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April 19, 2006

A Teleology of Disbelief?

Jesus told his disciples that the Kingdom of Heaven would arrive fast enough so that "some standing here...shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Didn't happen.

Madeleine Bunting (to whom this blog has paid an absurd amount of attention) took a shot back, accusing nonbelievers of a failed prediction of their own: "We were supposed to be all atheist rationalists by now," she writes.

Okay, that hasn't happened. Don't know who -- Karl Marx, maybe -- said it would. But is it fair to assume that such a prediction-- that believers will eventually wise up -- is inherent in attitudes of disbelief? Is there an assumption that logic, science, whatever, will eventually triumph, that the Kingdom of Reason will come?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at April 19, 2006 8:30 PM


I would love to see the kingdom of reason arive, but I doubt that I will. I doubt that reason will be the majority "religion" at any time in the future. Humans have imaginations and they have fears. Unless there is a comprehensive way to eliminate all fears, there will be the "need" for imagination to assuage those fears. As has been documented throughout written history, religion and the belief in a god or gods has been the way our imagination has dealt with those fears. I don't see a change coming.

Of note: I do think there will be more atheism / humanism, etc., but it will not be the dominant belief.

Posted by: JustinOther at April 19, 2006 10:41 PM

All isms are attempts to organize chaos. We are wired to feel consciousness is reality. It is much too difficult to think of what we perceive as a deeply symbolic construct. We are emotional animals; we feel and then we rationalize how we feel.

Much of our species is genetically predisposed to be organizationally religious. Nothing will change that but evolution. We will never see the day when God is not a big part of Homo sapiens life.

Many of us need to have answers to questions beyond our ability to understand.
It's all about awareness.

Posted by: Jay Saul at April 19, 2006 11:08 PM

Jay Saul makes a good point. There are those that would argue that "religious experience" is hard-wired into our brains and evolved over aeons. It was once an adaptive thing, but now is vestigial (sp?). In other words, it used to be good to be religious, but now is not necessary. We just haven't evolved out of it yet (like the appendix or coccyx.

I think those that are strongly religious are those who need an answer for life's unanswerables, and "God" is a convenient answer. I, personally, am content with saying "I don't know, but I'll investigate further."

Posted by: JustinOther at April 20, 2006 5:54 AM

There's a big difference between Jesus's promise that the kingdom of heaven would arrive within the lifetime of his audience and the hopeful assumption by rationalists that others will wise up to what seems so obvious to them. In the first case, the predictor is assumed, by those who have adopted him as their Savior, to be omniscient and infallible. The more diverse set of prophets who comprise the second case are assumed, even by their own number, to be always operating from imperfect knowledge and to be frequently wrong. So a demonstrably incorrect prediction is devastating in the first case and no big deal in the second.

Posted by: Richard Blumberg at April 20, 2006 11:46 AM

I would just add to these wise comments a reminder that there has been plenty of motion on the religion front over the mere ten thousand years of civilization. We've gone -- not smoothly, not directly, not without lots of backsliding -- from spirits in everything, to gods on a mountaintop, to God in the clouds, to various diffuse ("wan") notions of a heavenly Doesn't-Do-A-Heck-Of-A-Lot. Meanwhile we have whole countries -- culinary advanced countries -- that seem majority nonbeliever. The Kingdom of Reason may not be so rapidly coming. But a case could be made that those supernaturals remain in the midst of a long retreat.

Posted by: mitch at April 20, 2006 11:26 PM

A present from God! Ringtones for FREE!
Capitalism on the web, some dude/gal sitting in a cubical posting ads on comment boards. That must be a fun job!

Posted by: Jay Saul at June 21, 2006 10:16 PM


With respect, one must understand the bible before then attempt to use it in their support. The Kingdom of God came 50 days after the crucifiction, on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came and when he did, that usered in the Kingdom of God, Acts 2. Those who possess the Holy Spirit are citizens of the Kingdom of God. As for those who those "who would not taste death..." turn that around, we do not know who was in the audience that did not live for the next 50 days. Don't be too quick to dismiss the claims and promises of the Bible.

Posted by: Pastor Barry at July 17, 2006 9:50 AM

Yes indeed, don't want to get the facts of the Bible messed up. They won't make sense that way.
One MUST understand the Bible!

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 17, 2006 12:18 PM

Record company EMI sign a deal with the estate of crooner Dean Martin to use the singer's likeness...

Posted by: Parker Wingfield at December 15, 2006 1:01 PM

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