Shuck and Jive

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dennett Looks Like Darwin!

Thanks to David for finding this video from Daniel Dennett, "The Evolution of Confusion." Dennett is the author of Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon and the co-author of a study of clergy who no longer believe the creeds. He talks about that process in this address.
Dan Dennett talks about purposely-confusing theology and how it's used. He also describes his new project interviewing clergyman who secretly don't believe anymore, and introduces a new term: "Deepity."


  1. I have not had a chance to read the paper yet, but I did watch this video while folding bulletins this evening. It has me wondering about a few things - I'm thinking in terms of our friend up here on Stoney Creek who had the discussion about whether or not it's still a sin for women to wear pants. Remember how I suggested that him going from that to his proposed debate on evolution would be like trying to jump the Grand Canyon on a tricycle?

    It seems to me that you are trying to build a bridge between what religion has often been and what it can be, while these fellows (Dennett, et al) are trying to fill the Grand Canyon with tricycles.

    My neck is stiff and sore and giving me a puking headache, or I would try to parse this some more. Right now, though, the only way I could manage to listen to any more of this would be if Dennett were standing behind me, rubbing my neck.

  2. Yes I do remember the important theological conundrum of women wearing pants. As I recall our friend was liberal on the issue. Women could wear pants. They just couldn't wear "the pants."

    I also appreciated the word picture of tricycles jumping the Grand Canyon.

    Evolutionary change happens in stages.

    When the Jesus Seminar came on-line in the mid 90s everyone freaked out. I remember being in the ministry when Newsweek, Time, and US News all published stories about them during holy week in 1994.

    Now these guys are frankly fairly mainstream. Crossan, Borg, and Spong are everywhere. In fact, I think they are conservative.

    Point being some times it takes a spurt (like our four atheist friends writing their books in 2005) then time for it to settle and become mainstream.

    I would imagine that in a few years the theologians will be saying many of the same things these guys are and it will be palatable.

    Overall, I think using evolutionary thinking to understand religion will be a big help.

  3. Hey John!

    Thanks for posting this video. I am just now getting around to watching it. In fact I am taking advantage of a download break with my hypo-slow internet connnection to drop this comment. Great stuff and I would recommend it to anyone, particullarly active or reactionary atheist who could be well served to have a little more knowledge and insight, and hopefully empathy as well, about their adversaries. I suppose all of us can, at times, be a little too shrill in our rhetoric. Sometimes we need to turn the volume down a bit to be better heard.