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Showing posts from August, 2016

How to understand theology

I know I'm not alone among atheists in that over the course of many conversations with our theist friends, I frequently find myself asking, "What does that even mean?" Discussions about theology are frequently steeped in concepts whose meanings are not always perfectly clear, and the conflicting assumptions underpinning the meaning of crucial concepts leads to debates between atheists and theists amounting to, as Tim Minchin described it, trying to win a tennis match by scoring perfectly executed shots from opposite ends of separate courts.

I've been thinking a fair bit about why this is, and revisiting a book that is an old favorite has helped me shed some new light on this issue. The book in question is one that any long-time readers of this blog (both of you!) ought to be familiar with: Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer. Far from a new-atheist polemic, Religion Explained is an academic study of religion through the lenses of anthropology, cognitive psychology, an…