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Searching for an Atheist C. S. Lewis

Professor Volokh posts two pieces today showing a concern that Americans hold a negative view of atheists. He focuses on a July 2005 Roper poll in which 50% of respondents view atheists unfavorably (as opposed to 25% for Muslims and 19% for evangelicals, both of whom make out worse than Jews (7%) or Catholics (14%)). I don't have access to the poll itself, but it strikes me that the animosity about which Prof. Volokh is concerned is more a matter of PR than substance.

Take, for instance, two atheists who I read regularly for one reason or another, Prof. Leiter and Pharyngula. The former has his infamous Texas Taliban alerts, the latter is sometimes rhetorically more restrained but has no problem linking to those who are not. Neither blog is designed to make an opponent view the author in a favorable light. Both men are, presumably, talented in their chosen professions. On the other hand, I defy any reader to wander through their archives and derive some bit of joy out of the experience.

That's not to say that the blogs aren't possibly enjoyable. I read through both, after all, to see what has enraged the atheist fringe, and I'd suspect that those who hold athiest opinions find the Leiter Reports to be a sustaining source of agreeable opinion. [1] Nothing agreeable comes through in the tone of the rather perpetual rants, however, with nary a post free of insult or disregard. If these blogs hold a sense of wonderment at the universe, or some sense of brotherhood towards all men (regardless of view), it's hidden rather deeply.

The authors that drew me to conservatism were a different breed. P. J. O'Rourke has a sharp tongue sometimes--especially towards fundamentalists of all stripes--but liberals and conservatives can laugh at him. In a roundabout way through O'Rourke I got to Senator Moynihan (a liberal but a Catholic), a smart observer of culture but still a wit. From there I came to Chesterton, and from Chesterton I rediscovered C. S. Lewis.

These writers shared at least two traits. The first is at least a toleration of religion. The second is a very genuine sense of wonder at the world, a wonder that precedes laughter. I would love to have been at a debate between Chesterton and G. B. Shaw, if only because while I might find the latter more convincing, the former is less curmudgeonly and more fun. But the atheist view seems ever more inclined towards Shaw's path, and ever less inclined towards a happy ending, in a somewhat predictable fashion.

Which leads me to wonder: is there an atheist apologist, a happy atheist author? I have some spare reading time over the holidays, and if anyone can point me towards a Doubting Lewis, I'd greatly appreciate it.

[1]: I can't resist pointing out that the Leiterlings are still waiting for Bush to start a draft with the full backing of Congressman Rangel, but apparently the "reality based community" is quite patient. I never fault anyone for playing the long game, but in this case I think Prof. Leiter may be playing it very long. Like waiting for President Jenna and Gulf War III, by which time I may well be in my grave.


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CS Lewis identified as an atheist for a significant part of his life, I believe. Thus an atheist with wonder - however, he converted to Christianity eventually, and then wrote all his pro-Christianity books (incl. Mere Christianity, where iirc he discusses "losing" his faith as an atheist).
Parodie: Perhaps I should emphasize, then, that I'd be more interested in a currently "practicing" atheist, or at least one not known to have lapsed. ;)
Hmm, not sure how much of an atheist I am, as I usually self-identify as a Zen Buddhist, but that is not a confession that believes in a creator-god. Like God in South Park: "as for me, I'm a Buddhist" :-) And I haven't that happy recently, but an undiagnosed seizure disorder will do that! (obviously it's been diagnosed recently!) But I have had much happiness in the 34 years of my life so far, and faith in any sort of God has not had much to do with that, rather the contrary, as the practice of dogmatic religion of various "True Believers" in my life has caused much of the pain.

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