Anglicans Promote Atheism

The Church of England is apologising to Charles Darwin. Given that Mr Darwin is dead, this seems rather pointless. But then the Anglicans have never been put off by pointlessness. It rather typifies much of the Church of England. According to The Daily Telegraph:

“The statement will read: Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still. We try to practise the old virtues of ‘faith seeking understanding’ and hope that makes some amends.”

Not only are they apologising to him, they are trying to make it up to him. Part of the way they are doing that is by creating (if I can use that term) a section dedicated to him on their website. Or perhaps the website just evolved that way.

The Telegraph further notes, “The bold move is certain to dismay sections of the Church that believe in creationism and regard Darwin’s views as directly opposed to traditional Christian teaching.” I’m sure those sections of the Church of England that believe in creationism have already used up their dismay on the all of the other moves that have been directly opposed to traditional Christian teaching. They have approved bishopettes to go with their priestesses.  Abortion is a necessary bad but according to the General Synod there are “conditions under which it may be morally preferable to any available alternative.” So is it really that big a jump to promoting atheism?

I hope Mr Darwin, wherever he may be, feels vindicated.

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16 Responses to “Anglicans Promote Atheism”

  1. Samuel Skinner Says:

    Yes, it is true liberal churches promote atheism- after all, atheism is based on reality and reality, as we all know, has a liberal bias.

  2. sol Says:

    You have such a problem with logic I’m guessing you’re a product of somebody’s state education system. If not, your parents really need to ask for their money back.

    As I was explaining to some 12-year-olds yesterday, atheism is based on a belief. Atheism is simply the belief that there is no God. Like theism, it’s not empirically provable. God doesn’t exist or not exist based upon whether you think He does or doesn’t. You’ve got your epistemology and your ontology amazingly muddled up.

    So you haven’t successfully made the leap from atheism to reality and then you assume everyone knows that reality is biased, when you haven’t provided the scantest evidence of this. You haven’t even provided the evidence of how this is possible.

  3. Samuel Skinner Says:

    Wow, I thought things existed in a place called… “reality”. Apparently you seem to believe things can exist AND not be in reality- even though “everything that exists” is the definition of reality!

    As it is God is eminently provable/disprovable. He made the universe, remember? I don’t know about you, but that would count as affecting the universe.

    Honestly, I can’t believe I have to keep reminding Christians the tennants of their own religion. What is next- the existance of Jesus Christ and his gospels is not a historical question?

    As it is, I don’t believe God doesn’t exist- mostly because no one has defined it one way. The evidence shows that the God of the worlds theisms doesn’t exist, but Clarkes third law still stands.

  4. jacob1207 Says:

    The validity of the theory of evolution, and the other successful scientific theories about the way nature works, have no bearing on the existence or nonexistence of God. Questions of meaning, value, and purpose, which are addressed by religions, including some nontheistic belief systems (like most buddhism and humanism) simply do not fall within the realm of the sciences.

    Yeah, evolution makes a literal reading of Genesis impossible, but almost no theologians (except, alas, the ones most skilled at getting on American TV) hold to a literal reading of the Bible. I’m sure they’d be surprised to learn that they do, if that is your position.

    I think evolution would have little trouble being accepted if people stopped saying it proves any sort of theistic belief (and there are many sorts) to be false. I think some people need to decide what they really want to promote, atheism or good science, because there are many times where it is impossible to do both simultaneously.

  5. Steve Says:

    I wonder if the Church of England will still be around in 200 years time to apologise for its present errors. It’s so much easier to confess other peoples’ since than one’s own.

    To Samuel Skinner: Reality is an illusion cause by mescaline deficiency.

  6. sol Says:

    Samuel,

    Last things first, if you will. You haven’t explained the whole reality has a liberal bias thing. Or maybe you realised after than you went way out on a limb with that one.

    Arthur C. Clarke may have been a decent fiction writer, but this hardly quaifies him to formulate universal laws. That being said, his third “law” (“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”) is not even relevant to the discussion.

    Evidence has a very hard time proving a negative. However, theologians and apologists throughout the Current Era have formulated a variety of arguments to demonstrate the evidence for God as also revealed in the Bible.

    You have made the point yourself (while misusing the terms provable and disprovable) that God’s creation of the universe would count as affecting it. The evidence of God’s effects on the universe are evidence of God.

    I wasn’t aware that you keep reminding Christians of the tenets of there own religion. How admirable of you. However, I don’t follow your train of thought (or leaping synapses, since the use of “train” implies some connectivity) to Jesus and the Gospels. Unless you are some sort of Jesus Seminar loony following the vote of the coloured beads, I’m not sure what questions you have.

    I have no clue where you got the idea that I think things can exist and not be reality. BTW, reality isn’t a place so much as it is a concept. So that could be the problem: you’ve been looking for God in all the wrong places (…looking for God in too many faces…). I’ve never seen “everything that exists” as the definition of reality. I’m not sure whether to understand you as some sort of materialist or as a Berkeleyan immaterialist.

    All that being said, I still have no idea how you support your proposition that atheism is on reality.

  7. sol Says:

    Jacob,

    I think you shortchange religion when you limit it to addressing questions of meaning, value, and purpose. You do not support this proposition, tossing it out there as if it is self-evident. Since there are plenty of theologians (even of the variety not seen on American TV) who do not see it this way, the self-evidence of it seems a bit thin.

    Even the idea of the literalness of the Bible means different things to different Christian theologians. For example, I would say that I believe the Bible is literally true, but having been an evangelical Protestant I can tell you that I mean something quite different than many of them would understand. For example, I don’t think that someone has to be a Young Earth Creationist to believe the Bible is literally true.

  8. jacob1207 Says:

    Thanks for your response, Sol.

    I said that religion addresses questions of meaning, value, and purpose; I did not say that it only addresses those questions.

    Furthermore, science does not address these questions, but they tend to be the more important ones in our lives: why am I here? how should I live? how should I treat this person that I don’t like? Etc.

    And, yeah, not all Biblical literalists are exactly the same, there is some room for some difference of opinion within those ranks. While I am a Christian, I could not be described as a literalist in any sense that doesn’t eviscerate the meaning of the term.

  9. sol Says:

    Thank you for the clarification, Jacob.

  10. Samuel Skinner Says:

    “Reality has a liberal bias” is a quote from the Colbert report. Of course, it only applies to the states where the conservatives are so out of touch with reality it isn’t funny- the AMA gays in prison:
    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/09/that_evil_homosexual_agenda.php
    They aren’t alone in lunacy:
    http://adultthought.ucsd.edu/Culture_War/The_American_Taliban.html

    The differance between the right and left in the US is that the wackos on the right drive the right, while on the left we try to ignore them.

    This does not apply to any other country.

    “meaning, value, and purpose”

    Human life- in fact, nothing in reality- has any inherent meaning, value or purpose. All it has are ascribed versions.

    You don’t read the bible literally? Neither do I! Welcome to atheism- glad to have you on board.

    Evolution is a bit like constructing a concentration camp and letting the prisoners duke it out for 4.5 billion years. Not the act of any God but the incurably sociopathic.

    Clarkes 3rd law IS relevant because no one has a single definition of God- load up with enough goodies and you could convince people 6000 years ago. Heck, if you get good enough meds, some neat toys and space backup…

    Sol: I was pointing out that the existance of God is an evidentary question. The rest of your argument is empty. I need substance to respond to.

    Why am I here:
    Ask your parents. Here is a hint- it wasn’t the stork.

    How should I live: You have those pain and pleasure circuits for a reason- use ’em and find a goal. You think one will be handed to you? Hah! Life is never that easy.

    How should I treat this person:Golden rule will work wonders. Failing that, game theory- recipitory responce, followed by a change if they change. You’ll need to occasionally reach out though- they could be using the same strategy. What? You didn’t ask for morality.

  11. sol Says:

    Samuel,

    Sorry for the delay in the appearance of your comment. If you include too many links, it throws you in the spam bin. But as always, in the spirit of fair play and open discourse, I dusted it off and put you back in the comboxes.

    The purposelessness and meaninglessness of atheism. One of its sadder results.

    I don’t watch the Colbert Report even when I am visiting in the States. I just don’t enjoy his style. If I want some silly mocking of the Right, I usually watch John Stewart.

    We do have a few wackos that seem to get dropped onto the right end of the spectrum. In the UK, the wackos on the left tried to drive the left for a number of years (during the Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock eras as leaders of the Labour Party). That’s why they could never get into power. They had to look like Conservatives to win power under Tony Blair.

    You missed what I said about reading the Bible literally: “I would say that I believe the Bible is literally true, but having been an evangelical Protestant I can tell you that I mean something quite different than many of them would understand.” I’m sure I read the Bible far too literally for your tastes, so don’t welcome me to atheism just yet.

    To get a more accurate idea of my view, you can read a post I specifically wrote about this.

    Clarke’s law doesn’t apply, because 1) God is self-defined and 2) you assume some sort of goodies to convince the general population.

    Are you suggesting that you have the urge to respond to the key arguments for the existence of God and you want me to line them up so you can be convinced you have knocked them down? I usually start with the cosmological, ontological, teleological, and religious experience arguments with my pupils. But unless you have something more than the bog standard responses (I cover those, too) to the bog standard arguments, it’s really a waste of typing effort.

  12. Samuel Skinner Says:

    It is good to see a person who appreciates honesty and argument as much as I do.

    Atheism lacks ascribed purpose and meaning- in a rationalist view, you aren’t given either. So? Reality seems not to care wheter we enjoy this or not.

    The US conservatives range from accurate to incurably insane. I have heard that Europeans ones are differant.

    I was kidding- but honestly, why do you hold some parts figurative and others literal? After all, why not all of it?

    Not all Gods fit that definition. The definition varies widely. For example, the Greek Gods didn’t create the universe- that feel to Gaia.

    True. I am always curious if a new argument is forged. That is why I ask.

  13. jacob1207 Says:

    Samuel, if you want to declare me an honorary atheist I’d be, well, honored (you seem like a good guy).

    But I think there’s a fuzziness in some of your thinking. You say that “liberal churches promote atheism- after all, atheism is based on reality and reality, as we all know, has a liberal bias.” I don’t know exactly how seriously you intended that, but I do think a lot of atheists unfortunately take a similar approach, making an argument that might be summed up as follows:

    P1. Person A is saying something that makes sense.
    P2. Nothing that any Christian says makes sense.
    C. Therefore, Person A is not a Christian.

    However, the second premise, while it might be fun to make, is simply assumed–taken on faith; it is not based on firm thought. Let me propose to you the following syllogism instead.

    P1. Person A is saying something that makes sense.
    P2. Person A is a Christian.
    C. Therefore, at least some Christians say things that make sense.

    I can get a bit miffed when people say that I can’t be a Christian or a theist if I don’t take this or that literally. Believing in God isn’t about accepting 6-day creationism any more than being a scientist means accepting geocentrism or the existence of the ether. Both science and religion–which are not mutually exclusive or opposed to each other–are modes of thought or ways of thinking and viewing the world, not mindlessly parrotting the dogmas of the bronze age.

    There’s no reason that a person must take the Bible literally in order to be a committed Christian–let alone a theist (I’m sure you’d admit that Moslems are theists, though they don’t take the Bible literally). Being a Christian isn’t about believing claims about Jesus, it’s about following Jesus: loving your neighbor, accepting everyone as your neighbor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the grieving. What does the age of the Earth have to do with such things?

    But concerning the Earth, when I look around at the universe and life, in all it’s great diversity, I see great beauty and am in awe not only of what exists but of the processes by which it has come to be. I don’t see “a concentration camp,” as you do. (Incidentally, that view seems closer to that of religious fundamentalists, who typically think everything is going to hell in a hand basket.) Perhaps a universe where everything is magically poofed into being would be a better one; but I tend to think not. Though I fully admit that the problem of undeserved evil is one of the most profound in all of philosophy and theology.

    Anyway, though we disagree about whether there is any inherent purpose or meaning in the universe, we probably agree about teaching good science, not discriminating against people who are different, and the need to provide help to the disadvantaged. To not work together to accompish those things because we disagree about the nature of existence would be no more sensible than a heated discussion on the number of angels which might dance on the head of a pin.

    I hope that, maybe, this gives you a little bit more to think about when it comes to progressive Christians, like myself. If your understanding of liberal Christianity is a bit off I sympathize with you; we’re not as good at the fundamentalists at getting on TV. I appreciate your comments in this thread.

  14. sol Says:

    Jacob as a liberal has explained why or how he hold some parts literal and some figurative. As a conservative I hold a much different view.

    For example, I believe it is essential to believe the claims of Jesus. I believe this must go hand in hand with following the example of Jesus. Liberals tend to think of everyone who isn’t liberal as a fundamentalist. Conservatives tend to see fundamentalists as the progeny of a particular movement in American religious history.

    The various pieces of literature that comprise the Old Testament are written in several different genres. Some of them are very poetic and was never intended to be read literally. I think the first chapter of Genesis can be read in different ways, either of which can be supported theologically. But the poetry of some of the Old Testament does not mean that it isn’t true. It is only that its truth is not necessarily reflected in a non-poetic reading of those writings.

    With the exception of The Revelation, I don’t have any problem with understanding the New Testament literally. It is comprised of genres (biography, history, and letters of instruction) that are meant to be understood literally. I understand that Jesus sometimes speaks hyperbolically and symbolically, but it He is merely employing didactic and homiletical techniques that would have been very familiar to his listeners, including those who wrote or were eyewitness sources to those who wrote the Gospels.

    Likewise I believe The Revelation is true, even though it is written as prophetic literature with a lot of symbolism. Just because the way various people have interpreted it is not true doesn’t take away from the truth of the document itself.

  15. jacob1207 Says:

    Just because something didn’t happen doesn’t mean that it’s not true.

    That is, no one argues that there really was a Good Samaritan, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t truth in the story (said truth being that we should help our neighbors, and anyone within the range of our influence is our neighbor).

    I think recent scholarship has shed a lot of light on the Bible and made it a more interesting and profound work. If others disagree, that’s fine–so long as they’re not trying to beat up others with their views (like Fred Phelps). We should all be more understanding of the views of others and, as you point out, not be quick to pigeon hole them.

  16. Samuel Skinner Says:

    I was making a poor joke. I’m sorry- I should be clearer in the future. The same goes for the Colbert quote. Everything else was serious.

    However,
    “There’s no reason that a person must take the Bible literally in order to be a committed Christian–let alone a theist (I’m sure you’d admit that Moslems are theists, though they don’t take the Bible literally). Being a Christian isn’t about believing claims about Jesus, it’s about following Jesus: loving your neighbor, accepting everyone as your neighbor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the grieving. What does the age of the Earth have to do with such things?”

    The reason is what you described is called “charitable”, NOT Christianity. It is a personality trait, not a belief system, which Christianity is (although it claims to foster those traits).

    ” I don’t see “a concentration camp,” as you do.”

    Look more closely. If you see a spider’s web, you can find the dried husks of some poor insect who died paralyzed and having their guts turned to mush. Most predators are nicer- they kill their prey quickly. Some, however have… unique ways of killing their prey. And then there is this:

    Word of warning… it isn’t pretty. There are creepier things… but they are rare. Trust me- it beats 4chan by being real.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_15816_5-most-horrifying-bugs-in-world.html

    There is also this classic:
    http://www.geocities.com/brisbane_parawasps/TweTonedCaterpillarParasite.htm
    It isn’t creepy until you think about what the jargon menas.

    “Anyway, though we disagree about whether there is any inherent purpose or meaning in the universe, we probably agree about teaching good science, not discriminating against people who are different, and the need to provide help to the disadvantaged.”

    Except we could disagree about what is good science, I favor discriminating against certain people (mainly racists, idiots and jackasses) and probably disagree on who is the disadvantaged needing help (see sols previous post for example).

    “For example, I believe it is essential to believe the claims of Jesus. I believe this must go hand in hand with following the example of Jesus. Liberals tend to think of everyone who isn’t liberal as a fundamentalist. Conservatives tend to see fundamentalists as the progeny of a particular movement in American religious history.”


    Wow. You also studied history! Another person who uses the word in the correct historical context… I’m shouldn’t be surprised- you did say you have a university education.

    In case you don’t know Jacob, fundamentalist refers to a particular movement started in the 1890s (?) US by protestants. It has been applied to literalists, but that isn’t the origional definition and the word has gotten to the point where the phrase “atheist fundamentalist” has appeared. Yeah… a little bit of drift.

    “Just because something didn’t happen doesn’t mean that it’s not true.”

    Actually, yeah- it does mean that. The message may be true, but the story isn’t. It is refered to as fiction.

    “That is, no one argues that there really was a Good Samaritan,”

    That is because Jesus was explicit that it was a parable. He was trying to illustrate a point that has (mostly) been lost due to the association of the phrase Good Samaritan.


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