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Giant Teapots and Other Atheist Myths June 23, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Theological Reflection.
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8 comments

TeapotToday, I am in a whimsical frame of mind. Inner woman and outer man have settled their differences and are no longer fighting one another: instead, we are amused.

We are amused by the atheists getting uppity over our review of Geoffrey Berg’s Six Ways of Atheism — twice over, in fact, as we are quoted at length by The Freethinker in Barmy Baptist resorts to sarcasm in dismissing new atheist book. It’s all highly entertaining.

What has me puzzled (there’s only one of me really, despite the voices in my head), though, is why the current crop of atheists are getting themselves so wound up over something that they say doesn’t exist. I’m not about to argue the toss on that one, though: as I’ve said before, God doesn’t exist: get over it.

I can understand Christians getting enthusiastic, especially when they’re new to the faith: I remember my own teenage years, out there with the best of them (or the worst, depending on your point of view), making like your friendly neighbourhood preacher, on fire for Jesus because I thought Jesus was the answer to the world’s woes. As it happens, I still believe that, but I’m no longer interested in converting people to my point of view: winning new disciples is Jesus’ job, not mine — my job is to be a disciple.

We Get to Carry Each Other

We Get to Carry Each Other

And that’s half the problem, isn’t it? If you’ll forgive me referring to Greg Garrett’s new book again, We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2 (WJK, 9780664232177, £11.99, due for UK release August 2009), I think Garrett has got it spot on here:

… for far too many Christians, belief in God seems to lead only to an attempt to make other people believe in God—so that they can make other people believe in God.

Dawkins is right: the God Christianity all too often offers the world is nothing more than a giant teapot in orbit around the earth. Me, I took the lid off the teapot and it was empty.

More tea, vicar?

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God Does Not Exist: Get Over It April 6, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Theology.
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26 comments

God does not exist. And it’s high time that we as Christians got down off our high horses and gave the atheists their due: as Dawkins puts it, the idea of God’s existence makes as much sense as a giant teapot orbiting the earth.

You see, things that exist can be measured and quantified: God can’t. Things that exist — well, they’re like you and me, objects in space and time that you can walk up to, spit on and, if you’re that way inclined, crucify. You can hit them, analyse them, dissect them, write papers about them and draw final conclusions about them. You can bury them and be done with them. You can put them in boxes and count them.

But God: you can’t box him in. God isn’t an object in the universe: rather the universe exists in God. Existence is a characteristic of contingent beings and things: things that depend upon something else in order to be. Talking about God’s existence simply locates God within the framework of the universe, makes God another contingent being — just another thing, another crazy flying teapot crackpot idea.

Saying God exists — it’s like saying a river swims. Swimming is something that things living in the river do; it’s the river that makes swimming possible. It’s like calling planet Earth an earthling, when earthlings are the beings that inhabit the earth: it’s the earth that makes earthlings what they are. It’s the same with God: it’s God who (and I dare to say ‘who’ rather than ‘that’) makes existence possible.

Those analogies fail, of course, because a river itself exists within a valley; the earth exists in space. But God: God defines existence, not the other way around. God defies existence: existence is irrelevant to the reality of God. Except once, when he walked about amongst us and gave himself away and let us have our way with him and accepted everything we wanted to throw at him. Loved us, wept with us and for us, and forgave us — even when we couldn’t forgive ourselves.

Why? I suspect it’s got something to do with completing our existence. If God had never existed, had for ever remained apart from the universe, it would be like that river drying up, like planet Earth disappearing off into empty space away from the sun. There’d be a few skeletal remains, dried up fossils, proof that fish once swam in the river, that humans once walked about and built their little empires… but nothing else, just a dream that vanishes into the night…

God is the dreamer who makes our dreams of existence come true. But instead of sleeping through them, he steps into them, finds a nightmare, and dies.

Whether he stays dead is really up to us. We can live in the nightmare or reach for the dream. I don’t know how we choose one over the other: some people don’t seem to have any choice. But what I do know is this:

God does not exist: we do — thank God for that!

And I want to make the most of it.

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