To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
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17-09-2014, 01:15 PM (This post was last modified: 17-09-2014 01:36 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
um..."interesting" news story on the main page of yahoo news...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-scha...lp00000592

What's needed to save the dwindling Church is a new paradigm: the embrace of atheism as the true religion and religion as the true atheism. Like box stores, the trend in churches is a few get huge while the rest slowly fade away. Progressive Christians and fundamentalists seem to agree when they look for causes of church attendance decline. They parse the details of how church is "done" related to both theology and method. To rock out or not? To affirm a literal gospel, or not?

These questions are meaningless today. Both sides miss the point. Belief in Jesus is getting harder to "do" when deep down we all know that the Bible is fading away into pre-science irrelevance.

What matters is not method or theology. What matters is honest relationships.

To build honest relationships with people who want to meet in churches (whether in a pub over a beer or in a church building), what we need is a new level of honesty. And that honesty has to start with pastors admitting that they don't find belief any easier than anyone else these days.

The "problem" of churches closing, attendance dropping and the "none" category growing is not going to be addressed by rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic of faith.

Science is the iceberg the Church strikes again and again. Deal with it!

Science can't be addressed by opening another food pantry or thumping the Bible a little harder and screaming words like inerrancy. Science can only be addressed by all sides in the religion debate admitting that religion is a neurological disorder and that faith is the only cure.

It's not about more or less entertainment, rock bands or cool hip young leaders. This is all window dressing. So are justice issues. Churches that are really just NGOs will empty too.

What's needed is a new generation of leaders who embrace the paradox of faith while dwelling comfortably with un-faith. As I put it in WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace: "I can't objectively describe reality because I'm trapped in the moving target we call time. That's what the word 'evolution' means. The very fabric of the universe is unknowable and stranger than we can imagine and has a message for us: climb down off that high atheist, religious or agnostic pedestal!"

Until more people leading churches describe themselves honestly as atheists who also believe in God, fewer and fewer younger people will take the church leaders' faith claims seriously.

Young men and women being raised now know that the truth claims of both social/justice progressives and fundamentalists are bogus. They know this because we're entering the age of quantum uncertainty.

Until more people leading churches describe themselves honestly as atheists who also sometimes believe in God, fewer and fewer younger people will take the church leaders' faith claims seriously. Young men and women being raised now know that the truth claims of both social/justice progressives and fundamentalists are bogus. They know this because we're entering the age of quantum uncertainty.

We are in the era of the multiverse (meta-universe) a hypothetical set of infinite or finite possible universes. If we're in a multiverse reality, then our laws of physics only apply in our particular bubble, not everywhere. This is bad news for physicists, not to mention for theologians. On the other hand, if we are in a multiverse, this is bad news for rationalists too. It means that in a multiverse of infinite possibilities, anything can happen, including God manifesting itself in Christ.

The concept of other universes has been proposed to explain how our Universe appears to be fine-tuned for conscious life. If there are an infinite number of universes, each with different physical laws some of these universes would have the combination of laws that are suitable for the development of matter, stars, and planets that can exist long enough for life to emerge and evolve.

While the probability might be small that any particular universe would have our conditions for life to evolve, this does not require intelligent design as the only explanation for the conditions in the Universe that promote our existence in it.

On the other hand, while the probability might be small that any particular universe would have a virgin birth and resurrected deity, if there are an infinite number of universes some of these universes would have the combination of laws where a Jesus might walk out of a tomb.

From time to time, something like the Hillsong Church phenomenon (a Pentecostal megachurch affiliated with Australian Christian Churches, started by Brian and Bobbie Houston), will break out. This sort of success simply obscures the fact of inevitable church decline. A few more hit songs or one or more famous people (à la Scientology) classing up the joint will change nothing long term.

It's not about "answering doubt," it's about admitting that doubt and faith not only can but must coexist because it turns out anything is possible. That is the only way we can speak to the new multiverse generation.

It's about climbing down off that high atheist, religious or agnostic pedestal. That climbing down needs to happen no matter what your church calls itself. Rock sermons or another hot new leader isn't the answer, honesty is.

So here is a self-serving (yes, even writers should be able to earn a living!) but nonetheless good suggestion: Buy my book WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace, pass it to everyone who wants your church to grow rather than to disappear, and talk among yourselves.

I'm getting so many emails from young men and women who have fled the Church telling me that this is the first book that's helped them embrace faith and doubt as good things in themselves that I think the book might help to redefine what it means to be church rather than to merely go to church. Some of these young people (and a few older ones too) tell me they'd go back to church if they could ever find a place that would not judge them for embracing paradox or answering honestly "I don't know"when asked who they think Jesus is.or if God exists.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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17-09-2014, 01:26 PM
RE: To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
That was a lot of double speak and I think he would be better to use the term secularist rather than Atheist since it is way closer to how he is using the word and is not internally conflicted.

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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17-09-2014, 01:35 PM
RE: To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
(17-09-2014 01:26 PM)Revenant77x Wrote:  That was a lot of double speak and I think he would be better to use the term secularist rather than Atheist since it is way closer to how he is using the word and is not internally conflicted.

I agree, and I always shudder whenever people put the word atheist and religion, or atheism and church in the same sentence. To me, there is a distinct difference. Like that new "atheist church" that was in the news...made me gag, should have called it...I dont know..atheist fellowship center, or national atheist club, anything but atheist church.

and the part where he says buy my book, WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD, which is just a ridiculous book title. That would fall under agnostic or something, not atheist, "disbelief in god".

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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17-09-2014, 02:26 PM
RE: To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
I'm hoping to see that shift with my generation. I found some of the "I'm an atheist who sometimes believes in god" a bit strange, but I appreciate the understanding that the bible is not inerrant. I think a lot of churches ARE starting to change as their congregants realize this thanks to science education. (Might be a problem for future generations in Texas, though)

My husband is adamant that our son be brought up in church. My compromise is that he be brought up in a reconciling church with a focus on community service so he won't be exposed to the hate speech espoused by a lot of the churches I was forced to attend as a child.

My FIL is a United Methodist pastor with a reconciling congregation - not only does he have LGBT members, but several atheist ones as well. I'm not yet ready to come out to my family, but I think he will take it better than most of my family. The first time I visited his church, it was "Coming Out Sunday." Other than the woo, it was a really enjoyable, positive experience. I would probably enjoy a secular fellowship, but who wants to get out of bed early on their off day? I always hated the obligation of church.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I visited a reconciling church in Nashville with my family and in-laws. I found it hard to stay quiet during the sermon, it was obvious the pastor had trouble reconciling "God's plan and goodness" with the death of her daughter. This particular church is located a few blocks away from the headquarters for the United Methodist General Board, so it is frequented by many visiting leaders. It adopted the stance back in the 1980s that it would not perform any marriages until the UMC approved marriages for ALL couples, I thought that was interesting.


I see this article as someone who sees the social benefit of attending church... Or maybe who wants churches to stick around for the financial benefit? He does keep going back to "buy my book". It bothers me that he doesn't understand the term atheist. An atheist doesn't "sometimes believe in god." Sounds like a Christian grasping at straws to save his faith and church.

"If there's a single thing that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so." - Lev Grossman
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17-09-2014, 02:35 PM
RE: To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
(17-09-2014 02:26 PM)Nurse Wrote:  I'm hoping to see that shift with my generation. I found some of the "I'm an atheist who sometimes believes in god" a bit strange, but I appreciate the understanding that the bible is not inerrant. I think a lot of churches ARE starting to change as their congregants realize this thanks to science education. (Might be a problem for future generations in Texas, though)

My husband is adamant that our son be brought up in church. My compromise is that he be brought up in a reconciling church with a focus on community service so he won't be exposed to the hate speech espoused by a lot of the churches I was forced to attend as a child.

My FIL is a United Methodist pastor with a reconciling congregation - not only does he have LGBT members, but several atheist ones as well. I'm not yet ready to come out to my family, but I think he will take it better than most of my family. The first time I visited his church, it was "Coming Out Sunday." Other than the woo, it was a really enjoyable, positive experience. I would probably enjoy a secular fellowship, but who wants to get out of bed early on their off day? I always hated the obligation of church.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I visited a reconciling church in Nashville with my family and in-laws. I found it hard to stay quiet during the sermon, it was obvious the pastor had trouble reconciling "God's plan and goodness" with the death of her daughter. This particular church is located a few blocks away from the headquarters for the United Methodist General Board, so it is frequented by many visiting leaders. It adopted the stance back in the 1980s that it would not perform any marriages until the UMC approved marriages for ALL couples, I thought that was interesting.


I see this article as someone who sees the social benefit of attending church... Or maybe who wants churches to stick around for the financial benefit? He does keep going back to "buy my book". It bothers me that he doesn't understand the term atheist. An atheist doesn't "sometimes believe in god." Sounds like a Christian grasping at straws to save his faith and church.

I really pity Christians who have to reconcile a benevolent and omnipotent god with real life - I personally think that the more pastors like your FIL come to light, atheists will be at least more socially accepted which will be a pretty big step. Religion is a business - especially in the US - and will to some degree have tor change and adapt in order to survive - as it has done over previous centuries...


"Name me a moral statement made or moral action performed that could not have been made or done, by a non-believer..." - Christopher Hitchens



My youtube musings: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfFoxbz...UVi1pf4B5g
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22-09-2014, 06:57 PM
RE: To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
Its quite encouraging in the UK to see that the majority of the people going into church on a Sunday have white hair and walk with a stick... Not many young'uns going.

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22-09-2014, 07:03 PM
RE: To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
I couldn't get through the whole thing. I got up to the part where he said he is an atheist who believes in god and just had to stop reading for fear of losing brain cells.

It really is Double Think. It really is.


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22-09-2014, 11:36 PM
RE: To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
(22-09-2014 07:03 PM)Shadow Fox Wrote:  I couldn't get through the whole thing. I got up to the part where he said he is an atheist who believes in god and just had to stop reading for fear of losing brain cells.

It really is Double Think. It really is.

He's got both hemispheres turned up to 11 I think...

Some serious multitasking going on there.

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01-11-2014, 12:15 AM (This post was last modified: 01-11-2014 12:37 AM by Reality-Seeker.)
RE: To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
I am a "Realist" non-thiest practicing with the Church of Reality. As a recovering Catholic i once held the belief in a "god" even while losing my religion. I feel that within the past year i have turned the corner on this, and am 100% non thiest . I want to invite and would appreciate any feedback and challenges to my new found Religion. I find it nearly a perfect fit for myself, but that fact alone makes me skeptical . I wonder if i am missing any flaws in this religion. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask or PM me.
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01-11-2014, 01:27 PM
RE: To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion
(01-11-2014 12:15 AM)Reality-Seeker Wrote:  I am a "Realist" non-thiest practicing with the Church of Reality. As a recovering Catholic i once held the belief in a "god" even while losing my religion. I feel that within the past year i have turned the corner on this, and am 100% non thiest . I want to invite and would appreciate any feedback and challenges to my new found Religion. I find it nearly a perfect fit for myself, but that fact alone makes me skeptical . I wonder if i am missing any flaws in this religion. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask or PM me.

What religion?Consider

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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