Notice to Commenters, Know-it-Alls, Crazies, etc.:
I did not write the article that follows. It was, as clearly set forth, written by Kyle Cupp, who is described further at the end of the article.
It is found here: http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/kylecupp/2012/03/20/religion-for-atheists/
The article is quoted by me for the purpose of criticism, education, and satire. I put it here so you can see it, which is more likely than if you were just given the above link.
In no way do I claim it to be my own work.
If any Experts on Everything think this is plagiarism or copyright violation, please tell me how so I can make amends and corrections.
My response to the article is clear. Atheists do have rituals. Want to see one such?
Attend the de-baptism scheduled for the day following the Rally for Reason at 8:00 pm. at the American Atheists Convention.
Religion for Atheists
by Kyle Cupp on March 20, 2012
Ned Resnikoff challenges the supposedly easy path of superficially translating religious ritual and practice into forms that an atheist might find acceptable and beneficial:
A fully developed theology is born out of conflict and dialogue: dialogue with tradition, intuition, philosophy, the hard and soft sciences, and the critiques of other denominations and religions (not to mention atheists). The idea that you can just skip the whole dialogue and get straight to establishing rituals that conform to your own vague pre-existing sentiments is frankly bizarre.
Doing so, says Ned, “would have atheists export some of organized religion’s worst diseases: bland and indistinct ‘spirituality,’ the thoughtless reenactment of ritual for its own sake, and the smug certainty of chronic incuriosity.” Instead, if atheists have an interest in reforming and putting religious rituals to their own purpose, they would be wise to build a theological foundation and seriously engage “with moral philosophy, epistemology, and even — perhaps especially — the theology of real-life theists.”
This is exactly right.
A religion is irreducible to a set of tenets and practices, meaning that you can’t treat it like a cafeteria without corrupting the whole. This goes for traditional religions and for secularized religious rituals. Why? Because religion is a way of being-in-the-world. The intelligibility of a its parts emerges only within the framework of the religion’s whole logos and mythos. The liturgy of the Eucharist, for example, makes sense only when understood in the contexts of biblical interpretation, Christology, ecclesiology, Old and New Testament narrative, theology of prayer, sacramental theology, the goals Christian life, etc.
Any religious ritual that’s worth a damn needs a theological (logical and mythological) foundation, developed over time and situated within society and the larger world. Without this, you may have some nice clothing for a “spiritual” journey, but you won’t have a new or improved sense of direction or a cause to take a first step.
Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.