atheism and supernatural theism
June 5, 2009
Words for how we view God is exceedingly complex constructs. The time where a simple division between Theism and Deism could do the trick is long over, and the list is growing as we notice more and more possible ways in which this can be understood. Theism, Atheism, Pantheism, Panentheism, Supernatural Theism (Borg). Andries van Aarde apparently now talks about Postheism, and he, similar to Albert Nolan rejects Panentheism although they don’t fit any of the words in the previous sentence. I myself struggle to get a word for how I view God, maybe we are all just Theists, but just realize more and more that this word can still lead to numerous understandings.
Marcus Borg talked about supernatural theism in his Heart of Christianity. The idea that God is not of this world, but part of the supernatural realm, and breaks into this reality from time to time, a type of wonderworker God, sometimes doing a wonder, sometimes giving a message. but this highly personalized God more and more seem to be missing when he (it’s usually a male God) isn’t breaking into the world.
Atheism in popular Western circles usually defines itself against this view. For them this god simply isn’t breaking into this world.
Somehow I’m starting to think that these two ends of the spectrum might be closer together than we at first would think. That maybe views of God is not a linear spectrum at all, but fits together more complex, with extreme closer together, and those within faith traditions sometimes further apart. Because these two perspectives both seem to work with a similar view of reality, where God is not part of reality, where everything that happens is just science, they just differ on the amount of times that God does wonders, for the atheist never, for the supernatural theist frequently, but in-between these times, what would be the difference between an atheist and a supernatural theist view of the world? Except that for the supernatural theist God has somehow breaked into the reality at some point, and he/she hopes that God will come into this world again.
Panentheism is not the only alternative, and more and more theologians (In South Africa Nolan and van Aarde) is pointing out that this might not be the best alternative. But we do need a view of God where God is part of this reality, part of everything that happen and that is. God would then at the same time become less and more. Less breaking in, but more here. Less in heaven and more on earth.