Into a Post-Theological Age

David Niose, in his article "The Post-Theological Umbrella," in New Humanist, January/February 2008, cited a friend suggesting we could improve the attractiveness of Humanism by moving into the post-theological age, by avoiding the old theological terms such as Atheist, Non Theist, God, etc. "When people ask me about atheism," she said, "I just tell them I consider myself post-theological."

David expands on this view, pointing out its merits. We all know that, over the centuries, the meanings of those theological words have spread across the spectrum and absorbed quite different meanings in different parts of our culture, to the point that it is difficult to have any rational discussion involving them. A number of authors have already made the transition; for instance "Humanist Manifesto 3" (HM3) is a delightful document describing Humanism without any of those old theological words.

We will lose nothing from Humanism if we adopt Sherwin Wine's coined word "ignostic," which rejects any discussion as to whether God exists as futile. When we have such a beautiful document as HM3, that has already made the transition into the post-theological age, I am sorry to see its first sentence frequently mutilated by adding "without theism", which was not in the original. This happens even on the AHA web site.

I coordinate a national Email group to encourage seeding of Humanist groups from the 1,000-odd Universalist Unitarian congregations across the US, as well as cooordinating Concord Area Humanists. The last thing we want is to complicate our message with those theological terms that add nothing, but cause problems because of the unfavorable meanings they have gathered over the centuries. Please let us move on from that now obsolete theological-age. We already outnumber the Religious Right, but we now need to make our presence known with a powerful Humanist voice that is not fractured by obsolete semantics.


About Pat

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Patrick Everett is one of the founders of Concord Area Humanists and president of the steering committee. He is a retired engineer/scientist and a long-term member of First Parish in Concord. Pat and his wife live in Concord.

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