Atheism in Zan Buddhism

Keiji Nishitani: Religion and Nothingness
(University of California: Berkeley 1982)

All along we have been making allusions to God, despite the fact that one of the questions of our times is whether or not there is a God at all. Not that atheism did not exist in former times; but there are special qualities of contemporary atheism that make it different from what it was before. We find ourselves at a point where atheism has been elevated to the position of serving as a substitute for theistic religion; where it seeks to serve as the ultimate basis for our human existence and to assign the ultimate telos of human life; and where it has come accordingly, to offer itself as the only comprehensive, sufficient standpoint for modern man. These developments are visible in Marxism and in atheistic existentialism.

The traditional standpoint of Christianity implies an estrangement from the awakened subjectivity of modern man. Might it not be that these two mutually exclusive positions --the freedom of man carried all the way through to a subjective nothingness and a subjectivized atheism, and the religious freedom appearing in traditional Christianity--require some sort of higher synthesis in our times? Christianity cannot and must not, look on modern atheism merely as something to be eliminated. It must instead accept atheism as a mediation to a new development of Christianity itself.

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created 1jun1996, revised 20mar98     |     comments on this site? tpkunesh@atheisms.info