The Evolution of Confusion
Dan Dennett has been studying the phenomenon of preachers who don’t believe what they preach. It’s interesting stuff, but utterly unsurprising to atheists.
These are people who entered the ministry out of a sincere desire to do good in the world, and as they delved into religious scholarship, they discovered they couldn’t believe anymore… but hey, they were still humane and concerned about their fellow human beings.
They’re also concerned about what will happen to their income if they leave the church, and what will happen to the opinion others have of them. And they engage in some difficult and twisty rationalizations for their situations.
One other interesting point is that several of them came to their atheism by way of reading books by Ehrman and Spong, and also Harris and Hitchens.
These works do make a difference. Unfortunately, we also learn that while they have received enlightenment, they’re very, very reluctant to share that shameful knowledge with their congregations, and continue to reassure them about belief in god.
In short Dan Dennett talks about purposely-confusing theology and how it’s used. He also describes his new project interviewing clergyman who secretly don’t believe anymore, and introduces a new term: Deepity.