God does not exist
It’s a bit of a contradiction to my earlier post, but that’s only apparent.
The other day I read a ‘letter to the editor’ in one of my country’s newspapers. It’s headline caught my eye: ‘Atheist Pastor’. The letter was written by a protestant pastor who had a complaint about research that had been done into the actual beliefs of pastors in his church. He had participated in it by filling in a questionnaire. The first question was: ‘do you believe God exists?’ That aroused his anger.
As a Christian -he wrote- he did not believe in a ‘God that existed’. A God that existed was an idol. Instead, he believed in a God that matters.
Then I came across this post from Ozatheist -which sounds to me like some Japanese religion- entitled ‘Is God real?’ It deals with the question why atheists seem to be so ‘missionary’ about their convictions. Can’t they just be atheists in the privacy of their own home, just like most believers are? Ozatheist quotes someone who explains that ultimately the whole discussion between believers and atheists is about exactly that: public and private life.
When you press many atheists, you find they are at their most ferocious and passionate when they think religion is playing too large a role – or any role – in politics or the classrooms or the labs or the courts.
So it’s not about one bunch of people trying to convince another bunch of people to take leave of their silly -but otherwise irrelevant- ideas. It’s about things that matter: politics, education, laws.
Somehow -but I can’t really explain how exactly- I get the impression that atheists of the type as described above and pastors of the type as described above are not so very far apart. They start out at opposing ends, but meet in the middle. They meet in a middle where the question about the mere existence of God is less relevant than the things that matter. That’s exactly where the first commandment lives:
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
It’s the “I am the LORD thy God, Thou shalt have no other gods before me”-bit that always gets quoted, but the operative part of this commandment is: “…which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Freedom from ‘a house of bondage’, that’s the thing that matters.