THE LITTLE BOOK OF ATHEIST SPIRITUALITY by André Comte-Sponville (Penguin Books, 2007 – translated by Nancy Huston)
I chanced upon this slim volume at the excellent Judd Books in Bloomsbury (a highly recommended source for bargain books if you are ever in this part of London).
I hadn’t heard of the book previously but it proved to be an inspired and inspiring purchase. It makes the case for atheism in a concise and intelligent manner whilst maintaining a tolerance for those who believe in God or some other supreme being.
André Comte-Sponville addresses this question from an overtly philosophical perspective so it is cogently reasoned with numerous quotes about faith and belief from heavyweight thinkers like Nietzsche, Kant, Spinoza and Wittgenstein.
These are not just chosen to make the writer look smart (although he plainly is!) but to illustrate that the big questions – ‘Can We Do Without Religion? ; ‘Does God Exist? – are far from new and can be answered in numerous ways.
These questions are the titles of two of the three chapters in the Frenchman’s guide for the perplexed, the third seeks to respond to the query: Can There Be An Atheist Spirituality?
Needless to say, his answers to these three points are, respectively, YES, NO and YES. Continue reading
THE POWER AND THE GLORY by Graham Greene (First published, 1940).
In 1926, aged 22, Graham Greene converted from Atheism to Catholicism.
In his autobiography, A Sort of Life, he explained that “I became aware of the probable existence of something we call God, though I now dislike the word with all its anthropomorphic associations……….there was no joy at all, only a sombre apprehension”.
This hardly sounds as if ‘seeing the light’ was an altogether pleasurable experience.
I always thought the big advantage of belief was that it is supposed to bring serenity rather than doubt. Continue reading
A fairly dumb article in today’s Guardian by Ian Jack explaining why he doesn’t like to call himself an atheist. He writes: “As a definition, atheism belongs to the same dull category as non-driver or ex-smoker; an inadequate guide to self.”
Good to read that many of the comments are from people who disagree with him . The most recommended and most intelligent response was from someone calling him/herself ‘Irritant:
“Atheism is so much more than a religion. It is a commitment on the part of an individual to keep an open mind and base opinions on evidence rather than wishful thinking and superstition. It’s an affirmation of the age of enlightenment that the theists have fought against every step of the way. It’s a statement about the victory of reason”.
I second that emotion.