Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The innocence of atheists

There’s something breathtaking about the innocence of atheists, who claim that because they aren’t aware of God, God doesn’t exist.

A severe hearing impairment might cause someone to deny music, and to poke fun at orchestras going through an apparently silent liturgy of puffing, poking and pounding on instruments.

A faith impairment is a greater loss. Some accept it. Some are bothered that others get so much satisfaction from faith. They deny that believers have anything to believe in, because they themselves don’t.

Babies do not understand their parents, whose movements, if considered at all, are blurred in mystery. There’s the matter of diapers, middle-of-the-night burpings and making sure the baby doesn’t get tossed out with the bath water. The folks responsible for the baby’s life are there to help, whether the little squirmer understands it or not.

Some children are turned off by their parents, and some parents are humbled by their offspring. Some are turned off by God, never feeling the warm breath of divine parenthood. Some hate the God they do not know and get cranky about people who do know and love God.

For the faith impaired, the loss my cause nothing more than shoulder shrugs. Or it may cause a bitter fight against something imaginary, the imaginary God of the atheist. Atheism, like other forms of religious belief, can stimulate intolerance.

Even some who have the gift of faith will put it aside, like an unwanted birthday present from a zany aunt, and not think about it again. Like the deniers, they are loners in God’s community. The most aggressive among them want to make everyone a loner, to reshape believers into their own image and likeness.

It took millions of years for people to know about gravity. Happily, they did not float off Earth’s surface just because they hadn’t thought about gravity yet.

Maybe someday physical and spiritual impairments will just be footnotes in the textbooks of science.


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