Archive for Faith

“Five a day” for a healthy soul

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

Five-a-day for a healthy soul:

  • be physically active
  • connect with others
  • take time to notice your surroundings
  • learn something new
  • do something for your neighbours or community

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Atheist, liberal and fundamentalist conspire together to misrepresent the faith

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

Atheist and fundamentalist conspire together to misrepresent the faith, insisting that Christianity demands a God who is a wrathful king, and a bible that is an infallible oracle.

The atheist rightly mocks, and the fundamentalist defends the indefensible.

Most liberals commit the same offence, maintaining the fundamentalists’ notion of an angry God. God is just angry (and you are required to feel guilty) about different things, like global warming and poverty.

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Official catholic doctrine: everybody goes to heaven, nobody goes to hell (universalism, purgatory, and the Rob Bell ‘Love Wins’ controversy)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 29 March 2011 by Michael Hampson

Rob Bell has caused a huge flurry of controversy amongst his fellow evangelicals with his suggestion that hell may be empty.

What he is presenting is universalism, a respectable Christian theological position for centuries, and the official doctrine of the catholic church, as set out in detail in the catechism.

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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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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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No line between theist and atheist

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 14 February 2011 by Michael Hampson

Jason Derr writes:

My last post articulated a vision of God beyond theism, a concept of God that sees the word “God” as a word used to describe love. Other words sometimes used are mercy, justice, passion, joy, goodness. This suggested that we have a conception of religion that is less about religious beliefs and more about a passion for the religious life: an awe of life, living, and the growing world and universe, that can only be called religious. You hear this sort of religious awe in, say, Richard Dawkins when he speaks on the beauty of evolution. This model suggests that there is no line between theism on the one hand and atheism on the other.

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