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Daniel Dennett’s study on non-believing clergy
Posted: 21 March 2010 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Daniel Dennett mentioned this study in the debate here
(Hitchens Harris Dennett vs. D’Souza Boteach Taleb)
http://richarddawkins.net/articles/4626

It has now been published and Pharyngula mentioned it this week
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/03/priests_who_dont_believe.php

Online here
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/Non-Believing-Clergy.pdf

In the 30 years that I’ve been associated with a particular Episcopal parish, we had one priest leave I think because of the cognitive dissonance that Dennett is talking about—he went into a different line of work. The most recent one was strongly influenced by John Shelby Spong and was much more open about not being literal and that there were “different kinds of truth”—another way to deal with the dissonance.

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Posted: 22 March 2010 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I saw an article on this - it was very interesting.

But clergy that “don’t believe” is not altogether surprising. There are plenty of people in jobs that they do not believe in and don’t agree with. I’ve been working for a company over 10 years whose ethics are questionable and whose attitude towards women makes me a bit ill (conservative, male-dominated industry.)  I ended up here quite by accident, the job sounded nice when I accepted the offer. Over the years I’ve interviewed at several other companies and tried to find a different job, but nothing that either paid the same salary or that could accommodate the hours I need to pick up my child after school. So I find myself still here, working for a company I “don’t believe in.”

Once you’re stuck in a specialized job, you really are “stuck” depending on your circumstances. I imagine a lot of the clergy who have lost faith, feel they have few other options in the working world.

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Posted: 22 March 2010 07:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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These findings don’t surprise me a bit.  It has been said, the way to disbelief is to actually study religion.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 20 October 2010 06:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Christopher Hitchens also very eloquently articulated this cognitive dissonance when he talked about the clergy thinking one way the “the sheep” thinking another way.  What I would like the clergy to employ is a Rogerian term called congruence.  It would be a tough line to walk, but it would mean less acting and more being real.  Be yourself, you don’t have to act and admit the positive attributes humanism.

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Posted: 20 October 2010 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’m reminded of Mother Teresa’s nearly life long struggle with “faith”:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/382191/letters_reveal_mother_teresas_struggle.html
Depression in the Ministry
... over several years of her life Mother Teresa had a crisis of faith. In the newly released book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, letters from this precious woman to her
confessors and superiors reveal that she struggled with feeling the presence of God in her latter days. It was a battle she would deal with for over 60 years and began shortly after she started tending to the poor and dying in Calcutta.

Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.
- Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979

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Posted: 20 October 2010 09:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Jules - 22 March 2010 12:20 PM

I saw an article on this - it was very interesting.

But clergy that “don’t believe” is not altogether surprising. There are plenty of people in jobs that they do not believe in and don’t agree with. I’ve been working for a company over 10 years whose ethics are questionable and whose attitude towards women makes me a bit ill (conservative, male-dominated industry.)  I ended up here quite by accident, the job sounded nice when I accepted the offer. Over the years I’ve interviewed at several other companies and tried to find a different job, but nothing that either paid the same salary or that could accommodate the hours I need to pick up my child after school. So I find myself still here, working for a company I “don’t believe in.”

Once you’re stuck in a specialized job, you really are “stuck” depending on your circumstances. I imagine a lot of the clergy who have lost faith, feel they have few other options in the working world.

My thoughts too. A person has to make a living. You got to do what you know how to do. Hopefully it’s something someone is willing to pay you for.

Pay me $10 and I’ll keep the holy water filled for the faithful.

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Posted: 20 October 2010 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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In reference to company ethics and the problems one might encounter if one goes against them.  I had a few cases when we produced a slightly defective product, but the marketing department knew the customers trusted us so they wouldn’t catch the problem.  I demurred but was told it wasn’t any of my business.  However, I had developed friendships with a chemist at each of the companies.  I merely called and asked, innocently, how often they ran the full battery of qualification tests.  They said “Seldom because your products always pass.”  I suggested that it might be interesting if they happened to run them on the next shipment.  The products were rejected, I was asked if I told the customers they were defective, and I could answer honestly that I hadn’t. smile

It would be nice if some of these atheist ministers would do the same.

Occam

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Posted: 20 October 2010 07:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’ll have to pick up Hitchens’ book on Mother Theresa.  I wish more ministers would be more honest about their struggles with faith instead of feigning certainty. cool mad

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Posted: 20 October 2010 07:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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questionsaboutfaith - 20 October 2010 07:25 PM

I’ll have to pick up Hitchens’ book on Mother Theresa.  I wish more ministers would be more honest about their struggles with faith instead of feigning certainty. cool mad

The Missionary Position is a good book! I had been railing against mother Teresa for years before I heard of the book voicing the same concerns I had with her. Read it, it is an ‘illuminating’ book!!

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Posted: 20 October 2010 10:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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questionsaboutfaith - 20 October 2010 07:25 PM

I’ll have to pick up Hitchens’ book on Mother Theresa.  I wish more ministers would be more honest about their struggles with faith instead of feigning certainty. cool mad

I don’t think a church can survive with ministers admitting to having doubts about their faiths. Religions (in general) rely so much on authoritarianism that any doubt is a sign of weakness.

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Posted: 21 October 2010 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Mriana - 22 March 2010 07:54 PM

These findings don’t surprise me a bit.  It has been said, the way to disbelief is to actually study religion.

Worked for me.

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Posted: 21 October 2010 04:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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DarronS - 21 October 2010 04:30 AM
Mriana - 22 March 2010 07:54 PM

These findings don’t surprise me a bit.  It has been said, the way to disbelief is to actually study religion.

Worked for me.

Or even better, religions.

It is actually a proposition of Dennett to teach religions in schools: to teach all big religions, what their holy books are, who are their gods and prophets, in which culture at the time they are arisen, what their ethics is etc. And that of course includes the own religion.

No better cure of religion…

GdB

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Posted: 21 October 2010 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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There may come a day when the world realizes the inferiority of religious type thinking and collectively we all evolve to a new kind of spiritualism.  Maybe it will be a spiritualism more based on natural laws and on the many questions of science.  Religion makes up an idea and then tries to prove it, while science has to have proof before making any sweeping statements about known reality.

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Posted: 21 October 2010 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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GdB - 21 October 2010 04:38 AM
DarronS - 21 October 2010 04:30 AM
Mriana - 22 March 2010 07:54 PM

These findings don’t surprise me a bit.  It has been said, the way to disbelief is to actually study religion.

Worked for me.

Or even better, religions.

It is actually a proposition of Dennett to teach religions in schools: to teach all big religions, what their holy books are, who are their gods and prophets, in which culture at the time they are arisen, what their ethics is etc. And that of course includes the own religion.

No better cure of religion…

GdB

Well, yes.  I did mean more than one religion.  Studying one religion alone, esp if it is the one you are born into, is not going to cut it.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 21 October 2010 12:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Mriana - 21 October 2010 08:21 AM

It is actually a proposition of Dennett to teach religions in schools: to teach all big religions, what their holy books are, who are their gods and prophets, in which culture at the time they are arisen, what their ethics is etc. And that of course includes the own religion.
No better cure of religion…

Sounds like a fantastic idea.

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Posted: 21 October 2010 03:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Quoting ExMachina:

I don’t think a church can survive with ministers admitting to having doubts about their faiths. Religions (in general) rely so much on authoritarianism that any doubt is a sign of weakness.


I agree, especially if they make their views public.  However, if a member of the congregation asks to be counciled by the minister about his/her doubts and the minister admits his/her own helps the person move toward atheism, the person may feel closer to the minister and actually become a stronger member.  Who knows, after a while the whole church could become non-believers. smile

Occam

[ Edited: 21 October 2010 03:33 PM by Occam. ]
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