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Translated by B.Z. Bokser from the Hebrew essay "The Pangs of Cleansing" by R. Abraham Isaac Kook (early 1900's)
The tendency of unrefined people to see the divine essence as embodied only in words and in letters(scripture) is a source of embarrassment to humanity, and atheism arises as a pained outcry to liberate man from this narrow and alien pit, to raise him from the darkness of focusing on letters and expressions, to the light of thought and feeling, finally to place his primary focus on the realm of morals... in the ruins wrought by atheism will the higher knowledge of God erect her Temple. In place of the presumptuous and vain preoccupation with divine essence the human heart will be oriented to concern itself with pure morality and the heroism for higher things...Whoever recognizes the essence of atheism from this perspective embraces the positive element in it and traces it back to its origins in holiness. ( please forgive any clumsy paraphrasing) Paulist Press 1978