Friday Roundup

Although funny and talented, Ricky Gervais should really stay away from such poorly formed arguments for atheism/agnosticism.

From strangers to the dominant narrative of western civilization…

This looks like a good book that argues for a “literary” Adam rather than a “historical” Adam.

Trump is partially the result of bad theology helping people to believe even worse and more ridiculous theology–theology that is truly harmful and mean.

Nothing like trying to break an enigma

Wise words regarding resisting Trump and his politics of “despair”.

Trump is actually deeply religious

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7 Responses to Friday Roundup

  1. Burk says:

    Hi, Darrell-

    I wonder what you would regard as a well-formed argument for atheism. … just kidding!

    I enjoyed and appreciated your last link on Trump’s religion. It seems to be, beyond pathological narcissism, half-baked fascio-patriotism, which is sort of another version of the first one, really. A comment on all religions, to my mind, really, since they all make the believer cosmically important.

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    • Burk,

      I actually do think there are good arguments for atheism (but I get your point) or at least arguments that in the making at least show they understand what Christian’s actually believe. In my last Friday Roundup, I in fact linked to such an argument.

      Yes, Stanley Hauerwas is one of my favorite theologians. It is a common and dangerous impulse present in all ideologies (including atheism) and religions “if” they see the State, or Nation, or ethnic identity as the transcendent source of salvation and worship. Christianity doesn’t make the believer cosmically important, but rather makes God cosmically important and reserves worship for that being alone. Every religion and ideology should be aware of and guard against following any impulse that puts us above God or our neighbor.

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  2. Burk says:

    Hi, Darrell- That is a little funny, that you would judge the atheist argument on the basis of how well they understand you, and Christian belief in general. Because that is not the only religion out there, and if such depth were required for each one, we would have an awful lot of ground to cover. No, there are deep similarities among religions (and religion-like ideologies, as you note) that allows a general analysis. One of these is that they are characterized by a presumption of correctness for their unusual and often bizarre doctrines (which gives them meaning, cosmic or otherwise, and durability) that is simply not credible, taken in bulk and taken from an even slightly skeptical perspective.

    Then one retreats to the *same god, different paths” philosophy, which moots any need for the detail you cite above, and is an admission that they are not really that important, and perhaps not even significant. At which point we need to consider the whole god concept in its most general form, which is what I usually focus on. If you would like a challenging read, I am enjoying (preaching to the choir, I know!) Robert Price’s The Reason-Driven life, which is an atheist’s answer to Rick Warren. He knows his scripture, at any rate.

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    • Burk,

      “…that you would judge the atheist argument on the basis of how well they understand you, and Christian belief in general. Because that is not the only religion out there…”

      Such is irrelevant to atheists engaging me however, since I am a Christian. If they don’t understand Christian belief, they really don’t have any business trying to seriously critique it regardless of whatever other religions they may want to address.

      Also, one more further note about the impulse you noted toward “fascio-patriotism”. It might be ideologies or belief systems such as atheism or ideologies of soil and ethnicity that have been more prone in modern times to making the state or the collective the path of “salvation” or point of worship. With no transcendent source of belief, with everything horizontal, there are only groups of people, collectives, brought together either by geography/ethnicity or shared ideology, which is indeed prone to fascist-communist/patriotism. When the vertical disappears, when there is no transcendence, salvation and worship are directed towards states and collectives.

      Obviously, religions can also do this and have (like some are doing right now with Trump), but as Hauerwas notes, for Christians this is called idolatry. For Christians, built into the very fabric of its teaching and sensibility, is the idea that no allegiance to soil, ethnicity, or any type of nationalism/state/government can outweigh or supersede one’s allegiance to God. Such is why so many governments and states, going all the way back to Rome, have look suspiciously upon Christians as they doubt their loyalty and wonder if they are completely on board with whatever the national program might be at any given time.

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  3. Burk says:

    Hi, Darrell-

    I might ask, though, whether you make that move, to defend theism in general and the god concept in general. Which would be shared by other religions such as Islam. Or do you believe all other religions are false in their entirety, worshipping false gods, not even the right god? That would inform the sort of well-formed argument that would be appropriate.

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    • Burk,

      “I might ask, though, whether you make that move, to defend theism in general and the god concept in general. Which would be shared by other religions such as Islam. Or do you believe all other religions are false in their entirety, worshipping false gods, not even the right god? That would inform the sort of well-formed argument that would be appropriate.”

      I do not know enough about other religions and how they speak about their god(s) existence to comment in a serious way. I do remember Hart addressing this in his book (God, Being, and Consciousness) and I can try and look for that.

      My point however was that if someone is going to address the Christian conception and understanding (by its best thinkers) of God’s existence, then he should at least understand what they are communicating, regardless of any other religious group’s understanding, or whether or not he agrees God even exists. For instance, I don’t have to agree with Mormons to at least understand what they mean by “God” “Jesus” and the Trinity. But atheists fail to do this regarding what Christians mean, all the time.

      For example, when an atheist tells us he doesn’t believe in God because there is no evidence, he almost always means empirical-scientific evidence. And what that means is he thinks this God they speak of us is an object or force existing in the universe like other objects and forces, perhaps simply more powerful or something like that. Thus, this goes nowhere because they do not even understand the Christian conception, as I’ve noted over and over and given reference to.

      This is why there is rarely a true conversation going on, but people simply talking past each other.

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