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Mon May 7, 2012, 02:11 PM

What progressive theists think about atheism

Since it has come up a number of times, consider here what most progressive theists tend to believe about atheism. This response does not quite fit in the current string, so I’ll take a different go at it. Right at the beginning let’s be clear; many, if not most American church-goers are conservatives, and tend to believe that only Christians of a certain sort are “saved,” whatever that means. The religious scene in the United States tends to be dominated by these believers. While they may in these days be a majority of religionists, by no means do they represent all Christians. As I have often said, most ecumenical seminaries, denominations, Councils of Churches and progressive congregations do not fall into this fundamentalist pit. Increasingly religious progressives find common cause in a vital inter-faith dialogue. A large congregation near here has on its staff a Rabbi and an Imam. Our local interfaith seminary trains religious leaders in all three disciplines. If there is any argument within these groups, it is with a few within them that take a very conservative stance. For instance, if portions of the United Methodists Church is wrong on GLBT issues, they hear about it from the progressives within their own body—as well as from the rest of us.

Since atheism is not a religion, but the absence of one, atheists are obviously not included in any inter-faith conversations. The vital and growing “Parliament of World Religions,” has no representative from atheism, although Buddhism, Confucianism and several other “faiths” do not believe in a supreme being. Yet they call themselves and are called “religions” because they have doctrines, rituals, practices which are formally accepted by the adherents.

I have been deeply involved in all the ventures and groups listed above, and I have never heard, seen or witnessed in any verbal or written form, a criticism of either atheism or atheists. It is just not on the agenda anywhere. There has been some commentary about secularism as having a negative effect on culture, while humanism and humanistic institutions and groups are always seen as colleagues. In most cases Unitarianism, which is substantially composed of humanists, is always welcome to the conversations, and is among the groups that make the most important contribution. So-called Ethical Culture societies are largely atheistic, but they too often join the conversations.

In these ecclesial gatherings, nobody flouts a particular doctrine. The main interest lies in what various people and groups think about the issues facing society—which are the same issues facing theists and atheists alike. How a person or a group comes down on the rights of the poor, GLBTs, war and peace, economic disparity, etc., forms the basis of these conversations. There is no doctrinal litmus test, and nobody seems to care. What is important is the relationship between faith and the issues we all face.

Beyond these wide-ranging conversations, I have never seen in print, in journals books, periodicals or reports, a single word critical of atheists or atheism. It just never comes up and is on nobody’s agenda. There are, however, serious ideological confrontations with both fundamentalist religionists and philosophy’s like Randian Objectivism. It is not Rand’s atheism that is the focus of the objection, but the ethical framework out of which it operates.

These groups and persons believe that how they view issues before society flows from their religious commitments, but realize that others who have the same notions of what is good for the world, may have widely differing ways they have come to the same conclusions. Faith is not essential to any ethical stance, even while the ethical stance of many of us is in direct relationship to our faith.

None of these bodies is a debating forum with atheists. We would consider that an unproductive waste of time, and no one is interested. DU is the only place I know where this happens. We simply accept as colleagues in the struggle for human values, all those committed to those values. Faith or no faith is beside the point.

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 28 replies Author Time Post
Reply What progressive theists think about atheism (Original post)
Thats my opinion May 2012 OP
patrice May 2012 #1
trotsky May 2012 #2
patrice May 2012 #5
trotsky May 2012 #3
Thats my opinion May 2012 #7
trotsky May 2012 #10
Thats my opinion May 2012 #13
trotsky May 2012 #15
Thats my opinion May 2012 #19
trotsky May 2012 #28
rrneck May 2012 #4
xfundy May 2012 #6
Thats my opinion May 2012 #8
trotsky May 2012 #9
mr blur May 2012 #11
Thats my opinion May 2012 #12
EvolveOrConvolve May 2012 #14
trotsky May 2012 #16
Thats my opinion May 2012 #20
trotsky May 2012 #27
darkstar3 May 2012 #17
Thats my opinion May 2012 #21
darkstar3 May 2012 #26
darkstar3 May 2012 #18
Thats my opinion May 2012 #22
darkstar3 May 2012 #24
Thats my opinion May 2012 #23
darkstar3 May 2012 #25

Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 02:40 PM

1. I have never understood how that which is rational can have much to say about the

non-rational.

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Response to patrice (Reply #1)

Mon May 7, 2012, 02:44 PM

2. Because the non-rational saturates our society...

and influences the politics that determine the laws that the rational have to live under as well?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #2)

Mon May 7, 2012, 03:18 PM

5. All true, but what I'm saying here, is that beyond the observation that the non-rational IS

non-rational, what else can rationalism say about it? It doesn't speak the appropriate language.

Providing a rational critique of the non-rational is ir-relevant and vice versa.

It is appropriate for each to provide its own critique of the issues in terms of itself and thus reveal its functional superiority if possible, but the criteria of that critique are ir-relevant to the other.

Although, I have to admit that posing these questions this way may really just reveal more about the nature and limitations of the tools by means of which those positions are constructed, language(s), than it does about the issues themselves (. . . hence, my somewhat absurdist sig.)

I also just recently watched a video, titled The Quantum Activist, with Physicist academician, Dr. Amit Goswami, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1397093/ he points out the problems resulting from perspective.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 02:45 PM

3. You were doing so well up til the end...

where it sounds like you are again trying to silence voices and declare topics off-limits in this group. Did you intend it that way?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #3)

Mon May 7, 2012, 05:31 PM

7. My observation is not about what goes on here.

If I were really talking about "religion"in this post, I would have long since refused to be part of it. I'm long past trying to say that using "religion" for the sole purpose of attacking any and all things about religion may not profit anyone, but that is what goes on here, and I'm still on board.

Do you have any comment about the post otherwise? is there anything between us we can now lay to rest?

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #7)

Mon May 7, 2012, 06:16 PM

10. I really don't know what was the point of the OP then.

Just to toot your own horn? Expect all the atheists who have disagreed with some of the nasty things you've said in here to feel that all is good now?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #10)

Mon May 7, 2012, 08:12 PM

13. if you don't understand the point of the post, then just don'tworry about it.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #13)

Mon May 7, 2012, 09:23 PM

15. Actually I just want you to state it.

I have my strong suspicions, but I want to hear why you wrote this.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #15)

Tue May 8, 2012, 01:14 AM

19. To affirm that any criticism of atheists or atheism is not what progressive theists are about.

We have real issues and real concerns, but this is not one of them. Live and let life is at the heart of what we believe--except for our dispute with fundamentalists of all kinds.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #19)

Tue May 8, 2012, 07:28 AM

28. Well of course not. Atheists are no threat to you.

We don't have the numbers, we don't have the political clout.

As I and many others have tried repeatedly to point out to you, we just want to keep religion and politics separate. We don't like it when the religious right cloaks their agenda in their religion, and we don't like it when religious progressives do it either. Most of the posts here critical of religion in general are pointing out the futility of trying to anchor arguments or political positions on theology. I'm sorry this point has flown over your head and instead all you can see is endless personal attacks on you because of your religion.

But if it's OK for you to push for a law because Jesus wants us to do it, well then, why can't a Republican do the same thing? Can't you see why it's better to leave Jesus' opinion out of it when it comes to making policy? Then-senator Obama put it quite well in 2006:

"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. What do I mean by this? It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons ... but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I can't simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all."


And I think it's worth pointing out that you aren't always disputing with fundamentalists. In fact, most of the time, your voices are mute when the fundies are speaking. I know, I know, that's allegedly the media's fault. Personally I think it's because of your much smaller numbers and lack of willingness to engage and confront your real enemies.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 02:57 PM

4. As it should be.

As long as both organizations stay out of politics and the contention for power that entails everyone will get along just fine.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 05:26 PM

6. Oh, really.

I have never seen in print, in journals books, periodicals or reports, a single word critical of atheists or atheism.


Really.

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Response to xfundy (Reply #6)

Mon May 7, 2012, 05:34 PM

8. Among religious progressives, that stands.

Of course I have seen this sort of nonsense otherwise, but not in the places I cited. If you have I would welcome citations, and stand corrected.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #8)

Mon May 7, 2012, 06:13 PM

9. I think we need to establish where you've put the goalposts first.

Just in case they start drifting later.

Who do you consider among the "religious progressives?" Where would you draw the line between a religious progressive and someone who is not?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #9)

Mon May 7, 2012, 07:03 PM

11. Yes, a fair question,

considering the emphasis on "progressives" in the OP.

But I think you might consider why atheists should care what "progressive theists" think of us. I certainly don't.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #9)

Mon May 7, 2012, 08:08 PM

12. There is no clinical description. But apart from your question,

whose intent you have not made clear, do you have a reaction to the content of the post?I listed a number of groups, institutions etc. in the post, which is where I would define as the places where the goalposts are rooted. I could list a a lot more institutions and even persons in this group if that is important.
What is your point? I scent an accusation of some sort, but I hope my nose is sniffing something that is not there.

My main point is that Progressive theists don't have the vaguest interest in criticizing either atheism or atheists. You just don't find either among us or even in "religion" the condemnation of atheists that you find here in the absolute condemnation of theism. It is just not on our agenda.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #12)

Mon May 7, 2012, 08:55 PM

14. "...absolute condemnation of theism."

Are you referring to DU atheists with this statement?

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #12)

Mon May 7, 2012, 09:32 PM

16. Actually you listed precious few specific groups.

Could you please name the exact churches/sects that you consider progressive?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #16)

Tue May 8, 2012, 01:19 AM

20. If I thought you really wanted to know so you could appreciate what was said, I would.

But having lots of debates with you, I doubt it. So the answer is NO.
You fully know why I answered as I have.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #20)

Tue May 8, 2012, 07:18 AM

27. Yes, I do know why you've answered as you have.

It's because you don't want to give specifics, because when you do, your point is defeated. You'd rather just talk about how you wish things were, or how you think they are changing, than what they are really like and what really must be done.

And that's unfortunate. I thought you wanted to work with us.

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Response to xfundy (Reply #6)

Mon May 7, 2012, 09:49 PM

17. You have to see it from his perspective.

He's using three subjective measures that he can move at will.

Progressive
religious
critical of atheists.

Also notice how he specifies "in print, in journals, books, periodicals, or reports..." All things which we cannot link to.

It's nothing more than pure and proud self-delusion.

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #17)

Tue May 8, 2012, 01:27 AM

21. If that is your condemnation, (pure and proud self-delusion) so be it.

If you cannot respond to the OP, then that's your judgement, but I'm not going to fall for that trap.


I don't put anyone on ignore, but neither do i any longer respond to gotcha stuff.
Progressives do not attack atheism. It is not on our agenda. Do you want me to list the attacks on theism in recent postings?

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #21)

Tue May 8, 2012, 01:54 AM

26. And yet you and others have done, and continue to do so, here in this forum.

Are are you saying that the other theists in this forum are not progressives?

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 10:53 PM

18. That was a lot of wind, and the only overarching theme I can see in it is "look at me."

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #18)

Tue May 8, 2012, 01:31 AM

22. I can only conclude that you just don't want to face the reality that progrssive theists do not

attack atheism.
It is not on our agenda. We have other things talk about.
Atheists who are with us in these vital matter are our colleagues.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #22)

Tue May 8, 2012, 01:48 AM

24. Your actions do not match your vaunted words.

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #18)

Tue May 8, 2012, 01:33 AM

23. What an ad hominium response. Even you can do better than that. nt

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #23)

Tue May 8, 2012, 01:49 AM

25. Even I?

A risky business, decrying an "ad hominem" while using one of your own. Note, however, that I addressed the content of your OP, not the nature of your character.

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