25 April 2007

It's Not Gods They Don't Believe In

This thread at Bryan Appleyard's blog proves, once again, that atheism is a Christian heresy.

10 comments:

Peter Burnet said...

I have a vague notion of what you might mean, but can you flesh this out a bit, o' coy one.

Mike Beversluis said...

It's this comment, no?

"i'm no intellectual or anything, but it seems to me some of you are absolutely identifying 'religion' with the worst aspects of Christianity."

Duck said...

Yes, it is gods we don't believe in.

Peter Burnet said...

Going to keep us guessing, are you? So much for all that stuff about Light to the Nations. More like a ten-watt bulb.

All right, I'll play. I don't know about a full-blown heresy, but it seems evident that all the science vs faith, Creation vs Darwinism, rationalism vs revelation arguments going back hundreds of years have been perceived by many Christians as existentially threatening in a way they haven't to Jews and Muslims, who have grappled with these issues rather successfully since the Middle Ages. I'm not sure why this is so. At times, I think it may be because Christianity has concretized faith too much, but that really doesn't apply to Protestants, who often have the biggest hang-ups. It could be the lack of a grounding theology, but that clearly doesn't describe Catholics. Political supremacy? That could explain Europe, but hardly America. Or perhaps it is simply that Christianity focuses too much on what you believe as opposed to how.

I have no (well, little) trouble reconciling the conflicts, but I nonetheless feel the tension. For example, I tend to see belief as very much an adult affair--an end to be worked towards or rather drawn towards-- and I am at sea about what we are supposed to tell the kids. Should we cross-examine them after every science class? Anybody got a good book for first graders on the anthropic principle?

Christianity has its strengths and glories, but I've long felt Judaism is much better grounded in human nature and human psychology. That combination of scholarly rabbis and terrorizing mothers must keep you on your toes. I know little about Islam, but despite the madness they are going through now, I've never heard they have much problem with biology and they are not lacking a scientific tradition.

Anyway, it would be great to pursue this idea further. In fact, I suspect it could well be the key to saving the West and civilization as we know it. But that's ok, David, we know you are busy.

David said...

Peter: There's only one source of Christian heresies: the nature of Christ.

Oroborous said...

While it's true that Islam has a scientific tradition, they very long ago passed that torch to the West, and never bothered to light another. (Kinda like Poland's tradition of science).

That's a large reason why I believe that it's very likely that the religion of Islam will fall with the Arab nations that overshelter it, when their sole source of sustenance runs dry in the first half of this century.

If they had a robust and ongoing paradigm of problem-solving and new discovery, as does the nation of Israel, then I'd give them as much chance of making it as I do the U.S.

But they don't.

Duck said...

Peter,
That's a good summary. I'd say that the problem for Protestantism is its' focus on the Word. Giving up on institutional authority, it has become exclusively text bound. Catholic theologians may or may not have debated how many angels can dance on a pin, but even that pales in comparison to some of the tortured theological analyses that Protestant theologians have engaged in and still to this day do. As I remarked in my post Quantum Theology, such a devotion to scripural parsing produces endless dimensions of disagreement. Like credobaptism vs paedobaptism. Or cessationalism vs charismata. Or synergism vs monergism.

You are right, Protestantism is unmoored from human nature and psychology. It is a faith in creeds. The only saving grace for Protestants is orthodoxy, or the right creed. To see the absurd extent to which this faith in creeds takes some Protestants, read this post from Tim Challies:

The question was simply this: is error in doctrine always sin? It is obvious that a person who preaches that Jesus Christ was something other than divine is teaching a terrible and divisive heresy and that this error is sinful. A person who teaches that homosexuality is a legitimate lifestyle that the Bible does not condemn is likewise teaching grievous error and error that can be easily proven from the Bible. But what happens when the error deals with issues of lesser consequence? What happens when one teacher preaches a sermon defending credobaptism while another preaches a sermon defending paedobaptism? Obviously one of the two men must be wrong. But is one of them being sinful in teaching what is wrong? I think also of an issue like eschatology where two very fine and godly men may have completely different understandings of the end times. When they teach their differing conclusions, is one of them being sinful?

It's an overly intellectualized, sterile spirituality.

Duck said...

David,
If my only heresy was to say that Jesus is not the son of God, then I'd be a Jew, not an atheist.

Peter Burnet said...

You are right, Protestantism is unmoored from human nature and psychology. It is a faith in creeds. The only saving grace for Protestants is orthodoxy, or the right creed. To see the absurd extent to...

Not like that One True Church, eh? Duck, you remind me of a story I once heard about meetings of the OAU (Organization for African Unity)in the seventies. The delegates would spend their days dutifully passing unanamous resolutions condemning imperialism and colonialism and demanding all manner of political compensations for the horrible injuries it caused them all. Then in the evening they would all go to the bar and get into agitated and angry arguments over why their particular colonial legacies were much superior to everybody elses.

Duck said...

Some colonial legacies were better than others. But I'm not saying Cathololicism is/was better than Protestantism, just that they each have unique problems.