Sir, – Joe Humphreys, in his column of May 1st, insists that, based on the writings of Richard Kearney, atheists can still believe in God. Of course people can believe in anything they wish, if they share Kearney’s view that words are fluffy bits of cotton wool to comfort the troubled mind rather than tools for examining reality.
God, it seems, is not an omnipotent being who created the universe, so far as this latest incarnation of Father Trendy is concerned. On the contrary, God is a weak, wobbly substance that can be used as an all-purpose wild card that serves to mean anything the listener wants to hear, and to chime in with whatever is the current fashion in delusions and fantasy. God is the cosy reassurance that all their nighttime terrors are real and all their most fantastic dreams will come true, just as soon as their hearts stop beating.
Such people always dismiss Richard Dawkins as dogmatic, because of his irritating habit of insisting that some things are fact and some are fiction, and that some theories can withstand scientific testing and some cannot. It is perfectly reasonable for people to lament the death of God. I miss my late parents but my regret cannot breathe life back into their remains.
What is unreasonable is for people who describe themselves as philosophers to deal with their regret by ceaselessly shifting the ground of their argument on to the treacherous bog of sentimentality and fairy tales.
Joe and Richard can believe in their fashionably elusive deity if they want, but they should allow atheists in turn their right to prefer knowledge to faith and reason to waffle.
God save us all from people who encourage us to believe in lies. Oh, wait. No. He can’t do that. Can he? Apparently not. Yours, etc,