A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I have a tendency to get read certain themed blogs. Sometimes they are evangelical sites, sometimes they are republican sites, democrat sites, pagan sites, and recently it's been atheist sites. The last one has interested me in how Christianity is covered and for what reasons does one identify as an atheist.

A major issue raised is opposition to the religious right. Christianity is seen as the enemy of gays, separation of church and state, and evolution. Liberal expressions of faith are non existant on these sites so the whole religion is opposed based on the agenda of the right. How do those of us who are Christian and oppose such an agenda fit?

Another issue is opposition to fundamentalism. So you find posts on bible problems and contradictions, the problems with dogma and intolerance, blind forms of faith that are disconnected from the experiencable world. Important concerns but it's not likely to engage liberal religious folks.

The case for atheism can't soley revolve around the rejection of fundamentalism, in that it doesn't address the rest of Christianity, including it's more liberal forms. It also doesn't address other world religions. Now some sites may address this in their rejection of supernatural entities.

But I've never seen such sites deal with panentheism, ie all is in God. Or the proposal by Shailer Matthews who writes of God as those personality producing and personally responsive elements in our environment. The kinds of theism which look to transformative processes in this life and world cannot be easily relegated to the "supernatural"

Such a natural account is a revision of theism and this is taken by some to be an illegitimate move. But such moves have marked the life of the idea of God throughout its history. One can hardly imagine that the God of Jacob, Aquinas, Spinoza, Tillich are the same or should be. It's a dynamic idea that shifts with our understandings.

If it didn't shift, then our understanding of God is an idolatry, assuming for ourself powers that the mind simply does not have. A healthy level of fallibilism is required for religion. I'm not sure why I bring this up. I do think its important for atheists and religious liberals to work together on the basis of shared values.

And I agree with Martin Marty, that an atheism which is able to fully challenge religious thought in *all* forms, keeps or can keep religion accountable. I don't want to see atheist thought simply relegated to fighting 19th century battles or the religious right. The insights of such a movement ought to address a wider range of ideas and issues.

I'm an outsider commenting on a varied set of beliefs more than a "movement", but I'm doing it as a sympathetic outsider who believes that the current direction of our country is alarming. And that all the resources of ideas, groups, etc are needed if we are going to change this situation around. I'd like to believe that there are resources within Christianity and within atheism to do just that.

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