Thursday, 22 May 2014

New Atheists, Mermaids and the Non-Existence of God

My seven year old daughter loves the idea of mermaids. We have a story book that explores legends and stories of mermaids and how we continue to have a fascination with these mythical sirens of the sea. Indeed you will often hear of 'shocking' discoveries that mermaids are indeed real, with apparent proof from video footage.

New athiests and religious fundamentalists are simply seekers of sirens.

You see the quest for mermaids is basically a quest for an object. So we are dealing with language of 'subject - object'; we are the subjects seeking out an object.

New atheists and religious believers alike are seeking to prove the 'existence of God' which Tillich helpfully describes as 'half-blasphemous and mythological.' In other words, once we seek to prove God's existence like we try and prove the existence of any particular object we have ceased to talk about the God of Christian orthodoxy. The only reasonable response to trying to prove the existence of God is atheism, because such a god is as observable as the sea sirens my seven year old is fascinated with. No wonder then that early Christians were called  atheists. And it is no wonder too that Christian mystics have often used atheistic language when speaking of God.
Once fundamentalists of religious belief or none start proving to me the existence or non existence of this object god I can be certain we are not talking about the God who has been revealed through Jesus of Nazareth.

God does not exist in the way you and I exist; existence is defined by God's own self. God does not love in the way you and I love, yet we can know the reality of His love. God is not present like a sunrise or an exploding planet, and yet He is the God that is with us. God is not an object to be observed like an atom. God is not 'here' like consciousness or space, and is not conditioned by timelessness, eternity or time itself.

To speak of God is to speak of God's non-existence. That is not to say God 'is not', but it is to say that God 'is not' in the way creation 'is'.

Therefore Christians are atheists to the concepts and notions of God argued for and against by many religious apologists and New atheists. And this is not the tired and clichéd 'I believe in one less God than you' New Atheist strapline, but the refusal to conceive of God as an object; God is not in any way contingent.

God has revealed God's self as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has spoken to us by the Word made flesh and is 'God with us' by the birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and Spirit poured out reality of Jesus. To speak of the existence of God in subject-object language is to deny this very God.

The sirens of the sea sought to trap and destroy weary travellers with their bewitching songs. God however, the God who is Father, Son and Spirit, seeks to renew you with his love and rejoice over you with singing; songs of compassion, hope and redemption.

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