ExoTheology & Space-Age Interpretations of the Bible

(religious implications of an inhabited universe)

“hungry for myths that are not only resonant but true”

I liked this review of Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God, especially the last two paragraphs. I feel the way Douthat describes — i.e., I crave concrete truth in my myths, too. It’s one reason I could not wholly embrace a liberal theology or a liberal biblical interpretation. I couldn’t get my brain around the main events in the Bible being only symbolic and not also (at least in some way) historical. The biblical writers just don’t sound like they’re writing symbols a lot of the time. So, for me, I either had to interpret the Bible basically historically (via either a traditional interpretation or a space-age interpretation) or not at all.

Anyway, here’s the last two paragraphs. Very nicely written. (The bold is mine.)

This explains why liberal religion tends to be parasitic on more dogmatic forms of faith, which create and sustain the practices that the liberal believer picks and chooses from, reads symbolically and reinterprets for a more enlightened age. Such spiritual dilettant­ism has its charms, but it lacks the sturdy appeal of Western monotheism, which has always offered not only myth and ritual and symbolism (the pagans had those bases covered), but also scandalously literal claims — that the Jews really are God’s chosen people; that Christ really did rise from the dead; and that however much the author of the universe may surpass our understanding, we can live in hope that he loves the world enough to save it, and us, from the annihilating power of death.

Such literalism can be taken too far, and “The Case for God” argues, convincingly, that it needs to coexist with more mythic, mystic and philosophical forms of faith. Most people, though, are not mystics and philosophers, and they are hungry for myths that are not only resonant but true. Apophatic religion may be the most rigorous way to go in search of an elusive God. But for most believers, it will remain a poor substitute for the idea that God has come in search of us.

from Ross Douthat, “Perpetual Revelations.” NY Times, October 4, 2009.


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