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Book Review: An Enlightened Philosophy: Can an Atheist Believe Anything?

Written By: Paranormal News

Posted: 4/18/2011 12:00:00 AM   Reads: 2808   Submitted By:0x6a656666   Category: Alternative Spirituality

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I have to be honest--I generally find books about atheism really depressing, and as such, I started reading ’An Enlightened Philosophy’ written by Geoff Crocker and published by New Page Books with a bit of prejudice. The whole concept of atheism to me implies a lack of meaning to reality and to your life, so you might as well party hedonistically because whether you are good or bad, it is all for naught as everything leads to entropy whether that be seconds, or billions of years into the future. Regardless if you spend your life understanding how this place functions or not, you exist for a fleeting moment in this finite universe and then poof, you’re gone, along with the memory of everything you did, everything you understood, and everyone you ever knew, including all those points you were trying to make in the process. Or so it seems.

Thankfully, Geoff Crocker addresses this in his book and attempts to find some kind of bridge between finding meaning in ancient mythology and ’go with the flow’ atheism. Can an atheist believe in anything? Can an atheist believe in a soul? Yes, he says, and spends the majority of this short work attempting to lead you toward an answer of your own as well. In Crocker’s view, atheists could still attend churches without breaking any type of consistency problem since religious beliefs oftentimes serve the needs of man. So why not? His problem with the church and institutions in general seem to be that their beliefs most often serve the needs of the institution rather than the changing needs of humans who support it. Humans should be allowed to find new meaning in old mythology and apply to it to their own life because those myths are often times still applicable. They should not, however, be forced to keep the same beliefs simply because the old, outdated holy framework does not allow it.

Furthermore, Crocker implies that God should be a metaphysical construct that serves man--instead of man being the one to serve God and all of his outdated, dead, inapplicable, immutable laws. The clergy used to be the literate ones of society, preaching what they had discovered to the people who could not read, and ultimately doing so to support the constructs of their own institution, but that is no longer the society within which we live. The place of a preacher doesn’t seem to make as much sense anymore, so even though concepts of generosity, mercy, justice, and compassion still serve useful functions, the institution as it is currently is constructed does not. The concept of God should be a societal piece of software as opposed to a hardware construct that has no replacement parts. Religion is still running off of Windows: The Council of Nicea Version, and it would suit us all very well if we made some drastically needed adjustments.

“What do these events mean?” man often asks himself when reviewing his own life, as if meaning is something delivered to him by some external force that is applied outside of his own control--God. Instead of this, Crocker seems to imply that meaning should instead be manufactured by man himself in a useful way based on the changes of society, without relying on some kind of metaphysical holder of the Holy Dictionary of Life Events Forever After, No Editing Allowed. Mythology found within world religions can still be useful—we should merely follow the atheistic lead and be more flexible when it comes to applying meaning.

Be forewarned—this is a scholarly book, written more for a group of communicating contemporary philosophers in a university rather than for someone to just pick up and read off the street, unless of course you are interested in that sort of thing and come across the right bookstore. Many times names were mentioned and works were cited that I haven’t heard of because I’m not involved in that world, and more than likely, neither are you. Even still, reading it may open a door for more ideas that you have not yet considered, and since Crocker’s focus is on utility, you will have committed no metaphysical crime by walking in and taking things away that are of some use to you, even if those things are not quite what the author intended. I know I did, but hey, I’m human, and that’s how we get things done here. Welcome to earth. Read it, check it out for yourself, and may both the whole and its peace(s) be with you.