Can a Smart Person Believe in God?
Contrary to the slanders voiced by arrogant atheists, we who believe in God are in very distinguished company indeed.
The British actor and writer Quentin Crisp tells a funny story about the time he visited Northern Ireland and announced he was an atheist. Crisp recalls: "A woman in the audience stood up and said, `Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don't believe?'"
The point is, it's impossible for an atheist to disbelieve in God without believing in some alternative-either that, or he must confess he believes innothing
. Even agnostics, who are somehow able to make it through life withholding judgment on one of life's most defining issues, have to believe insomething
during the interim. For most of them, atheism seems to be that something.
In my experience, atheists tend to believe in the cosmic existence of highly fortuitous accidents created by Randomness, which I write with a capitalR
because, for all intents and purposes, Randomness is the atheist's god. As the nineteenth-century English poet Francis Thompson affirmed, "An atheist is a man who believes himself an accident." But within that broad definition of atheism, there are variations denominations, if you will.
First off, there are the agnostics, whom I call Uncertain Atheists because by allowing for the possibility that God does exist, they admit they're not quite sure. For them, the jury is still out.
Next are the Arrogant Atheists, whom you heard from at the very beginning of this chapter. These are the low-SQ persons who worship Intellectualism-a supernatural faith, I might add, considering that our IQ's historical track record is, to put it politely, decidedly mixed. Above all, Arrogant Atheists feel a need to believe they're smarter than everyone else.
Then there are what I call the Humble Atheists, persons who worship Intellectualism but are honest enough to admit theirs is not some superior belief. The prolific science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov once explained his Humble Atheism this way: "I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. . . I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I strongly suspect that he doesn't."
One denomination that particularly intrigues me consists of what I call Christian Atheists, persons who embrace my religion's values but not its God. They are those whom Saint Paul appeared to be speaking about when he predicted in 2 Timothy 3:1, 5: "But mark this: There will be. . .[people] having a form of godliness but denying its power."
More from Beliefnet