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View Diary: The Rosetta Stone for Diary Titles (362 comments)

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  •  You bet. (none)
    I suspect a lot of progressive folks who call themselves theists are actually more like Einstein.  He was a magnificent nontheist:
    "It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously.  I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust.  A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary.  Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death." ("Religion and Science", New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930)

    "The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."

    I truly think the division between theists and nontheists here is less real than some think.

    "Force always attracts those of low morality." -- Albert Einstein

    by eyeswideopen on Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 08:03:36 PM PDT

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    •  Many liberal mainline Christians would agree... (none)
      Full disclosure: I grew up in multicultural Central NJ as a United Methodist, and have decided to continue in that faith tradition.  I attended a very liberal UMC in Hollywood, CA (big AIDS ribbon on the tower, to give you a basic sense).  Now, in Maryland, am attending the same church that the "godfather" of ecological economics, Herman Daly, attends. Then again, the UMC includes reason as a guideline for belief (for more see the Wesleylan Quadrilateral).

      Ok, I think many mainline, liberal Christians have moved beyond the fears of life and death, punishment and reward, etc. to a sense of wonder at Creation (no flames...many mainline Christians trust science on the big bang, evolution, etc.) and an innate sense of justice and trust in the wisdom of Christ. They value scientific progess. Heck, I used to teach my Sunday School kids (2nd and 3rd graders) that it's OK to asks questions, and that life's questions usually don't yield answers, but better questions.

      My first girlfriend was an atheist (although a member of the Unitarian church).  My sister is married to an atheist. And while I obviously don't see the world through that filter, I don't disparage it.  

      As I've said in comments for a different diary, I'm a big fan of Karen Armstrong's construct of Mythos vs. Logos and Stephen Jay Gould's NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria) where science and faith/philosophy coexist, each seeking to answer only the questions they are equipped to answer.  I include atheism and agnosticism in this faith/philosophy category for obvious reasons.  

      Perhaps, when people of faith say that atheists have a faith, I really think they are saying that they have a philosophy which they equate on some level with a faith.  I think we may be hung up on the word.

      Now, conservative mainline Christians (like my father) are a slightly more complicated issue, although many of their reservations are about intermarriage rather than other social or professional ties. Liberal evangelicals are a much more complicated issue as they do believe in heaven & hell and a defined path (through JC, and JC only) to reach heaven.

      Last point: The traditional mainline churches have provided a lot of the charity in this and many countries over the years (and, contrary to popular belief, much of it without pressured proselytizing).  However, as they decline because of an increase in evangelical churches, which place proselytizing above charity, in direct contradiction to much of the Christ's teaching, and atheism, which lacks centralized organization for obvious reasons, I'm concerned about the results. I don't have faith that government will pick up the slack or that people will voluntarily organize themselves in sufficient numbers into broad-based charitable groups. But, as I read this last point, it seems off-topic.


      Maryland School of Public Policy Master of Public Policy Candidate

      by magicrusslc on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:34:10 AM PDT

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      •  Russ (none)
        Would you consider writing a diary on this?  I am convinced that there is absolutely no need for any rift between progressives based on faith or nonfaith.  It seems like you would be able to articulate an approach that helps heal the breach.  There is a lot of hurt on the atheist/agnostic side due to persistent characterizations of them as being devoid of morality, even here and on NPR.  We all have a common political adversary because we all share the same values: justice, peace, humanity, aiding those in need, education, environmental health, honesty, and so much more.  Our values arise in different ways, but we have all arrived at the same conclusions.

        I am very concerned at the shrinking of the traditional churches who have provided so much to so many.  The tradition of tolerance is much better developed than in the more radical types we are now seeing.  As to what structure will support the nontheist community, that's a whole other kettle of fish.  I am really encouraged that nontheists are welcomed into the UCC, the Unitarian Church, and the Quakers.  It shows a real adherence to what I regard as the jewel in the lotus of Christian teachings.    

        I know that many Kossacks of faith are the most wonderful of people, and really wish this rift could be healed by understanding.

        I don't know if you read my attempt at healing the rift, but here it is:

        Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Russ.  You are the real deal.

        "The survival value of intelligence is that it allows us to extinct a bad idea, before the idea extincts us." -- Karl Popper

        by eyeswideopen on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:40:03 PM PDT

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