I wasn't aware that the two are incompatible, but to the author gives the distinct impression they are, but coherent thoughts are hard to make out from the lofty incomprehensibility of the piece.
Fortunately, it's about a topic almost everyone is already familiar with - famous atheist Philp Larkin's views on religion, atheism, and happiness. Okay, not really. I have to admit, I have never heard of this guy before, but apparently he was an acclaimed British poet.
How was his poetry?
Okaayyy...not the best I've ever heard and just a tad depressing, but I'm sure the religious views were excellent.
Religion -- "That vast moth-eaten musical brocade / Created to pretend we never die"Exactly!
And that leaves him -- and us -- with no solace or reassurance, confronting the horrifying prospect of a lonely plunge into infinite nothingness:Wait...what? Okay, maybe I'm missing the inscrutable cleverness of the article, but on the whole, it seems like nothing more than yet another foray into ye olde "atheism = meaninglessness and existential despair" meme. *sigh*
It's hard to tell what's Larkin's actual views were from what the author extrapolates from his poetry (perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly), but it definitely paints a picture of a forlorn atheism with nothing to look forward to but deathly annihilation and religion as a provider of happiness as well as "cosmological meaning and significance" and although the dogma may be false, their work is commendable because it has real and positive effects on believers' psychological states.
The preacher's love may be a charade, the loving God that appears to act through him may be a fantasy conjured out of a combination of imagination and spiritual yearning, but in that moment faith has demonstrated its unique capacity to heal the human heart.Yeah, it's so saccharine that I need to get tested for diabetes. But it also illustrates several lamentable misconceptions that theists have about atheists - that atheism is nihilistic, that atheists are tragically bereft of hope/meaning/happiness, etc. This is such well-worn territory that I won't bother with a detailed refutation - others have long since come up with some excellent responses. Suffice it to say that I find systems of worship of imagined gods and spirits to be supremely unsatisfying. Rather than comfort and meaning, they impart superstition with childish egoism and self-importance elevated to a truly cosmic scale.
Many theists take solace in religion. For them, religion is a powerful force in their lives - they're adamant that it gives their lives meaning and them a lift when they're feeling blue. That's fine. But the mistake they make is assuming that atheists lack these things by lacking religion. It's like an avid fisherman scolding passerby for not experiencing the joys of fishing and assuming that they live joyless lives because they don't share his hobby. He never stops to consider that they find joy elsewhere or that some people simply don't enjoy fishing. It's just a poor train of thought and a gross misunderstanding of people, and it's frustrating that this particular misconception comes up as commonly as it does.