Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fundies: Atheist and Theist

I was listening to Stephen Prothero, author of Religious Literacy and advocate for teaching of religion in public schools. Protheros' earlier book on the American Jesus is brilliant. Haven't had a chance to read this one yet, but hearing him speak lot of wisdom.

Anyway, a question was posed to him about the new atheists (the anti-vangelicals as Colbert aptly calls them)--people like Dawkins, Harris, Dennett--and their strange bedfellow relationship with Christian fundamentalists.

Prothero's response was that both Christian fundamentalists and atheist (fundamentalists) agree on is a prior epistemological point: namely that religious truth is propositional.

This is back to the point (a la the last post on Benedict) of the mistake of reducing truth to scientific claims. To "it" language. Religious truths are a series of propositions that are either to be believed full stop or are wrong and therefore the whole operation is flawed.

But as Benedict pointed out religious truth is about love and communion. About ethics, about culture, about human freedom and dignity. It is about discipleship, living into mystery, living with questions, searching, comfort and consolation. Something completely missed by the fundies of both the religious and atheist varieties.

Religious truths are not a list on a wall that are yes or no. Literal birth, atonement, scriptures, whatever. The only thing that divides say a Harris from a Christian fundie is whether they answer yes or no to the problem as they have conceived it.


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