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Theology of Atheism: Do the clergy/theologians really believe?
#1
Theology of Atheism: Do the clergy/theologians really believe?
If I've posted this in the wrong section please move it, I wasn't really sure where this belongs.

I'm addressing Christianity more here, since while I do try to make an effort to learn about the theology of other faiths I'm neither as well read nor have I met as many Christian theologians as I have those of other faiths.

I've noticed something very strange when I talk to believers or read theology. Whenever I went to church, or when I spoke to the average layman from another denomination I always heard God preached as a personified objective being. As in he was an entity that thought, intervened and was otherwise sentient. They way it was described was fairly clear, "he wills", "he is" etc.

Now as I've come to know more believers, either meeting them through work, study or whatever; my last boyfriend was an Anglican seminarian they never talk about God like that outside of a service or a mass. God becomes suddenly far more abstract, the "summation of all being", "the perfection", or even "the omega point in the evolutionary chain". While I know there was a "God is dead" movement in theology back in the 90's and there have always been figures like Shelby Spong lurking on the corners of the liberal Christian scene this puzzles me. This isn't restricted to the liberal wing, the conservative wings of theology do this too in apologetics and when explaining something about their faith.

This might sound silly but is it possible many believers who actually have studied their faith have actually discarded the idea of a God, and just don't know it? Very often I sit there reading something they've written and thought "If you minus calling this idea Jesus this could probably pass as conservative philosophical speculation" since it's very rare God as a thinking being comes up. I often suspect a great deal of clergy are atheists, since really after so many years training for the priesthood what else are most of them qualified to do? The pay isn't all that bad for some of them either, my last boyfriend was just a trainee essentially and he got lots of freebies from the church in accommodation, bills payed for him and lots of other goodies that didn't come out of his wages.

What do you make about it? I enjoy reading philosophy, and I do try to keep up with what theology says since the fields often cross over and it's something that keeps coming up.
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#2
RE: Theology of Atheism: Do the clergy/theologians really believe?
I think Theologians genuinely believe less often than theists who don't make a career out of it.

Welcome too AF by the way.... who is this Senpai you want to notice you then? Bizarre Avatar!
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#3
RE: Theology of Atheism: Do the clergy/theologians really believe?
(September 20, 2016 at 5:28 pm)Alasdair Ham Wrote: I think Theologians genuinely believe less often than theists who don't make a career out of it.

Welcome too AF by the way.... who is this Senpai you want to notice you then? Bizarre Avatar!

Not just me then Smile  I've thought about it for a while and haven't been sure if it's wishful thinking or not, since it just seems like such an odd position to be in.

Thanks for the welcome, and as for Senpai? Well, perhaps one of the multitude of magical imaginary freinds who can't reach out and need a human minion to explain why they are so perfect. Or a guy who doesn't have imaginary friends Big Grin . The image caught my eye while looking at clothes, you can get Jesus-San on a T-Shirt apparentlY!
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#4
RE: Theology of Atheism: Do the clergy/theologians really believe?
I once worked at a Catholic University (long story) and, as part of the job, spent a good bit of time with many of the Priests that worked there. It was rare to run across one who had the simplistic view of god that most American Evangelicals seem to hold. Most Catholics have long accepted evolution and many are more conversant than most in the areas of cosmology and physics. I had many very enjoyable conversations with several Priests or Training-to-be-Priests. None of them were the least bit offended that I was an atheist, and seemed to enjoy the fact that I could hold my own in our discussions. Oh, they were confident that there was a god, but I got the feeling that "god" to them was something far to subtle and complex to be grasped by the human mind or explained within the constraints of human language. (They were, almost to a person, bi-lingual; with an understanding of the limits of language than most Americans simply can't understand.)

I also know some Protestant minsters. Though they tend to be a bit more dogmatic than their Catholic counterparts, some that I know are quite defiantly atheists. None (that I know of) were non-believers when they entered the ministry, but it isn't a surprise that years of exposure to simplistic Protestant dogmatism eroded their faith until it disappeared. Sadly, they have to keep their lack of faith to themselves, even after they retire. Many Protestant denominations have private retirement programs, and few Ministers stay in one place long enough to own a home, one is usually provided with the church. They would be left in a seriously financial lurch should their superiors toss them from "the faith", and it is a risk they simply can't take.

So they do what human beings always do, whatever they need to to survive.
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#5
RE: Theology of Atheism: Do the clergy/theologians really believe?
There are many ironies with theology. One of them happens to be in regards to theological leaders preaching that in which they do not fully believe themselves to be the truth.
[Image: mtfbwyf.jpg]
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#6
RE: Theology of Atheism: Do the clergy/theologians really believe?
My belief in God has evolved from the several anthropomorphisms publicly offered, to a nebulous omnipresent spirit, to the object logistic of an infinite body of absolute mass. An all-consuming "fire." (a Fermi liquid with no external border of quark-gloun plasma aka quagma)
"Leave it to me to find a way to be,
Consider me a satellite forever orbiting,
I knew the rules but the rules did not know me, guaranteed." - Eddie Vedder
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#7
RE: Theology of Atheism: Do the clergy/theologians really believe?
Hi welcome. What Christians are loathed to admit is the incredible variety in their beliefs. Some are Trinitarian, some are not even that (I'm of course thinking about LDS and JW's here). Thomas Brodie is a Roman Catholic Priest and NT scholar who believes in Jesus-mythicism. Mind you he was pretty rubbish as a scholar, as since he published a non-academic work instead of something of a proper scholarly standard all the other scholars just ignored it anyway, as they should. I don't expect scholars to come to my blog and give me peer-review criticism they publish in academic journals, it just isn't done!

Most "theologians" are not real scholars, and if they are they aren't to be taken too seriously. I put the term in inverted commas because all NT scholars are theologians to some extent, if you agree with my definition of it here which is they make decisions about what a person had to say and what they believed. So even mundane findings about the most innocuous teachings Paul delivers are still theological in some way.

What most people understand the term to mean though is decisions about what us present-day sinners should believe and follow. These Theologians, at least the theist ones, do believe that Jesus was either the Jewish Messiah or a Prophet sent by God, or something similar (*except of course Jewish theologians who think he was just a first century preacher). They might ask questions that are near impossible to answer with scholarship alone, like why did Paul persecute the Christian church before his own conversion? Was it just because of his own zeal, or was it because certain beliefs taught by the very early Christians incited anger within him?

Belief and faith is highly subjective, and that's why there are thousands (perhaps even millions) of distinctly different Christian theologies today, all with their own set of believers.
For Religion & Health see:[/b][/size] Williams & Sternthal. (2007). Spirituality, religion and health: Evidence and research directions. Med. J. Aust., 186(10), S47-S50. -LINK

The WIN/Gallup End of Year Survey 2013 found the US was perceived to be the greatest threat to world peace by a huge margin, with 24% of respondents fearful of the US followed by: 8% for Pakistan, and 6% for China. This was followed by 5% each for: Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, North Korea. -LINK


"That's disgusting. There were clean athletes out there that have had their whole careers ruined by people like Lance Armstrong who just bended thoughts to fit their circumstances. He didn't look up cheating because he wanted to stop, he wanted to justify what he was doing and to keep that continuing on." - Nicole Cooke
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