“Preachers Who Are Not Believers” by Daniel C. Dennett and Linda LaScola, in Evolutionary Psychology, March 2010.
Generations of questioning churchgoers have struggled to accept the teachings of Christianity, as have, inevitably, some clergy. The stakes are certainly higher for the latter. What does it mean to be a nonbelieving pastor?
Daniel C. Dennett, a philosophy professor at Tufts University, and social worker Linda LaScola discreetly identified and interviewed five “closeted” nonbelieving ministers to better understand this “invisible phenomenon.” The pastors, all Protestant men (Dennett and LaScola couldn’t identify any nonbelieving Catholic or Orthodox priests), expressed skepticism about a host of fundamental Christian teachings, including the virgin birth of Jesus, the existence of heaven and hell, and the status of the Bible as the inerrant word of God. Some admitted that their religious stance might be best described as atheist. “The whole grand scheme of Christianity, for me, is just a bunch of bunk,” said Jack, a Southern Baptist minister of 15 years.
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