Here’s a surprising comment I discovered in a magazine, recently. “Research across industries shows that while there’s a modest correlation between grades and job performance the first year out of college, after a few years, the difference is ‘trivial’” (“Straight A’s won’t matter in real life,” by Adam Grant, excerpted from New York Times in The Week, Dec. 21-18, 2018, pg. 12.) Scholars who work at their grades fail to develop people skills the article explains. In the long run, it concludes, success isn’t measured by knowing the answer to a question but knowing the right problems to solve. Creativity arises from emotional and political intelligence, not from sitting for long hours hunched over a book.
People need people. I can’t argue with that. But I wouldn’t go as far as Andrew Sullivan. NY Magazine.com. He believes everyone needs religion and even atheists have one. By religion, I mean something quite specific: a practice not a theory; a way of life that gives meaning, a meaning that cannot really be defended without recourse to some transcendent value, undying “Truth” or God (or gods).
I congratulate Sullivan for thinking creatively. Obviously he attended a lot of frat parties in his day. But what twaddle!
His first error is to equate values with faith. Values do attend to religion but not exclusively. More likely they come from society. I refrain from punching Sullivan in the nose for attempting to define me, not because of transcendental values, but because it’s against the law and I might go to jail. Or, he might hit me back.
His second error is to define religion too broadly. It admits everything, so it defines nothing. It’s like saying “X equals the world.” Well and good. Now, what do we know about the world?
Trust me, Andrew Sullivan. I neither have nor believe in transcendental values, those ideals that float about in the ether like Socrates’ notion of beauty. Descartes got it right. I think therefore I am an atheist.