Sophistocated theology in a nutshell

I mentioned in the previous post that the Huffington Post always provides an ample supply of religious woo, and in browsing the site I've come across some op-eds that typify what appears to be passing for sophisticated theology these days.

You'll hear them spouting off all this poetic-sounding stuff about meaning and purpose, about the limitations of science, about "other realities" and "expanded consciousness", but without ever providing any rational basis for making such bold ontological assertions. Like, for example, this inane rambling from David Wolpe, the rabbi who (along with Bradley Artson Shavit) recently debated Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchen and, by most accounts it seems, got his ass kicked:
Religions are not the same. One claims a man can become God; another claims the distance between human and God is unbridgeable. One claims that God is not personal; another insists that God is personal. Differences can be multiplied. They are real; they are significant; they are not ultimate, however.
Therefore the essential question to any faith is not its dogma, but its realization. How does your attempt to live faithfully manifest itself in the world? Religions are different in innumerable ways. Ultimate reality is a unity, however. Or, as Judaism expresses it, God is One. [link]
This last paragraph isn't even coherent. On one hand, he seems to be arguing that the truth of religion is nestled in its pragmatism, so religious truth is revealed in how we live our lives. Or something. Then he makes some sort of weird unsubstantiated ontological statement about the fundamental nature of reality, but it's not entirely clearly what he means. It seems pretty apparent to me that, in typical sophisticated liberal theologian style, he's trying to weasel around the fact that all religious faiths make conflicting metaphysical claims. I agree though that religions are all alike in one way: they're all bullshit.

Anyway, then you have this gem of absurdity by Martha Woodruf, contributing for Newsweek:
If God is, then God is beyond us; and claiming otherwise corrals the great Whatever within the confines of human language and intellect. This means that society's great chorus of conversation about God--all our debate, all our competing forms of worship, all our loud denials of God's existence--is humanity noisily getting above our raisin' by attempting to demonstrate we know something about that which is un-knowable. We "know" God only in the changes our partnership with the Almighty makes in ourselves and our lives, and through other people's accounts of similar changes in themselves and their lives.
Apparently God's existence and properties are not things that can be reasoned about; they can only be felt. Of course, these feelings couldn't possibly be explained by confirmation bias or misattribution of causation. The only explanation is that the particular god you believe in really does exist. Checkmate, atheists!

This is the greatest kind of absurdity. If God exists in any capacity that can be objectively known, then there ought to be objective evidence for his/her/its existence. And no, tautologies don't count as evidence.

Lastly, I tripped over this facepalmer from Deepak Chopra, quite possibly the Ninja Master of pseudoscientific, quasi-spiritual woo:
It is becoming legitimate to talk of invisible forces that shape creation - not labeling them as God but as the true shapers of reality beyond the space/time continuum. A whole new field known as quantum biology has sprung up, based on a true breakthrough - the idea that the total split between the micro world of the quantum and the macro world of everyday things may be a false split.
If so, science will have to account for why the human brain, which lives in the macro world, derives its intelligence from the micro world. Either atoms and molecules are smart, or something makes them smart.
That something, I believe, will come down to a conscious universe.

Chopra is great at stringing together deepities that, upon closer inspection, are disconnected and misinformed. Toss in a little false dilemma fallacy and liberal use of the word "consciousness" as though it alludes to some ethereal divine force of nature rather than the product of our grey matter, and you have a classic recipe for woo soup. 

If that's not enough evidence of the vacuity of modern theological thought, take a look at Jason Rosenhouse's scathing critique of a new accommodationism-riddled tome from Francis Collins and Karl Gibberson called The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions. Here's a teaser:
Evolution is menacing to a belief in God because it refutes the best argument ever devised for God's existence. It also threatens certain specific religious views by challenging the goodness of God, the meaning of the soul, the importance of human beings in creation, and the accuracy of scripture. For all of that, the usual claim is not that evolution flatly disproves God, but simply that it makes belief in a traditional God seem very implausible.

Now that's more like it. 


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