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Church Without God?

CNN seems to think it's on to a new trend...

Ed Driscoll


June 30, 2013 - 11:00 am

CNN stumbles into “a church without one big player: God:”

Sunday’s congregation in Cambridge is a meeting of the Humanist Community at Harvard University and the brainchild of Greg Epstein, the school’s Humanist chaplain.

A longtime advocate for community building, Epstein and his group of atheists have begun to build their Cambridge community and solemnize its Sunday meetings to resemble a traditional religious service.

To Epstein, religion is not all bad, and there is no reason to reject its helpful aspects.

“My point to my fellow atheists is, why do we need to paint things with such a broad brush? We can learn from the positive while learning how to get rid of the negative,” he said.

Godless congregations

For Epstein, who started community-building at Harvard nearly 10 years ago, the idea of a godless congregation is not an oxymoron.

“We decided recently that we want to use the word congregation more and more often because that is a word that strongly evokes a certain kind of community – a really close knit, strong community that can make strong change happen in the world,” he said.

“It doesn’t require and it doesn’t even imply a specific set of beliefs about anything.”

Epstein is not alone in his endeavor. Jerry DeWitt, who became an atheist and left his job as an evangelical minister, is using his pastoral experience to building an atheist church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

CNN seems to think this news, when the idea of a Godless church has been woven deep into the firmware of “Progressivism,” ever since Friedrich Nietzsche and the men whom historian Martin E. Marty dubbed “The Bearded God-killers” (Nietzsche, Marx, Darwin and Freud) had their heyday in the late 19th century. However, man is hardwired to believe in something, and the following century could be viewed as one long attempt at finding an alternative God via totalitarian regimes (Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.), and the nature-worship of radical environmentalism. Not to mention drugs — recall Tom Wolfe exploring the religious motivations of ’60s drug users in his seminal mid-1970s essay “The ‘Me’ Decade and the Third Great Awakening,” which as the second half of its title implies, is a lengthy treatise on all sorts of ways to build alternative religions that replace God with the self.

Oh — and then there’s Obama cult of 2008 which had no small amount of building BHO into an alternative God — including by a lot of people who should have known better. But then, as Umberto Eco wrote in 2005:

G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it — he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

Found via Maggie’s Farm, which quips, “Atheist Churches…In my view, there is nothing wrong with social clubs.”

Related: Aaron Clarey on “When Atheists Aren’t Really Atheists.”


Cross-posted from EdDriscoll.Com

Blogging since 2002, affiliated with PJM since 2005, where he is currently a columnist, San Jose Editor, and founder of PJM's Lifestyle blog. Over the past 15 years, Ed has contributed articles to National Review Online, the Weekly, Right Wing News, the New Individualist, Blogcritics, Modernism, Videomaker, Servo, Audio/Video Interiors, Electronic House, PC World, Computer Music, Vintage Guitar, and Guitar World.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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This isn't the first "congregation" whose purpose is to make a point. After all, that's the easy thing to do.

Jesus, however, didn't come to make a point. He came to make a difference. And that is something that is worth emulating, all the more now that it is such a rarity.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I thought the entire purpose of declaring oneself an atheist was so that one does not have to belong to a church and subject oneself to attendance requirements, dress and behavior requirements. What a drag. To become an atheist, I still have to go to meetings and declare a pledge of sorts?... subject myself to peer pressure? Why bother?

So many atheists I have been exposed to are just too smart, too intelligent, too educated and way too hip, with-it or elite to believe in that old stuff. (Like the editor of my local crony-capitalist monthly news mag/blog)

We forget that atheism is a relatively recent, modern invention. For ages people did not feel a need to declare that G_d don't exist. Now it's a way of declaring how smart one is.

“If there were not G_d, there would be no atheists.”
G.K.Chesterton in "Where All Roads Lead"

There are three kinds of atheists, who say either:
1) "There is no God, therefore I can do whatever I like",
2) "There is no God and I hate him," or
3) "There is a God... and he thinks just like me!"

And if I may, on the subject of self-appointed intelligent supermen (atheists) one more Chesterton quote:
“There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob.”
G.K. Chesterton in "Heretics"

Oh my its getting dark out there my friends.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I bet they have a very diverse and tolerant congregation.

Especially of Environmentalists, Wiccans, and other neo-Pagans.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
While I don't have one of those "Jesus Fish" or ichthys or whatever, I'm always amused at those cars that have a "Darwin Creature" on the back.

I always think, "People who put an ichthys on their cars believe Christ to be the cornerstone of all existence. Does this guy really think of Darwin or evolutionary biology in that way?" Of course, it's meant as some sort of counter message, but of course many Christians don't dispute evolution (though of course most dispute the non-scientific conclusions many take from Darwin's work).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think the fish symbol you refer to is because Jesus' early ministry is associated with fish: he chose several fishermen to be his first disciples and challenged them to become "fishers of men." I was told many years ago that it was also a symbol that other Christians would recognize, but not necessarily trigger a persecutorial backlash.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In my view the Humanist Community and Atheist churches are no worse than those churches that profess to be Christian and deny God all the time. In fact they are not as bad because they at least are honest in their beliefs.

PJ Media, would you get rid of that darned sign up pop up!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
See the following web page over at the Chesterton Society for the true story of that (almost) Chestertonian quote!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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