Monday, January 5, 2009

Atheist Says Africa Needs God

In a Times article called "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God," by Matthew Parris, an atheist contends for Christian mission work taking place in Africa. He writes,

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

This is fantastically open-minded article, yet it has an academic backbone to it. Read the full text!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm an atheist myself. Actually, I'm a 'Bright' (the Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens camp). I'm an ardent supporter of the naturalistic world view, but I understand what Parris is saying. I find the 'New Atheist' movement exciting in that non-believers have been largely marginalized within cultures that are strongly religious, but on the other hand, I find a disconcerting element creeping into our discourse.

There are some who feel that since believers have frequently disparaged atheism- turnabout is fair play. Also, they emphasize the ills of religious activity and minimize the benefits (just as amoral atheism used to be put center stage by those opposed to non-believers, and ethical atheism was ignored). This is very troubling to me.

I think that Parris may be expressing a view that (hopefully) will become more common amongst us- that we can take pride in our own beliefs without disparaging religion or minimizing its benefits.

Personally, I believe that atheism is intellectually preferable to religion. I doubt that anyone could shake my conviction that that is the case. Still, I have to acknowledge that there are those who want something other than intellectual purity, rationalism, and logic from a world view. Some people want hope, comfort, tranquility. Religion probably is a better fit for them, and if their religion rejects violence and embraces constructive efforts to help the unfortunate- then it would be churlish of me to belittle their beliefs.

PS: I discovered your site because it is in the blogroll of this site...

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