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Anselm of Canterbury, an Italian cleric who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093, defined God (notice the capital G) as "a being than which nothing greater can be conceived (imagined)." He claimed that a being who exists must be greater than one who doesn't, so, based on the definition, God must exist. And if you, like me, don't buy that argument, then you could very well be an atheist.
If however, you have a different definition of a god, for example, something worshiped, like the Almighty Dollar, than by the definition of an atheist you might not be an atheist. And what about me? Am I an atheist? It depends on the definitions of god and atheist. However, there are people out there, calling themselves atheists, who are quite willing to kill in the name of atheism, just as, for centuries, there have been and still are monotheists who are willing to kill in the name of their one and only God. This kind of murderous atheism I call "monotheism minus one."
Dimitry Pospielovsky, a Russian-born historian now teaching in Canada, has written many books on the topic of atheists who kill in the name of atheism, notably this one. Comparing a militant, murderous atheist with a militant, murderous monotheist, one finds many similarities. After all, what difference does one god more or less make when there are non-believers (thought criminals) to be slaughtered? Atheists and monotheists of this kind worry me: as I wrote earlier, in a world with thermonuclear weapons, monotheism (and I am hereby adding the "monotheism minus one" school of atheism), is very, very dangerous.
On the other hand, there are principled atheists who are quite different from mad monotheistic militants. Ayn Rand, also born in Russia, was a 20th Century philosopher, novelist, and Hollywood screenwriter who vigorously defended capitalism and American values while asserting that "a god" was unnecessary to understanding such values. Rand was a fierce critic of religious conservatives, including William Buckley and Ronald Reagan, while condemning Stalinism with even greater ferocity. As for me, I am convinced that neither atheism nor monotheism are about to disappear any time soon. What about polytheism and paganism? They will be addressed later in Jonathan's Coffeeblog.Permanent Link to This Entry | | Technorati Tag: Atheism blog comments powered by Disqus Comments (View)
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