The beginning of the end of my efforts to remain in the theistic fold came with the publication, in 1991, of Eugene Borowitz’s book, Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew. I read it three times over the years and never really understood what the heck he was talking about. I used to blame myself for my inability to comprehend books like that. Then it began to slowly dawn on me that their propositions were mostly incoherent. It wasn’t me, it was them.
Borowitz and all the other “sophisticated” theologians are desperately trying to re-create the idea of God. Mordecai Kaplan’s attempt at this was at least clear – and even somewhat compelling – to me. He posited that all God-language was just the expression of a purely human process. Theologians like Borowitz assign a kind of reality to God while claiming that God is not supernatural. They propose that God is, instead, the “ground of our moral values,” whatever that means.
So with this background, and as a dues-paying member of the Center for Inquiry, I could not have been angrier at the article written on The Huffington Post by John Shook, CFI’s Director of Education and Senior Research Fellow:
Astonished that intellectual defenses of religion are still maintained, many prominent atheists disparage theology. They either dismiss the subject as irrelevant, or, if they do bother to acknowledge it, slim refutations of outdated arguments for a medieval God seem enough. Atheists cheer on such bold leadership, but what is really being learned? Challenging religion’s immunity from criticism is one thing; perpetuating contempt for religion’s intellectual side is another. Too many followers only mimic the contempt, forgetting that you won’t effectively criticize what you would not understand. The “know-nothing” wing of the so-called New Atheism really lives up to that label. Nonbelievers reveling in their ignorance are an embarrassing betrayal of the freethought legacy.
Speak for yourself, John. I had a good rabbinical education and over twenty subsequent years of study. The modern intellectual side of religion is worthy of contempt, or at least giggles. To paraphrase the Bard, modern sophisticated theology is a tale told by well-meaning-way-too-smart-for-their-own-good professors, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.
In response to Shook’s article, Sandwalk has issued a challenge to theists to post their very best twenty-first century arguments for the existence of God. I will be watching closely. Maybe I should forward it to Rabbi Borowitz.