Saturday, May 2, 2009

What's a Religious Atheist?

I hope you enjoy the song, it expresses some of what I'll be trying to say.

As for the name "Religious Atheism", I was trying to come up with something that said that I valued church and community and reading of the ancient texts with others, and also that I didn’t have a particular belief that I was trying to force on anyone. I do have beliefs, but they change often and are difficult to express, I don’t like to write them down except in my personal journals. It’s not that I have trouble making a decision it’s that I don’t know everything, and as I learn, I change my mind.

After coming up with the idea for the name, I immediately Googled it to see if anyone else had. I found some of the best web sites I have seen regarding religion. This one is a good definition, although I do not attend Unitarian services.

There is already a “religious atheist” blog by some guy in Australia. I hope I make a few more posts than this guy.

I think the most important thing I was trying to say with the title is to keep exploring. My explorations probably started somewhere around the time my father told me that I should leave a room better than I found it. That has grown into a much larger sense of responsibility. I don’t think we need to spend so much time arguing about whose religion is better, or whose is right. Not if we’re going to get any of the work done that those religions say need to be done.

It doesn’t matter if you believe in a 6 day creation or that aliens built the pyramids or in nothing in between. Anyone can read Matthew 26:31-45 and agree that the guy in the story is saying it is a good idea to feed the hungry and care for the sick. What I see is too much talk about the parts where there is disagreement, the parts about separation and the devil. I hope to do something different here.

Some other interesting sites I have found in my Googling travels are:

The Bible Geek, Robert M. Price, a noted scholar and former priest. Now he writes books that say Jesus never existed. He is a lot of fun, he does Monty Python voices sometimes when speaking, and uses Batman as an analogy. I have found many other sites claiming there is no Jesus, such as the movie Zeitgeist but I find their logic lacking, and their angry tone too much to bother with. When I dig deeper into their references, I find less information. Digging deeper into Robert’s works, I have not come to these dead ends.

By the way, if you watch the Zeitgeist movie, please also check out, the response, especially the parts where he quotes the movie and responds to them, then come back for more details unfolding here. I will discuss the mystery religions and pros and cons of both sides of this discussion.

I have only found a few articles, but I am intrigued by this David James Duncan guy.

I have already mentioned Karen Armstrong, I'll be following her work.

John Shelby Spong has been a major inspiration of late.

I will occasionally post a sermon by myself or others if I think it is one that expresses something that is not easily found somewhere else. And some musical references too, can’t have a sermon without a song.


  1. I have liked Armstrong's work that I've read -- her history of Islam, especially. Spong reaches good conclusions based on lousy biblical work -- his textual scholarship leaves a lot to be desired.

    I think you should read Miguel de Unamuno's novel, Saint Manuel the Good, Martyr (1930). Wikipedia describes it as "a brief novella that synthesizes virtually all of Unamuno's thought. The novella centres on a heroic priest who has lost his faith in immortality, yet says nothing of his doubts to his parishioners, not wanting to disturb their faith, which he recognizes is a necessary support for their lives." Father Manuel, as I recall him from reading the novel years and years ago, is a genuine Christian atheist.

  2. I don't know why this system has named me as "Community Garden." My initials are not C.G.

  3. Yes Spong, as well as many in the Jesus Seminar, are a bit loose with the biblical scholarship. I enjoy the mixing of many disciplines in their work, and that they get me to think. I was thinking before, but you get the idea.

  4. David James Duncan is one of my favorite authors. You would probably enjoy his book "God Laughs and Plays". It's been a while since I read it, but I remember it was one of those books where I'm almost shouting out "Yes! Yes!" as I was reading.