God = Good
Understanding of this equivalence in my early childhood is what makes me what I am today which is a great admirer of Christian ethics an quite enough of an Episcopalian to pass, but not interested in being either evangelistic nor passive to atheists.
So the question was asked can atheists and theists find something to agree on. It's actually very simple; they merely need to agree that God = Good. Now comes the question of ego, which is whether any atheist or devotee can assert with certainty that they know everything any human needs to know about Good God. The failures of atheism and faith come from misapplication which is a function of arrogance. It's something atheists ought to know considering the scientistic awe at the greatness of the Universe.
I find it interesting considering this proposition of equivalence that with respect to arrogance and overproduction that two books come to mind. The first is that by Hitchens: God is Not Great. The second is the famous business book Good to Great. In the stretch between saying that God is Good to God is Great is perhaps that fudging of the supernatural that Spinoza weighed against. Does God have to be Great, or is Good enough? Why, in fact, does God have to be so incredibly transcendent? Is not the proposed greatness of God merely the whip across our backs to get our donkey attention? Perhaps so. The summation of Good is so far and away from us. It ought to be enough for eternal inspiration in our present. But somehow we are not satisfied with that. God must be great, man must strive to understand transcendental greatness. Great becomes unimaginable, which is just enough to twist all the rest of the rules.
I invert something in this passage I read this week.
One of the books I am currently re-reading is C.S. Lewis' THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS. For those that haven't read this classic, it is a collection of letters from a senior and experienced satanic demon, Screwtape, to a junior and struggling satanic demon, Wormwood, on how best to snare and keep ensnared the souls of men; how to hold them in thrall until such souls can be harvested into Hell for all eternity.
As I was escaping from the unremitting BS flow that oozes out of the government when it comes to BS budgets yesterday, I found myself reading this passage from Chapter XV of The Screwtape Letters:
We sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make [humans] live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men's affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.
All afterlife is the Future. And while I don't quite understand the author's use of 'eternity', we can surely see how the overly pious wring their hands in anticipation of a Judgment by a Great God at some point in the Future. A bit of passive aggressiveness I think.
A Good God, the summation of Good, the concept and the entity only need to be that. Our duty, whether deist or atheist is to approach that good, remembering Cobb's Rule #11: Perfect is the enemy of Good.