MUCH MORE THAN DOGMA – by Sheri J. Kennedy, aka Kennedy J. Quinn
In this scholarly and thoughtfully presented look at religion, David S. Moore considers much more than dogma. A portion of the book is centered on the root of various beliefs and examines texts they are based on or observations which have given rise to systems of theory or supposed Truths. This reader can appreciate such study; my own was intensive in Philosophy of Religion and other philosophical and religious studies. Mr. Moore’s overview shows many of the points clearly, and will be especially enlightening to those newly introduced to such critique of religious texts.
What specifically interested this reader was the relationship discussed between religion and the need within humanity, both at a societal level and an individual level, for comfort, guidance and order. I had never contemplated how an atheist would view their inner motivations and moral compass. Unlike the antagonistic view of atheists the author refers to, I have always viewed atheism without animosity. But since I was only atheist in a brief existential crisis, I didn’t square what my belief system and inner life would center on instead of belief in God or whether I would find it fulfilling spiritually. The discussion is intriguing.
There was one point that wasn’t set to rest in the essay for this reader. I didn’t understand the phrase on the cover of the book, ‘Belief in God does not require belief in the existence of God.’ I think I am following Mr. Moore’s idea that guidance and fulfillment spiritually doesn’t have to be based on an existent God, but I don’t understand why God is postulated as real for the purposes of these motivations and comforts. God is real but does not exist, is what I took away from the book. He states at one point that God cannot exist within physical reality logically, but he allows that he may be real outside our universe and be fully transcendent. Being transcendent, he cannot influence us directly or he would exist in our reality, he asserts. I didn’t follow this particular conclusion. I could allow that influence could exist in our universe without physical existence. A great example of how this essay gets one thinking, but overall I don’t see where the semantics of existence verses reality or transcendence changes the conclusion of how to live.
My understanding is that Mr. Moore is asserting the reality of the principles and spirituality often associated with ‘God’ as a compass around which to build a life of devotion, service to community and so forth. Whether or not there is an actual God—which he states there is no convincing grounds for within our universe—seems immaterial to this devotion, in my opinion. If I am understanding correctly, then the question I’m left with is, why use the word God at all? One could allow for a transcendent creator, or power that is no longer with us, or believe in none of that and maintain the same awe of what we witness in this world. Again it’s intriguing, and it shows the quality of Mr. Moore’s presentation that it elicits thoughtful response.
This is a stirring and passionately written essay. There are points of view rarely touched upon, and in topics of religion and philosophy that’s refreshing indeed. I found, A Hymn of Reverence, at the end of THE REVERENT ATHEIST very moving. It’s a fitting conclusion to underline humanity’s need for spiritual significance, the center of this excellent look into the expression of an Atheist’s soul.
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Find out more about FVP Featured Author, David S. Moore