Quaker Non-Theism and the God of Pascal

Some valuable words from Friend Ben: ‘…without healthy Christian roots, latter-day British Quakerism has been thrown back on the dominant God-hypothesis of our culture; a theory of God which leads either to the God of the gaps (which Pascal calls ‘deism’) or non-theism. Yet, there is an alternative to these two visions; a God-talk that embraces the hard truths of existence (our sense of insignificance and abandonment) while at the same time giving depth and substance to our religious language. This third way between theism and non-theism is found in a man laid out upon a cross…’

The Armchair Theologian

Our Modern Contradictions

In recent discussions of non-theism within Britain Yearly Meeting, one theme keeps on resurfacing. Many Friends tell me that they find themselves to be “non-theist” simply because they can no-longer accept what they think traditional God-language entails- a pre-scientific language which no-longer tallies with physical facts. The crushing incongruity between our seemingly purposeless world of mathematical laws and the sacred teleological language of traditional Quaker theology is simply too much for some to bear. I must admit I have at times felt this same tension. When viewed through the recesses of cosmic time, the personal claims of religion appear preposterous. Aren’t we just chatty little apes clinging to a piece of rock, hurtling through a void?  Someone like the non-theist David Boulton would simply plead that we need to live authentically, without the dishonesty implied by such incongruity. As David writes:

I have never, since I ceased to be a…

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