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Christianity 2.0: Secular Christianity

I remember, years ago, being startled by the idea that “Jewish” could be an ambiguous term. It might mean an ethnic identity, or a cultural one, or a religious one. In other words, someone could be a Jewish atheist, identifying with Judaism culturally but not religiously. Indeed, Israeli Jews are predominantly secular.

Christian belief within America has changed continuously, going through Great Awakenings and spawning new flavors of Christianity such as Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Seventh-Day Adventist church, and the Christian Science church. At the turn of the early twentieth century, during the Golden Age of Freethought and decades after Darwin’s The Origin of Species, observers saw Christianity on the wane. But Christianity rebounded, with Pentecostal and other new charismatic churches. Today, Christianity continues to change, lately becoming more polarized within America while Europe becomes more secular.

Since Christianity will continue to evolve, might it follow the example of Judaism, creating secular Christianity as a viable position?

Consider what this might be like. A secular Christian—I could be a candidate, for example—might go to church for the beautiful or traditional or inspiring music. The church building might be a draw, whether it were awe-inspiring or quaint. Sermons about finding the right path or avoiding the shallow temptations in life or even Bible stories might be edifying. Services could mark the important events in life such as births, marriages, and deaths. Whether the secular Christian went weekly or only a few times a year, the community of good people, eager to help others, would be welcoming. It might give focus to good works, providing opportunities for volunteering and direction for charitable giving.

But—and here’s the interesting bit—secular Christians would reject the supernatural origin of Christianity, would be open about their atheism, and would be accepted within the church community. The Christian church has millions of members who are secular Christians except for the last part. They’ve lost their faith in the supernatural claims, they’ve admitted this to themselves, but they can’t come out to their church community. The concept of a secular Christian would allow these people to keep their community, charitable, and even family connections.

The Christian church isn’t pleased with these ex-Christians simply leaving the church, and this broadening of the church community, as is done in many Jewish communities, could provide a soft landing for many mainstream churches hurting for members. Conservatives will insist that a no-compromise position be taken, but the church is determined to evolve, and this direction seems to be a win-win.

Of course, keeping the good parts of Christianity and discarding the supernatural beliefs wouldn’t solve all the world’s problems. There would still be human folly. But perhaps there would be just a little bit less.

Even if atheists removed all religion from our planet,
it would still not mean that people are engaged
in more fact-based thinking than before.
I would argue that religion is a symptom of belief-based thinking,
but there is all sorts of New Age and superstitious thinking
that is just as damaging.
— Tyson Gill

(This is a modification of a post that was originally published 9/14/11.)

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Phil

    I would argue that many (most?) Unitarian Universalist Churches pretty much fit this description.

    • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

      There is a whole Progressive Christianity channel on Patheos. I think you have described them well. Lots of churches have lots of these. I know many call themselves Catholic. They are sometimes called functional atheists. That is they go to church but make the rest of their life choices like they are atheist.

      • Bloke

        “But—and here’s the interesting bit—secular Christians would reject the supernatural origin of Christianity, would be open about their atheism,”

        OK.. find ONE of the people on the Progressive Christianity channel who that describes. Just one.. I’ll bet you can’t.

        • Jason

          James McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix) is a great example on Patheos of a progressive Christian. I can’t speak to all of his beliefs, but he has a recent post about what it really means to call the Bible inspired. His explanation is certainly not supernatural. It’s human. Everything else I have read suggests he has no superstitions at all. Are you really this doubtful?

          This is one reason why it’s important for Atheists not to slam Christians in general. There are many Christians who have already secularized but connect with their church tradition in various ways. Our best hope in America for social progress is not the growth of Atheism but the growth of progressive Christianity and other progressive religions along with other developments like Atheism. Many people see a need for religious community without dogmatic and superstitious belief. The reformed Episcopal church also contains many secular Christians. Many reformed Jews (even in a religious sense) are humanists/Atheists

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I have read very little of James McGrath, but it sounds like he might fit into the John Shelby Spong or Karen Armstrong mold. I hear them speak and explain everything with natural causes (humans, etc.). I think, “Whoa–a fellow atheist! Group hug!” And yet they conclude by stating that they’re still Christians.

          I’m happy to be shown to be wrong here. Aside from the previously mentioned UU church, I’ve not seen openly nonbelieving “Christians” accepted, except in unique situations.

          But, again, show me where I’ve missed this and I’ll thank you for it.

        • Jason

          Bob,
          I’m not sure what you’re unconvinced by. Didn’t you describe what you considered a humanistic form of Christianity in your original post? Well, even if they are humanistic Christians, wouldn’t they still call themselves Christians? If they use natural causes, what is it that disqualifies them from Christianity 2.0?

          I think many progressive Christians see the death of Jesus as a metaphor for self-sacrifice and the “goodnews” of the coming of the Kingdom as a calling to social justice. Marcus Borg is another writer I would put in your list. He and Shelby Spong had a big influence on me as a kid when I started questioning things in my fundamentalist upbringing. I think many of these types of Christians would take an agnostic stance on certain issues, and they’re not necessarily Atheists in the sense that they would deny any belief in God. But I think many of them would deny any traditional belief an interventionalist personal God. I know the Atheist movement is focused mostly on debunking God, but I actually think that other issues of biblical authority, revelation, miracles, etc are much more dangerous. In his book, The Evolution of God, Robert Wright (an agnostic) has an appendix in which he tries to show that a tentative (and progressive) belief in God is not totally unreasonable. This doesn’t mean one can prove God but that certain people might find a God perspective helpful and satisfying. It’s simply a way of talking about meaning and experience in the universe. I think this is something along the lines of the direction many progressive Christians are going. Is it possible to have an interblog discussion with a progressive Christian group? It would be interesting to see where there is overlap and where there is still conflict.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Jason:

          If they use natural causes, what is it that disqualifies them from Christianity 2.0?

          Nothing. But that’s not what I see with Spong or Armstrong. As far as I can tell, they still accept some element of the supernatural. And even if they were on board, they are the anomaly. I’m not asking for a handful of 2.0 Christians; I’m asking that this become widely acceptable so that there were millions in the US.

          I heard, for example, that in a recent survey, 51% of French people declare themselves to be Catholic. But further questions reveal that half of those don’t believe in God! Now that’s Christianity 2.0!

        • Jason

          I see now that what you mean by Christianity 2.0 are cultural Christians who would have no belief in any kind of God whatsoever. I was talking more about progressive people who engage the world in humanistic terms even though they might profess some kind of non-traditional, non-fundamentalist belief in a god. One of my personal criticisms of the Atheist movement is that it gets too hung up on these kinds of things and thus fails to recognize the value of giving credit to progressive Christians who are basically humanists but embrace some kind of God concept that you don’t agree with. Let’s remember that even Aristotle believed in God, but he was also the father of empirical science and rejected all the metaphysical ideas of Plato.

          With all do respect, may I turn the tables on you? You claim to be a fan of the Chinese text the Tao te Ching. Now, I am also a fan and think there is great insight in that classical text, but I don’t say that I “believe” in the Tao in any religious sense and I’m sure that you don’t either (ie. it’s not some metaphysical entity). But let’s say that I told you that I find great insight in this abstract concept the Tao and in some careful and nuanced sense say that I “believe” in it (meaning I find it a helpful way to think about my life and reflect on meaning in the world). Would you condemn me saying that I must not be as secular as you are? Would you claim that my “belief” in the Tao makes me superstitious even though I otherwise live my life based on humanistic and secular values?

          And by the way, saying that there aren’t many Christians who fit your secular description is not a legitimate argument against them. You have certainly dismissed weaker arguments by theists.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Jason:

          Would you condemn me saying that I must not be as secular as you are?

          We’re talking about different things. I’m simply speculating about the idea of secular Christians.

  • ZenDruid

    On behalf of secular Christianity, I would advocate discarding the bible and picking up the gospel of Thomas. It is much more directly attuned to human experience and doesn’t pay lip service to any priest. In a Confucian style, Jesus stresses some elementary virtues….

    42. Jesus said, “Be passersby.” This generally means MYOB, but can be taken in at least two specific contexts, one being “Don’t evangelize” and another “Don’t judge.”

    • Jason

      This question of the role of the Bible in secular Christianity is fascinating. Is it possible that the Bible will simply become the Great Books anthology for secular Christians? (Bible = Norton Anthology of Western Lit)

      On related note, consider that non-Christian Greco-Roman texts remained important within the early Church for quite a while (Cicero, Vergil, etc). Intelligent Christians read them and recognized their value but didn’t share pagan belief. Is it possible that Atheists will also learn to read the Bible for similar reasons? Is that what’s already going on? Seems like the emphasis is on criticism and not appreciation, but maybe that’s appropriate all things considered.

    • Jason

      By the way, don’t you think that any text (including the Gospel of Thomas) can become oppressive if it is given too much authority? It seems to me the real problem is not content. There’s a need to decentralize texts of any kind in a religious context. Why not read the Bible AND the Gospel of Thomas and just remember that they were both written by fallible people.

    • JoFro

      The Gospel of Thomas has its own wackiness!

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Druid: Now that’s a “Christianity” that I can appreciate!

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Druid: On the off chance that you’re unfamiliar with it, I recommend the Tao Te Ching. Quite enigmatic and a very quick read.

      • ZenDruid

        Yeah, I’m familiar with it. I considered myself a quasi-Taoist in my youth, and however I pigeonhole myself these days, I still find it satisfying.

        • ZenDruid

          It occurs to me that the explanation of the Monad in the Apocryphon of John is about as Tao as it gets!

  • http://www.atlantafreethought.org/ Steve

    A direction that I would like to see Christianity take is to move toward more of a view of compassion for your fellow man. The story about Jesus sacrificing himself could be a metaphor for how we today can give of ourselves to help out each other. This is already a theme, to some extent, in Christianity today.
    Within the future “Christian” culture, the measure of how well you fit into the culture would be how much you selflessly care for and help others. The behavior of caring for and helping others would be promoted and rewarded socially. Those who develop their capabilities so that they are more of a help to others would be more highly esteemed in such a culture. That could be interesting. In a sense, it also fits in well as an evolutionary strategy, i.e., helping others in your group strengthens the whole group so that the group prospers.
    Help for others, in this context, is not just donating money, but may include teaching a trade, or educating others one-on-one, or helping with school homework or school projects, or helping with home repairs or car repair or maintenance. You could help others in whatever way you have exceptional capability to do so.

  • DrewL

    Phil is correct. You’re only a few centuries behind the curve with this suggestion:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalism

    These churches have been losing members for the past fifty years, but perhaps you could revive them?

    • Aaron

      Actually, the UUA has grown 15% since 2000.

  • DrewL

    Bob I actually hold a parallel dream of Atheism 2.0: an Intellectually Rigorous Atheism. One that rejects the dogmas of logical positivism, scientism, emotivism, naive realism, the religion-science conflict myth, and the secularization thesis. One that is open to empirical findings on the wide spectrum of “religious” belief systems and the corresponding very positive and very negative effects those have on the world.

    Essentially it’d be an atheism that finds the courage to throw off its anti-intellectual origins (mainly Hitchens) and its emotion-based, vitriolic prejudices against an undefined religion-at-large. It would muster the intellectual rigor to stand on its own two feet and actually engage in the post-Enlightenment, post-Nietzsche, post-secularization discourse happening at the highest levels of thought. It would engage with–rather than ignore or angrily attack–the many secular-minded and atheist philosophers and thinkers who challenge and critique it.

    Perhaps one day you’ll find your Christianity 2.0, and I’ll find my Atheism 2.0.

    • Jon Moles

      You’ll never find any type of atheism as the one you’ve described, mostly because it wouldn’t be atheism anymore, it would be faitheism. You gave yourself away when you decried scientism, which is a pejorative that actually applies to virtually no one on the planet. The religion-science conflict isn’t a myth, it’s the realization that faith and dogma aren’t legitimate ways to seek knowledge while acknowledging that science is the best (but not only) method we have developed so far. Your comment reads more like a projection of religious habits hastily applied to atheists who don’t embrace a weak tea agnosticism with humility. If you want to debate actual issues instead decrying vitriol while hurling your own it would behoove you to present something more than straw man arguments usually reserved for apologists of “Sophisticated Theology”.

      • DrewL

        I’m glad you read the wikipedia article on scientism.

        Scientism is a popular expression of logical positivism. Go take a look at the wikipedia article on that one: no philosopher adheres to this view anymore, it only exists in pockets of anti-intellectual new atheists.

        The religion-science conflict is completely dismissed by historians. I’ll put the link right here:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_thesis

        Your comment reads more like a projection of religious habits hastily applied to atheists who don’t embrace a weak tea agnosticism with humility

        …and Bob has his religion-less religion spelled out above. We’re both in dream worlds.

        My dream world, however, is that atheists would stop being anti-intellectual. I don’t really care if they’re weak tea agnostics or gun-waving militant atheists: I just wish they’d pick up a philosophy or history book from time to time.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Drew:

      I actually hold a parallel dream of Atheism 2.0: an Intellectually Rigorous Atheism.

      Atheists actually engaging honestly with the ideas of Christians without lampooning or straw manning them? Atheists that up their game and actually use reason and intellect? Dream on, my friend!

      I fear that you will never be satisfied with atheist arguments and will always be able to convince yourself that the arguments are flawed and thereby sidestep any need to challenge your own beliefs.

      • DrewL

        Who is talking about engaging the “ideas of Christianity”? Not me. I’m talking about engaging the ideas of secular historians, sociologist, philosophers, psychologists….the people our society pays to think and study through these things. That’s who atheists engage in my dreamworld Atheism 2.0.

        Your Christianity 2.0 is religion-less humanism. What a yawn–who needs that? Is Atheism+ not working out? Are you bored with moral subjectivism?

        My Atheism 2.0 is still atheism, just more intellectually rigorous. The world needs that far more of that. JonMoles seems to have made it over to Wikipedia at least once, I will celebrate that as progress…

  • http://mymusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana

    I would very much disagree that superstition denotes a lack of thinking. Much superstition goes against science, but even from a philosophical view, it is not necessarily not logical. For example, Buddhism mixed with a little local animism can be very superstitious, the ghosts that haunt houses, indwell people, etc. But Buddhism is based on the idea of reincarnation and karma, its own cause and effect system , while totally different than the western concept, is logical. But it does go against science when people think they have lost their spirit instead of have a bug or something.

    • smrnda

      It’s ‘logical’ in the sense that, if you accept Buddhist ideas about karma and reincarnation and animistic beliefs as axioms and reason from them, it can be ‘reasonable’ to conclude that there is are some kinds of spirits hovering about in the world.

      At the same time, I am not personally going to accept any axioms about the physical world that aren’t backed up by empirical evidence.

    • Jason

      I consider myself a secular Buddhist. I take an active role in my local Buddhist community and have a dedicated practice, but I don’t have a dogmatic belief in any miracles or even reincarnation/karma. Since it is a part of tradition, I don’t mind chanting some Dharanis (i.e. superstitious chants often intended to do something miraculous), but I sharply distinguish between practicing tradition and empirical belief. There are plenty of western Buddhist who embrace various superstitions, but I am certainly not alone as a secular Buddhist. Some of you might be interested in Stephen Batchelor’s Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist or Buddhism Without Beliefs.

  • UU

    As others have pointed out, Unitarian Universalism already does what you’re describing and is not foreign to Patheos. Might I suggest doing some research next time?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      I’m aware of the UU church; no research needed. The University Unitarian Church here in Seattle is a popular venue for several groups in which I participate.

      The existence of the UU church over the past couple of hundred years hasn’t changed the face of Christianity, hence the post.

      • DrewL

        The existence of the UU church over the past couple of hundred years hasn’t changed the face of Christianity, hence the post.

        So how will your vision do what they failed at? I think that’s where all these UU comments are coming from.

        And also, why call it Christianity 2.0 if it’s been tried for over a hundred years?

  • kalimsaki

    Here is good news for you and me!

    Death is not destruction, or nothingness, or annihilation; it is not cessation or extinction; it is not eternal separation, or non- existence, or a chance event; it is not authorless obliteration. Rather, it is to be discharged by the Author who is All-Wise and All-Compassionate; it is a change of abode. It is to be despatched to eternal bliss, to your true home. It is the door of union to the Intermediate Realm, which is where you will meet with ninety-nine per cent of your friends.

    From Risalei Nur collection by Said Nursi.
    http://www.nur.gen.tr/en.html#leftmenu=Risale&maincontent=Risale&islem=read&KitapId=499&BolumId=8783&KitapAd=Letters+(+revised+)&Page=265

  • http://accdocpastor.blogspot.com/ Pastor Dave Clark

    Too many people of faith think the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. What’s with hand-baskets anyway? Here’s my latest blog posting on why the Christians need to quit spreading the myth (through their constant complaining) that the world is just getting worse all the time.
    http://accdocpastor.blogspot.com/2012/11/nattering-nabobs-of-negativism.html

  • http://NA Sam

    Wow, interesting discussion. True there are many Secular Christians (I’d call myself one) however this fact that the Church is seen predominantly for special occasions, Easter, Christmas, births, marriages, deaths and the opportunity to call in to a nice service with a nice message with nice music in a friendly peaceful atmosphere every once in a while, surely does not exclude the belief of a GOD. What defines a Christian? I believe in God. How I live my life, religious or otherwise, and how I practice my faith, is a totally different question. Surely.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Sam: What about those of us who appreciate all those good things about the church but don’t belive in God? They can participate, but they need to stay in the closet (UU church perhaps being an exception). Wouldn’t it be nice if they could be open about their unbelief? If belief weren’t a requirement?

      • http://NA Sam

        Again, Wow, interesting thought. Bob seriously, I’ve never before considered such matters. However I’m never short of an opinion on anything. So here goes, right off the cuff. First thing that comes to mind is, why would an atheist choose to attend a church? Church is an institution based on faith, sure its become intertwined with things like birth, marriage and funeral celebrations, church often has nice coffee and biscuits and and discussions of how to live a good and fruitful life/existence for our short time on this earth. But, surely of you choose to attend for the parts of the church that you like (other than faith) you must realise there would be a hope and an expectation from minister/pastor/congregation, that you may have your eyes opened to faith and a belief in something greater than yourself? If not, sure, I see no reason why “atheists” wouldn’t be welcomed by the church, I’d welcome you to my church, if I had any one church I preferred or went to as a “member” however I’m secular so don;t have a religious church attendance myself but that’s no different to a church welcoming gays, ex murderers, or so called christians who trouble with and struggle with their own personal faith, everyone is troubled by or struggles with their faith and core belief at some time or another, its called the plight of human existence. Anyway, secondly I’d say be clear about what you want from a church, if its just a nice play to go, and to have a sense of community, why not join a club like Rotary, or Apex, or some other group that generally does good things. God can be found in the virtue of playing golf, in a service club, at a church, or in work, family and any other circumstance, one doesn’t need to go to church to experience God, as God (in my belief) is at the source of everything, but as a person, you are not just limited by God, if attending a church, you are attending a sacred place of worship for many people, and I’d only hope that you were respectful of that. Yes, you could share your belief, and by going to a church, those whom are strong in their own ideas, beliefs and faith, will accept yours no worries, however don;t be surprised if those whom may be struggling in their own faith and spirituality, may be a bit perplexed, or even offended if you attend their church, and openly discuss your thoughts and ideas of atheism, that’s just a mature opinion of good decency, nothing religious or christian there. Oh, and please don’t make the assumption of my analogies as parables re: atheism and gays and murderers and thieves and every and anything else that could be compared (christian values) with an atheist who’s accepted at church, I’m just making the point, we are all equal, we have all committed the same crimes, either in thought or action, but that we are all forgiven and shown a way to forgive others is the beauty of a christian faith. So good luck, don’t rule out other avenues as I’ve mentioned like sporting clubs, service clubs or work for that matter to find a nice cup of coffee and a good conversation, but expect the expected if attending a church, as “generally” churches are filled with believers, they are funny like that, a little like Football games being attended by fans, rarely does someone see a soccer or a gymnastics fan regularly attending a basketball game, not that they can’t but surely they’d attend a game of choice, and enjoy fellowship with like minded peoples, “birds of a feather, tend to stick together” you know? Oh, and finally, writing this makes me wonder if the atheist more than needing the freedom and opportunity to attend a church (granted I’d say by most christians) but perhaps the Atheist needs more a place of similarity for the other atheists to go, i.e. maybe you’ve just struck on a great idea to provide “churches” for atheists to attend and discuss “atheism”? Sounds AOK to me. I hope this is well received Bob, and sheds some intellectual stimulus that’s appropriate and maybe even useful. These are my immediate thoughts. Cheers :-)

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Sam:

          why would an atheist choose to attend a church?

          Because we’re imagining an institution focused, not on worshipping the supernatural, but on community, doing good works, the stages of life (births, marriages, funerals), the majesty of music and architecture, and so on.

          you must realise there would be a hope and an expectation from minister/pastor/congregation, that you may have your eyes opened to faith and a belief in something greater than yourself?

          Sure, in Christian church today. But not in many Jewish communities and not in this (imaginary) Christianity 2.0.

          I’d welcome you to my church

          Sounds nice, but I’d want to come in as an out nonbeliever in the supernatural with no particular interest in developing any faith. Most churches welcome tire-kickers, but they expect some movement toward faith.

          everyone is troubled by or struggles with their faith and core belief at some time or another, its called the plight of human existence.

          To me, it’s called “common sense.” Of course there’s no Santa Claus–how old are you?! Jesus is in the same category.

          why not join a club like Rotary, or Apex, or some other group that generally does good things

          Quite reasonable. I’m simply seeing this as a missed opportunity from the church’s standpoint.

          don;t be surprised if those whom may be struggling in their own faith and spirituality, may be a bit perplexed, or even offended if you attend their church, and openly discuss your thoughts and ideas of atheism, that’s just a mature opinion of good decency, nothing religious or christian there.

          Of course. But it does seem to be an admission of the weakness or fragility of faith that someone who isn’t part of the club is seen as a boat rocker.

          we are all forgiven and shown a way to forgive others is the beauty of a christian faith.

          Wait–didn’t you say that you weren’t a Christian?

          I see no beauty in this. We’re all forgiven from being how God created us (imperfect)? How thoughtful of him. “We are created sick and commanded to be well” (Hitchens).

        • http://NA Sam

          Smiling :-) Nice dialog Bob, not much more to say really, I get what your saying now, as I read all the other posts, your hypothesising Christianity 2.0 as a “new option”, a new way forward. Well, if it was an avenue to allow all those American (Christians) and my deepest apology for the sweeping generalisation stating Americans as an example ;-) whom take the Bible and (human interpretation of a book clearly written by the human hand) too seriously, then Great. A couple of points of clarification. I said I was a secular christian, in that… by my definition, I had a christian (mostly secular) and an atheist perspective from two different parental opinions and beliefs growing up, I attended a non religious and a religious school then travelled my own path forward in an interesting world. I don’t for the record believe in Santa Claus (can’t recall stating I did) and I find humour in so many religions all claiming the same story line (one true God) sobeit there may be “one true God” but who am I to argue (I believe some paraphrased a biblical verse stating MYOB) to say which God if any God is the one true God. I reckon God/creator, is better and more simply complete than that. Anyway, its very interesting. Christianity 2.0 is evolving naturally, we evolve, that’s what we do… always moving forward, closer to the end. No one knows what’s at the end, and that is perhaps where faith steps in, but as for perfection? Hmmm, to say or blame a God for our imperfection, would be to see ourselves as imperfect, I’d say simply open yours eye’s brother and fellow creation from what ever original source that we derive, because I reckon we are all perfect, and everything in nature is and always will be perfect, its only a consciousness that can cause a perspective, and if it really was our fault for seeing the imperfection, i.e. we ate of the apple, then why blame God. FYI, please take that in the context of “a story” similar to Santa Claus or Aboriginal (Australian) myth of a couple of kids who’ve committed incest turning into two hills (mountains) i.e. land formations as a warning to others not to. I’d propose an acceptance of the idea of Christianity 2.0 maybe that’s what the Mayans identified with their 2012 predictions of the end of one world, now we all slowly evolve to a new collective existence and intellectual capacity spurred by the development of such progress as the internet and we perhaps all accept everything (knowledge) and finally all opinions, and beliefs are accepted as one, we see ourselves as one family, one part of a greater world organism and live happily ever after, treating our neighbour as we would ourselves and all that good stuff. Regardless, I’ve enjoyed the dialog and reading of others perspectives. Well done to all. A mature and thoughtful discussion if nothing else. Happy with 2.0 :-) and everyones beliefs, that’s not a cop out, its just an acceptance from someone that is pretty comfortable with self. Oh, and as for comment re: a weakness of faith, not coping with a boat rocker… that’s no different to sitting in a board room when the consensus is towards one objective and it’s a new direction that’s proposed, yet a few have “fear” with a new direction because they’ve no faith in the strength of the foundation to cope or thrive with a new position. That’s human frailty my friend, it’s life and something many atheists seem to struggle with… if your a Christian, why are you fragile? Imperfect? Etc…. well, because simply they/we are all human and fallible. If we’re honest. Cheers for now… :-) Nice reply Bob. Oh, and for the record, I’ve no idea what (Hitchens) relates to, but it matters not, we all have free will, is my opinion.

        • Amanda

          My husband recently deconverted from Christianity to atheism and his biggest fear in the whole situation is “coming out” to the religious community we are a part of, the community he has grown up in and given years of service in. We established the start of our lives in this community and have given so much to it and gained so much from it. Just a reminder that this is a reason why “an atheist would choose to attend a church”. Many atheists are post Christian. Though they may have come to see Christianity as illogical or harmful, the fact remains that the social circles that they are established in are Christian. It seems to me leaving that community is not the best option, creating a place for secularism in that community may be.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Amanda: From an atheist standpoint, having a completely secular community does sound better. I’m just imagining a soft landing for Christianity that might be more atheist-friendly.

          If you can find community outside the church (I find Meetup quite helpful–just be sure to search for lots of synonyms to atheist like Bright, freethought, heathen, humanist, agnostic, and so on) that sounds great.

        • Amanda

          Thanks for the tip on meetup. That could be helpful when we decide to go that route. Right now my husband is the one who wants to stay connected to the church community; I’m actually leaving our specific church in a few weeks. It’s definitely been an interesting transition to say the least.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Amanda: I’d be interested in hearing about your transition away from the church. If you have any interesting insights during this process, drop by and tell us. Good luck!

  • http://NA Sam

    Oh, and Bob, I typed that very quickly, so my sincere apologies for all poor grammar above, I know that makes it more difficult to read, and I usually double check, but you know, I’m busy, and I’m only human, right. Cheers.

  • Gavin Young

    What Bob Seidensticker writes about sounds a lot like what I am trying to achieve, namely the creation of Atheistic/Secular Humanistic Christianity!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Is this a project with a name that we should know about?

      • Gavin Young

        You decide. See my Yahoo Group which has some posts I made about it, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Educators_of_Naturalism_and_Humanism/ .

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like an interesting group. Best of luck.

          You’ve got a few oddball goals (metric system, calendar reform) thrown in there. I think I might support your positions there, but what’s the logic that pulls those in?

        • Gavin Young

          The metric and calendar reform things are there because I originally created my Yahoo group to promote those metric and calendar reform things. Nearly all of the people who joined the group did so when the group was about those metric and calendar reform things. Later when I changed the purpose of the group to be primarily about Naturalism and Humanism, I left the metric and calendar reform files and message posts there for the benefit of those who had joined the group for those reasons.

          But hey, calendar reform and quasi-religions (and regular religions) go together. For example Comet created a reformed calendar (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positivist_calendar ) and he used it in the secular religion (called “Religion of Humanity”) he created (his religion had Catholic-like rituals but otherwise was secular). The latter Wikipedia article says ‘The Religion of humanity was described by Thomas Huxley as “Catholicism minus Christianity”.’ It sounds like Comet created the first Secular Humanist “Atheist Church”. Comet’s calendar is an forerunner to the calendar I promote in my Yahoo group (they are both calendars of 13 months with 28 days each in each year, plus an additional day per year [two in leap years]).

          Likewise Jews and Catholics each of a religious calendar and it was Catholic Pope Gregory XIII who created the Gregorian calendar that is in use today as secular calendar. However I don’t have plans for calendar reform to be used in conjunction with my Humanistic Christianity quasi-religion concept (nor my purely non-religious “Educators of Naturalism and Humanism” group, but in some fashion it might later get incorporated into them. For example a number of people and corporations (such as Intel) used the ISO week calendar (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8601 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8601_week_date ). Further, metric is legally authorized for use (though not required for all transactions) in the USA, and the USA customary unit system (inches, pounds, gallons, etc.) is actually defined in reference to the international metric system standards (in a very old USA Treaty with France). As a result any major documents I write for the “Educators of Naturalism and Humanism” group and the Humanistic Christianity quasi-religion concept would use metric system units in preference to USA customary units (the latter being a variation of British imperial units which are in turn a variation of Roman empire units).

        • Gavin Young

          Oops, the correct name is “Comte” instead of “Comet”.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I like the idea of calendar reform, but I would prefer 12 months (easily divided into halves and quarters) rather than 13 (prime).
          I suppose with both calendar reform and metric, one wonders if the benefit exceeds the hassle.

        • Gavin Young

          I understand. I do realize that having 13 months per year makes it harder to divide into halves and quarters. Regarding metric, the USA is nearly the only country that doesn’t officially use metric as the sole or primary measurement system. But world society is becoming more and more interconnected and thus there is an incentive for businesses to all use the same measurement system. Likewise writers of websites obtain benefits when using metric units in their articles (at least in addition to USA customary units if not in place of them) if they want people throughout the world to read their articles, since metric is used in virtually every country of the world.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          US, Burma, and Liberia don’t use the metric system–not great company.

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