We Want an Informed Faith, Too . . .

December 20, 2009 at 11:27 pm (By Amba)

. . . and a faith-informed intellectual culture.  Peter Steinfels, retiring his “Beliefs” column at the New York Times (why??), points out, and True Ancestor — now a grad student at the University of Chicago Divinity School — confirms, that great thinking is being done by theologians, virtually unheard by most of the mainstream culture:

I am constantly undone by how many great thinkers pace the halls. These are not merely great thinkers but great teachers, too. That they think about religion — both passionately and dispassionately — just makes them that much greater, in my mind. […] [Steinfels writes:]

Intelligence and critical reasoning are essential to adult approaches to faith. In short, theology matters. It is curious that so many otherwise thoughtful people imagine that what they learned about religion by age 13, or perhaps 18, will suffice for the rest of their lives. They would never make the same assumption about science, economics, art, sex or love.

People who do constantly reapproach those issues produce some great thinking and writing — much of which is marginalized, precisely because it is about religion.

A contemporary abundance of serious thought and scholarship about religion is marginalized. Thinkers and scholars who should have a presence in the intellectual and cultural landscape — whose books, for example, might well be noted in the annual “holiday” listings — are instead known almost entirely in their own religious circles or academic specialties. That is a loss this column has tried to counter.

And now the column itself becomes a loss.  Maybe Steinfels will write a book, or collect his columns in one.

His insight sheds light on a phenomenon we take for granted that is in fact quite startling:  the confinement to shrinking reservations of religion, which as recently as two centuries ago was still the basis of most philosophy, culture, and — science.  I was amazed to learn through my researches for Natural History that almost all the early naturalists were “divines” who viewed learning about the natural world as a way to glorify God.  The very fact that living creatures are identified by mostly Latin genus and species names is a deep thumbprint of its religious origins:  virtually all education was once religious education.  Now secular science has successfully unseated religion as the foundation of “mainstream” culture, as witness the fact that the brain is far more “real” to us than the soul.  (Actually, “my brain” is at least as much a construct of imagination.  You can experience what was once called your “soul,” or psyche, much more directly than you can experience your own brain.  There’s a weird alienation, a flattening relief, in talking about your serotonin levels instead of your sorrow.)  To the extent that religion remains influential in the public square, it is often in the form of basic ritual and piety, with an anti-intellectual slant.  (I have to say that this cannot be said of the Catholic world, but how many of us outside that world ever encounter, much less seek out, robust contemporary Catholic thinking, including on the discoveries and powers of science?  It’s all William Donohue as far as we’re concerned.)

My own bro wrote a fantastic paper, for a course on the Book of Job, that used the physics metaphor of wave and particle to examine the differences between Simone Weil’s and Joseph Soloveitchik’s theologies of suffering and affliction.  (Note that the Soloveitchik link — he was the founding rabbi of Modern Orthodoxy — appears to lead to the website of Jesuit-founded Boston College.  The link I found for Weil is even wilder.  The Internet could break down the ghetto walls segregating religious thought, if only people would navigate it in search of surprise as much as validation.)

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38 Comments

  1. david said,

    Ooh, ooh, I wanna see the link on Weil . . .

  2. amba12 said,

    I didn’t put it there?? Yes I did.

  3. wj said,

    For an apparently large number of people, their faith (religious or political, actually) is not about its nominal subject (be it God or governing philosophy). Rather, it is an anchor: something to give them some stability in what they see as a frighteningly changeable and changing world. Which, I suspect, is why they take what they learned at an early age and refuse to consider any changes to it. Everything else is changing around them, but this one constant allows them to cope.

  4. amba12 said,

    I guess that change can only be welcomed by those who feel secure — whether because they have been fortunate in their emotional and economic circumstances, and/or because they have learned to feel secure in insecurity (which is very difficult).

  5. realpc said,

    Religion is not considered cool right now. This is partly a reaction against the non-intellectual religious right. Also the popular illusion that science has found the answers that religion had been looking for. Recently I saw an a news article about scientists who had “found the area of the brain that controls religion.” Of course this implies that religion has been revealed to be a fantasy generated by the brain.

    The article explained that subjects were asked to think about religious faith, while their brains were imaged. Certain areas showed increased activity — actually the areas seemed to cover most of the brain. Then the article explained that these areas actually control other kinds of belief as well — the same areas were activated when subjects thought about non-religious belief. It seems bizarre to me that these scientists somehow convinced themselves that they had discovered how the brain generates the illusion of religious belief.

    This kind of article — and they are not unusual these days — promotes the myth that science has replaced religion. Someone could read it quickly and think “well that’s all religion is, something generated by a part of the brain.”

    This reaction against religion will in turn be reacted against. A lot of it is pretty silly and extreme, and people will gradually notice.

    Another factor in religion being out of style is the recent intelligent design controversy. It was distorted to an insane degree by the media, and ultimately made believers look downright unscientific stupid. I think as biology advances, intelligent design — called by other names — will eventually become respectable.

    Today it is very hard to convince anyone you are intelligent if they suspect you have any kind of religious faith or supernatural beliefs. This pendulum could swing rather slowly and I hope it won’t take hundreds of years. I am sure the idea that science is somehow incompatible with religion will fade away. Probably soon, but maybe not.

  6. Rod said,

    Many signers of the Declaration of Independence were divinity school graduates. That was the reason for the founding of Harvard, Yale, etc.

    The depth of religious thought has been banned from the public schools. In the public square, it is considered intellectually shallow to base your position on any issue in religious faith. As a result, morally charged issues such as abortion or the death penalty are debated in a materialist context.

    The marginalization of faith as a basis for action pushes most of us into one of two camps by our mid-twenties: non-believers who ignore religion or replace God with science, or believers who compartmentalize their faith, only discussing it with others who share it.

    But as for me, life became a labyrinth with discoveries at every turn when I started re-examining religion and philosophy as an adult, and I am still traversing new corridors decades later.

  7. Donna B. said,

    “To the extent that religion remains influential in the public square, it is often in the form of basic ritual and piety, with an anti-intellectual slant. ”

    So… back to the Middle Ages are we? Content to observe religion being done by priests and monks? I’d have to disagree. What we are witnessing now is more the result of “personal religion” that needs no intellectual theological input. Perhaps we are saying the same thing?

    “There’s a weird alienation, a flattening relief, in talking about your serotonin levels instead of your sorrow.”

    True, but highly over-simplified. What amazes me more about the brain is the way an individual’s personality can change when the brain is suddenly injured. I don’t think it would be accurate, or helpful in increasing knowledge, to equate personality with soul, but it is undeniable that the two are somehow related, is it not?

    Besides, most of the serotonin in our bodies acts in our gut rather than our brains. There’s more to a gut feeling than one might realize :-)

  8. amba said,

    Yes, seeing someone’s personality change when the brain is injured has to be a shocker, and give you a new respect for the brain. Makes it real in a way that it isn’t to most of us — it isn’t till something goes wrong with it. (“When the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten …” That’s Lao Tzu or Chuang Tzu, I’m not sure which Taoist.)

    An intact brain somewhat transmits the “soul,” an injured or sick brain imprisons it?

    Would you say more about personal religion not needing intellectual input? Is that good (sincere, heartful, devoted), bad, or both or neither? Of course in America we mistrust the intellect — and our intellectuals have given us good reason to. But religious subjects are certainly worth thinking as well as feeling about.

    Rod — I would actually recommend that people, regardless of their beliefs or lack thereof, dive into this world just for the unaccustomed angle of mental stimulation. The links in the post to discussion of Weil and Soloveitchik are pretty astonishing, for starters.

  9. amba said,

    Rod — do you have more to recommend??

  10. Donna B. said,

    “An intact brain somewhat transmits the “soul,” an injured or sick brain imprisons it?”

    hmm… I don’t think so. Personality is not necessarily diminished with TBI, it is changed. A previously shy person may become outgoing, a previously virtuous person may become promiscuous… inhibitions are often weakened.

    That, for some, could be considered an imprisonment of the soul, but it seems more likely to me that it’s a freeing of part of it previously repressed.

    To me, an imprisoned soul is a better description of what happens with mind-flattening drugs (SSRI’s are an example) than with a brain injury. There are brain-injured people who become more creative after the injury, discovering new talents. I’ve never heard of an artist becoming more creative while on SSRI’s. More productive, perhaps but not more creative.

    But those things also depend on the severity of the injury and it’s location. In the years since Eric was injured, I’ve met many TBI patients and their families and some degree of personality change is a constant.

    Without getting into the religious nature of a soul, whatever it is, it seems we could all agree that one cannot experience the soul without the brain. There has to be a very intimate connection.

  11. Donna B. said,

    “Would you say more about personal religion not needing intellectual input? Is that good (sincere, heartful, devoted), bad, or both or neither? Of course in America we mistrust the intellect — and our intellectuals have given us good reason to. But religious subjects are certainly worth thinking as well as feeling about.”

    Well, I was being a tad bit sarcastic about the “personal relationship with Christ” meme I hear so often. It was also snarky about people who shop churches until they find one that offers what they “need”. It so often seems they need a church that doesn’t make too many demands on them or one that offers the best access to the pillars of the community.

    “Of course in America we mistrust the intellect — and our intellectuals have given us good reason to.”

    I would say that Americans mistrust “intellectuals” not intellect. Historically, we’ve put more emphasis on deeds than thoughts. But it is very hard to say something and apply it to all Americans. You grew up in a different America than I did — two thousand miles apart, a big city vs. a small town & rural, east vs. west. Catholics and Mormons were as numerous as Baptists where I grew up.

    Yet we’re both Americans.

  12. Donna B. said,

    Reading about Simone Weil… wow, was she ever strange! I loved the part about her experience in a piece-rate factory. I admire her staying for a year, as I lasted only three weeks in a sewing factory.

  13. realpc said,

    “Yes, seeing someone’s personality change when the brain is injured has to be a shocker, and give you a new respect for the brain.”

    Our personality can change if we drink alcohol, or don’t get enough sleep. All kinds of physical things can affect how we feel, and therefore can change our personality. The personality isn’t just a mental or spiritual thing, it”s connected to the physical body.

    Whether or not there is part of us, such as a soul or spirit, that can exist separately from the physical body is not related to the fact that changing the brain chemically or physically can change how we feel.

    The mind, or soul or whatever it is, can change the brain physically and chemically, and vice versa.

    “it seems we could all agree that one cannot experience the soul without the brain. There has to be a very intimate connection.”

    We really don’t know that at all. We might experience the soul without the brain after death, before birth, during astral projection, while sleeping, etc. Our science doesn’t know how any of that works, because it assumes there is no such thing as a soul.

    There is an intimate connection between the soul/mind and the brain/body, because the brain is a machine used by the mind (at least according to the theories that make the most sense to me).

  14. amba12 said,

    Donna: the big city/small town dichotomy is another one that’s too simple. There are ethnic enclaves in Chicago that have much in common with Pennsylvania coal country. When I grew up, Hyde Park-Kenwood (later to be Barack Obama’s neighborhood) not only had liberal Jews and professional and professorial blacks. Our house was sandwiched between two large Irish Catholic families (we’re still friends). I went to public school with black, Puerto Rican , Mexican, assorted Asian, and Appalachian white kids. My best friend in high school was the daughter of two runaway Mormons and is still in friendly touch with her Mormon cousins in Utah.

  15. amba12 said,

    Donna, re: Simone Weil: she was a masochist. :)

  16. Donna B. said,

    Amba, what you’ve described — an ethnic enclave — can only happen in a city, I think. At least I’ve never seen anything like that in the small towns I’m familiar with. And I’d like to see it! Experience it… it sounds quite interesting.

    realpc — changes in personality due to drinking or feelings about events are temporary, and if they become permanent, it’s a slow process. Changes due to a head injury are sudden and permanent.

    We really don’t know a lot of things, so we’re left to deal with and learn from the ones that we do know.

  17. realpc said,

    “changes in personality due to drinking or feelings about events are temporary, and if they become permanent, it’s a slow process. Changes due to a head injury are sudden and permanent.”

    I know that; I was just saying that our personality is constantly influenced by the physical world, but that doesn’t mean our personality is created by something physical. If the brain is damaged, the person is communicating through a damaged instrument so of course they will seem different. For example my mother has dementia from strokes and in some ways she seems like a different person to me but in other ways she seems the same.

    One really mysterious difference is that she always had really good aesthetic and fashion sense, and now it’s gone. She will always find the ugliest object in a store and decide it’s beautiful. Does that mean a) our sense of beauty is generated by our physical brains, or b) that we need some part of the brain to perceive shapes and colors correctly?

    I think it’s b, not a.

    But I admit it’s really easy to fall into a habit of thinking our self equals our physical brain, since the brain is all-important for living in this physical world.

  18. amba12 said,

    We really don’t know, do we? Maybe it’s not so either-or — maybe the material and the psychological and spiritual are just two sides of the coin, two aspects of the same pattern. The visible/invisible, tangible/intangible, gross/subtle. Light is both wave and particle. Maybe both thinking of the mind as an emanation of the material brain, and thinking of the brain as a vehicle for the spirit, are wrong. The mind can change the brain, the brain can change the mind.

  19. realpc said,

    I think the brain is an expression of the mind, or of the universal mind. I think everything we call physical is actually mental, or in other words spiritual. So I agree with you that the mental and the physical are not two separate things. But I also think the mental/spiritual comes before the physical. Somehow our mainstream science has drawn the obviously incorrect conclusion that the physical creates the mental/spiritual. Just because we can’t function in this world without a brain that works.

    That article I read, about how the brain area that controls religion has been discovered, is an example of the current extreme materialist mythology. I guess it’s all part of our culture’s fascination with technology.

    I agree that we have great technology, but that doesn’t mean we are smarter than nature.

    And even though brain scientists know that our thoughts, feelings and experiences modify our physical brains, they still insist that the self is a creation of the brain. So they actually think the brain modifies itself.

    There was a Larry King show the other night (without Larry King, some other host) with Sanjay Gupta, Deepok Chopra and some other scientists, and they were talking about evidence for life after death and reincarnation. Deepok Chopra of course believes all the quantum and alternative stuff (and I think he’s right but he probably is not at all convincing to scientists). Sanjay Gupta (who is of course a very famous media MD) said the evidence cannot be explained away. He more or less agreed with it.

    They also had Michael Schermer, the famous skeptic. He really didn’t have much to say against all the others, and he finally admitted that we just don’t know. He did not express the devout atheist view at all, which was nice to see.

  20. Donna B. said,

    realpc – judging from your comment, you have not yet understood the implication of a sudden brain injury which results in static physical changes to the brain. I suspect that your hostility toward science has led to an incomplete understanding. The changes you are talking about then take place from a different starting point. Both points can be true, so you needn’t try to disprove mine by defining it as something else.

    Also, that article you read about a religion zone of the brain was not written by scientists and likely (99.9% likely) distorted the actual research. Again, even from your point of view about spirituality, it’s highly likely that certain areas of the physical brain deal with such. That being true does not negate your view of spirituality.

    Please point out a neuroscientist who insists that the self is a creation of the brain. The reputable ones that I am aware of offer speculation, but do not insist on any such thing — it’s one of the unsolved mysteries.

  21. amba said,

    real — we are not smarter than nature. We can’t do a tiny fraction of what it does. But we can also apparently be driven by something other than nature. Materialists say this is just one aspect of nature (say, our social training to be “good”) overriding another. But what is it that chooses between them? Or negotiates and compromises between them? It may be at those points of conflict that consciousness arises, or awakens, or is recognized as being there.

  22. realpc said,

    ” suspect that your hostility toward science has led to an incomplete understanding. ”

    Disagreeing with materialism has nothing to do with being hostile toward science. I have studied science, but I am not a materialist. I have learned some of these subjects and I know what some of the prevailing views are.

    “Both points can be true, so you needn’t try to disprove mine by defining it as something else.”

    I don’t have any idea what you mean. I never tried to disprove anything you said.

    ——–

    “Also, that article you read about a religion zone of the brain was not written by scientists and likely (99.9% likely) distorted the actual research. ”

    Oh really?

    “Sam Harris .. was a lead author on the study .. Harris is the author of two New York Times best-sellers, “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation,” which have been published in more than 15 languages, and is the co-founder and CEO of the The Reason Project.”

    “He states that religion is especially rife with bad ideas, calling it “one of the most perverse misuses of intelligence we have ever devised.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Harris_(author)

    ——–

    “Please point out a neuroscientist who insists that the self is a creation of the brain.”

    That is the mainstream consensus and is expressed by many neuroscientists. Not all, by that is the general consensus. I think it is based on misunderstandings and over-simplifications.

    And as I said I studied these subjects and am not “hostile to science.” I wanted to understand certain things, and I dare to disagree with the mainstream consensus. Alternative science has very different ideas, and I agree with some of them.

  23. realpc said,

    “we are not smarter than nature. We can’t do a tiny fraction of what it does. But we can also apparently be driven by something other than nature.”

    Amba, I don’t know. We don’t have a definition of the word “nature.” I believe the universe is made out information, intelligence, not matter. But the word “matter” can’t be defined either. My argument is pretty simple and I try to avoid all those words that can’t be defined. I just think that materialism — the idea that “matter” (whatever that is) creates mind is an incorrect philosophy.

    People like Sam Harris, the author of that “god” research, are just very wrong and mistaken on so many levels. But they are very prominent and influential now days.

    We saw how religion can make people crazed and dangerous on 9/11, and that’s one reason for the backlash.

    So they say religion is a source of evil and should be eradicated, because it makes people crazy and violent. Well that would be exactly like saying love should be eradicated. Not many things cause more heartache, insanity and violence than love.

    So what I’m saying is these people (the new atheists) have fallen into multiple logical errors. Ironically, since they see themselves as utterly logical and above us all in intelligence.

    The reason they are so illogical, in my opinion, is that, paradoxically, they have so much faith in their own little conscious minds.

  24. amba said,

    So they say religion is a source of evil and should be eradicated, because it makes people crazy and violent. Well that would be exactly like saying love should be eradicated. Not many things cause more heartache, insanity and violence than love.

    Well put.

    And the conscious mind makes a pretty poor god, or idol. I have a book here somewhere about “the new unconscious,” or “the adaptive unconscious.” Rather than using the word in the psychological senses of repression, etc., these people are talking about the enormous range of our activity that runs exquisitely without conscious supervision or intent — from balance and blood pressure to memory retrieval, association, and habit. Of course, they believe it blindly evolved to do that . . .

    Real, you should take a look at the writings of Nassim Nicholas Taleb on “the epistemic arrogance of the human race.” I love this guy.

  25. amba said,

    Especially this part. See particularly 113- Negative Advice; Why We Need Religion

  26. amba said,

    And 60 — “Religion protects you from bad science.” I.e. to the extent that faith keeps people away from “experts” and “quacks,” it may be protective of their health. Taleb is wonderfully perverse in this expert-riddled society. He’s all about what we don’t know, and strategies for survival under the circumstances.

  27. realpc said,

    “Rather than using the word in the psychological senses of repression, etc., these people are talking about the enormous range of our activity that runs exquisitely without conscious supervision or intent ”

    Actually, the psychological sense of the unconscious is not repression, etc. That was only Freud’s idea, but most others (for example William James, and Carl Jung) defined it as our source of wisdom and our connection with the divine. Freud was the great proponent of modern reductionism within psychology. Jung, who had been one of Freud’s students, believed in the subconscious as connection with infinite divine power. Of course, we all hear about Freud but not James or Jung, who made so much more sense. Jung’s subconscious also included something like Freud’s unconscious, which he called the “shadow,” which is everything we repress.

    Some of our energy can get tied up in repressing the shadow, which is our dark side and all that we hate about ourselves. The purpose of Jungian psychoanalysis is to acknowledge and accept our shadow, and thereby free the tied up energy. I love his approach, have learned so much from it, and I think many of Freud’s ideas are ridiculous. He took the idea of the mystical subconscious, which had been around a long while, and made it compatible with materialist atheism. That’s why he became so much more famous than the others.

    I think of my subconscious mind as my personal god or guiding spirit. I know that my conscious mind is limited and confused, and is like the tip of an infinite iceberg. We don’t need to have any concept or definition of god, we can just consult with our own subconscious. We don’t know what it is or where or why, only that it is where everything in our conscious mind originates from.

    There is all that “bad” stuff in the shadow. But it wouldn’t actually be bad, except by our definition. Whatever our culture or subculture despises we will throw into the shadow, where it gets bottled up and does actually become evil. The old saying is the worst fault is being conscious of none — and that is exactly the Jungian philosophy.

    And I see it all around me — people looking everywhere except inside their own selves for the source of evil. Atheists see religion as the main source of evil, fundamentalists see atheism as the main source of evil. The same with Republicans vs Democrats, etc.

    We all do this automatically, because our society is so complex and confusing and so full of evil forces. If we still lived in little tribes our concept of evil might be simpler — our own tribe vs all our enemies.

    (Sorry this comment is so long, I have just been thinking about all this almost constantly).

    (Thanks for the links to Taleb.)

  28. realpc said,

    Amba, I have been trying to explain this to people for years, and no one ever believes me! Taleb is the first person I have seen who understands it. We have a whole mythology about our medical science. People need faith in something, so educated non-religious Americans have transferred their faith to the scientific experts. (I have not read the whole thing yet, will read it soon).

    “Life expectancy: Another problem. I keep hearing the fiction that medical practitioners doubled our life expectancy. Life expectancy increased because of 1) sanitation, 2) penicillin, 3) drop in crime. From the papers I see that medical practice may have contributed to 2-3 years of the increase, but again, depends where (cancer doctors might provide a positive contribution, family doctors a negative one) . Another fooled-by-randomness style mistake is to think that because life expectancy at birth was 30, that people lived 30 years: the distribution was massively skewed: the bulk of the deaths came from birth & childhood mortality.”

  29. Donna B. said,

    realpc — you are amazing… Sam Harris? Not exactly a famous or respected neuroscientist. He doesn’t even make wikipedia’s list:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_neuroscientists

    Like the set of liberals who think all Republicans are rabid fundamentalist Christians, your writing suggests you think all neuroscientists are rabid fundamentalist atheists.

  30. realpc said,

    No YOU are amazing Donna. I mentioned Sam Harris because he wrote the article I was talking about. That you said must have been distorted by the news and had nothing to do with atheism.

    I really don’t think you actually read what I write. Instead you have some prefabricated idea of what I believe. Yes it is amazing how you misunderstand just about everything I ever say.

  31. Donna B. said,

    No, I said the article had nothing to do with a scientific proof of a God spot and it certainly looked like you were offering up Sam Harris ALSO as an example of the supposed “consensus” among neuroscientists of such.

    You appear to have a reading comprehension problem caused by your knee-jerk response to anyone who says anything in support of science because you assume it’s all from a materialistic new atheist point of view.

    You battle strawmen mightily, but you have not once been responsive to anything I’ve ever posted.

    I understand what you say, but because I think there’s more to most subjects than what you say… I misunderstand you. You have even misunderstand when I agree with you!!!

    You’re a one trick pony — you’ve been trying to explain this for years and no one ever believes you. Well, I’m tired of that trick. Adios.

  32. realpc said,

    Donna,

    I just can’t find anything rational in what you are saying. It all sounds like nonsense to me, and when I try to explain you come back with more nonsense. I have no idea what is making you angry.

    And it is not true that no one understands me. You don’t, so just forget it. Read something else.

    The only thing I can figure out is that you can’t stand any criticism of experts and authorities.

  33. amba said,

    *sigh* I wonder why I can understand both of you.

  34. Donna B. said,

    ROFLMAO!!! I quote realpc and she doesn’t recognize her own words!!! No matter what I say, real will make it be wrong!

    Amba, I understand what realpc is saying, almost always have. Sometimes her writing is not the clearest, but still… I understand it. Some of it I agree with, some not. And I suspect she agrees with some of what I write, but not all.

    What irritates me is the refusal to discuss something in good faith by not recognizing when I do agree.

    I know better than to even read her comments, and I certainly know better than to respond… now all I have to do is not read and not respond.

  35. realpc said,

    “I suspect that your hostility toward science has led to an incomplete understanding. ”

    This was your first antagonistic comment Donna. I explained that disagreeing with materialism does not mean being hostile to science.

    Later you said “realpc — you are amazing… Sam Harris? Not exactly a famous or respected neuroscientist.”

    When I never said that Sam Harris was a famous neuroscientist.

    You misunderstood one thing after another. Maybe you were speed reading and skimming my comments. I have no idea, but I do know you were misunderstanding, and then getting angry about it.

    In any case, you were getting angry not me. I was just explaining what I had meant.

  36. Rod said,

    Amba: It has taken me a few days to circle back to this thread. As often occurs, the issue raised in the original post seems to have been left in the dust. You asked about other writings to recommend. You might start with one of the links from Ambivablog. Experimental Theology is an interesting site posted from the perspective of a Christian liberal. C.S. Lewis was the dean of Christian apologists in the 20th century. Reinhold Niebuhr deserves a second look, especially since he is the apparent theological cornerstone for two U.S. Presidents. The writings of Kant and Kierkegaard were much richer when I revisited them a few years ago than during my undergraduate days. One should seriously look at the writings of Pope Benedict XVI, a serious man. His encyclical, Spe Salvi, intelligently addresses man’s faith in science and progress.

    A recent book I found interesting was “Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology,” by Paul Eddy and Greg Boyd. It is a fascinating tour through the varieties of thought in Evangelical circles. One of the interesting things that came through to me is how belief in an omnipotent creator raises certain hard questions, such as the Problem of Evil and the Problem of Suffering, and how confronting those issues, which are not always dealt with directly in revelatory texts, shapes theology.

  37. amba12 said,

    Thank you — much food for thought, a good and necessary point of entry.

  38. Fresh Bilge » Hope said,

    […] that I understand properly what it could mean, I share Amba’s yearning for a faith-informed culture. This yearning is also what first drew me to the writings of David Warren, who continues to opine […]

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