It happened again. Steve Shives (no, he and I are NOT an item!) was a guest again on "The Place," a video podcast produced by the New Covenant Group. I saw that on my YouTube feed and figured that, despite the 2-hour-plus running time that I would give it a shot.
And it could be a good thing I did. The NCG had another guest as well, one Michael Dowd. Initially, listening to him speak, I wasn't sure I was going to warm to a guy who seemed to be trying to couch atheistic concepts in religious language. I'm generally not a great fan of any kind of spirituality or any approach which attempts to promote such thinking ... until he made one statement which surprised me with both its originality and its potential to create connections between the believing and atheist communities:
I'm a secular christian, a christian naturalist. What's the difference between a secular Jew and a fundamentalist Jew? Secular Jews still value the tradition, the language, some of the ritual, the ceremonies, certainly the value of the community. They just don't interpret any of it in a otherworldly or supernatural way any more.
That's the way I am a christian. I deeply value my heritage, my tradition, the forms, but I don't interpret any of it literally in a supernatural or otherworldly way, and I don't value the bible or any ancient text over current evidence [emphasis mine]. I think that's collective insanity when you do that. Every word or every scientific fact that is discovered is a revelation of reality, so I say science, that evidence is modern-day scripture, and if we value ancient texts over current evidence, we're going to have a very skewed understanding of what's real and what's important, which are the two questions which every culture needs to address to survive: what's real, or how things are, and what's important, or which things matter.