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Boy, Theology Is Hard: Archbishop Dolan Says God Used 9/11 To End Atheism In New York

We atheists are often accused of not taking on any serious theological arguments but picking on the low hanging fruit—the superstitious mythical obviously false bullshit that actual ordinary believers actually believe. We are assured that if only we engaged the serious thinkers of the great faiths we would have to respect the depth of what these theologies are really about.

I admit, I am a theology drop out of sorts. I was about 8/10 of the way to a Christian Thought major to complement my Philosophy major from Grove City College when the complexities were too deep for me and in my foolishness I decided that there was no truth to all that theology. I am assured it must have just been way too far over my head, so you know, I kick myself that my brain wasn’t big enough to comprehend the mysteries—or is it that my pride was too big to accept the profundity of the mysteries as they were? I don’t know, it’s all too deep for me.

Today I have decided it’s time to do you, my fellow benighted atheists, a favor and offer you quotes which explain dazzling and enriching insights into God and reality which exceed my own befuddled foolish atheist brain. I will do my best to try and eek out a little interpretation of what the ideas mean but, well, boy, theology is hard! I cannot promise to comprehend it all. You will have to understand a lot of it without my help, if you can.

So, today, Brian brought to my attention this bit of insight that we could only get from a theologian:

“A decade ago, it seemed the side of darkness had conquered,” said New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, noting that time has proven that “the side of angels, not demons” has prevailed.

“There were no atheists here on 9/11 in New York,” he said. “My message today is that God has the last word.”

So this is amazing, revelatory stuff that inverts everything I thought I knew. Or I think it does. I need your help in figuring out if it does! I thought the Christian position would be that “9/11 was bad” (forgive me for putting it so crudely, I am not a theologian myself). But now apparently it turns out that the “side of darkness” seemed to have “conquered” New York before 9/11 and then God used 9/11 to make atheists disappear from New York on that day. So, God’s angels, not demons, prevailed on 9/11 because it got rid of all the atheists.

And what is most astonishing and mind blowing about this is that I distinctly remember (or think I remember) actually being in New York on 9/11 and being an atheist at the same time. And, no lie, I have remained here in New York for a decade. So, this must be one of those theological mysteries which must be true even though our tiny minds don’t grasp them. I was both here and not here. Or maybe I was (or have been for a decade?) both fully atheist and fully-not-atheist because of the magic of God’s angels on 9/11, like the way the way Jesus is said to be mysteriously “fully God and fully man” because of his magic incarnational powers. And my full incarnation/full obliteration also makes 9/11 an expression of God’s will by which he was victorious over atheism.

I also thought that 9/11 increased atheism in New York and elsewhere by making fundamentalist religion look terrible and violent and dangerous and inspiring previously complacent and passive atheists to start some “New Atheist” movement or something. Is Sam Harris really a Christian? Or an angel of God? I’m so confused.

If only clergy like Archbishop Dolan had been allowed at the 9/11 Memorial maybe he could have explained to any grieving atheists there or the family of atheist victims of 9/11 that God made them not exist that day and that that was God’s purpose for the heinous murders of that day! That would have been so consoling and clarifying for everyone! It would have finally explained how that evil fit the omnibenevolent God’s merciful and gracious master plan!

I admit my first response was to be a bit skeptical about this theory, thinking maybe this was just that stupid misunderstanding of theology one gets from most religious believers and not the real theologians who know and tell us what the stupid everyday believers really mean by their beliefs. But then I remembered this is an Archbishop of New York City, not some low level flunky speaking above his authority. So, this must be the kind of deep theology that is just over my head.

Boy, theology is hard.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • AaronJ

    “I was both here and not here.”

    You were Schrödinger’s atheist! Man, I had no idea theologians were so concerned with quantum physics thought experiments.

    • capello moderno

      Thanks for that ‘Schrödinger’s atheist’ – what a fantastic notion – made my morning laugh =)

  • Jeff Sherry

    Pretty much a dopey message from Dolan. Was he channeling his thoughts or was he serving up stream of conscious blabbering? It may be he had 700 butts in pews in his cathedral and wanted to think the church was reversing attendance trends from the past 5 decades.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      ahhh, it’s like with global warming—when it snows, it proves there is no climate change, when it is dark, it proves there is no more sun, and when the church fills up for a day, there are no more atheists! And I guess what’s good for the Church must be a blessing from God! How gracious of God to cause devastation and trauma so the good bishop could preach to a (traumatized) full house for once!

  • Jeff Sherry

    Isn’t this the same Dolan that made use of the “teachers sexually abuse” defense to deflect criticism of how the RCC hid the pedophile Priests from public gaze?

  • Randomfactor

    So, everyone in New York after 9/11 believed in the reality of Allah?

  • paragwinn

    Interesting that he expressed no opinion about the presence of atheists on any of the planes or at the Pentagon.

  • usagichan

    The clergy seem to be like Limbo dancers – no matter how low they go, one of them always seems to be able to set the bar lower.

    Still, perhaps he meant that there are no Atheists in Ney York in the same way that there are no Atheists in foxholes. Common sense, innit?

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

    My guess is it’s kind of a bastardized version of the “No Atheists in Foxholes” statement. It was such a terrible time that all atheists were praying and asking for comfort and protection and whatnot.

    Regardless, it’s dumb.

    Oh I see BunnyChan said the same thing.

  • http://www.patrickomalley.com David Blake

    Archbishop Donut speaks for the Church Of Child Rape.

    They raped thousands of children, concealed it, lied about it, and ignored the victims. No one with a brain or with any concern for children is listening anymore.

    Archbishop Donut, go drink from the cup of shut the hell up. On 9/11, we’re trying to forget one enemy. We don’t need to be reminded of another.


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