Atheism is one of those terms that we use without enough reflection on its deeper meaning and end ep failing to reflect and deconstruct it. The most basic definition of spirituality is a search for the sacred. This search can take the form of theism, atheism, or non-theism. Theism is a belief in the external Theo – God. Atheism is a belief in a non-external Theo – God. Non-theism or materialistic atheism is a belief in no Theo – God. The Judeo-Christian religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) have always been known as theistic religions and number about 3 billion followers. Buddhists, Hindus, Shinto’s and other eastern religions subscribe to an atheistic form of spirituality and also have about 3 bullion followers. The rest are material atheists and agnostics. Atheism can be further broken down into three parts:
This is the atheism I embraced through my epiphany of 17 August 2007. Every day I thank God that I am an atheist. It is only at the end of the God we have known all our lives where we meet God. God appears when God dies. At some point we all need to question or even reject our ideas of God as we evolve spiritually. If we do not give ourselves and one another space for doubt and emptying, this can lead to repressive and ultimately destructive forms of spirituality. In moving beyond theism, atheism becomes quite natural.
This is the atheism at the heart of our spirituality. Here we acknowledge and even celebrate the essential unknown and unknowable of the ground of being, honouring that in our faith. We pray with Meister Eckhart (1260 – 1328), “God deliver me from God”. Philosopher John Caputo has this to say about this post-modern concept of God:
This is how Wikipedia defines Apophathic theology:
Apophathic theology–also known as Negative theology or Via Negativa (Latin for “Negative Way”)-—is a theology that attempts to describe God, the Divine Good, bynegation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God. It stands in contrast with Cataphatic theology. In brief, negative theology is an attempt to achieve unity with the Divine Good through discernment, gaining knowledge of what God is not (apophasis), rather than by describing what God is. The apophatic tradition is often, though not always, allied with the approach of mysticism, which focuses on a spontaneous or cultivated individual experience of the divine reality beyond the realm of ordinary perception, an experience often unmediated by the structures of traditional organized religion or the conditioned role playing and learned defensive behaviour of the outer man.
Here atheism becomes an anti-theism system of belief. It has to be said however, that dogmatic atheism is a direct opposite of dogmatic theism or religious fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism breeds dogmatic atheism. Dogmatic atheism can be as fundamentalist as any religious posture that is fundamentalist. Dogmatic atheists, just like religious fundamentalists, believe that they alone are in possession of truth. They see themselves as the vanguard of a scientific / rational movement that will eventually expunge the idea of God from human consciousness.