedrals, no churches, no beautiful stately homes, no palaces. No, the world Dawkins wants to live in is a world in which buildings are built for the pragmatic propagation of Dawkinsianity. Children are forced to learn rational, sceptical, critical thinking until all the joy is gone from their little hearts and only science remains.
Perhaps this is the kind of world that the authors of the website Kids Without God dream of. I would despair if this wasn’t an opportunity for ridicule. If you click on ‘Teens’ and then ‘Laughs’, you get an opportunity to look at the ‘Top 20 Celebrity Atheists’. The fact that this is under the ‘Laughs’ section just confirms to me that any sense of humour Richard Dawkins and people like The American Humanist Association seem to have is merely affected for the purposes of appearing like a normal person. Why would this be funny? How are you supposed to laugh at this? Are we supposed to find this such a knockdown argument against religion that it’s actually funny? I’m sorry, I just don’t trust Daniel Radcliffe that much and I don’t know who most of the other people are.
Incidentally, if Hugh Laurie is anything like his character in ‘House’ then his atheism is far more sophisticated than these witless individuals’ who have put together this website. I’m a big fan of ‘House’ and I hope that Hugh Laurie would be offended if he knew that his well-aged visage was being bandied around the internet for teenage atheist lols.