Herb Silverman’s “A Case For Nothing” October 10, 2009

Herb Silverman’s “A Case For Nothing”

This post is by Jesse


I really shouldn’t be on the computer; I should be packing for my trip up to New York for a wedding.  But I wanted to say two things.  Like Hemant and PZ Myers (as well as countless others, no doubt) I read all the comments on my posts.  There was quite an unexpected reaction to my last post, so I looked back and realized I was unclear about my position.  That’s my mistake; I hope to write up a clarifying post this weekend, relatives and ceremonies allowing.

In the meantime, I couldn’t pass up the chance to share Herb Silverman’s most recent post on On Faith.  I found myself wanting to quote too much – it’s a short entry – but I’ll try not to violate copyright law:

A man entered a small courtyard and saw an altar with a large zero in the middle and a banner that said NIL. White-robed people were kneeling before the altar chanting hymns to The Great Nullity and The Blessed Emptiness. The man turned to a white-robed observer beside him and asked, “Is Nothing Sacred?”

It seems that Karen Armstrong and I would agree that nothing is sacred, but from opposite sides of this pun. Ms. Armstrong believes in a god about which or whom you can say nothing, and I see no thing worthy of worship. Our differences are less about supernatural beings than about supersemantical beings. Many liberal religionists define “God” in a way that totally blurs any distinction between theism and atheism, for example, as Nature, the Potential Within, Love, and so forth. One could easily “convert” me, an atheist, into a believer by a judicious definition of a deity, but so what?

Full disclosure: Herb Silverman is the president of my organization, the Secular Coalition for America.  But reading his writing at On Faith, you can see why I would be proud to link to him even if I had a different job.

Check it out and leave a comment for Herb!  Then come back to FriendlyAtheist and talk about how we can reach out to the ‘functional atheists.’


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