“Wes The Methodist” Writes a Book

“Wes The Methodist” Writes a Book August 26, 2019

Editor’s Introduction: Soon, the Rational Doubt blog will review Zero Theology,

a book written by a participant in the original 2010 Dennett-LaScola pilot study, Preachers who are not Believers.  In that article, he was called “Wes the Methodist”- one of three liberal Christians who participated in the initial study along with two fundamentalists.  While I’ve kept in touch with “Wes” over the years, he has kept a low prolife.  He is one of three of the eventual 27 clergy participants who declined to join the Clergy Project (the other two were Episcopalians) and the only participant I approached who declined to allow his transcript to be used for a play based on the interviews.

When he recently asked me to write a blurb for his book, I agreed, but pointed out that people would be justifiably curious as to his reasons for asking me – an atheist associated with non-believing clergy – to do it.  We ultimately decided that it made sense to reveal his study participation, as long as he was not typecast as “non-believing” because, as you will see, he does not fall into an easily defined religious mold.  In truth, he never did.  Like many liberal Christians, his perceptions of religion and belief are very nuanced and can seem complicated to those of us who think in more concrete terms.  As I said in my blurb:

Zero Theology allows us to view religion in a whole new way that negates the limitations of thinking in terms of belief or non-belief.  This approach will likely cause consternation among believers and non-believers, as well as much-needed food for thought.   Linda LaScola, Co-Author with Daniel C. Dennett, of Caught in the Pulpit, Leaving Belief Behind.”

This blog post serves to introduce the real “Wes” – Rev. John Tucker, who provides some background on his study participation and his current thinking, in advance of the review. / Linda LaScola, Editor

**8-29-19 update:  Click here to read Alexis Record’s Review**

=======================

By John Tucker

The philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, famously said that the aim of his philosophy was “to show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.”

I have spent the last thirty years trying to escape a particularly deceptive and seductive bottle. I have not always known what to call it. When I was in college I thought the name of the bottle was theism and that escape meant atheism.

As the years passed, I discovered that I still thought of myself as a Christian. This was due in large part to becoming exposed to different kinds of Christianity. Liberation theologians like Gustavo Gutiérrez and James Cone, along with feminist theologians like Sally McFague, showed me a Christianity that was not focused on believing the fundamentals. All the while I kept reading Wittgenstein and trying to figure out if I were free of the bottle or not.

In the last few years I began to realize that I had not been freed from the bottle. This meant that I had not named my bottle correctly. The name of the bottle I needed to escape was not theism but what I now call “the belief paradigm”. The belief paradigm holds both theists and atheists captive because it tells them that being religious is about holding certain beliefs. Theists and atheists think that religious beliefs are significant.

Like a bottle, the belief paradigm is almost invisible and I kept butting my head against it. This was the case when I chose to participate in Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola’s study on active clergy who did not hold supernatural beliefs. I participated because I respected Dennett’s philosophy and I struggled with knowing what it meant to be Christian while not holding supernatural beliefs.

The belief paradigm compels us to think that the question,

“Do you believe in the supernatural?”

demands an answer and does not realize that the question itself is confused. The question also confuses us, as it did me, because it seems straightforward and obvious and we all think we know what it means. I have now developed the ability to see the bottle and in so doing, I see the opening that offers escape.

I call that escape “ZeroTheology” because it is a way of being religious that does not play by the belief paradigm’s rules. It is not enslaved to the correspondence theory of truth that leads to the idolatries of fundamentalism and scientism. At the same time, it does not deny or argue against the success of the scientific method. In the book, I suggest that religious claims should never be presented as straightforward or obvious claims, because that plays into the belief paradigm’s hands, and should instead be expressed as catch-22s.

Just as Jesus spoke in parables when his disciples demanded that he speak plainly, these catch-22s put paradox in the center of religious life. The big paradox is that the only way one can escape the bottle of the belief paradigm is to walk into the traps of the catch-22s. A catch-22 cannot be escaped. Realizing this leads only to the option of despair or transcendence. The transcendent life is achieved by embracing the non-reasonable and intentionally creative misuse of language and by confronting our greatest fear: the fear that life is meaningless.

As difficult as it is to escape the belief paradigm, it is harder still to transcend the catch-22s. The catch-22s are tools meant

– to help create a more just world;

– to avoid self-serving denial;

– and help make peace with our greatest fear.

I utilize the Christian tradition by taking Jesus seriously and by understanding that the only God that satisfies is the God that does not satisfy because I think these paths can lead to the wisdom and courage that is required for transcendence. So, I now see myself as a Christian who participated in the Dennett/LaScola study and who wants to help others escape their way out of the bottle of the belief paradigm.

==================

Bio: John Tucker is an honest religious thinker interested in how language and concepts can both liberate and imprison.  He is an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church.  John is originally from Alabama so he understands that fundamentalism is a threat, that college football is king, and the barbeque is a noun. He and his family currently reside in Oregon. John was “Wes the Methodist” in the 2010 Evolutionary Psychology article, Preachers who are not Believers and is author of Zero Theology.

>>>>Photo Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Guercino_Return_of_the_prodigal_son.jpg ;

https://pull01-wipf.netdna-ssl.com/media/catalog/product/hres.9781532675188.jpg ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Wittgenstein#/media/File:35._Portrait_of_Wittgenstein.jpg

 


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  • Castilliano

    Has the word “theology” gotten a bad name in Christian circles? I mean in the sense many Christians avoid the word “religion”, “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” and try to pin religion on atheists.
    I ask because that sounded like a nonzero amount of theology.

    It also sounded like Christianity blended w/ New Age woo & wants. It didn’t feel nuanced, rather as lacking rigor. Chopra-istic deepities. I guess that happens if you openly decry having beliefs correspond with truth. Poorly phrased epistemic humility or rejection of the concept?

    Use of the word “scientism” raises a red flag, especially when likened to fundamentalism.

    Not that I wouldn’t like the guy. Odds are many of our morals and politics align.
    Cheers

  • John Tucker

    Nothing new age in this book. Scientism is critiqued as Wittgenstein critiqued it or as atheist pragmatist Richard Rorty critiqued it (along with his critique of the correspondence theory). This is to say that there are no natural or privileged criteria for determining “truth” across diverse contexts. This lack of privileged criteria need not lead to relativism because that reaction is still determined by absolutist presumptions. The zero simply means that theology should not make any epistemological claims about the world with which atheists could disagree. I make no effort to convince atheists that they should become religious but I do think that theists and atheists are making conceptual mistakes. This book is likely not what you think it is. Thanks for posting and I hope you read the book and give it a fair hearing.

  • mason

    John, Very interesting, thought provoking article.

    I’m an exvangelical so I found it best to toss out Jesus and the bathwater. It was so delightful to exorcise all the supernatural nonsense at age 30 and discover the peace of mind that comes from living 48 years with a rational understanding of life, never having thoughts about the non-existent master puppeteer in the sky and all that absurdity. Everything makes sense to me without the supernatural nonsense. Things may be terrible or wonderful and everything else in between, but everything makes sense. Hence, peace of mind.

    Zero theology, Zero, theism, Zero supernatural beliefs; I think that would greatly aid our human species to grow up and end all the terrible religious divisions and bigotry; we’d still have enough left to squabble about.

    Some questions:
    A …”I utilize the Christian tradition by taking Jesus seriously and by understanding that, B … the only God that satisfies is the God that does not satisfy because I think C. … these paths can lead to the wisdom and courage that is required for transcendence.”

    A … taking Jesus seriously? Seriously? 🙂 Which one, surely not this mythical one … “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a son against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter -in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household Matthew 10:34. – mythical Jesus character

    B … do you mean the God that does not satisfy because God is non-existent?

    C … Transcendence? What do you think needs transcendence? Any examples? Transcendence as I understand refers to the spiritual, supernatural. Transcendence; noun, Existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level,
    the possibility of spiritual transcendence in the modern world”

    “The transcendent life is achieved by embracing the non-reasonable and intentionally creative misuse of language and by confronting our greatest fear: the fear that life is meaningless.”

    I’ve never had the fear or thought that life is meaningless. When I was an Evangelical I believed the meaning of life was to serve, obey, bow worship, praise, this very schizo Hebrew God deity, Jehovah & Son. When I discarded that nonsense I immediately began seeing how the basic meaning of life is to replicate, survive, for all living creatures single cell to humans, and beyond that fundamental reality, we human have the capacity to ascribe all kinds of meanings to our life. My greatest fear is pain and I do not fear death. My atoms recirculate, that’s enough for me. I had my time as an entity.

  • mason

    …. “The zero simply means that theology should not make any epistemological claims about the world with which atheists could disagree.” How is that even possible since theology is the study of God and religious beliefs? The only way I see possible is all the theologians declare the Universe is identical, is God and not a deity and all adopt the God of Spinoza. As you likely know, Spinoza believed that God is “the sum of the natural and physical laws of the universe and certainly not an individual entity or creator”.

  • John Tucker

    This book is very critical of the idea that theology is the study of God and religious beliefs. Theological explanation is theology at its worst and most confused. I am not playing by the rules of the “belief paradigm” which gives rise to theism and atheism.

  • John Tucker

    If I could reduce the book to a comment I would not have needed to write the book. Read it and decide for yourself if the questions you pose are adequately addressed. What I can say is that it is unlikely that you have encountered my position elsewhere. There is probably nothing you disbelieve that I don’t also disbelieve and I may even disbelieve in a few things that you still believe. I just don’t think that belief/disbelief has anything to do with being religious.
    My book is not an argument for being religious, it is an argument for how to be religious if one wishes to be so
    and that how includes granting atheistic criticisms as valid.

  • Mark Rutledge

    Great essay John. I want to write a bit more but for my opening comment: I agree with you that being a Christian has little to do with “believing the right things.” That is an unfortunate framework that too many centuries of religious thought have foisted on too many Christians as well as atheists, myself included. Even Methodist John Wesley talked about four essentials to be taken together: scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.And only one of those, reason, is primarily related to “belief.” We are now in the age of experience. More later…

  • mason

    Geographic birth place determines a person’s likely religion. .” I just don’t think that belief/disbelief has anything to do with being religious.” Isn’t a person’s religion primarily a function of their Culture? I was mine. http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=2789

  • Linda LaScola

    FYI: Mark was “Rick” in the pilot study — another of the liberal clergy I interviewed then. It’s very nice, after 10 years, to see these two similar study prticipants communicating for the first time.

  • carolyntclark

    .”I struggled with knowing what it meant to be Christian while not holding supernatural beliefs.” I don’t see that needs to be a struggle. You certainly can regard Jesus of the NT as teacher, but not being divine…as you can also be a theist, believe in a supernatural deity, but not accept any established religion.

    “…..our greatest fear: the fear that life is meaningless.” That’s a broad and personal statement, not true for me. There is no assigned meaning to life, there is only opportunity to choose a meaning, from self-centered to extreme altruism, and everything in between.

    ” Language and concepts can liberate and imprison.” It needn’t be so perplexing to find the way out of the bottle.

  • carolyntclark

    There can be no validity to Theological explanation. No one can have the inside scoop. Inspiration and revelation more likely come from fabrication and imagination, and perhaps a bit of hallucination.

  • John Tucker

    Thank you Mark. I would welcome your thoughts on my book.

  • John Tucker

    I think you are missing the point in your haste to dismiss me but that is fine. I don’t disagree with anything you say but what you say does not make contact with the subject matter of my book. I don’t pretend to offer something you need.

  • ctcss

    The zero simply means that theology should not make any epistemological claims about the world with which atheists could disagree.

    John, perhaps I am misunderstanding something here, but isn’t this statement privileging human knowledge and certainty regarding what reality actually is (somewhat ironic given how limited humans are) likely to be a tad hubristic given the possibility that perhaps what humans perceive and understand about existence may very well be incorrect?

    For instance, why should the human view of things outrank God’s view of things? Which side is more likely to be correct, conceptually speaking? And given the conceptual notion that God is eternal (i.e. timeless and unchanging) and that humans seem very much constrained by a temporal (i.e. time-bound and sequential) view of things, wouldn’t those two very conflicting viewpoints present a challenge to anyone (believing or non-believing) who was trying to figure out what was what?

    The point being, I am not certain that either atheists or theists would not find themselves rather put off by viewpoints which disagree with what they each currently consider to be “normal and natural” because both viewpoints are likely to be be largely tinged with limited, materialistic, and very humanistic colorings. And you might very well disagree with me as to what religion is supposed to accomplish, but the notions I was taught were more along the lines of the human view of things being replaced with the divine view of things, accomplished by working to attain a better understanding of who and what God is, as well as who and what man is (as God’s reflection). The goal being to work at putting off the old man and to put on the new.

    That all may sound rather weird, but the upshot is simply that God’s creation is not to be found in, nor based on matter (God being Spirit, and not material at all), so trying to find God or God’s creation within a matter and time-bound framework is not likely to succeed. Thus, a strictly human view of things would not help a person gain a clearer understanding of God and God’s creation. Rather, it would be more likely to obscure it.

    That said, your book sounds refreshingly different, but I have a strong suspicion that we are coming at this question of God, Christianity, and religion from rather different viewpoints.

    All the best.

  • John Tucker

    Thanks for the comment. I would say that the difference is that I do not think the existence of a deity should be found in a premise and that theology always seems to do that. The approach I take is that if one can be at peace without a postulated deity one has a peace that trumps those who require a deity in order to have peace. This kind of absolute peace leaves one free to be religious without reason or need. I fully expect theists and atheists to struggle with this since both groups have been taught that religion is an escape rather than a confrontation with our worst fears.

  • Linda LaScola

    Yes, Castilliano, I suspect you would like John.

    Here’s something he said that I quoted in the 2010 article:
    “…I see Christianity as a means to an end, not as an end unto itself. And the end is very basically, a kind of liberal, democratic values.”
    https://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/dennett/papers/Preachers_who_are_not_believers.pdf

  • carolyntclark

    I don’t mean to dismiss you. I suppose my consciousness is not nearly as complex as yours. For me, since removing God from the equation,
    the pieces fit into place and the mystery of life is no longer so mysterious.

  • John Tucker

    One of the Catch 22s in the book says, “Mystery is only possible when explanation makes it unnecessary.” I probably do not think what you think I think. I’m a materialist, Darwinist who finds religious language meaningful when it is not a confused form of metaphysical explanation. If people were religious in this way, both theism and atheism would be unnecessary. I hope you will read the book, not because I think you need it but because you might be surprised at how much you enjoy it. It should be read more as art than theology or should I say that theology is the paint I use to create a certain portrait of life.

  • Linda LaScola

    FYI to Carolyn and other readers — a review of John’s book is coming up on Thursday, reviewed by Alexis Record.

  • John Tucker

    D. Z. Phillips used to say that philosophical problems demand philosophical answers. It is easy to reduce almost any human practice to culture but that won’t address the reasons people give for believing what they believe.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    For instance, why should the human view of things outrank God’s view of
    things? Which side is more likely to be correct, conceptually speaking?
    And given the conceptual notion that God is eternal (i.e. timeless and
    unchanging)…

    To even consider that, one would have to presuppose that God exists, that He has a view of things, and that humans can discover that view. And then there is the multiplicity of humanity to consider: do they all have the same view of things? If not, do you go with a consensus or what?

    The notion that God is eternal is of course a human notion.

  • Hi John. I’m looking forward to reading your book. Last weekday RD published an old entry of mine from when I was still a minister but no longer believed in God. I can see how angry and reactive my thinking was then.

    I’ve often wrestled with feeling trapped between the uh uh/uh huh argument. I dont like being trapped on either side. And I recognize ththe other paradigms that trap us as we search for meaning, et al.

    I’m tired of trying to piece it all together and I’m becoming more content with doing my work and living my life.

  • Mark Rutledge

    Moving beyond the belief paradigm–yes! Living in the ambiguity and paradox of the parabolic world–yes! Seeing religious language as poetry and metaphor, not scientific explanation–yes! I’m currently reading a book by Diane Butler Bass titled “Christianity After Religion–the End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening” where she goes about rebuilding religion from the bottom up. Lots of parallels here to your insights; I recommend it to all of us, just as I affirm your approach in zero theology. And as I affirm that it’s not about getting our beliefs or theologies right. It IS about how shall we live; what shall we do; how shall we act; how can we honor the realities of what have been called spiritual experiences; how can we work for a just world; how can we love our neighbor; how can we get past the literalism of both fundamentalism/evangelicalism and (some) atheism; how can we re-appreciate the paradoxical Jesus of the parables who lived (and died) for a world where the means of life are distributed fairly among all; how we can appreciate the “truth” of the parables (which is akin to asking ‘are Aesop’s fables “true”?)
    Maybe a little like seeing that God IS justice; God IS love (two sides of the same coin). Seeing these as natural processes that we humans have to work out as our meaning of life. And affirming that we live and die in face of mystery.
    Now I need to get your book!

  • John Tucker

    I expect most of my colleagues to be very open and not threatened. I am in a very progressive area. Thanks for your comments. I appreciate a kindred spirit.

  • John Tucker

    I hear you. I often wonder if it is worth the work to remain religious. I don’t mean the intellectual work, but the social and institutional work. Don’t get me wrong, I hold my clergy colleagues in high regard. They get arrested protesting ICE detentions. They stand for LGBTQ inclusion and are far left of the Democratic Party. It is a great place to be a progressive Methodist but I do find it tedious from time to time.

  • Linda LaScola

    John — just wanted you to know that David Mercer was a Methodist minister, who originally was fundamentalist.

  • John Tucker

    Thanks Linda. I think you’ve sent me links to his stuff before.

  • mason

    culture, next personality, life events, traumas, brain development or lack of, etc. infinitude … plenty written on the interesting subject … https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brainsnacks/201404/the-real-reason-we-believe-what-we-believe

  • mason

    John, I’d hoped you’d field some of the questions, as most authors do since I took the time to read your article and formulate questions I had. You can field the questions without any spoiler. That’s what we authors do and you might attract readers with your answers. “Read the book” is not a acceptable default IMHO. I’ve asked many authors many questions and never rec’d the RTB answer.

  • John Tucker

    I’m not trying to ignore
    you and have responded
    to other comments you have made but I can tell by your questions that I will be unable to answer them in a comments section. I’m not going to argue the Jesus question because it is too complex. I use transcendence to refer to those commitments that are neither reasonable nor unreasonable. The existence issue is a product of the belief paradigm which I reject. You seem to be in the belief paradigm though you disbelieve. I was there for a very long time. Not being in the belief paradigm makes my position very difficult for believers and unbelievers to understand because they typically take a great deal of pride in being believers or unbelievers.

  • Mark Rutledge

    I never spent much energy on philosophical theology so that part of your approach didn’t speak to me as much, other than to confirm my original lack of interest in it. Insofar as I do understand it, your view makes a lot of sense as that has been a major paradigm of formal Christian thought (and theology). Happy to have let it go. And zero theology is helpful here.

  • carolyntclark

    “The approach I take is that if one can be at peace without a postulated deity one has a peace that trumps those who require a deity in order to have peace. This kind of absolute peace leaves one free to be religious without reason or need. “…..what is your definition of “religious” ?

  • mason

    Thanks John, and you’ve created more interest for prospective readers, without any spoilers. 🙂

    “I use transcendence to refer to those commitments that are neither reasonable nor unreasonable” Sounds like like a lot of mental gymnastics, but for how you do that and why, readers can find out in the book.

    I wouldn’t say I’m in the disbelief paradigm unless I was specifically referencing theistic belief in any deity or the so called supernatural, because there are many things I have strong belief in e.g. love, music, arts, sciences, medicine, family etc etc.

    So theistically speaking, if you’re not in the belief or disbelief paradigm doesn’t that place you in the agnostic paradigm?

    I’m also interested in the question carolynclark ask about religious. Do you mean it in the common sense of theism, deities etc. or as some would say, that I’m very religious about being a “gym rat” or a guitar player. Seems likes there’s a lot of semantics going on here, which are cleared up in your book I presume.

  • Linda LaScola

    Comment from “Jim” the Episcopalian

    First a note from Linda: I alerted “Jim” to this post because his views seemed so similar to those of “Wes”. I had asked “Jim” to take part in the Dennett-LaScola study, as the only believer, because his views as a liberal Christian were so much like the views of other people in the study, including Wes, who (at the time) presented himself as a non-believer. It was all very confusing to me at the time, and even still, but one thing that is clear is that there are many nuances in their thinking and many people like them.

    After reading Jim’s response to Wes’s post, I asked for permission to post it here, which he enthusiastically granted. Here is it, below:

    “The book looks promising. Nothing new, I suspect, but we need this case to be made often and from many different angles. So good on him.
    The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, wrote a book called Tokens Of Trust in which he argues that a far better word for “belief” in the original pre-modern sense would be “trust” or “love” or even (my favorite) the Buddhist formulation, “abide”. If I could wave a magic wand over Christianity and have one wish granted, it would be that simple change in how we recite the Creeds: banish the word “believe” altogether: “I abide in God, the Father Almighty…”. “I love Jesus Christ…”. “I trust in the Holy Spirit…”. Those phrases much more effectively communicate the fact that this is primarily a statement about a love relationship, not a statement about objective facts. I’m seeing more and more church people coming around to this, though we’re still years away from common understanding. Still, it doesn’t hurt when none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury says it.”

  • John Tucker

    Thank you for the comment. There is much that could be said regarding the similarities and differences between the grammars of believe and trust. Sometimes they are virtual synonyms and other times not. “Believe in” and “trust in” are typically synonymous where both presume a something in which to believe or trust. In my book I suggest that “the Lord is my Shepherd” is a way of expressing Wittgenstein’s sense of absolute safety and not a proposition about a being in whom the psalmist trusts. I would say that it is more an attitude toward life. When we leave Wittgenstein’s suggestion to look at how words are used in contexts we tend to end up translating them into vocabularies that mislead us. This is especially true when translation is synonymous with reductionism.
    On another note, it is understandable that on a blog for atheists that the existence chimera would get all the attention but my book is a theological one that has some interesting and novel things to say regarding sin and grace which do not require anyone to embrace religious beliefs. My primary audience is believers who are trapped in the belief paradigm with atheists as a secondary audience because I see both groups as wrestling with the same confusion.

  • John Tucker

    In the book I define the religious life as “one that confronts absolute grief by continually deconstructing denial while choosing the transcendent responses of absolute courage, wonder, gratitude, and love.” This will mean little without understanding what I mean by absolute grief(circumstantial griefs are griefs over things in life and absolute grief is grief about life). I rely on Wittgenstein’s distinction between relative and absolute judgements of value that he speaks about in “ Lectures on Ethics.”
    In defining religious in this way I am not trying to lasso everyone by saying “you really are religious but don’t know it.” I am trying to get people to see that being religious is a profound attitude toward life that is neither reasonable nor unreasonable but that is non-reasonable in the sense that we are using concepts in absolute ways rather than circumstantial or contextual ways. It is these contexts that give words their meanings so when we use them in an absolute (transcendent as in transcending usual usage) way we are intentionally misusing them in a poetic way to express something unique and creative. This “religious” way is open to anyone, theist or atheist, but only when they realize that it is their insistence that religion play by the usual contextual meanings(reasonable/unreasonable) that dictates whether they identify as theist or atheist. This religious way need not be Christian since it is not about beliefs. I come at it from the Christian perspective because that is the vocabulary I know and that is the one causing most harm in the western world. It is also possible for one to employ this strategy and continue identifying as atheist. The only difference will be in how one tells one’s autobiography. What is new in my book is a systematic employment of Wittgenstein’s distinction across the Christian religious landscape but also talking about Christian concepts like Original Sin, the sinlessness of Jesus, miracles, revelation, etc in ways that even atheists could accept because I am not asking them to believe anything. It may not be your cup of tea which is totally fine. But that is a different sort of rejection than the typical atheist rejection of theism and that difference should have beneficial consequences in our culture.

  • John Tucker

    See my new response to Carolynclark. I was on a plane all day yesterday and now that I am home I guess I have more energy for lengthy posts.

  • mason

    Zero theology-Zero Atheism … Sounds like the perfect planet if it also has Zero Carbon Admissions and Zero Corrupt Politics & Greed 🙂

  • Linda LaScola has predicted “consternation” in the wake of John Tucker’s proposal for Zero Theology. That’s not my reaction, as much as ‘why bother’? Tucker says that his approach “is a way of being religious that does not play by the belief paradigm’s rules.” Once I walked away from Christianity and religion, I did not want to find another way of ‘being religious.’ Why bother?

    In one of my theology classes at Boston University, the professor poked a bit of fun at Karl Barth’s 14-volume Church Dogmatics: “No one knows 8,000 pages about God, not even in German.” This got a good laugh, but it did beg the question: How do we know even ONE page about God? From my youth I had been taught the value of faith—and correct belief—but now I had to confront the fact that faith does not produce knowledge. Hence the challenge to all theists: show us where we can find just one page of reliable, verifiable data about God—and please don’t confuse the issue by speaking about “the only God that satisfies is the God that does not satisfy.” How does he possibly KNOW this about God?

    ALL theists must agree, by the way: YES, this is where to find reliable/verifiable God data. It won’t happen because theists don’t trust each other, i.e., whose revelations, visions, meditations, prayers, scriptures, etc. are authentic. Just try to get a Quaker, Catholic, Muslim, and Mormon to agree on the nature of God and how he/she/it wants to be worshipped.

    So, way back when I was in seminary, I broke the bottle and made my departure. I’ve not given a moment’s thought to the despair-transcendence option. We are a species of mammals that, courtesy of evolution, achieved sentience. So, get used to it. Find beauty and meaning wherever you can find it, and don’t OVERTHINK it! And this, in my opinion, is really overthinking it: “The transcendent life is achieved by embracing the non-reasonable and intentionally creative misuse of language and by confronting our greatest fear: the fear that life is meaningless.”

    I winced when I read Tucker’s statement: “I utilize the Christian tradition by taking Jesus seriously…” This week I’ll be posting Episode 19 in my series of Flash Podcasts, Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said. There are so many negatives about Jesus on full view in the gospels. Please don’t take him seriously! Jesus studies have been in chaos for decades because even devout scholars cannot find a methodology for identifying bits and pieces in the gospels that may be authentic history. There is no contemporary documentation whatever for anything that Jesus supposed said or did. The cult propagandists who wrote the gospels created a flawed hero, i.e., the things that WE identify as flaws, they apparently were quite okay with.

    The early Jesus mystery cult was in competition with other mystery cults, and by several accidents of history, was the one that eventually gained political power. Whether Jesus actually existed isn’t even the primary issue. Even if there was a Galilean peasant preacher, Jesus of Nazareth, he is lost to history, obscured by the layers of theological fog in the gospels. The 2018 book by R.G. Price, Deciphering the Gospels Proves Jesus Never Existed (which I reviewed recently on the Debunking Christianity Blog: http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2019/08/is-real-jesus-hiding-anywhere-in-new_2.html), argues that the gospel of Mark wasn’t even intended as history, but as an allegory to explain the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE.

    “Taking Jesus seriously” and aiming for transcendence simply aren’t part of my agenda.

  • mason

    ….”what I mean by absolute grief(circumstantial griefs are griefs over things in life and absolute grief is grief about life”

    Apparently I’m not afflicted with either an absolute grief about life nor is my greatest fear that life is meaningless. (nor are the many atheists I know) Everything about life, of all kinds, bursts with life’s meanings like rain from a thunder cloud. Thor screams while hurling his lightning bolts, “Awake, death quickens the myriad meanings of life!”

    I think your reply to carolynclark makes an excellent case for being an atheist; one of those unintended consequences we humans are so prone. Surely all philosophers suffer from migraines. 🙂

    Why even use the Jesus tale in a discussion about ethics or what to believe or not to believe, unless it’s to demonstrate hypocrisy and the dangers of those who teach totalitarian religious theocracy? Christianity has a ruthless imperialistic history, likely from following the ruthless mythical Jehovah God & Son deity as role model. And surely the endless biblical cherry picking must leave the apologist clergy with painfully arthritic theological fingers.

    … “but also talking about Christian concepts like Original Sin, the sinlessness of Jesus, miracles, revelation, etc in ways that even atheists could accept because I am not asking them to believe anything.” Good luck with the low-fat, no-fat, zero calorie, zero carb, zero fascist Jesus. That’s a real white washing, money laundering Herculean task bro.

  • John Tucker

    So you are who I thought you were and all that genuine interest stuff was posing. Noted! It would be easier if the things you thought were true about me were true about me.

  • John Tucker

    Nothing in this reply that I don’t already know. Some of it I got over 25 years ago. I would recommend you read people like DZ Phillips and Wittgenstein to help release you from your epistemological confusions. Wittgenstein famously said that the gospels could be demonstrably false and it need not affect Christianity.
    You thinking that the concept of God has to do with data and evidence tells me all I need to know. You are correct when you criticize fundamentalism because they also think God is about data and evidence. Fundamentalism and atheism are flip sides of the same coin. You’ve moved from one side to the other but you haven’t escaped the coin.

    In more primitive societies people did not hold supernatural beliefs because they also did not hold natural beliefs. That distinction largely came about in modernity and with it religious beliefs became detached from a community’s form of life. Fundamentalism has embraced that detachment and along with patriarchy, racism, and greed, it has resulted in all the legitimate criticisms that atheist lodge at it. However, what is being criticized was never what religious life was supposed to be or at least it is not what religious life must be. My book, which you have not read, suggests a way of escaping that detachment and the follies and criticisms that come with it. Lastly, one thing that is never mentioned in comment sections like this is that any person or position that avoids vulnerability and adopts a pseudo courageous posture towards the sufferings in and about life is a person or position clinging to denial. This applies to atheists as well as fundamentalists. I am not afraid to admit occasional fits of despair and depression, nor do I seek Meaning. If you don’t care then don’t care, and continue to proceed as if you will never hear anything new. But don’t worry about it either, no one will be converted by my book, that is not its aim.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    The transcendent life is achieved by embracing the non-reasonable and intentionally creative misuse of language and by confronting our greatest fear: the fear that life is meaningless.
    …nor do I seek Meaning.

    Now we see the capital. Apparently it is “ultimate” meaning or “objective” meaning to which you are referring. This could lead to a discussion of the importance of adjectives. I will state here that I think that meaning is inherently subjective, so that ultimate or objective meaning is a category error.

  • mason

    “Fundamentalism and atheism are flip sides of the same coin” and that coin is belief? Can’t be belief because atheist only means non-belief in any deity,

  • ThaneOfDrones

    … and please don’t confuse the issue by speaking about “the only God that
    satisfies is the God that does not satisfy.” How does he possibly KNOW
    this about God?

    I read that differently; I don’t see anything about God there, I just see something about the writer’s needs.

  • mason

    “Creeds: banish the word “believe” altogether: “I abide in God, the Father Almighty…”. “I love Jesus Christ…”. “I trust in the Holy Spirit…” I abide, love, trust, … but don’t believe, banish believe? What?! Sounds like a Kramer idea on a Seinfeld episode. Evidently the Christian theological apologists have achieved a level of quantum theological nuance we simplistic atheists can’t comprehend.

    My suggestion to clear the human brain of primitive Hebrew theistic nonsense is banish the baby with the bathwater.

  • John Tucker

    It is actually something about the concept of God. This is why the concept is not something it makes sense to believe or disbelieve.

  • mason

    Apparently you are adding meaning to the word atheist that is not there. All atheists have in common is non-belief in any deity. They are not trapped in some belief paradigm.

    So you are contending all the atheists and believers are trapped in a belief paradigm and your book holds the key for both to escape? Yet you claim you’re not trying to convince anyone of anything, though you think believers and atheists take great pride in their belief, but of course an atheist doesn’t claim belief but non-belief. Rather tedious, eh?

  • John Tucker

    The common criterion is that the word God only means something if it refers to a thing that exists.

  • John Tucker

    I don’t take your point. Granted, communication is challenging in these types of discussions. I lean existentialist and presume any meaning life has is meaning we give it.

  • Linda LaScola

    Would that mean, that if I said “I don’t believe in Santa Claus” that Santa Claus must exist?

  • carolyntclark

    Thank you, John for taking the time and effort to attempt an explanation, but I now understand that I’m not equipped to follow the labyrinth of deep introspection. For that I am grateful, as it seems to be a grueling exercise, one that must forever remain unsatisfied. Rational thought and common sense made reaching my own personal godless epiphany quite simple I’m content and at peace accepting my minor spot for a brief second in the grand cosmos. I admire the perseverance of great minds seeking truth, but I’m glad to not be one of them.

  • John Tucker

    Thank you for honest and respectful exchange. I am well aware that my thoughts are not for everybody. We would probably get along just fine in real life.

  • carolyntclark

    …”any person or position that avoids vulnerability and adopts a pseudo courageous posture towards the sufferings in and about life is a person or position clinging to denial.” ????
    ! For me, one grand relief of the Godless Awakening was to stop the apologetics in the midst of misery and suffering. I no longer needed to believe that God is always good, no longer defending his Almighty reasons. There was such clarity in seeing the randomness of nature, of hardship, of disease. No better explanation than the basic “shit happens”. The world behaves exactly as it would if there were no God. AHA moment !

  • John Tucker

    Santa Claus and God belong to very different language games/forms of life. How does one learn about each? How does one utilize “evidence” regarding each. How does one give up belief in each? I’m not saying that to disbelieve in something somehow reifies that thing.
    We would agree on what kinds of evidence would prove or disprove the existence of Santa Claus because the word refers to a particular historical and agreed upon concept. That sort of agreement is lacking with God and always has been. The concept of God has evolved in a way that what counts as evidence that it is nonsensical in people like Antony Flew, an atheist philosopher I respect, counts as poetic expansion in the thinking of theologians. This is what my book’s discussion about the elephant, the beetle in the box, and James” Squirrel is getting at. It is hard to get at because this is hard material that requires us to rewire the assumptions of the belief paradigm.

  • carolyntclark

    …”any person or position that avoids vulnerability and adopts a pseudo courageous posture towards the sufferings in and about life is a person or position clinging to denial.” ????
    ! For me, one grand relief of the Godless Awakening was to stop the apologetics in the midst of misery and suffering. I no longer needed to believe that God is always good, no longer defending his Almighty reasons. There was such clarity in seeing the randomness of nature, of hardship, of disease. No better explanation than the basic “sh*t happens”. The world behaves exactly as it would if there were no God. AHA moment !

  • carolyntclark

    Only if you ditch the quagmire and take up nature walks, music, light reading, and play with my dog. 🙂

  • ThaneOfDrones

    An event happens. It means something to you. It means something different to me. This is pretty pedestrian.

    To talk about a Meaning that deserves capitalisation is different. If one is going to capitalise such a word, one should explain why, and how Meaning differs from meaning. If the reason is that you are looking for some sort of “ultimate” or “objective” meaning, then I am not looking for the same thing because I think it is a category error. Not believing that it exists, it does not scare me to face a life without it.

  • mason

    Sounds like the mysterious everything yet nothing inside the Ark of the Covenant. A concept of God, or anything, that is not something it makes sense to believe or disbelieve … wouldn’t that indicate the concept is non-sense if if doesn’t warrant enough sense for belief or disbelief? Even the mysterious Higgs-Boson particle is something one believes in or doesn’t.

    There is belief formed from verifiable independently replicatable evidence as in the sciences, evidence that is always open to challenge, and belief that boasts of no evidence as in theism.

  • mason

    So an imaginary God exists? Maybe as a creature in mythology.

  • ElizabetB.

    Linda, the Great Connecter! : ) Thank goodness

  • mason

    Santa Claus & God are really very similar … both myths with their various effect in cultures. The various plethora of God myths have a more damaging effect on a human from the childhood indoctrination and brainwashing with the accompanying pressures and threats (with theistic fundamentalism) I don’t know of anyone who’s been killed or culturally punished after they rejected the Santa Claus myth.

    It seem the the rewiring you speak of, and the paradigm you don’t want to convince anyone about, requires a new revised addition of all the dictionaries in existence currently.

  • ElizabetB.

    I’m happy our brief seconds coincided. A lovely statement

  • John Tucker

    I think I have been clear that I do not seek Meaning with a capital M which is why I capitalized it to begin with. Meanings are also context dependent but for people who have grown up in thrall of Meaning it’s loss is quite significant.

  • carolyntclark

    Elizabeth, me thinks you and John Tucker would make a great team at figuring EVERYTHING out.

  • ElizabetB.

    Really interesting discussion! Thanks everybody! John, I’m reading the Kindle ZT and hope you’ll be engaged while Record’s review runs Thursday–Sunday. I love the idea of thinking about thinking and am happy to learn something about Wittgenstein, whom I’ve seen referenced but have never gotten a handle on. The concept of trying to see your “bottle” is intriguing.

    “In more primitive societies people did not hold supernatural beliefs because they also did not hold natural beliefs. That distinction largely came about in modernity and with it religious beliefs became detached from a community’s form of life. ”

    In one sense, I think this touches on why I’m not an official TCPer. Definitions have seemed just too uncertain. I can’t state I don’t believe in supernatural things like “chi,” because I think about today’s weird quantum physics, where something “is” at more than one place, and even time, etc — and if something is actually factual, then of course it will turn out to have been “natural.”

    But you have me thinking now about how much everything is about “belief” and “non-belief” and “corresponding to the outside world.” I am curious about life outside the bottle and am looking forward to more reading. Thank you for thinking about all this!! [for those of us who, as Carolyn rightly says, are afflicted with that Cassius ailment : ) ]

  • ElizabetB.

    Tooo funny. We will die trying!! : )

  • carolyntclark

    I was thinking that you needed to be here, Elizabeth. Glad to see you.As I said earlier ↓ , me thinks you and John would make a great team.

  • John Tucker

    You answered your own objection. No one has been killed over Santa Claus. Also, no one has been inspired to take a prophetic stance against injustice either due to Santa. No one has sat on God’s lap. The concepts are as different as can be.
    A meaning of a word is determined by its usage, not its definition. Definitions come after a word has been in the public domain. They domesticate what worked just fine in the wild. Definitions can be helpful tools, but they are not the final word on words. This is old philosophy of language. You atheists are tyrants over dictionary usage. You want words fixed so and get mad when they are not. No amount of stamping your foot will change the fact that living languages are dynamic.

  • John Tucker

    Tedious for you perhaps. Atheism is a reaction to theism, it does not come first. Doubt is a reaction to belief, if does not come first. Theism should be rejected but that rejection is best expressed as getting over it rather than disbelieving it. The belief paradigm worships the correspondence theory of truth and this blog is as much a congregation to that idol as any fundamentalist blog I might visit.

  • John Tucker

    You are a lively bunch of people. I can’t say that I am surprised by many of your comments. Philosopher Neil van Leeuwen has written about how belief is not what believers and unbelievers think it is and has said that he gets more vehement reactions from atheists than from theists. I expected the same. It does intrigue me that I draw such strong reactions when I make no religious claims and ask you to believe nothing. You aren’t going to hell. You will never be judged. You will live full and meaningful lives. I admit to testing the limits of your tolerance by suggesting that understood in a different light, religion may play a positive role and that it might even contain something about the human experience that cannot be translated into other vocabularies. I will point out that most of your rejections and arguments will be mirrored by fundamentalists who also think that Santa Claus and God are the same type of thing. I suspect that some of you think I am trying to sneak something by you and that I secretly want to convert you to Christianity. When I say that atheism and theism share a confusion over how religious language works I am not equating the two. Fundamentalism, along with patriarchy, racism, and greed, is something that should be eradicated from the planet. I think it would be a better world if we took greater strides to understand each other rather than attacking straw men. I think wisdom rarely comes in the form of straightforward assertions and denials which is why I believe that religious claims should only and always be expressed as Catch 22s. In that light, here are the catches from my book:
    The first step in a religious journey is to not take the first step.
    The religious need is only met when you no longer need it.
    The only acceptable evidence for God is evidence that is unacceptable.
    The only God that satisfies is the God that does not satisfy.
    Mystery is only possible when explanation makes it unnecessary.
    You can only feel safe when you are in danger.
    You can only be grateful when you have nothing to be grateful for.
    You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
    Repentance is most needed when it is least necessary.
    Forgiveness is only possible when it is impermissible.

    John

  • carolyntclark

    Whew !…..That was quite a ride. Thank you David for keeping it grounded.
    .

  • Mark Rutledge

    I will ponder these as not unlike buddhist koans. Maybe i don’t get this right, but it is intriguing. Like Jesus’ paradoxes and parables. It kind of reminds me of the philosopher i read many years ago who wrote something like philosophico- logico-tractatis (?) who ended his essay with something like— one who understands my propositions can climb them like a ladder and then throw it away. Ayer? It’s been many years since i studies philosophy so I’ve probably got it wrong. But your catches are worthy of deep pondering. And seeing where that leads….

  • Linda LaScola

    I will agree that doubt is a reaction to belief, but not that “atheism is a reaction to theism.” The word “atheism” might not exist without its opposite “theism” but I think the concept of accepting the natural world as the entire world surely exists separate from the assumption that a “theos” created it all.

    This happens among people who are not exposed to, or forced to believe in, “god” and among people who at some point in their lives simply reject the notion of God because it doesn’t make any sense to them.

  • Mark Rutledge

    Just a serious question about your (non)view of Jesus: have you ever read anything by John Crossan the premier scholar of historical Jesus studies? even atheist scholar Bart Ehrman affirms there was an actual Jesus. What he said and did are matters of scholars’ various reconstructions. And if you cannot believe in a reconstruction you may have nothing left to believe in (about Jesus).

  • Mark Rutledge

    So many impossibilities turn out to be true,
    It might be safer if we all believed everything

  • Mark Rutledge

    If there were more justice in this world there would be less need to believe in another one.

  • ElizabetB.

    [we had family visiting — playing catchup. Appreciation for thinking of me!!]

  • John Tucker

    That is Wittgenstein. I am not as mystical as some interpret him to be in that book but the catches do owe something to his remarks in the Tractatus where he points out that tautologies are always true but say nothing about the world. The catches cannot be escaped so they offer no hope. The only possible responses are despair or transcendence. This is not a spiritual transcendence but merely a conceptual creative leap like absolute peace.

  • John Tucker

    I went through a Crossan phase about twenty years ago. I regard Jesus in a playful manner much like I would any character in literature. I don’t believe in Atticus Finch and that would be strange if I did. I suspect Jesus was an historical figure but it wouldn’t bother me if he turned out not to be. There is probably some Bultmann in me.

  • John Tucker

    I would say that people may be non believers without any knowledge of theism but the atheism identification is clearly a reaction against theism. If people had never learned that the word God referred to a supernatural being it would never occur to them to not believe in that supernatural being just as it does not occur to us to disbelieve in gshdkfjsgshdj. The biggest mistake made by many is the belief that there is a non conceptual givenness to the world and that scientific atheism accesses that non conceptual givenness. That is why many think that atheism is merely the absence of belief in things not verified by experience. This is incorrect. We all have basic beliefs that provide the framework for the evidence based beliefs we hold. These are things like “that the world existed before my birth,” “that I have two hands.” Neither of these are beliefs based upon experience and neither count as knowledge in the scientific language game. In other words it makes no sense to doubt them. Some theists like to argue that religious beliefs are like basic beliefs. That is wrong also because as this page shows, religious beliefs can be doubted in a sensible way.

  • John Tucker

    If we dedicated ourselves to justice we could quit worrying about the idiosyncratic ways that people make meaning in their lives. The best fighters for justice that I know are progressive Christians who get arrested protesting injustice, who stand with the LGBTQ community, and who marched alongside Dr. King. I know that some atheists do those things too. When you are arm in arm with someone on the front lines of justice you don’t really care what motivates people to be there.
    As a progressive I have more in common with progressive Buddhists and progressive atheists than I do with conservative Christians and Ayn Rand atheists. The real enemy are the default positions of racism, misogyny, classism, and
    fundamentalism, not progressive Christians.

  • ElizabetB.

    In Face of Mystery — one wonderful book!!! Thank you for the tip a bit ago… a treasure.

  • Linda LaScola

    John – You say: “You atheists are tyrants over dictionary usage….”

    And I respond: Please be careful defining all atheists as acting and thinking in certain ways.

  • Linda LaScola

    As I said above, I think “atheism” is a word used to mean not believing in god and/or simply believing that the natural world is the entire world.

  • John Tucker

    I hear you but it is something I have encountered on this page and from you during the interviews. I also encounter atheists defining progressive Christians as deluded since the only real version of Christianity is the fundamentalist version (see David Madison). By defining Christianity by its most untenable version and discrediting alternate versions this is stacking the deck. I agree that nothing is true of “every” or “all” but that is a reminder for your audience as well as for me.

  • John Tucker

    Please check out Alexis Record’s review.

  • swbarnes2

    In more primitive societies people did not hold supernatural beliefs because they also did not hold natural beliefs.

    So The Golden Bough is full of examples of… what? If primitive people couldn’t tell the difference between “cook meat thoroughly” and “untie all knots around women in labor”, that’s a problem.

    However, what is being criticized was never what religious life was supposed to be

    Why are you the judge of what religious life is supposed to be, as opposed to millions of believers?

  • John Tucker

    Wittgenstein absolutely loathed The Golden Bough as an example of modernity bias that reinterprets everything through its lens. I recommend Peter Winch on this topic.
    Secondly, I am a religious person in the spirit of Kierkegaard and Simone Weil who is trying to get these “millions of believers” to think differently. Should we tell poets to stop using old words in new ways? Religion is a family resemblances concept that has been domesticated into essential definitions. I am calling it back to the Wild. Lastly, it would seem to me that it is atheists who are declaring these millions of believers wrong.
    The “who are you” argument is an ad hominem attack unworthy of rational discourse.
    And your examples of primitive peoples do not indicate supernatural beliefs, they show different bedrock beliefs that are woven into their form of life. I’m not suggesting that we don’t have tools in our conceptual kit that they lacked, i am suggesting that we not retroactively reinterpret from a post Enlightenment paradigm in a superficial way.

  • swbarnes2

    Forget about the conclusions, what about all the examples of, say, sympathetic magic? If someone says “We have to untie all the knots around a woman in labor to help her give birth” how is that not a belief?

    Secondly, I am a religious person in the spirit of Kierkegaard and Simone Weil who is trying to get these “millions of believers” to think differently

    By telling them that they are doing religion wrong, and that you and a tiny number of bottle breakers are the only ones doing it right.

    You’ve taken the term “religion” which millions and millions of people already understand and more or less agree upon, and rather than say “Wittgenstein and I are doing something different”, you’ve decided that ‘religion’ means what you want it to mean, and everyone else is doing it wrong.

    Should we tell poets to stop using old words in new ways?

    I think a poet who uses a word in a completely different sense from the rest of the world is a poor communicator, and if that poet insists that the rest of the world is using it wrong, and only they and a few 100 year old philosophers are using it right , they are going to be laughed at.

  • John Tucker

    Well there is Dewey’s “A Common Faith”, Maimonides “A Guide for
    The Perplexed”, Job, Ecclesiastes, Nicolas
    of Cusa, the mystics, and on and on who have defined religion differently. What you think religion must mean is exactly why I wrote the book. Fundamentalism makes the same assumptions that many atheists make. What being a Christian means today has little resemblance to the early Jesus movement or pre Reformation Christians.
    It is always evolving.
    My book is a call to religious people to change and embrace the world that atheists inhabit without thinking that they must become atheists.

  • I just got here so I haven’t read the comments below that you’re responding to in this comment. I’ll just say that I’m intrigued and plan to read your book. I’ve read books that discuss philosophers and philosophy recently and I really get bogged down, so I fear I’ll spend a year trying to make myself finish, but I’m really interested nonetheless.

    I do believe that philosophy is useful, but having no background in it makes it tough.

  • John Tucker

    I totally understand. The book is philosophical but not in a jargon kind of way. Think of it as Khalil Gibran on steroids.

  • ElizabetB.

    “My book is a call to religious people to change and embrace the world that atheists inhabit without thinking that they must become atheists” — really interesting : )

  • John Tucker

    Thanks Elizabeth.

  • ElizabetB.

    Did you ever consider alluding to or addressing the “harmful” picture of Jesus that many former believers blame for their losing children and spouses who believe they must shun family members who are no longer believers (hate father and mother, I’m come to bring division, etc)? I read many heartbreaking stories from people who have been cut out of their families. ZeroTheology seems to allude to only positive evaluations of the Jesus character’s sayings…. (I realize this is an old post, but just in case! — It’s interesting to go back now and read your replies after I’ve zoomed through the Kindle version)

  • John Tucker

    Given the constant critique of the belief paradigm, using Jesus or the Bible as a weapon in that way would be ruled out because the grounds upon which people base their harsh judgments are eliminated. I also assume that it is ok to be selective and playful with the Jesus character. Where Jesus is right, he is right because his values reflect open commensality and care. I assume that every hero has flaws and don’t consider those flaws as disqualifying.

  • blogcom

    Zero theology eh, leave it to some pseudo intellectual theologian waffler to come up with the term.
    It’s all babble, warble and garble using a thousand words to say nothing.
    No matter, yours is just one more worthless opinion

  • blogcom

    Your last sentence beggars belief; A call to religious people to change and embrace ………without thinking that they must become atheists.
    Bottom line is these religious folk would be atheists by another name, just who do you think you are fooling.

  • blogcom

    No one gives a rats patootie about your suggestion

  • blogcom

    Your words are a contradictory confused mess.

  • Conspiracy theory again, David. and like most conspiracy theories, this mythical or manufactured Jesus theory is harder to believe than the actual history, and totally nonsensical to those who lived through those years.

    But the real puzzle is that you can no longer believe this but you can believe that the whole wide universe created itself – or was another of those “accidents of History” – without benefit of any guiding hand. Strange what happens when one turns away from reality. God is renamed Randomness, the Randomness that created order and design in the very fundamental laws of the universe as well as human existence.

    Good luck with that , your theory will need it.