Atheism 2.0 & Easter
Books on atheism are a hot topic these days, and the trend has been to combine one’s lack of belief in God with an extreme disdain for religion. It is not enough to express one’s disbelief; one must also be clear how deluded any follower of religion is. The good news is that atheism 2.0 has arrived, and it has a kinder, gentler front man in Alain de Botton. Unlike the caustic criticism of recent atheists, de Botton leaves open the possibility that people may be able to learn something from religion, even if one lacks a belief in God. To be clear, he is not saying he wants to pick and choose the doctrines he likes from the world’s religions. They hold little value to him. But he does see merit in the way religion organizes itself. To me, this openness bears more intellectual integrity and a desire to learn. Otherwise we are in an endless cycle of only wanting to know what we already know!
This started me thinking about Easter and the Resurrection. I know the connection is not clear, so allow me to explain. There are many who are dismissive of the Resurrection because it does not square with a scientific worldview. Sure, the teachings and example of Jesus are inspiring, but “let’s not push the “Big R” on people,” some say. I wonder what we miss as people of faith if we categorically reject the Resurrection? Even for us skeptical, scientific moderns, could there not be something there that can guide and inspire us? After all, generations across two millennia have found hope in the Resurrection. And though there has certainly been disagreement about how it is to be understood, it has always found a way to form and fashion Christian identity. It seems if we summarily dismiss it, we fall into the cycle of only wanting to know what we already know. My hope is that the startling message of Easter reminds us to be open to what we do not know—and to be ready for some surprises! Otherwise, God is confined to the limits of our preexisting thoughts.