Self-appointed spokespeople for atheism, from Richard Dawkins downward, are woefully ignorant of the wealth of theology handed down to us by centuries' worth of religious scholars. How can they claim to be qualified to discuss God at all, without looking like fools to all educated theologians?
Atheist Answer: 

Short answer: those parts of theology that are not irrelevant are ineffective.

The bulk of theology is concerned not with the existence of gods, but with the nature of particular gods, usually the God of Abraham. (That's one way to denote the deity worshipped by Jews, Christians and Muslims.) It works on the accepted premise of His existence most of the time, so that it can attempt to discern His wishes and therefore inform human behaviour.

If the existence of the god is the point in question, the premise is unsettled and any conclusions from this kind of inquiry are moot. Thus the vast majority of theology is useless to atheists and agnostics, as long as they maintain those positions.

The remaining theology which does attempt to establish the existence of the relevant god(s) is in a category known as philosophy of religion. This is the stuff which might be useful in a discussion between a believer and a non-believer. That's why every major argument this field has ever produced has already been thrown at atheists in the course of discussions and debates over the last few years.

Atheists cannot ignore philosophy of religion, because it's shoved in our faces at every opportunity. It's the source of such brain-twisters as the transcendental argument, the appeals to fear like Pascal's Wager and the it-must-have-happened interpretations of Resurrection accounts. This is theology's moment to shine, and all the big guns have come out.

So how's it doing? Not great. I'm happy to assert without posting statistics that atheism is increasingly common, especially among young people. Attendance at religious services is falling, and those churches which are growing are more often than not cannibalising the congregations of other churches. The big guns of atheism, Dawkins, Dennett et al, are not given a moment's pause by the apologetic hurled at them, and they can say exactly why in each case.

There are many religious folks who think, "If only they would read this particular book about God, they'd change their minds." If they haven't read the book, some eager evangelist has probably paraphrased it for them, and had a reply shot back.

The apparent reality is that theology-based apologetics have been completely exhausted, and have not found their target. The reassuring idea that atheists are only atheists because of their own ignorance disintegrates when you consider the constant, all-guns-blazing proselytism forcibly educating them from all sides.

If theology has something new to say that might actually affect this ongoing debate, it's not just sitting in the open and being ignored. It needs to be unearthed and brought to bear. Now.

- SmartLX


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Religious Frustration

The thing that is so frustrating to me when questioning people of Christian faith is that when asked why would God not reveal himself to everyone (in an obvious, real-time way) and not just by an ancient book, they say its because he wants us to come to Him by faith.

Hmmm, well what if one develops faith in the wrong God? (Which according to them [Christians], many have). It seems very odd to me that God would leave it at that and then punish people for inadvertently seeking the wrong God.

They also say he created us for relationship. It would seem he would like more overt interaction. I have known people who were certain God was speaking to them (about the sex and name of the child they were having, about whether not a family would survive a particular disease ...) and these people were wrong. I knew them through a medical office I worked in, so I did not know them well enough to ask them such a personal question as to how this affected their faith, but I sure did wonder.

It's awfully easy to think some of the chatter in one's head is coming from someone else (God, maybe?). It just doesn't seem like a God would leave things so ambiguous, especially if it could help lead to our eternal damnation.

Theology is fifth-rate fan

Theology is fifth-rate fan fiction.


Cute. Cute bit.

Great way of looking at it, but maybe you are selling it a little short. I mean, have you read much fan-fiction?

** Batman is better fiction than Torah/NT/Koran . . .

A mishmash of middle eastern magical texts makes spurious claims of being god-given. Their nihilistic dualism and androcentric understanding of human nature are too damaging to contribute to a humane planet-wide ethos.

Neither physical nature nor human nature *say* anything about a superordinate, supernatural realm populated by creators or law givers. Nature is silent. There is no concept of truth in nature. (Indeed, there are no concepts whatsoever in nature.) Nature *knows* nothing.

Nature is neither meaningful nor meaningless. Neither a source of comfort (natural theology) nor a source of despair (existentialism). Both are rooted in the same mistaken presupposition that supernatural *meaning* can be found by searching the heavens for gods or quarrying human inwardness for moral laws.

Instead, religions belong to cultures embedded in nature. And *cultures* are our distinctive human-all-too-human handiwork. Religions are obsolete, unnecessary cultural artifacts.

Any specific religion reenacts and institutionalizes a cultic myth. It gets spread through custom and imitation, financially supported by mores and law, and enforced by intimidation and violence.

Xian mythology, like related big-4 monotheisms zoroastrianism, post-exilic judaism, and islam, posits a moralized universal order which never did exist. No more can be found in their dreamwork than the ancestors put into it.

Some of that *meaning* derives ultimately from Sargon I’s imperial propaganda when more than 4,000 years ago he violently yoked together disparate city-state cultures (Sumer and Akkad) in what is now Iraq.

In a low relief sculpture Sargon appears as a god receiving a legal and moral code directly from a greater god enthroned above him. (A myth of divine origin of morality turns out to be ancient political “spin.” Still works today, doesn’t it?)

Adjust your understanding, adjust your expectations, and you will have a right relationship with the only total reality there is, nature.