“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Graham Harman on Atheism

Graham Harman recently posted about the tendency of atheist intellectuals to dismiss anyone with a theistic worldview:

Disbelief in God was cutting-edge in the 1600′s and is still cutting edge at age 15. I’m not saying you should believe in God after those two landmarks; I’ll leave that up to you. I’m just saying, it seems a bit absurd to use the question of someone’s belief or disbelief in God as one of the chef pillars of your judgment about that person’s intellectual caliber.







6 responses to “Graham Harman on Atheism”

  1. Leon Avatar

    A rather “famous” comment last year from a blog we all know and love. Just for a comparison, that’s all.

    “I believe that Whitehead is a complete non-starter so long as his account of God is not severed from his thought and his thought isn’t thoroughly severed from process theology….Any engagement of Whitehead that doesn’t sever it from his concept of God and substantially modify his ontology is, I believe, a priori to be excluded. “

  2. dmf Avatar

    folks this kind of gossip mongering, in-group building, isn’t in my experience helpful in the long run as a response to someone having said something hurtful to you. It is unfortunate that Levi cannot separate his proper desire to see writers/ideas treated with due respect for their content/intent without us adding our biases (obviously a tricky proposition but so it goes with ethical principles) from his mistaken idea that there are kinds of meta/archetypal programs at work in our psyches that have necessary consequences/outcomes so say that all religious tendencies are deep down the same (have a telos if you will) and to his mind daemonic. My question here is why do you folks believe that such deep differences in predispositions/presuppositions as you have with Levi can be overcome by debate, where do you find evidence for such powers of reasoning? from where i sit this seems like a lot of wasted resources on all sides that are badly needed for more constructive efforts in this time of planetary decline. blessed are the peace makers or so they say…

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      I do not believe that Levi and I will come to any sort of agreement on this or similar issues. I carry on commenting on some of his posts not in order to convince him of something, but in an attempt to stir up new rhetorical strategies that may lead somewhere interesting. I also am always mindful of those who read our exchanges without commenting. I’m not so sure that minds aren’t being influenced by what Levi and I are unable to come to agreement about.

      Concerning the need to respond radically to ecological catastrophe and socioeconomic injustice, Levi and I have a lot in common. We seem to differ on how to approach solutions. I’ll never be convinced that the key is widespread acceptance of something like Brassier’s enlightened nihilism. It seems like rather a lot of educated people already feel that way, and it doesn’t appear to be helping.

  3. John Anngeister Avatar

    In my opinion ‘intellectual caliber’ is more accurately exhibited by one’s ability to sort out the difference between (a) the man-made rites and teachings of religion – and (b) the reality of God and the possibilities inherent in human god-consciousness.

    Too many make the category error of equating (a) and (b) at the crucial point when they get rightly fed-up with the externals of their parents’ traditions. They should stay open to astonishment.

    I have a pet theory, unproved, that the religious backgrounds of our worst atheists are mostly Catholicism or some kind of Fundamentalism (the two groups representing unfortunately the majority of religious believers in the USA). Either that or the atheist is a product of a purely atheistic background (i.e. clueless of even rudimentary religious values).

    I’m not denying that these modern demographics pose a serious problem for the future of our current religions, but if we can attain the kind of intellectual caliber that differentiates between (a) and (b) above, I think true god-consciousness (therefore future realizations of God) is less threatened.

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar


      I think there will always be a tension between the religious authority of inherited habit and the autonomy of creative spirituality. Bergson explores this brilliantly in “Two Sources of Morality and Religion.”

      I agree that atheism is a symptom of certain kinds of theism. They are both possessed/wounded by the same archetypal complex (the Father?).

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