By Michael Lackey
This learn of atheist African American writers poses a noticeable problem to people who see atheism in despairing and nihilistic phrases. Lackey argues that whereas so much 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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Additional info for African American Atheists and Political Liberation: A Study of the Sociocultural Dynamics of Faith
God has told the white theist that the black race is inferior to the white. This assertion functions on both the conscious and subconscious levels. On the conscious level, the proposition is clear: whites are superior to blacks because God says so. This is an overt claim that all people can understand. On the subconscious level, whites, who possess a spiritual faculty of perception, can communicate with God, so they can determine (hence their intellectual agency) what God’s will is. As beings in communication with God, white folk are definers, not the defined.
Significantly, these debates about humanism were in full force, specifically in relation to existentialism, precisely when Richard Wright was composing his novel The Outsider, which he started in 1946 or 1947. Steeped in The Humanist/Atheist Controversy in Richard Wright’s The Outsider / 43 the writings of Edmund Husserl (Heidegger’s Doktorvater) and Heidegger, in close contact with Sartre and his companion, Simone de Beauvoir, and much impressed with Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger (which could also be translated from the French as The Outsider), Wright made his contribution to the ongoing debate about humanism through his fiction, though he did so from his distinctive subject position as an African American atheist.
It might seem that all people are composed of matter and spirit, which would imply that all “people” would have the inborn potential to know a spiritual reality. But actually Paul indicates that some people are composed merely of earth (natural man), while others are composed of spirit and earth (spiritual man): “Earthly men are like the man of earth, heavenly men are like the man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:48). From this perspective, those who know a spiritual reality like God would be considered fully human, while those who do not 28 / African American Atheists and Political Liberation would not be considered fully human.
African American Atheists and Political Liberation: A Study of the Sociocultural Dynamics of Faith by Michael Lackey