Atheists respect religious people

The signature of the "really big one"

Attempt at a religious appreciation of secularization. Mind game of a monk for the 11th Philosophicum in Lech.

As a religious person, can one also work for a secular society in the full sense of the word - or is it “consistent” to be an integralist who rejects secularization as a “sin against the Holy Spirit” (K. Wojtyla)? Does the commitment of religious people for a secular society not always smack of cunning provisionality - one only propagates “freedom” insofar as it allows one to then format or harass people with one's own doctrine? Or are there good reasons that suggest that there is a proximity and distance to the phenomenon of "secularization" that differs from religion to religion or that there is even a deeply rooted sympathy for the latter? Is it perhaps religiously “deeper” to stand up for secularization than to fight it?

A side effect of modern secularization is certainly the so-called “practical atheism” of many people, a certain indifference towards God and the religion based on personal belief in God. In the following, “atheism” is primarily understood to mean “practical”, “indifferent to God” or “agnostic” atheism, not a combative and decidedly anti-religious atheism. The Christian religion regards that “practical” atheism, like an explicit, theoretical atheism that has become rarer today, as an “enemy” or “disease”. The result is the scenario of a “small herd” surrounded by lots of evil “wolves”. One develops a notorious resistance to a positive interpretation of the atheistic way of life and declares the “godless contemporaries” as those in need of conversion who are the goal of a “new evangelization” or missionary work.


No prayer in paradise

One can perhaps say: It is the signature of the “very great” - in the monotheistic context that would ultimately be God - to be so sovereign that he would remain God even without express attention. In the Judeo-Christian Bible there is a description of a "paradisiacal original state" in which one will not necessarily find what later should be connoted with "religion": no temple, no ritual, not even prayer (cf. Gen 1f .). Humans are only expected to “rule” the earth by “guarding and cultivating” it (when the first and second creation accounts are “brought together”). In addition, humans “name” the living beings that surround them. Ultimately, the “man” finds the “woman” as a partner who corresponds to him. No trace of "religion". Nowhere does man direct his word to God before the "fall". Man is simply expected to do “natural” justice, in the sense of the later dictum in the Book of Micah: “You have been told, man, what is good and what the Lord expects of you: nothing other than this: doing right, goodness and love faithfully, walk the path with your God in reverence. ”(Mi 6: 8) In the context of the divorce question, Jesus reminds you that some things would have been better“ at the beginning ”(Matt 19: 8), which is also close in the Christian context is laid to regard the "original state" as the "ideal state".


God is sovereign

According to these words, God does not need a "Hans-look-in-die-Luft", a person who constantly in the sense of an "incessant prayer ritual" intentionally aligns his mind to God and lives his life in this permanent alignment. God does not necessarily need "religion" at any cost - and possibly neither does man (namely: at any cost). Religion is perhaps a “luxury” that a part of humanity is allowed to indulge in, but that is not “necessary”, especially not so that God can be God. God is so sovereign that he also "rules" when "hardly anyone notices that he is there": "If a very great one rules, the people hardly know that he is there." (Tao te king)

In an interview, the avowed atheist Jan Philipp Reemtsma once remarked: “I respect religiosity through the respect of my fellow citizen, whose private life plans I respect. What I do not have to respect is the content of his belief in that I regard it as something special or something of higher value. ”Reemtsma regards the content of belief as“ nonsense ”:“ In this case, I define nonsense subjectively. It cannot be expected that I have respect for everything that somehow haunts a person's head. Nobody does that. "

The "respect" of the atheist towards the religious mentioned here corresponds roughly to what many religious feel towards atheists: They "respect" the atheist as a human being, but fight his thoughts as a "sin". Augustine sends his greetings: "To love the sinner, hate sin" - purely formally, atheists and religious people seem to agree here, although they may use other words.

Now, however, it can be imagined that there is perhaps a “different kind” of respect that arises from the core of a certain religious attitude: Atheism could not only be seen as the “praise of freedom” that the Creator has for man but also as a reminder of a paradisiacal “original state” that was “secular” through and through and in which God proved himself to be sovereign by barely noticing that he was “there”.

This quite religious positioning can be found in a detective novel by Harry Kemelmann, who once expressed the Judaism of a Jew on the American east coast as follows: “You know, in that sense we have no religion. The things we believe are also believed by many people who are not Jews. But that doesn't make them Jews because of that. And there are many Jews who do not believe in it, but are still Jews ... It is more the belonging to the Jewish people, to the family, than the acceptance of a certain, specific belief. "

But what about the “mission command” of the risen Christ: “Go to all peoples and make all people my disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit ”(Mt 28:19)? Apart from the question of the extent to which, especially in the second part, it is about authentic words of Jesus or the interpretative theology of the post-Easter community - one can, according to Mother Theresa, interpret “mission” as an effort to make “atheists better atheists” “? "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will come into the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven." (Mt 7:21) In the sense of this word of Jesus one could perhaps say: The "Mission", the mission of the disciples of Jesus to the people, consists in "making" people "good" in a natural sense of the word, in reminding them of what they are inwardly intended for: "righteousness" . Of course, the Christian may recognize something other than “just” here than an atheist - but in principle he is convinced that the good of justice is a fundamentally secular good that natural reason can at least in principle reach through intuition.

In the interview mentioned above, Reemtsma says: Religion should be a private matter. “That is the basis of the secular state's business. However, whoever is deeply religious will experience that as somehow deficient. The new Pope has clearly stated several times that reducing religion to the dimension of a private conviction is an attack on religion. One must recognize that the church acts as a force that shapes society, and the secular state must also want the church as an essential resource of meaning. But I think that this claim - without us you are nothing - leaves the business basis of the secular state. "


A desideratum of religion

Perhaps, however, it is precisely the consequence of a “deep religiosity” to think differently here and to regard a “secular society” down to the last fiber as an “icon” of God's sovereignty, which should not be combated but promoted - and not half-heartedly in order to smuggle in some "Trojans" who are supposed to destroy the secular state from within one day, but out of complete conviction that secularization, its completion and its persistence, is a desideratum of religion.

("Die Presse", print edition, October 5th, 2007)