Five Things Everyone Should Know About The Bible

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on 17 March 2011 by Michael Hampson

1. Every Bible is actually a collection of books.
2. Not everyone who believes in it has the same Bible.
3. The Bible came after the literature it comprises.
4. If you’re reading the Bible in English, you’re reading a translation.
5. Finally, this information about the Bible is compatible with belief in it.

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Irish priests may boycott new translation of the mass

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 11 March 2011 by Michael Hampson

From The Tablet:

The largest body of Catholic priests in Ireland has said it is consulting on whether to boycott the new Roman missal.

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The History of Fundamentalism – and America’s bizarre relationship with creation and evolution

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 9 March 2011 by Michael Hampson

The original fundamentalists were members of a protestant movement in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, proudly coining the title and declaring the five fundamentals of their faith: the inspiration and literal inerrancy of the bible, the virgin birth, a theology of the crucifixion as a substitutionary sacrifice for atonement, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the forthcoming bodily return of Christ. Different groups produced different versions of the list, but the clarity of the stance overall pulled off a major coup: they managed to fix themselves in the American (and now the global) mind as the real Christians, and those they opposed (the liberals and the modernists) as less than the real deal.

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The Bible: complexity and contradiction

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 17 February 2011 by Michael Hampson

Timothy Beal, author of The Rise and Fall of the Bible: the Unexpected History of an Accidental Book, identifies no fewer than six incompatible accounts of creation in the bible (two in Genesis, one in Job, two in the Psalms, one in Proverbs).

He suggests that one more account, no matter how incompatible (evolution), should never have been a problem to anyone who takes the bible seriously on its own terms.

In this article, abbreviated below, he describes how the responses to an earlier piece, including the same material, opened his eyes to the way atheist and fundamentalist argue over a definition of the bible that is anything but rational, and anything but useful.

I recently wrote a short piece for on “Five Things You Didn’t Know” about the Bible. The first of those five things was that there are multiple accounts of creation in the Bible. I expected some people to disagree, and I looked forward to a serious back-and-forth about the texts I had pointed out. That’s not what happened. Instead, I was overwhelmed with a flood of angry responses, most of which were as impious, rude and downright unchristian in tone as they were reactionary and unthinking in their “defense” of the Bible.

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US Catholic Church membership rises year on year, now over 68.5 million

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on 16 February 2011 by Michael Hampson

Despite all its woes, membership of the Catholic Church in the US continues to rise year on year, and now stands at over 68.5 million.

The Catholic Church tops this list of the 25 largest denominations in the US, published this week in the National Council of Churches’ 2011 Yearbook.

The Catholic Church is larger than the next sixteen denominations combined.

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Silence and awe as the beginning of wisdom

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 16 February 2011 by Michael Hampson

In this recent post, I quoted Jason Derr suggesting that the word ‘God’ can validly be seen as a reference not to “a creature or being that sits outside of time and space” but to actions and experiences that express our highest ideals: love, mercy, justice, passion, joy, goodness. He then singles out awe as the experience by which we become aware of this God: awe at life itself, at living, at the growing world and the universe – and presumably at love, mercy, justice, passion, joy and goodness.

To stand in awe is often to stand in silence. In the BBC’s The Big Silence (discussed here), it was through silence that the participants each found a spirituality which, on reflection, sounds a lot like awe: awe at the natural beauty of life and the universe, discovered and experienced in the stillness.

There is genuine awe at the wonder of the universe expressed in Richard Dawkins’ poem It is raining DNA outside, posted here a few days ago. In his wonderment he even creates a theology: that the process he observes has a purpose, namely the spreading of DNA. (The spreading of DNA is a feature of the process; to call it the purpose of the process is to go beyond observation into personification, and thence theology. If there really is no God, there is no purpose, which is the point of Nietzsche’s famous “God is dead” speech, in this recent post.)

Proverbs 1:7 is often unhappily translated “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Any dictionary or thesaurus will show that the words awe and fear are closely related, even though awe may contain not fear but its complete opposite: a sense of being embraced and cherished by a wonderful universe. Fear never led to wisdom. Awe certainly does. So let awe be the beginning of wisdom. This section in God without God even shows that Yahweh, in the Old Testament, here translated as “the Lord”, means something like “the ground of all being” – so it is awe at the wonder of existence itself that is the beginning of all wisdom.

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The Top Mistakes Atheists Make – Atheist on Atheist critique

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 15 February 2011 by Michael Hampson

Phil Zuckerman – atheist – lists the top mistakes atheists make. These are the top four.

1. Insisting that science can, or will, answer everything.
2. Condemning all religion, rather than just the bad aspects.
3. Condemning the Bible as a wretched, silly book, rather than seeing it as a work full of good and insightful things as well.
4. Failing to understand and appreciate cultural religion.

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