Why did God create atheists?I've been thinking about the term "transcendent" especially as pertains to views of God. Mushy agnostics are more prone to talk about "emergence", that a lot of things we recognize as good - consciousness, morality - rises up from base matter in the same way that, say, economics arises from psychology arises from neurobiology arises from biology arises from chemistry arises from physics arises from atoms just doing their thing. In this model Consciousness and Morality aren't bestowed from on high, they come from the ground up.
A Rabbi is teaching his student the Talmud, and explains that God created everything in this world to be appreciated, since everything is here to teach us a lesson.
The clever student asks "What lesson can we learn from atheists? Why did God create them?"
The Rabbi responds "God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all -- the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs an act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone who is in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that God commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his acts are based on an inner sense of morality. and look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right."
"This means" the Rabbi continued "that when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say 'I pray that God will help you.' instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say 'I will help you.'"
But what's interesting to me is that the transcendence of God - God is outside of our mere mortal system and therefore the authority we should follow - it's a very fixed-in-place thing? The heavens are fix'd o'er the earth, or some such. BUT the word "transcendence" is based on an active verb, the act of transcending - a kind of climbing transition.
I mean I don't put too much stock in etymological explanations (as if you know more about a word based on where it came from rather than how it's been used in the meanwhile) but this one sticks out to me.
Two links from work: motherf*****gwebsite.com and theuselessweb.com
Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem – in my opinion – to characterize our age.