There’s a research avenue I keep mentioning but still haven’t followed-up closely; that of “intellectuals” adopting Catholicism late in life. Some kind of dawning of “wisdom”. I think I last mentioned it when I (again) noticed this Francis Bacon quote in Nick Spencer’s book:
“a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism;
but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.”
My original connection to the Catholicism theme came many years ago when reading biographies of The Inklings (at Oxford) and others at Oxbridge (J R R Tolkien, C S Lewis, Marshall McLuhan, and more … I need to assemble source links.) Two things prompted me to post this morning:
One was Stephen Law at CFI making a simple statement in a Facebook comment thread around his latest piece on “God” – which “obviously” doesn’t exist, yet apparently demands yards of screed?
“The atheist agrees belief is not a kind of knowing.”
Well this atheist doesn’t. Unlike many other rationalists, I can see rationalism (humanism, atheism, secularism) as a belief system. A pragmatic one based on scepticism, where what is believed as knowledge is always open to challenge. Belief only ceases to be a kind of knowing when it is “blind faith” or dogma. Knowledge is never dogmatic; honest scepticism is the antithesis of dogma, not belief. Belief is sufficient trust or “faith” in what you know, and the soundness of its basis, to act on it in the here and now. Always open to challenge, analysis and reflective questioning, but where justification and reconstruction of what is known is not a necessary part of the action itself. We would be inefficient and ineffective – paralysed – without belief. The problem even has a name – “analysis paralysis”.
Secondly, and thirdly, alerted by a couple of tweets this morning one to this guest post by Joe Landi on Godless Mom’s blog: “From Catholicism to Unbelief … and Back” and another to this “Einstein quote” (*) from David Gurteen:
(*) Of course, most Einstein quotes aren’t. But anyway, as Landi says, his post on rediscovering Catholicism is not semantic or dialectic, no “reasoned” argument, simply a statement of all the things he “loves” about Catholicism. Apart from this:
As Camus said, no one has ever died for the ontological argument …
The Trinity secures an epistemological position where love, not the intellect, is what will truly lead us to the truth. It, so to say, levels the playing field, putting us in a world where an uneducated cloistered Carmelite can know just as much as, lets say, Aquinas. As the proverb says: “wisdom is easy,” in the sense that you don’t need a P.H.D. to attain to it. And this is precisely what puts the “catholicus” in Catholic.
ie “And the greatest of these is Love”
And for my fellow atheists, note that there is no “god” in this – no supernatural causal agent, omnipotent, omniscient or otherwise.