changing the conversation

from an article by David Brooks in the NY Times:

… [M]y guess is that the atheism debate is going to be a sideshow. The cognitive revolution is not going to end up undermining faith in God, it’s going end up challenging faith in the Bible…

In their arguments with Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, the faithful have been defending the existence of God. That was the easy debate. The real challenge is going to come from people who feel the existence of the sacred, but who think that particular religions are just cultural artifacts built on top of universal human traits. It’s going to come from scientists whose beliefs overlap a bit with Buddhism.

In unexpected ways, science and mysticism are joining hands and reinforcing each other. That’s bound to lead to new movements that emphasize self-transcendence but put little stock in divine law or revelation. Orthodox believers are going to have to defend particular doctrines and particular biblical teachings. They’re going to have to defend the idea of a personal God, and explain why specific theologies are true guides for behavior day to day…


  1. Hmmm. The whole ‘defending particular doctrines’ thing sounds pretty modernist to me. For myself I’d rather just say that the story of God I find in the Bible makes sense of my story and history. I don’t need to defend that or to feel defensive about it.

    But I do agree with the guy that the fundamentalist atheist things is, and will be a sideline. In a sense I think these guys (and they are all guys, at least the popular ones) are modernists fighting a modernist battle. Postmoderns just sidestep it and look at both sides with bemusement.

  2. I agree with Lindsay, why try and even defend it? If they don’t believe in God, that’s their (dare I say God given) choice. Fine by me!!

    BTW: people who believe Buddhism stands out as the one belief system that’s immune from the effects of cultural artifacts and religious dogma don’t know much about Buddhism!

  3. Interesting NY Times article. Thanks for the link Cheryl. I hope all is coming together for the NOSH, and that life is to stressed and busy. Take care.

  4. Alan Jackson

    The existence of God isn’t being debated; the atheist fundamentalists just use a different word – the Universe. The only point at issue is the existence of a personal God. Nor are ‘particular doctrines and particular bible teachings’ of any real importance to the orthodox: it’s the world-view and the mind-set that truly matter. “Faith in the bible” is contrary to christianity and to judaism; it breaks the first of the Ten Commandments.
    BTW, surely ‘self-transcendence’ would be contrary to Godel’s Theorem?
    And the author knows nothing about Buddhism!

  5. New Atheists are simply religious fundamentalists in different clothing – same tactics to try and force their metanarrative on others – this debate smacks of modernity and bores me. What’s exciting for me in exploring this debate is to meet with humanists and atheists who are willing to tone down the rhetoric where we can distill the white noise and see what we have in common with our shared humanity. I feel some very exciting things happening in these quiet spaces – it requires Cheryl as your kind gentle wisdom reminds us – moving away from the master table and find other places to play.

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