This a very good article from The National Times, an online social commentary and opinion website run by Fairfax Media, owner of the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Australian Financial Review. To view the website, go to the National Times website, go down to 'The Bloggers', and find 'Godless Gross' amongst the blogs. Can someone tell me who is Dick Gross? Probably wants to remain anonymous. Funny name, if that is his real name.

Why I do not believe in a God
By Dick Gross
The National Times
11 September 2009

I describe myself as a soft cock atheist. I wish I could believe in God, but I can't and I sort of regret it.

Before you can read my godless blog, perhaps it might be best to understand your humble blogger. Well, perhaps not so humble, for the meek do not blog and especially do not blog about themselves. But just as the child is parent to the adult, the blogger begets the blog, so you ought to know me (but not in the biblical sense).

If atheism is known for its doctrinaire ideologues such as Richard Dawkins, I represent the wishy washy strain.

There are so many consoling and uplifting aspects of faith, belief is a beguiling prospect. In the past I have tried to believe but my sceptical disposition has prevented me. So I describe myself as an atheist, although I do reserve the right to change my mind.

I could also describe myself as a rationalist, apostate, heretic, secularist, Humanist and, depending on my mood, agnostic but I don’t get hung up on the fine nuances and sterile debates of the many words describing the world of unbelief. If one is unpersuaded by any of the main religions, then any of the labels will do. I run the gamut of emotions from apostate to atheist.

I do, however, accept that most of the rest of the world is deeply religious. By religious I mean a person who believes in a notion of the transcendent or numinous. We are a religious species. I am in a minority of earth’s denizens – even in the affluent and educated world. 95% of Americans believe in God, 75% of the Brits and 86% worldwide. I am part of the 14% of non religious - a miniscule slice of the world’s souls. I do suspect that humanity has evolved to need faith.

Successful faiths are so profoundly reassuring that they are omnipresent and ubiquitous. They stroke all of our psychological erogenous zones and meet many of our existential needs. Thus for the majority of the world, unbelief is an existential dead end. And I suspect for me, my unbelief is at the very least an ontological challenge and at the worst, a handbrake on my happiness throughout and at especially at the end of my life. Death, meaning, suffering, belonging, culture, continuity and community and all are addressed by faith.

My collisions with religion have been many and varied. I am a religious potpourri. Having been born, circumcised, bar mitzvah and raised an assimilated Jew, educated by an Anglican school and having performed in Catholic choir, married (and amazingly not been divorced from) a woman whose parents were elders of the Uniting Church, I am surrounded by a farrago of faiths. I am very fond of people of religion and conversant with their creeds. My children have been raised, as much by neglect as by design, as atheists, but the messages have been mixed. They endured a secular bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah and perversely male circumcision and all went to a Uniting Church school. We do Passover, Easter, Christmas, Hanukah and this weekend Rosh Hashanah. So my life and those of my progeny are enmeshed in an idiosyncratic mixture of unbelief, faith based education, religious festivals and secular and sacred rites of passage.

Thus I am not an evangelical atheist. I am over repudiation and why I concede that I am a soft cock atheist (please excuse this gender specificity). I don’t thrive in theodicy and try not to ram unbelief down peoples’ throats. I grant that humanity seems to adore or even need creeds. As I type this I am listening to a Requiem Mass. But I do not believe. My spiritual home is to be found in the secular bits of the pluralistic halls of the Jewish Museum of Australia although I can be often found at Evensong at St Pauls.

So my atheism will be a lifelong conundrum. It has stripped away certainties and verities that have provided my religious forebears with private comfort and communal glue. I am not a foot soldier for unbelief. But I do wish to scope and avoid the ontological potholes that will litter my path through life because I have foregone faith in the sacred. I have no other choice for I cannot believe.

Source: Gross, D. 2009, 'Why I don't believe in a God', The National Times, 11 September 2009.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Eddie - Dick Gross is from Melbourne. He's a former Mayor of Port Phillip, now an author. He has also founded a secular 'Saturday School' for non-theistic Jews in Melbourne so that they can learn and keep Jewish traditions and practice the rituals without having to buy into the dogma. For example, with some changes, Jewish boys can have non-theistic bar-mitzvahs. You can find his Wikipedia entry here.




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