I really suck at being an atheist. Actually, I've never liked that word, even if I begrudgingly admit that, by the abstract definition, I am one. That abstract definition goes like this, "a-" stands for absence and "-theism" stands for belief in god. I have an absence of theism.
Of course, most people take atheism to imply an overt hostility to religion. That is why I am such a lousy atheist. I love religion. If I could in all good conscience return to believing in a god, miracles, or immortality, I would do so. Those beliefs defined my existence for nearly all of my life, until about 12 years ago. One thing I learned from half a decade of psychotherapy, it doesn't pay to hate any part of yourself, even the ugliest parts. So, I love my religious self with a passion. For the record, my religious self is one of my most beautiful parts.
Recently, I was arguing about religion with a few Marxists, via email. Now, I am an unorthodox Marxist, of a sort. I wasn't very good at being an orthodox Christian, so why start now, eh? Many Marxists are reactive shallow atheists. They see nothing good at all in religion, even less than does Richard Dawkins. Below are a few of my comments:
"Religion is not perfect adherence to an unchanging perfect revelation, that is in fact the supreme idolatry, it is irreligion itself. Religion is the attack of the almighty truth and terrifying justice against the established oppressive order. It is rebellion against all Pharoahs, Caesars, apartheids, Mammonists, and pretenders to godhood that dominate humanity.
"Why is the rebellion against tradition not also part of religion? Before Judaism had a tradition, say in Abraham's day, wasn't Judaism itself a rebellion against the pre-Jewish tradition?"
"I also assert that Marxism is also never coherent. Like religion, it, too, is always dis-integrated. Isn't that the point Adorno* repeatedly makes? Marxism is only possible when when realizing a revolution is impossible?
Religion is never coherent, "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions."
(*Theodor Adorno, one of the most important Marxist thinkers, called his own philosophy an "anti-system.")
So long as any part of life is weighted by suffering and oppression, no systematic account of reality is possible that does not actually suppress part of reality, since suffering and oppression are so horrible they cannot be described objectively and logically.
This is why I could never be a good logical atheist. Reality, with its monstrous suffering, is not logical. Religion expresses this truth, even if it often simply recommends fatalism. The earthquake in Haiti today was described by a televangelist as the result of an ancient pact Haitians made with Satan. So logical, so neat, but what about the suffering? If God is in all things, and feels all things with infinite sensitivity, then God is both afflicted with the suffering of all and the cause of all suffering. Though perhaps that is a mystical notion, it is also supremely illogical.
Peace & Love! Charley