Saturday, March 27, 2010

from Dan Dennett: "Preachers who are not Believers"

From a recent article by Dan Dennett and Linda LaScola, "Preachers who are not Believers", which I saw on the International Cognition and Culture Institute blog.

They managed to reach out and find some actual pastors of churches, who happen to not believe much of what their church-people probably expect they believe, and interview them. They turn out to be really thoughtful, compassionate people. With jobs that must be pretty difficult at times. Awesome paper.

From Jack, age 50, a Southern Baptist minister of 15 years:

“OK, this God created me. It’s a perfect God that knows everything; can do anything. And somehow it got messed up, and it’s my fault. So he had to send his son to die for me to fix it. And he does. And now I’m supposed to beat myself to death the rest of my life over it. It makes no sense to me. Don’t you think a God could come up with a better plan than that?”

“What kind of personality; what kind of being is this that had to create these other beings to worship and tell him how wonderful he is? That makes no sense, if this God is all-knowing and all-wise and all-wonderful. I can’t comprehend that that’s what kind of person God is.”

“Every church I’ve been in preached that the Jonah in the Whale story is literally true. And I’ve never believed that. You mean to tell me a human was in the belly of that whale? For three days? And then the whale spit him out on the shoreline? And, of course, their convenient logic is, ‘Well, God can do anything.’”

“Well, I think most Christians have to be in a state of denial to read the Bible and believe it. Because there are so many contradicting stories. You’re encouraged to be violent on one page, and you’re encouraged to give sacrificial love on another page. You’re encouraged to bash a baby’s head on one page, and there’s other pages that say, you know, give your brother your fair share of everything you have if they ask for it.”

“But if God was going to reveal himself to us, don’t you think it would be in a way that we wouldn’t question? ...I mean, if I was wanting to have...people teach about the Bible...I would probably make sure they knew I existed. ...I mean, I wouldn’t send them mysterious notes, encrypted in a way that it took a linguist to figure out.”