(NY Times Op-Ed) Susan Jacoby–The Blessings of Atheism

In a recent conversation with a fellow journalist, I voiced my exasperation at the endless talk about faith in God as the only consolation for those devastated by the unfathomable murders in Newtown, Conn. Some of those grieving parents surely believe, as I do, that this is our one and only life. Atheists cannot find solace in the idea that dead children are now angels in heaven. “That only shows the limits of atheism,” my colleague replied. “It’s all about nonbelief and has nothing to offer when people are suffering.”

This widespread misapprehension that atheists believe in nothing positive is one of the main reasons secularly inclined Americans ”” roughly 20 percent of the population ”” do not wield public influence commensurate with their numbers. One major problem is the dearth of secular community institutions. But the most powerful force holding us back is our own reluctance to speak, particularly at moments of high national drama and emotion, with the combination of reason and passion needed to erase the image of the atheist as a bloodless intellectual robot.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

3 comments on “(NY Times Op-Ed) Susan Jacoby–The Blessings of Atheism

  1. Sami A. says:

    She never really gave an atheist answer to suffering or tragedy outside of quoting the one guys graveside eulogy.

  2. Teatime2 says:

    Wow, so this woman became an atheist over the childhood “Why did God kill/hurt my friend” thing? Are there really so many adult believers who can’t explain that we live in an imperfect world polluted by our mistakes and sins and God did NOT want this for us? But He is there to give us love, strength and grace, and He gave us His very own Son, too?

    I wonder if there really are millions of atheists who quit believing because of that personal experience or if it’s in atheist lore or the atheist handbook to attribute their unbelief to that because Christians fumble the ball on it? The bottom line, of course, is that they have no comfort to offer. Matter-of-factness is what it is, no matter how many adjectives or existentially based metaphors you add.

  3. Emerson Champion says:

    The article struck me as a celebration of “me-ness” over relationship, which is the way of our culture in this age.