RE: MD Philosophy and Theology

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat Apr 05 2003 - 04:34:29 BST

  • Next message: Scott R: "Re: MD Mysticism and the appearance/reality distinction"

    Sam, Rick and y'all:

    RICK SAID: Most religious doctrine is brittle by definition. I know you
    see religion very differently, but from what you've written I don't see any
    real parallel between your views of Christianity and those of the average
    Christian, who tends to like his Bible taken literally."

    The first part of that I have some agreement with, but I think that you are
    depending upon a caricature of Christianity to give force to your argument.
    ... In particular, the idea that the
    Bible has to be taken literally is an *entirely* modern creation, unknown in
    the classical and medieval periods, which had a very subtle 'four-fold'
    method of interpreting scripture. Don't you think it at all odd that you
    'don't see any real parallel between your views of Christianity and those of
    the average Christian' - when I have been given authority by a mainstream
    church for *teaching* 'average' Christians? Whose views are representative
    of the mainstream?

    There are statistics about this stuff. Not about medieval literalism, but
    about how many and what sort of believers there are. I have a book called
    "ONE NATION UNDER GOD: Religion in Contemporary American Society." It only
    confirms what is easy to see by paying attention, but its nice to have hard
    The USA is the most religious in the Western World. Out of every 100
    Americans, 96 believe in God or a universal spirit, 86 are Christian, 58 say
    religion is very important and seven tenths of one of them is agnostic.
    There are even fewer who call themselves humanists. In fact, of all the "No
    Religion" categories only add up to 7.5% of the adult population. In the UK,
    by contrast, only 76 out of 100 believe in God and only 23 of 'em'll say
    religion is very important.
    Let's break down Christianity in the USA, which includes 86% of the total
    adult population. 26% are Catholic, Baptists are the largest Protestant
    group and represent 20%, with the remaining 40% going to more than 40
    different demoninations. Nearly half of American Christians believe the
    Bible is the literal word of god and can rightly be called fundamentalists,
    about 40%. And for the remaining 46%, there are shades and degrees of

    I think Rick has solid reasons for thinking that Christians tend to take it
    literally. Its true, at least in the USA. Fundamentalism is an extreme
    postion is the sense that it is a radically divergent worldview, but in
    terms of numbers and such, it really IS quite mainstream. The predominance
    of fundamentalism in our politics and in our cultural life is hard to
    ignore. This is not a caricature, just a snapshot of the sociological


    PS Sam, there are more Anglicans in Africa than in the UK, and they tend to
    be far more theologically conservative. I guess that makes you a left-winger
    of sorts. ;-)

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