By Michael Lackey
This examine of atheist African American writers poses a important problem to those that see atheism in despairing and nihilistic phrases. Lackey argues that whereas such a lot white atheists mourn the lack of religion, many black atheists--believing the “God-concept” spawns racism and oppression--consider the dying of God a reason for private and political hope.
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Extra info for African American Atheists and Political Liberation: A Study of the Sociocultural Dynamics of Faith
While Lamont bases his humanism on a rigorous understanding of human nature, Sartre rejects the concept of human nature as a fiction that became obsolete after God’s death: “Thus, there is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it” (36). Responding in large measure to Sartre’s humanism, Martin Heidegger published his groundbreaking “Letter on Humanism,” an essay that blatantly opposes humanism because “the highest determinations of the essence of man in humanism still do not realize the proper dignity of man” (210).
Those in power actively construct and define the political (they know Truth and therefore behave like true humans by defining the world), and while they may accord culturally designated inferiors human or equal rights, they have still not allowed the marginalized figures to participate in the construction and definition of the political. At the core of the recursive loop is an irreconcilable dilemma: the white believer defining (the definition would be articulated on a conscious level) the black infidel as fully human confirms (on a subconscious level, since the white believer assumes that he or she is authorized to be the definer) for the white person that the black person is not fully human.
At the level of the subconscious, the theological model is the same from one place to the next, but at the conscious level, the formulation will vary from one place to the next. For Fanon and Redding, it is when the God concept functions at the level of the subconscious that it is most destructive for culturally designated inferiors. As politically disempowered figures, people of African descent feel that they cannot contribute to the construction of the body politic. Here’s how the system works.