***Edit***: Comments were accidentally turned off on this post, but they’re back on now. My apologies.
Local newspapers love to publish opinion pieces written by community members. It gives the writers a little more investment in the newspaper (“Hey, look! I got published!”) and the newspaper gets free content that tends to generate a lot of comments online.
Tim Lee is writing a series of guest columns on life after death for the Knoxville News Sentinel and his goal is to “accurately reflect the various perspectives of local residents.”
So, last week, he interviewed atheist Ralph Isler, a man who left the Methodist church when he became an atheist:
For Isler, humans are simply the result of millions of years of biological evolution. We have no souls. Cultural influences over epochs of time have caused humans to develop empathy, love and all other emotions. We are ultimately nothing more than chemical processes interacting at the microcellular level.
Therefore, when we die, those biological functions cease and we are no more. Game over.
Isler is content in having traded in his superstitious belief in an eternal heaven for a more rational yet temporal existence in this life only. He’s 99.5 percent certain that his journey has led him to the truth.
It’s a bit dry, but at least it’s accurate. No issues so far.
Then we get to the end of the piece:
In the end, though, Isler seems to have his own god. Isler. And Isler alone calls the shots, not some invisible celestial dictator in the sky. So Isler displaced God with Isler, as man displaces God with man.
That story sounds vaguely familiar. The name Adam come to mind?…
Umm… wait, what?! How many atheists believe they are their own gods? Did Isler really say that…?
Of course not.
So Isler wrote a letter to the paper and it was published yesterday. Unfortunately, those response letters — much like corrections — never really get the same attention as the original article. But this one is definitely worth reading:
As I started reading his article in the Jan. 15 edition of the News Sentinel, it appeared that Lee did an adequate job of expressing my views. So it was rather astonishing to come across his last few sentences where he showed, even after all our conversation, a lack of understanding the meaning of atheism while essentially characterizing me as egocentric with delusions of being a god. Apparently he means a god in the Judeo-Christian mold since he mentions Adam.
Well, I don’t really have the needs or temperament for that role. I would have to require constant adulation to pump up my fragile ego, but I’m not that insecure. I would have to support slavery, but I find it repugnant. And I would have to feel pleasure in making someone suffer eternal torment for not believing in my existence, even when I exercise all my powers to conceal it. The very thought of such psychopathic behavior should be totally repugnant to any civilized person. Atheism simply implies the view that there are no gods; it does not mean that the atheist aspires to fill that vacancy.
Excellent reply, don’t you think?
Too bad it’s hidden away in a giant collection of letters-to-the-editor.