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Christopher Hitchens: The Orthodox Protestant Atheist - Comments

quantum_flux's Avatar Comment 1 by quantum_flux

Christians who don't believe that Christ died for their souls are actually called Jews, the Jews are also wrong in their belief system too, half as wrong as Christians because they at least reject the last half of the Bible on literal grounds.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 00:49:00 UTC | #441374

Puppy Burner's Avatar Comment 2 by Puppy Burner

I agree with quantum_flux and will not immolate his avatar

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 01:03:00 UTC | #441376

Friend Giskard's Avatar Comment 3 by Friend Giskard

Yada-yada-yada.

But I say that in a powerful and meaningful way, you understand.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 01:23:00 UTC | #441378

ZIwxBeheld's Avatar Comment 4 by ZIwxBeheld

I'm kind of new here, and I'm probably being stupid, but what do Unitarian Universalists believe? I've searched their website for any mention of god and can find none. Is the idea of religion without god as passé as morality without god?

Are they simply organised consequentialists, or misguided humanists? What do they actually worship?

I can see why Hitchens might be confused...

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 01:35:00 UTC | #441379

Quine's Avatar Comment 6 by Quine

But then, who is a Druid?

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 01:36:00 UTC | #441381

j.mills's Avatar Comment 5 by j.mills

No True Christian, Sophisticated Theologians, Emperor's New Clothes, Armstrongian non-god, belief in belief, strawmen, absence of evidence, etc, etc. This geezer hopes to rescue god simply by claiming that the idea of god may be inspiring. By the same [cough] reasoning, the existence of ghost stories proves the existence of ghosts.

What on earth do these retreatists think they are professing to believe in?

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 01:36:00 UTC | #441380

aussieatheist_111's Avatar Comment 7 by aussieatheist_111

My goodness, Hitchens actually believes you have to think Christ the Messiah died for our sins to be a Christian£ These atheist fundamentalists really have no idea about what true Christianity looks like, do they.

I'm going to stick my neck out here, and say Hitchens is probably correct in caricaturing Christians as people who believe Christ died for their sins.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 01:53:00 UTC | #441383

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 8 by Alovrin

Comment #461087 by quantum_flux
Christians who don't believe that Christ died for their souls are actually called Jews


Hey presto abracadara & aleekazam from the site
As the multimedia blog site of Tikkun — a bimonthly Jewish and interfaith magazine, founded and edited by Rabbi Michael Lerner

and at the head of the queue.

Why Is This Blog Different from All Other Blogs?
Because our intention is for it to be:

Jewish
Interfaith
Political
Spiritual
Humanist
Biophilic
Progressive
Prophetic
Intellectually deep
“Unrealistic”
Inspiring



It's quite interesting watching the contortions the "spiritual" community is now going thru. After centuries of internal disagreement, persecution and siring more offspring that the proverbial rabbit. They are apparently now trying to be one big happy family. And build a big tent and bring us all under it.
As it is said "Good luck with that"

Intellectually deep...snigger snort.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 01:59:00 UTC | #441385

DAVE1618's Avatar Comment 9 by DAVE1618

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

Just because he understands an ideology better than it's takers, doesn't mean he lives by them, just means he's a smart man.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 02:02:00 UTC | #441386

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 10 by God fearing Atheist

Talk about missing the point!


And aside from the liberal Christian tradition, Hitchens critique also ridicules and bashes atheists. He very likely does not know that Unitarian Universalism is made up of 19% of people who identify as atheist and agnostic. Yet they feel very comfortable expressing themselves in a religious tradition that is based on community, social justice, music and inclusion.


If a "church" has so little woo-woo left that 19% of its members are agnostics/atheists who go there for a social, then Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and the rest of us strident atheists have won. The target of "new atheism" is the deluded belief in magic/supernatural, that leads to all sorts of abuses. Celebration of human spirit, awe, community, choirs, and bell ringing are not in contest.

Hitchens is dividing "Christians" into precisely the divisions an atheist observer finds useful - those who are deluded by magic - virgin births, man-gods, resurrections, and the rest of the woo-woo, and those who are secular communities, whose only link to woo-woo is historical.


I will lastly mention Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I recently wrote an article for Tikkun which describes in detail how Dr. King rejected the orthodox divinity of Christ, didn’t believe in heaven/hell, saw the Bible as myth and saw Christianity as a mix of paganism, Judaism and religious cults of the time.


So are you trying to tell us that MLK was an atheist? Did he believe in any woo-woo? If not, then no atheist, including CH, would have a problem with his position, if so, why are you hidding it?

So what is a "liberal Christian"? An atheist who won't admit his/her atheism because it might look bad, or a woo-woo merchant who won't admit the woo-woo in case it doesn't look liberal or sophisticated?

Open challenge to debate Hitchens? - he'll eat you alive!

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 02:06:00 UTC | #441387

edivimo's Avatar Comment 11 by edivimo

Nice point alovrin, they had killed between themselves for centuries and now, thanks to liberal godless ideas invented for stopping that killings, they can proclaim they're tolerants and Hitchens is miscaracterizing them.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 02:09:00 UTC | #441388

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 12 by mordacious1

The following "challenge" is very typical of people who have a weak case:

Open challenge to Christopher Hitchens: Come debate myself and fellow students at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. You wouldn’t be afraid of a few young seminary students would you?


They mean: if you don't accept our challenge you are either a coward or know you can't debate us on the facts. As we all know, the Hitch would wipe up the floor with these sniveling little bastards, but why would he waste his time? Now they can say he refused the challenge and pat themselves on the back in a superior manner. It's total bull turd.

I believe the booger in my left nostril is the second coming of christ and if the pope doesn't debate me on it, then it's true. What's he afraid of? The challenge is out there Ratz...

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 02:33:00 UTC | #441389

LaurieB's Avatar Comment 13 by LaurieB

Hitch is debating Rabbi Wolpe here in Boston (US)on March 23. Anybody going?

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 02:41:00 UTC | #441390

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 14 by DocWebster

I didn't know there were christians who didn't believe every bit of the jesus myth in minute detail. If it's true that you don't need a christ for christianity then I can call myself a christian and go to Britain and clock people left and right, provided Cherie Blair is the judge.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 02:45:00 UTC | #441391

Paine's Avatar Comment 15 by Paine

He fails to provide a definition of what religion is.


That made me burst out laughing! The whole article vigorously refuses to provide a definition of what a Christian is.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 02:47:00 UTC | #441392

scaryatheist's Avatar Comment 16 by scaryatheist

I am guessing that Hitchens believes that words have meaning. And i can understand that Unitarians would find this troubling because as a social member i find the beliefs to lack any structure

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 03:37:00 UTC | #441394

lesmwill's Avatar Comment 17 by lesmwill

There may be numerous esoteric versions of Christianity floating about. The commonly accepted one is the one being used to brainwash the masses. I believe that is the one Mr. Hitchens refers to.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 03:46:00 UTC | #441396

digibud's Avatar Comment 18 by digibud

Many people grow up being told they are christians but realize the stupidity of the idea of virgin birth and such. So they cherry pick what they want to believe and what they don't want to believe and call that christianity. They see nothing odd about that, but it just makes no sense. To an outsider (atheist) that sees so many diverse claims to what defines a "christian", the only thing that gives some objective meaning to the term is the bible. To the degree a person believes in the bible, they are christians. Same with the holy books of other religions and their followers. Thus fundamentalists are most easily identified with their religion in spite of the fact that plenty of folks call themselves christians that may not even believe Christ existed. And many of those claim they are "true christians". It boggles the mind.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 04:00:00 UTC | #441397

JDAM's Avatar Comment 19 by JDAM

Thanks, Be! You've single-handedly demonstrated the fundamental idea we've been trying to get across for decades..."religion = illogical drivel"!

Word soup!

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 04:23:00 UTC | #441398

godsbelow's Avatar Comment 20 by godsbelow

"Why is Hitchens so quick to accept such an orthodox interpretation of the boundaries of Christianity?"

Because that is the interpretation accepted by most of the two billion or so Christians on the planet. It is the interpretation with which most true believers identify.

If you like the Jesus myth, but don't believe anybody ever rose from the dead and don't think there is any need for salvation through the risen Christ, then you've missed the central tennet of Christianity. The whole point of it is redemption from sin through Christ's resurrection. If you don't actually believe that, then you are emphatically NOT a Christian. You're just someone who likes the Jesus myth.

I'm someone who quite likes the idea of Valhalla for an afterlife. But I don't actually believe that if I die in battle I'll be whisked away by Valkyries to spend every night in drunken debauchery and every day in battle with frost giants. Therefore I am not a Scandinavian pagan. I'm just someone who likes the Valhalla myth.

Hitch is right.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 05:24:00 UTC | #441401

TheVirginian's Avatar Comment 21 by TheVirginian

I don't even have to read more than the first few paragraphs to see where this nonsense is going. Hitchens accurately describes Christian beliefs for most of the past 1,700 years. While many early Christians might not have accepted the Jesus=God definition, by the late 4th century, that was orthodoxy, and anyone who said otherwise would become cooked meat. The idea that Jesus was, as Jefferson and others said in the 18th century, a great moral leader was a purely secular and humanistic idea that denied fundamental Christian theology. Liberal Christians are secular humanists who go to church and espouse non-Christian, secular, humanistic ideas under the guise that these are the "real" beliefs of that great moral philosopher Jesus.

Well, other Christians can play that game too. The defenders of slavery, racism and segregation in the U.S. were certain that Jesus was on their side. And a certain Fuhrer of Germany from 1933 to 1945 was certain that Jesus, as an Aryan and critic of communist/capitalist Judaism, was a proponent of National Socialism and an enemy of Marxism, socialism and capitalism. If liberal Christians can invent their own, Personal Jesus, so can traditional Christians, who have a lot more history and theology on their side than any liberal, quasi-secular-humanist-liberal Christian.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 06:07:00 UTC | #441404

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 22 by Roland_F

This is not my God !
All the other 33,000 “Christian” faith denominations got it all wrong !
And Christianity is everything from hard core Evangelical cults to Sunday tea time assembly groups : hey Hitch try to hit a such diverse target !

But the article highlights what the evolution of the Christianity tree is really about: including deists and “spiritualist” who just thinks something must be out there which of course is the good old desert god Yahweh.
The fertility god from Judea YHWH one of the 70 sons of the most high god Elyon just responsible for ruling Judea the land of Jacob , a chimera fusion with El’ohim from the Northern tribes of Israel starting in the 8th century BC, divorced from his wife Ashera, then declared as monotheistic creator of the universe in the 7th century BC, like in Greek and Roman Pagan tradition fathered a son around 0 AD with a virgin girl, the resulting son from the anointed branch of the Davidic blood line, competed against Pauline Logos Myth of the Christ battling the demons above earth, merged again as chimera of Pauline son of god Logos-Christ with Davidic Jewish Jesus ruler of Judea , and finally from the 2nd until the 4th century AD fabricated and squeezed into some odd construct of a holy trinity.

Yes and of course this monotheistic creator god trinity now moves in very mysterious ways, is beyond human ken, is an immaterial out of time deity, and unknowable especially to Karen Armstrong who writes a lot about him, but of course he is the center of some Unitarian coffee or tea party gatherings of cultural Christians who mostly do not believe in the entire Bible story.

So the best way is to call cultural Christians tea parties better charities, call a deist a deist, the agnostic an agnostics, and “spiritualists” (something is out there”) by their name – but do not call the all Christians !

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 06:10:00 UTC | #441405

DNR's Avatar Comment 24 by DNR

Have you ever the complaint against non-belivers: "you're not qualified to discuss such matters of theology"?
It seems the only people they would allow to critize, doubt, etc., religon, then, are the very people who believe in it wholeheartedly.

“Name a moral action that a religious person can make that I can’t.”

The author left out the second part of the question.(name an immoral action that could only be done by a believer)

Probably becuase it would clash with this:

"But [God or religion] certainly can inspire people to live a more ethical life"

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 06:18:00 UTC | #441407

TheVirginian's Avatar Comment 23 by TheVirginian

I tried to read to the end of this bilge, but could not. For 1,500 years, most Christians either defended the enslavement of pagans or accepted it as, well, morally acceptable. Most defenses of slavery in the U.S. were written by clergy, and they based their defenses on the Bible and Christian theology. And the slavery defenders were RIGHT!
Blast, hit the wrong keys and got it entered before I was finished my tirade.
Anyway, the Bible clearly condones slavery, so the abolitionists were as much outliers as those people who said Christianity commanded pacifism. Christianity always endorsed war and coercion.
The problem with this article is that it pretends that REAL Christianity is a modern, secular, humanistic, science-influenced belief system when in reality it is a primitive, barbaric, paranoid, authortarian, anti-intellectual, superstition. Exactly what educated Romans and Greeks said. Hitchens hits the nail on the head here, whatever his other flaws, and the author of this piece is either grossly ignorant of Christianity or grossly dishonest!!!!!

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 06:18:00 UTC | #441406

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 25 by SaintStephen

"In order to discredit any practical function of religion he frequently returns to the question, “Name a moral action that a religious person can make that I can’t.” This is a great question for all of those dogmatic fundamentalists that he debates. But he poses the same question to Marilyn Sewell in the interview. But of course Sewell, myself, and many liberal religious people don’t believe that religion or God is necessary to be moral. But it certainly can inspire people to live a more ethical life. But simply because Hitchens and other agnostics/atheists are capable of the same moral actions this doesn’t mean that religion is irrelevant. And it seems that Hitchens was trying to make this point in his interview with Sewell."
To summarize Scofield: Religion isn’t irrelevant because it can inspire people to live more ethical lives – although it isn’t really necessary for this purpose..

So apparently in the year 2010, (under the onslaught of The Four Horsemen), “liberal” religioids with insider information now say that God has totally changed schticks from the former “petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak” who carved commandments into stone and ordered people to behave under penalty of eternal fiery damnation; to an old, friendly, avuncular professor -- one who doesn’t demand obedience or even attendance in his class, but who merely implores and counsels his undergraduate students to read his classic text book if they’re having trouble with the homework problems, or if they would like to score some extra credit points before the big Final Exam:

Careful there with that selfish behaviour Jessica dear! Everything is covered in Kings and Deuteronomy, if you would just look in the chapters I showed you, for Heaven’s sake. Oh look… there goes that snooty Postlethwaite boy. Hasn’t attended my class all year and still aces my morals & ethics midterm. Harummphh! He probably wouldn’t even recognize me in the hallway. Clever lad.

Okay so fine, Scofield. Take hold of your Invisible Tutor's hand, and you and your liberal religious friends can navigate your ethical paths to Eternity – but please just keep it to yourselves, and don’t ask for any special treatment from the Government.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 07:35:00 UTC | #441419

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 26 by Jos Gibbons

Hitchens still holds to an amazingly ignorant understanding of the liberal religious heritage.
Naughty CH. So, what does he think you have to think to be a Christian? That the Earth is young? That Adam was real? That slavery was OK at the time but isn’t any more, but God knows that?
While rejecting conservative Christians’ theological claims about God, the Bible and Jesus, he accepts their understanding of who is and is not able to be considered a Christian. In a recent interview with Marilyn Sewell, a Unitarian Universalist minister and self-professed liberal Christian, Christopher Hitchens paraphrased C.S. Lewis to explain the boundaries of who constitutes a Christian. It’s not surprising then that a recent blog post by Dr. Ray Pritchard of “Keep Believing Ministries” for a conservative Christian site called Crosswalk was entitled, “Christopher Hitchens Gets it Exactly Right.”
On the one hand, a fundamentalist agrees with him ... although it’s possible the fundamentalist was agreeing with a statement of the form “X is necessary” rather than “X is necessary and sufficient”, and therefore CH might not be taking the same line as the fundamentalist. We’ll have to wait to see. On the other hand, Lewis didn’t ask for any of the aforesaid things. But don’t worry – the details are nearly here.
[RP agrees with CH that]What you believe about Jesus Christ really does make a difference.
Sounds reasonable – the word whose meaning we’re seeking is “CHRISTian”, after all. Or is that as misleading as naming Thursday after Thor?
Sewell: ... I don’t believe that Jesus died for our sins ... Do you make any distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion? Hitchens: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.
Sewell is an alleged Christian and CH is not, and both of them would agree with that, but apparently neither believes in atonement. So, what is the DIFFERENCE between them that makes Sewell Christian? Answer me that, Scofield. Your so called “liberal” definitions are so broad that you can’t possibly exclude people who definitely aren’t Christian. Or maybe CH is a Christian, but is lying. Is that it?
Why is Hitchens so quick to accept such an orthodox interpretation of the boundaries of Christianity?
Because of the dictionary.
[CH] wants to hold firmly to an either/or dichotomy–the very same one which he is critiquing fundamentalism for.
No, he criticises fundamentalists for having even more stupid and refutable and dangerous beliefs than the other religious people. You can’t make someone sound like a hypocrite by lying about what they dislike about those they dislike: it makes you a LIAR. The reason CH holds to an either/or dichotomy is because that’s how words work. If you want to use a word, know how it’s defined, then apply it. Don’t use a word inconsistently, then criticise anyone who calls you on it while pretending to know what you mean. Has Scofield never understood the point of the law of the excluded middle?
But which denomination of protestant atheist is he? This isn’t clear but it is apparently not one which falls outside of his or C.S. Lewis’s orthodox boundaries of inclusion/exclusion.
Name me one explicitly Protestant denomination which equally explicitly says that its members – members, mind you, not just people allowed in the building – need not believe that Christ died for our sins and rose again. Then we can research how they started, and what the group off from which they split thought of it.
Isn’t is shocking that of all people Christopher Hitchens is in agreement with the many forces in history which have led to the extermination, torture and destruction of “heretics” for simply believing the “wrong” form of Christianity?
Being evil doesn’t make people incorrect about any specific factual or linguistic question. Some evil dictators thought God exists, some thought God doesn’t. One group had to be right. For the last time, the problem with fundamentalists is that they’re jackasses.
Since when is Hitchens so concerned about who is and isn’t a Christian?
If you debate topics, and some people don’t even know how words are defined, then he’s going to have to correct them, and he didn’t so briefly, rather than over the huge article here. We have yet to even see a defence of Scofield’s view that Christianity is as broad a concept as he thinks.
Any first-year seminary student could tell Hitchens about the incredibly contested history of inclusion/exclusion within Christianity. These debates go back to the early days of the religious movement and continue to the present day.
So Christians can’t agree. Big deal. This whole line of thought is dishonest, yet again. It is only very recently that a debate has occurred over whether Christians have to think Jesus died for us and rose, and with good reason: of course they do, or they should get a new name.
And many ... of the time.
So lots of people disagree with CH and agree with Scofield. Does that make CH right? No. That’s called the argumentum ad populum fallacy. In any case, they only sound like plenty when you list them; but literally billions agree with CH, and there’s a more sensible argument that can be made from that. WHY do they agree with him over what a word means? It’s because they’re not ignorant of the linguistic conventions of their own language.
And what of the millions of Christians who choose this label but don’t accept the orthodox or fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity? For some reason Hitchens sides with C.S. Lewis and joins the religious forces of exclusion, domination and institutional control.
Stop calling the view that “CHRISTianity” espouses special powers to CHRIST a fundamentalist view, and stop acting all offended at the exclusion approach to defining a word. If this were a discussion over the meaning of any other word at all, like ball or table or planet, we’d recognise not everything counts. If it doesn’t have legs, or it’s alive, or is neither used nor intended for use as a working or storage surface, it’s not a table. I will not apologise for being “illiberal” on that point.
[Hedges said:] The new atheists, who attack a repugnant version of religion, use it to condemn all religion. They use it to deny the reality and importance of the religious impulse. They are curiously unable to comprehend those who found through their religious convictions the strength to stand up against injustice…The new atheists, like all fundamentalists, flee from complexity. They can cope with religion in its most primitive and abusive form. They are helpless when confronted by a faith that challenges their caricatures.
This quotation doesn’t deal with what the word “Christian” means. It’s just atheist bashing for its own sake. Scofield’s purposes are now abundantly clear. Note that Hedges, in telling off the atheists for ignoring the well–behaved Christians, has clearly said that it is a moral rather than an intellectual issue on which Hedges disagrees with Hitchens about the nature of Christians. In other words, Hedges does not support Scofield’s contentions. (I won’t refute the errors Hedges makes here; because, unlike Scofield, I aim to stay on topic!)
And aside from the liberal Christian tradition, Hitchens critique also ridicules and bashes atheists. He very likely does not know that Unitarian Universalism is made up of 19% of people who identify as atheist and agnostic. Yet they feel very comfortable expressing themselves in a religious tradition that is based on community, social justice, music and inclusion.
But they neither are nor self–identify as Christian, so they are in no way affected by anything Hitchens has said about what makes a Christian a Christian. Why has Scofield been so offended by one sentence, and why does he choose to settle it with an article and not a dictionary entry?
In order to discredit any practical function of religion he frequently returns to the question, “Name a moral action that a religious person can make that I can’t.” This is a great question for all of those dogmatic fundamentalists that he debates. But he poses the same question to Marilyn Sewell in the interview.
So is the difference between fundamentalists and liberals a matter of defining a word, or morality? Make up your mind, Scofield. Be consistent. And, as before, I won’t address these irrelevant discussions.
I know many liberal religious people who find great familiarity and agreement in what Hitchens is saying [about awe]. They agree with him wholeheartedly but yet choose to use religious language to express this.
That doesn’t mean religious language is appropriate here. One could similarly make it sound like being amazed by the complexity and size of the universe has something to do with astrology and not astronomy, but it still wouldn’t be true that astrology meant anything of the kind. Words can be misused: on that, Scofield is an expert.
[Hitchens] fails to provide a definition of what religion is. Who does he consider religious? Who decides within each tradition who has the power to include/exclude?
He already defined Christianity – Scofield just didn’t like the answer. It seems quite obvious how Hitchens would likely define religion. Inclusion/exclusion is not a matter of autocrats in churches; it’s a matter of what words mean. If you don’t need to believe specific things to be a Christian, Muslim etc., then in what sense aren’t all people just about every religion under the sun? What use are the words at that point?
Religion is merely a tool ... Perhaps one day Hitchens will convert from his Orthodox Protestant Atheism to a more tolerant, inclusive and loving tradition.
Correcting mistakes in language has nothing to do with either love or its antithesis: you either use words in a way that is sufficiently demarcating to be useful for communication, or you don’t. Let’s suppose religion is a tool. Would it make sense to say knives need not cut things? No. For what is Christianity a tool? What DOES it have to do to count as Christianity in the view of Scofield, if not involve specific beliefs? Indeed, doesn’t religion have its effects as a result of how its associated beliefs motivate behaviour?
Open challenge to Christopher Hitchens: Come debate myself and fellow students at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. You wouldn’t be afraid of a few young seminary students would you?
Hitchens has already debated religious people, of varying views about what counts as religion, or their religion, on about 500 occasions. He wouldn’t be a coward to turn down yet another one. He would instead be recognising which people are not fit to debate a simple topic, because they not only cannot accurately, or even consistently, define terms to use in it, but also would rather waste time on failed efforts to do that than actually get on with the subsequent substance of the debate. If we agree, for example, that Christians have properties A, B and C, we can debate how moral and, in the case where these properties include beliefs, rational those properties are. Indeed, this is the form the debate needs to take, and it cannot in the present situation.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 07:39:00 UTC | #441420

flying goose's Avatar Comment 27 by flying goose

If we want to extinguish religion, Or encourage it to mutate into benign forms, we need to understand how it works and why.


From the end of Dan Dennett's lecture last year. I think those words contain much wisdom.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 07:51:00 UTC | #441423

Rachel Holmes's Avatar Comment 28 by Rachel Holmes

Obviously there has to be a point where a person's beliefs draw so little from the Bible that it's inappropriate for that person to call themselves Christian.

Even so, I think it's a mistake to presume that you can treat conceptual nouns in the same way as nouns denoting physical objects. The latter have relatively clean definitions. The former frequently don't: their meaning may cluster round some fundamental point, but will be fuzzy at the edges. In my opinion, the meanings become even fuzzier when the noun is decribing something as multifarious as a belief system.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 08:11:00 UTC | #441427

nhnl's Avatar Comment 29 by nhnl

This is an "argument from theology". i.e. you can't comment on any religion unless you understand the intricacies and foibles of every possible permutation of the given religion, including the offshoot cult version of christianity that i made up just yesterday and is followed by me and my cat!

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 08:12:00 UTC | #441428

flying goose's Avatar Comment 30 by flying goose

Just ask yourself the question, Who were the people persecuted and marginalised by the orthodox and later the inquisition?
Answer: Arians, Donatists, Cathars, Waldensians, Spiritual Franciscans, Quakers etc. All of whom would have indentified themselves as Christians. Those who denied them that name and victimised them were the orthodox establishment.

The orthodox have persecuted, victimised and marginalised the heterodox for at least 1500 years.

They don't own the name.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 08:34:00 UTC | #441433