Abstract: The New Atheists have repeatedly denounced the Bible as dangerously false, suppressive to scientific inquiry, and promoting problematic or even abhorrent moral values. The Genesis 1-11 and 19 narratives on the Creation, the Flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah are among their favorite targets. Is it possible to read these texts more rigorously, responsibly, and charitably than the New Atheists have done? I think so, and discuss some possibilities here.
After a post-master's teaching stint which included three years at an all-women's college in North Carolina, I returned to the classroom as a student for a Th.M. with a thesis on Evangelicals and Muslims, and a Ph.D. dissertation on the "New Atheists." One of the funnest (er...most fun) books I have read so far for dissertation prep is Mary Eberstadt's The Loser Letters, which I recently reviewed "In Brief" for Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary…
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on February 2, 2012 at 6:01am — No Comments
I like atheists. I don't like the definite assertion of atheism, since as a believer in God I believe it is false. But I often like atheists. Atheists challenge me to think more deeply on myriad issues, including my faith. Many atheists are gracious with a winsome sense of humor, and act as a prophetic and frank voice to religious believers. Atheists are my colleagues, fellow nurturers of creative spirit, friends (and perhaps family?) who frequently display the effervescent…Continue
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on October 18, 2011 at 1:24pm — No Comments
This piece originally appeared in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 50:2 (June, 2011), pp. 427-428.
What do qualitative research, legal testimony, and sunlight shot through stained glass have in common? All of these benefit from, even demand, insider perspectives. Kambiz GhaneaBassiri is an American Muslim, a two-time Harvard graduate, and a Reed College Professor of Religion and Humanities supplying a historian’s insider account of Muslim and non-Muslim…Continue
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on June 15, 2011 at 5:01am — No Comments
In the 2007 comedy-drama Dan in Real Life, newspaper columnist Dan Burns (played by Steve Carrell) muses, "Most of the time, our plans don't work out as we'd hoped. So instead of asking our young people what are your plans . . . maybe we should tell them this: plan to be surprised."
Burns's final phrase, "plan to be…Continue
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on April 26, 2011 at 5:00am — No Comments
Among immigrants aspiring to brave futures in the land of the free, few are as publicly controversial or as mobile as Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In her most recent appearance on the Colbert Report, Stephen asked her if she left Islam and became a Christian. Her answer to the first, "yes." Her answer to the second, "No...I prefer John Locke to Jesus Christ. I prefer John Stuart Mill…Continue
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on March 23, 2011 at 7:03pm — No Comments
This piece originally appeared in The Huffington Post, February 21, 2011.
If asked to identify factions clawing at each other’s religious throats on the American and world stage, who would you cite? Protestants vs. Catholics? Muslims vs. Jews and Hindus? In popular consciousness, Evangelical or evangelistically minded Christians and Muslims are plausible contenders.…Continue
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on February 23, 2011 at 11:39pm — No Comments
In light of several high profile cases of gay related bullying, this essay may disgruntle almost everyone who reads it.
First, it may anger bullies who want sympathizers or "boys will be boys / girls will be girls" dismissers of bullying among religious believers who see homosexuality as against God's intent, having harmful…Continue
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on February 1, 2011 at 9:39am — No Comments
Last Thursday, the New York Times reported that the Shi'i military and political movement Hezbollah, which many would classify as terrorist, toppled the Lebanese government just six months after the death of…Continue
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on January 20, 2011 at 9:17am — No Comments
My inaugural posts at State of Formation seem to indicate a passion for sharing what I believe are incisive resources with State of Formation contributors and readers. This Christmas Eve Eve, I commend Patheos as an outstanding storehouse for all manner of inter-religious conversations, including the perennial Christmas theme of…Continue
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on December 23, 2010 at 3:35am — No Comments
I admit it. I sometimes like country music. Bypassing stereotype muses of beer and bad breakups; one can find depth, pathos and metaphor. Back in 2001, one of my favorite songs was (and still is) by teenie fireball Jessica Andrews - Who I Am:
If I live to be a hundred
And never see the seven wonders
That’ll be alright
If I don’t make it to the big leagues
If I never win a Grammy
I’m gonna be just…
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on December 6, 2010 at 9:20am — No Comments
Earlier this year, students and a professor at Harvard Divinity School launched Journal of Comparative Theology, set to emerge and expand as a valuable resource for State of Formation readers and others interested in inter-religious encounter. At one level, "Comparative Theology" is simply that, comparing theologies. At another level articulated by Francis Clooney at Harvard, "Comparative Theology" involves harnessing…Continue
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on December 3, 2010 at 12:23am — No Comments
Books & Culture: A Christian Review recently extended me the privilege of reviewing replies to the New Atheism, including one co-authored by Intelligent Design guru, Philip Johnson. Although it inevitably rankles some interlocutors, when I’m asked for my place on the Creationism/Evolution spectrum, I usually punt to the television series “Friends.”
In Season 2, Episode 3, "The One Where Mr.…Continue
Added by Benjamin B DeVan on November 24, 2010 at 3:09pm — No Comments