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Can Christian values last without an omnipotent God?

Postmillennialism —  Leave a comment

Religion-based morality will survive in the secular world even if people no longer believe in the resurrection or the story of the Ten Commandments.

The supposedly “sensational” findings of an Ipsos Mori poll for the Richard Dawkins Foundation that many self-styled Christians in the Church of England do not believe that Jesus was physically resurrected or was the Son of God; rarely pray; cannot name the four gospels in correct order; and seek moral guidance elsewhere than from religion – will be no surprise to those of us who work within Christianity’s mother faith of Judaism. My guess is that the numbers would be even higher for Jewish (lack of) belief.

Jews today are an overwhelmingly secular people, whether in Israel or the Diaspora. It is one of the issues I address in my new book. Traditionally, Jewish thought revolved around the three pillars of God, Torah and the people of Israel. Nowadays they are antisemitism, the Holocaust and the state of Israel.

Aside from the devoutly pious fringe sects of Judaism, hardly any Jew today gives literal credence to a God who came down on Mount Sinai to give Moses the law for his chosen people, Israel; who is the omnipotent, omniscient creator and rules his creation with perfect justice; and who is guiding history, whatever its terrible vicissitudes along the way, towards a messianic age of peace and harmony when all peoples will acknowledge his sovereignty and do his will.

A moment’s reflection on the suffering, pain, injustice and sheer arbitrariness of human existence in what Thomas Hardy called “this nonchalant universe” makes it difficult for any thinking person to defend the notion of an all-beneficent or all-powerful creator. And even Jews who claim they believe in God resort to metaphor and woolly thought – a sense of wonder at nature, the “still, small voice” of conscience, the “divinely inspired” genius of Mozart, a universe too intricately intermeshed not to have had a guiding hand behind it – when trying to explain why they believe.

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