Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Down the Yellow Brick Road

In the second part of his book (see first) DZP considers the view that, having put religion aside, man must make his own rules unaided.

Religion is now it seems on the defensive. It is no longer respectable to believe in God, for man is the measure of all things. Religious belief is more likely to be equated with superstition than seen as a false hypothesis. Atheism and belief are not simply contradictory. More often, for the atheist, when someone tries to say that God exists, he is not saying something false, but something meaningless.

But how did meaningless beliefs come to have such a hold on people? One popular answer is in terms of primitive man, fearful of nature, seeking influence, by prayer and ritual, over a hostile environment. On this view religion is a childish practice which has been superseded by science. Religious believers have simply never grown up. They are like children who have gone on believing in magic.

The human cry for God is, on this view, like a child's cry in the dark, a desire for comfort from 'somewhere over the rainbow'. Primitive man creates a 'something over the rainbow' to fulfil his unfulfilled wishes - a product of projection (Feuerbach). But we must remember Dorothy's last words in 'The Wizard of Oz', "There's no place like home."

In the story the Wizard himself turns out to be a fraud, the Scarecrow is shown to have a brain, the Tin Man a heart, and the lion to have had courage all along. The message appears to be that we must develop our own abilities and not look for supernatural help. Whatever its harsh realities, Kansas is at least real, whereas Oz is pure fantasy.

"There's no place like home" could be the motto of atheistic humanism. Instead of the Yellow Brick Road we must follow the way of human science and philosophy to bring us back to this our one and only world. We must learn to live as Freud's 'honest smallholders', cultivating our plot in such a way that it supports us.

2 comments:

aka lucy said...

Matthew 18:2-4

2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

while i am not much of one for quoting scripture, this one came to mind as i read your post. it seems to me that children understand the world and God much more clearly than adults.

i appreciate reading your posts because they make me work to see what it is i actually believe.

i believe that we, like dorothy, do hold our own answers, however, i only feel like those answers are illuminated when i open myself to the presence of a higher being (God) who seems to reside both inside me (home) and outside of me (Creation). is this not reminiscent of the Holy Trinity?

i am curious how these words of dzp's resonate with you. i also realize i do not like addressing you as "good for nowt" because that is not a true moniker in my humble opinion :-)

just curious...how did you come across my blog?

fondly--

goodfornowt said...

Lucy,

I am happy if you call me David, because that is my name.

I like DZP because he always brings my thinking on religion down to earth. This is partly because he takes religion to be primarily something we do. Religious thought, words, doctrine, concepts are secondary. Important, but secondary.

I am really interested in the way children approach religion. Their greatest gift to us is honesty.

Thanks again.