You can define “atheism” how you like. I’m distinguishing between atheism and godlessness, where atheism is the lack of theistic belief, and godlessness is the lack of all aspects of religious practice, including faith in myths and delusions.

So I’m not saying that an atheist can’t show reverence. Indeed, that’s exactly the opposite of what I’m arguing. I’m saying atheists in the narrow sense focus too much on philosophy and doctrine or belief and not enough on practice and on implicit convictions. The question isn’t whether an atheist in my narrow sense can be spiritual, worshipful or religious in the wide sense, but whether a godless person would be so.

The question is what it means to be wholly free of all aspects of godliness and religiosity. Yet you say that I’m “attempting to say that atheists need more than a non-belief in gods,” but that I “don’t finish that sentence.” What an atheist needs to graduate to godlessness would be enlightenment, as in the freedom from delusions, irrational faith, and foolish behaviour. I’m afraid that, however superior modern secularism may be to monotheism and theocracy, much of Western secular culture leaves much to be desired.

You say I make generalized claims for everyone. On the contrary, in my last comment I said, “not every pastime has the importance of a religion. Moreover, some idols, crutches, and religions are worse than others.” And I also said that it’s not the case “that all theists are secularists who secretly have irrational faith in something. But I suspect that most do, and that enlightenment is rare.”

When I talk about consumerism, I’m not talking about buying things now and again. I’m talking about the lifestyle and materialistic ideology of consumerism which are antithetical to most religions, including Christianity. By pretending to accept Christian principles while living as producers and consumers in the godless, capitalistic context, Christians are certainly hypocritical. More precisely, Western Christianity has been thoroughly Americanized and bastardized, just as early Jewish Christianity was Romanized under Paul, Constantine, and the Roman Empire.

You say the enjoyment of consuming things isn’t the same thing as having faith. No, neither the pleasure nor the act itself would be faith. The materialistic faith is in the deluded confidence that this kind of treadmill life, of passing from one transient and self-destructive pleasure to another, thanks to our having been mesmerized by corporate promises about the benefits of the latest mass-produced merchandise is the pinnacle of human achievement.

Have you forgotten that unbridled consumerism is destroying the planet’s capacity to support life? Is that aspect of neoliberal secularism supposed to be rational? Are we rationally choosing to destroy ourselves or have we been conned into committing to a modern crypto-religion and secular mythos?

Yes, “faith” can be defined as belief in something that can’t be proven, as you say. Thus, as I said in the article, the neoliberal consumer’s faith is in the power of science and technology to solve all our problems and to save us from self-destruction. That bit of positivism and technocracy is what can’t be proven. There’s also the American secularist’s faith in her civil religion and in the myth of her Constitution’s sacred perfection, her country’s manifest destiny, and so forth.

If Christianity is just belief in Christ, the question is whether that belief is genuine in a particular case. What is the test of the genuineness of someone’s Christian faith? In other words, how would we expect someone with genuine faith in Christ’s leadership to behave? Would this person give away all her possessions, as Jesus recommended? Or would she hoard her wealth and focus on being a conspicuous consumer, buying the latest merchandise to show off her earthly status in what Jesus called a doomed secular society? Here, faith and works go hand in hand, a point the New Testament grappled with.

I’ve written lots of articles on the nature of enlightenment, although I hardly have a settled and comprehensive view of the matter, since it’s complicated and I don’t claim to be enlightened. In general, I think of enlightenment as a transhuman mentality. See, for example, my lengthy debate with another Medium writer, on spiritual versus secular enlightenment, and an earlier article on my blog where I wrestle with the question (links below).

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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