Where Do Atheists Live?

Humans have always known they occupy a very small place in the great scheme of things.

Ms. Bourke and Mr. Benatar do share something in common, they’re academics, people who live a life apart–as separate from the rest of us as any cloistered pair has ever been, even though they are physically separated by a continent. (The reviewer resides in London, the author of the book, in South Africa.) They live in a shared mental world, made possible by many things I don’t think they think enough about.

 

I was informed this morning in a book review published in the Wall Street Journal that since the universe is very old and our lives are very short in comparison, our lives are meaningless. This left me wondering about where some people live.

The review was of a book by David Benatar entitled The Human Predicament. It is a curious title, and I will say why I think so in a moment, but back to where atheists live. The review was by an historian named Joanna Bourke. (This struck me as a little odd, seeing as Benatar is a philosopher, but let’s not make too much of it.)

Ms. Bourke and Mr. Benatar do share something in common, they’re academics, people who live a life apart–as separate from the rest of us as any cloistered pair has ever been, even though they are physically separated by a continent. (The reviewer resides in London, the author of the book, in South Africa.) They live in a shared mental world, made possible by many things I don’t think they think enough about.

Here’s Ms. Bourke on her world,

I did a very unscientific poll of my friends. None of them believe that there is some wider purpose to human existence. This may say a great deal about the kinds of people who are willing to befriend me,….”

It may also say something about the people you are willing to befriend, Ms. Bourke.

I think this is important to point out. I also think it is worth noting that in the long sweep of human history Ms. Bourke and her friends are a very tiny minority. Does that make her and her friends necessarily wrong? No, but I do think it shifts the burden of proof somewhat. Any cavalier dismissal of the preponderance of the human race with question begging talk about science and so forth should be put in the proper light. It is arrogant.

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