Atheist criticism of modern liberal theology is to theology as Fancis Shaffer's criticism of art is to art.
Recently I find more and more atheists on CARM going on the offensive against liberal theology. Yet since they refuse to read any they don't know anything about it. They base thier understanding of it on Spinoza becuase that's all know about. this refusal to learn about the things they critize is giong to a mainia. On CARM Magritte says:
Since at least Spinoza and the Enlightenment when it became safer (relatively speaking) to directly criticize the Bible and theism, apologetics has been waging a war of redefinition and redrawing of boundaries. Modern "liberal" Christianity now has boundaries that are practically fractal in their infinite detail. Whenever a threat emerges, apologetics swiftly whisks God to safety with rationalization. Boundaries are redrawn, words redefined.
Spinoza is not very important to modern liberal theology. They just think that because he's the only alternative view of God they understand. They think primarily that Spinoza is a pantheist which they are willing to tolerate because they see it as a step toward atheism. This guys sees liberal theology as some kind of refuge that fundamentalism takes when it can't stand up to atheism. That is totally ignorant on many levels:
(1) Spinoza has very little to do with modern theology,t hey are ignorant enough to think if it's not the big man in the sky it must be Spinozian deified nature (Spinoza did not deify nature but they don't bother to learn what he really thought).
(2) Liberal theology is much older than fundamentalism. It definately existed about 300 years before inerrency (19th century). Way before any modern athiesm so trying to see ita s a refuage of failed apologetic is just sheer ignorance.
(3) Fundamentalists hate liberal theology. Liberal theologians are not fundamentalists hiding from atheism they are rarely former fundiese. Most fundies see liberal theology as satan infiltrating the faith to steal away the faithful. Most of them wont go near it. Most liberals see fundamentalism and apologetic is country corn pone hick's ville and they wont go near it!
(3) Calling liberal theology a renationalisation is total stupidity. This complety ignores the rich intelletual tradion that is traced back to Erasmus and the Northern Renaissance.
This atheist assault interprets everything it doesn't understand as "rationalization." Here is his answer to one argument I made.
This sometimes gives a strong whiff of desperation and post hoc thinking. I'll give an example: I was asking Metacrock a while back about why God did not heal amputees. His reply was that limb regrowth would be such a strong indication of God's presence that it would take away our free will as to whether or not to believe. How is one to argue with an opponent who pulls such things out of his keister on the spur of the moment?This is totally taken out of context. Fist of all that's not even my answer. It's only a small part of my answer and it's argued hypothetically anyway. For a more full understanding of my answer on the amputee thing see my essay God and Amputees and also why wont God heal stupidity? The answer he's talking about is based upon a larger argument that is my answer to theodicy: Soteriolgocal Drama. That's my answer. It's unique to me. He's asserting that it's some srot of arche type for all liberal theology when in reality no liberal theologians even know about it and if they did they probalby wouldn't embrace it. That is idea is unique to me. But then CARM atheists are so ignorant of theology they tend to assume that I'm the only liberal. I went I went to seminary with other people. I'm just sure there were other students in those classes. Someone took those degrees on graduation. I doubt if they canceled commencement just becuase i didn't go. I graudated I just didn't feel like doing the cap and gown thing.
I invite other atheists, deists and agnostics to submit their own examples of this sort of thing. It's been going on for many generations and we should at least do it the dignity of understanding it.He speaks giving it the dignity of understanding which is ironic becuase he has not giving it that himself. He read any theologians. When one mentioned reading them they say "they just make stuff up." This is stupid, it's just lapin stupid anti-intellectual grab age. If they had the gumption to actually read some they would find out its not just making stuff up but they can't even take the obvious step of doing some basic study. The older example was to charge that liberal theology 'enables' fundamentalism. I don't what these people think they are saing. Do they ever think at all? That's like saying socialists are enabling capitalism. How? By opposing it? That logic suggests that atheism is enabling Christianity. They might as well argue that modern art enables old fashioned realism in art.
In that CARM thread I have to hand it to Humble thinker. He usually blocks with atheists even though he claims to be a Christian, but this time he has a cogent comment:
But I think the question is this: is the "strongest possible case" in question merely post hoc rationalizations in an attempt to make the case stronger or is it a prior held belief that, upon questioning, is presented without the intention of artificially making the case stronger? Hopefully that sentence didn't get too convoluted.
"Lance" another atheist poster reiterates and magnifies the original theme. In so doing illustrates more ignorance:
Doesn't it seem strange to you that as our philosophies and sciences have become more and more sophisticated, he concept of God has been shrinking back and becoming more and more abstract? God's become more and more unfalsifiable, more and more difficult to clearly define and theistic language seems to have become more and more obscure when speaking about him. Did not people used to believe that God wanted all people to have a personal relationship with him, to the point of him preforming miracles in front of crowds of people? God used to make a splash. Now modern theologians have changed his nature such that he's hiding from us, not letting us have any very solid reason for believing he's even there because he doesn't want to make his existence obvious.
He asserts that the concept of God is "shrinking back becoming more abstract" because he defines teh true and proper understanding as the big man in the sky. He does this because he privileges fundamentalist as the truth Christianity even though liberalism is must older. Also becuase like a true fundie he's reading the Bible literally so the metaphor of king and father he sees a literal instruction about the nature of God.Atheist are really fundies. The think the reason they are atheists is because they take the Bible super literally and can't think their way through it. They see any problematic nature as contradiction becuase they can't think, they see answering problems as some form of "giving up." He says God has "become more unfalsifiable." When was God ever falsifiable? That's becuase he has to understand problematic nature of God as grounds to see contradiction and give up the faith. that's what makes him an atheist. So he's really privileging atheism and in the final analysis the whining because they can't reduce liberal theology to their frontal of finding trivial contradictions in the bible.
The question of God's falsifiability is a complex one and deserves a lot more attention then these guys are willing to give it. I've written on the question of God's falsifiability on this blog in the 2007, and also more recently in 2011. Modern theologians have changed it so that God is now hiding form us. This is just sheer ignorance of a group of ideologues who refuse to study their opponents views but reduce them to a set of slogans. Modern liberal theologians deny that God is hidden. When they give answers atheists do not listen. I've repeated Hartshorne's answer many times:
quoting myself from my Thomas Reid argument (no 8 on the god arguemnt list--see page 2)
According to Hartshorne, "[o]nly God can be so universally important that no subject can ever wholly fail or ever have failed to be aware of him (in however dim or unreflective fashion)." Now the issue of why God doesn't hold a "press conference" has do do with the fact that God does not communicate by violating normal causal principles. In process terms, the "communication" of God must be understood as the prehension of God by human beings. A "prehension" is the response of an occasion to the entire past world (both the contiguous past and the remote past.) As God is in every occasion's past actual world, every occasion must "prehend" or take account of God.I will make it more simple than that. Being is hidden. A basic reading of Heidegger will tell us this. God is being itself, the basic hiddenness of being is the hiddenness of God. But being is not hidden it's mere ready-to-hand. This phrase refers to the nature of being that is so familiar we take it for granted and don't notice it. It's like a carpenter who so familiar with his tools that usin them is such second nature he doesn't even have to think about it. Saint Augustine says God is nearer than my inmost being. I used to use a whimsical example: suppose a fish could be scientist and a fishy committee assigns him to find this substance humans talk about, water. He studies every aspect of the world around him and never finds water becuase it never occurs to him he's looking through it.
It should be noted that "prehension" is a generic mode of perception that does not necessarily entail consciousness or sensory experience. Impervious postings I explained that there a two modes of pure perception --"perception in the mode of causal efficacy" and "perception in the mode of presentational immediacy." If God is present to us, then it is in the presensory perceptual mode of causal efficacy as opposed to the sensory and conscious perceptual mode of presentational immediacy. That is why God is "invisible", i.e. invisible to sense perception. The foundation for experience of God lies in the nonsesnory non-conscious mode of prehension. So now, there is the further question: Why is there variability in our experience of God?. Or, why are some of us atheists, pantheists, theists, etc.? Every prehension has an initial datum derived from God, yet there are a multiplicity of ways in which this datum is prehended from diverse perspectives.
I agreed with Hume that sense perception tells us nothing about efficient causation (or final causation for that matter). Hume was actually presupposing causal efficacy in his attempt to deny it (i.e., in his relating of sense impressions to awareness). Causation could be described as an element of experience, but as Whitehead explains, this experience is not sensory experience. From Hume's own analysis Whitehead derives at least two forms of nonsensory perception: the perception of our own body and the nonsensory perception of one's past.