I've come across lots of nonsense in my podcast consumption in the past year and a half, but I did not expect "Point of Enquiry," the audio output of the Centre for Inquiry, to be the first place I would hear about Death of God Theology.
Presenter Robert Price discusses this idea at length with one of its original proponents, Thomas Altizer. Not only does Price's investment in the philosophy ruin my confidence in him as a sufficiently impartial reporter to serve the interests of the CFI, but his use of jargon and his assumption of audience familiarity with Altizer's work made this a thoroughly frustrating episode. I listened to the end, partly out of bloody mindedness and partly out of a desire to see if either party would make sense before the time was up, but too often I was left floundering and had to go and read up on the matter in my own time.
In short, Altizer is one of a small number of theologians who think that God died on the cross and that that was the end of the divine presence. They think Christian teachings are valid sources of insight for humanity, but that modern churches are largely off message. They also get haughty about any atheist who doesn't think the same way as they do, claiming their insight on what the universe has lost is the only valid path to the belief that there is no god. Believing that a god did exist and no longer does is, I will grant them, a different position to my own take on atheism, and it still requires evidence in the sense that a claim is made about history which, were an equivalent claim made about a city or a flood or a battle, would require evidence before it got taken seriously. The absence of a deity today, while consistent with the claim of a dead deity, does not bolster the claim that the deity existed and died, in itself.
I wouldn't have given this line much more thought than I give to John C. Lennox's output but for the fact that I'd already listened to Robert Price discuss many issues with clarity and attention to evidence in other episodes of the podcast. The show notes link it to the 2nd of April, 2010, so there is a chance I have been poed good by the CFI, who in turn dropped the ball by putting the file up a day late for the 2010 April fools' day.
There is also a chance that the entire Death of God Theology idea is poe and that references to it beyond the podcast are spurious. Can anyone shed some light on this, please?
Poe or not, this has me sufficiently baffled and frustrated that I reiterate my disdain for poe unless the reveal is pulled of with Sokal level style.
Hey, Kwizatz Haderach, I found your Christian atheists. Turns out they're either joking or doubly deluded, but they do claim to exist.