Unfortunately, the secular right blog has turned fairly quickly into just another atheist religion-bashing venue. Now I have no problem with atheists bashing religion, or with Christians bashing atheism, for that matter. But there are already plenty of blogs and websites dedicated to that noble purpose. Just when does the atheist leave off telling us how ridiculous religious belief is, or spending all his time fending of the slings and arrows of his religious adversaries, and start telling us how one may find and pursue the path of "human flourishing?"
For this is ultimately what politics is about - organizing our common life for the common good. And the common good is really a collection of individual human goods. This brings me to my real problem with atheism.
I believe the existence of God can be defended as a matter of philosophy. But it is rare that anyone comes to believe in God purely as a matter of intellectual conclusion. God may be the answer to certain metaphysical questions, but those questions only have weight for us if God is also the answer to other questions, questions that bear more on the will than the intellect. What I mean is that God may be the answer to the question: How can I become the man I know I was meant to be, or should be?
When I ask this question in the way (I think) Kierkegaard meant it, I am no longer interested in defending myself or defending my principles. Instead of questioning God and finding Him wanting, I have questioned myself and found myself wanting. I know I can and should be a better man than I am. The skepticism becomes subjectively rather than objectively directed. The locus of danger has shifted; instead of being worried primarily about objective errors (i.e. that my metaphysical beliefs might be in error) I am worried about subjective errors (that I may fail to become the man I should be). I have become a "subjective thinker" rather than an "objective thinker."
The subjective thinker sees God as a possible answer to the subjective questions he asks himself. Yes, he is concerned with the objective question of the existence of God, but the weight of the objective question is not absolute. Is it better to be a bad man but be "right" about the objective question of God, or be a good man but be "wrong" about the objective question of God? Yes, yes, I know that many atheists are good men. In fact, just about every atheist I've met has been a better man than I am. That is the point. Atheism seems to be a club for men who are naturally good. It's not primarily about the question of becoming better men, but about defending the fact that we already are pretty good men. What, then, does it have to say to the man who is convinced that he is not a pretty good man? I ask for bread and they give me a stone.
I don't intend irony in those last points. I hold no brief for those Christians who denounce atheists as necessarily bad or doomed to some kind of evil existence. Atheists are quite right that the run-of-the-mill atheist is probably a better man than the run-of-the-mill Christian. This is because your typical atheist is well-educated and well-brought up, while the vast majority of Christians are poor and poorly educated. But it wasn't atheism per se that made them good, but their education and their upbringing - which, more times than not, has been Christian.
But all that is by the board. "For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." One way to interpret this is that Christ is calling those who are thinking subjectively and not objectively. Kierkegaard goes into this in wonderful detail in the Philosophical Fragments and Concluding Unscientific Postscript. For the man approaching Christianity in Kierkegaard's way - subjectively - the very fact that Christianity is speaking to him in a way that atheism won't or can't, is reasonable subjective grounds to believe in it. But don't try to defend this objectively with an atheist!