When you are an atheist, thinking can get you in trouble.
There are seemingly no limits to the mental self-tomfoolery that folks will engage in to avoid the obvious. Apparently, there is a small but growing group of atheists that reluctantly acknowledge that the typical atheist worldview, that of Dawkins and Hitchens, is not sufficient. Militant nihilism has no answer, at least no transformative answer, to the suffering of this world.
Suffering, they realize, is the one true constant of this world and the only one worldview adequately acknowledges and transforms that suffering into something useful. Christianity. So these suffering atheists are turning to Christianity to make sense of the suffering. The only problem, and its a doozy, is that they want Christianity without Christ.
At the American Academy of Religion meeting in Montreal last year, he may have gotten his wish, or something resembling it. Following an apocalyptic sermon from “death of God” theologian Thomas J.J. Altizer, to the podium came the ruffled Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, a self-described atheist and “materialist through and through”, before an audience of religion scholars, theologians, and costumed adherents. He spoke of truths Christianity alone possesses and how Christ’s death reveals that “the only universality is the universality of struggle.” Atheism, he explained, is true Christianity, and one can only be a real atheist by passing through Christianity. “In this sense, I am unconditionally a Christian”, said Žižek.
This would seem like progress in that these atheists admit the uniqueness of Christianity in its approach to suffering. The problem is that you cannot have Christianity without Christ. Suffering, without uniting it to the redemptive suffering of Jesus, is just as pointless as an Al Gore poem.
The true thing about truisms is that they are usually true. The oldest and most reliable truism is that “there is nothing new under the sun.” What these atheists of today are trying to do is what enlightened secular humanists have tried to do for centuries. Lukewarm Christians or enlightened agnostics decided long ago that they wanted a society with Christian values but without all that hokey religion. This enlightenment eventually leads myriad other isms and inevitably to very dark places. Finally, generations of tired enlightened agnostics, turned admitted atheists, throw up their hands at their own failure-ism and turn to nihilism.
Then, in a stroke of genius, some few enlightened atheists decide again that Christianity without Christ might just be the answer beginning the entire silly and futile process over again. Its like the movie The Matrix. At first you think that they might be on to something only to be disappointed that it ends in a never ending loop of lies and slavery.
Sorry folks. If you really want a world where suffering makes sense and world with “Christian values” there is no other answer but Christ himself. There is no Christianity without Christ.