Religion based on discussion

I am becoming more and more disappointed with how major denominations look like, so much for traditions and rituals done the same way over and over and yet so much we don’t know, that religion tends to ignore and stays the same. If there was a religion based majorly on discussing tough topics and broadening your knowledge about the Bible for example we would never reach a point when average atheist knows more about the Bible than average christian.

It’s embarrasing to say the least, just think about how much deliberate people would’ve become, how much more complex our beliefs would be, even if we spent only this one hour a week on thinking about many unknown problems in our faith we would be able to reach so much knowledge we don’t yet have. Even if doing that we only managed to prove our faith is false, well, we would just have to accept it sooner than later.

But that’s how it looks, what I’m asking, is there some denomination that revolves strongly around analyzing the Bible, the faith and other important theological topics? I know that Mormons know the Bible quite well, even though some of their beliefs seem unfounded and Jews also analyze their Scripture a lot.

Is there some other denomination that’s also hard on critical thinking and embraces learning over blind faith? Or even if you have something to say about Mormons or Jews (something against my statements for example), I will be glad if you share it (also if there was similar topic here on Biologos, I would be happy if you shared it too).

No. I cannot think of a single denomination of any religion where free thinking is allowed let alone encouraged, except in their highest, most privileged, ivory towers. I had to drive 30 miles up twisting country roads to find such. It’s not even possible in my liberal theology group. I withered on that vine. You have to pay one way or another. All groups close. If you want THE conversation, you have to choose the right parents for a start.

What did you find there?
I suppose my question has to be understood in light of whether your hill and road were literal or metaphorical, which means I may also need to rely on your help with understanding the hill and roads as well.

Average atheist is more moral more knowledgeable and generally better human beign than your average christian.

Orthodox Christianity . It has some really opeminded people.But because its so connected to tradition country etc etc t=at least 50% of its adherents are goons who dont give a @@ about the bible or christianity and just go there because tradition has it you have to go.Of course when you ask them theyll say “Ohhh im Christian” and then pull the "dont you dare judge me only God can "card if you point out that they are actually not.

This is one of those THE questions, isn’t it?
I don’t know that it is primarily a question of religion but of humans. We want a lot of things, including the feeling of certainty, that we’ve got it figured out. It gives us a framework we feel like we can operate within.

I wouldn’t look so much to “knowing the Bible well.” I have always been surrounded by people who can quote you chapters (along with chapters and verses) and who know the doctrinal statement so well they can quote that, too, Those particular people I know are not asking questions (at least the kind you have in mind); they feel quite certain the important questions have been answered fully. Meaningful questions, even within the slight “give* within those doctrinal statements, are not welcome and will quickly be dispatchted.

When I had a church library to run, I would often be excited about a new book that reached a bit but well within the doctrinal statement. I would get responses like “I would love to read that. I’m not sure who in the congregation would read it, though.”

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That’s quite an amazing claim. How would you go about defining “an average atheist” and “an average christian”, and determining which knows more about the Bible? Or perhaps you’re aware of some research study or studies that support the claim?


Those are good questions, Terry. However, I’ve been quite humiliated at how little I know, compared to many people who don’t claim my faith. However, often what we know is related to the questions we’re asking. And that can lead to depths in very different areas of inquiry, which fall under the same larger umbrella. Then it’s easy to say, “Well that entire area of inquiry is irrelevant; only mine is of value. Nothing you know is going to answer any questions of value.” That’s really a strategy, rather than a breadth of knowledge.

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Here’s a puzzle. I happen to get along with the average atheist a whole lot better than with the average Christian. Although it might take a little work, I think I could come up with some affidavits from some self-described atheists who would vouch for me. Trying to get some self-described Christians around this forum to vouch for me would take some money. And I don’t mingle with many Christians outside this forum. So here’s a question for the Christians in this forum: what’s your problem? [LOL!] But back to my question to DGX37: If the claim is to have any credibility, doesn’t it merit a little evidence? And if it does, I just think the rest of us are entitled to see it, no?


The roads were for real to here. Paradise. 17 miles. Feels like 30. And many centuries.

I found a superb priest.

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Well it’s not a issue of a particular denomination, but of the specific congregation’s members. Not everyone here is in the same denomination. There are Christians in movements like Lutheran, church of Christ, baptist, church of the Nazarene, and ect…. Who all accept scientific consensus, that the Bible is not perfect and ect and you also have hardcore fundamentalistic literalist in those same movements. This may be a weird comparison but it would be like asking which denomination teaches Santa is fake to their kids. In each congregation you would find parents who allowed and did not allow their kids to believe in Santa.

In my own limited experience the majority of people I meet don’t know very much about the Bible or evolution. I can approach almost anyone on the street and question them a wide range of topics within either subject and they don’t know. Most atheists I’ve met are atheists by faith just as much as any Christian is religious by faith. They all know the typical “ we did not actually come from monkeys but apes” type of stuff. It’s more that they simply believe we evolved, and they trust in the scientists that said we evolved and so they accept that we have evolved. But they don’t read a lot of scientific books, or papers on it. But then even within these forums there is a wide range in understanding evolution. It’s such a giant topic. Someone could understand the evolutionary history of angiosperms pretty well not be able to dove deeply into just the evolutionary history of oaks and someone may know all about marine life but nothing about mushrooms and ect… or like how I have a decent enough grasp on how different types of eyes evolved, but I know essentially nothing of how bones evolved and I know nothing about how emotions and the ability to dream evolved and so on.

We ( Christians collectively ) know a bunch about the Bible. There are people who have written entire big books just on the relationship of people and trees in the Bible and ect…. The typical Christian and atheist will simply never have a professor or scholarly grasp on evolution or the Bible. But that does not mean they are like 3rd graders in their understanding.

The closest you may get would be to find a congregation that is willing to hear multiple sides without growing jerkish while listening. Talk them into developing small groups of like 10 people who will focus on a specific topic and spend a few months studying and learning it and the different approaches and then on some Sunday morning or whatever, the pastor discusses what was found and shared all the different beliefs. But that’s probably not going to work either. There is a verse that says “ not all were called to be teachers” and so perhaps your congregation just needs to find and support the handful in their congregation that feels that drive and have them help the pastors with writing a study and so on.

Ultimately best bet would be to teach the congregation emotional intelligence and acceptance towards other beliefs. Get them involved in hands on community help. Something as simple as a congregation adopting a road that twice a month the church goes and picks up trash from , or the congregation volunteers are a soup kitchen would be very beneficial. Getting a church to move away from just lawn to a native garden without chemicals could be fantastic.

Think of it like this. How many members are in your congregation. When is the last time you have spent an hour after church, or on the phone or even in person talking with them. There are people in my congregation that I don’t even really know their name, let alone anything they are going through or struggling with and the size is normally just 80 people, and never over 200 even at Christmas sermons.

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People are complicated. We all have a lot of baggage, and need a lot of grace. And need to give a lot of grace. While I reference it far too often, Haidt’s The Righteous Mind gave me a lot of insight and even compassion for those who believe differently. And he is atheist and Jewish.


It looks like a very good place.

@Klax if you don’t mind, what made the priest superb?

In europe, we have something called the alpha-course which is supposed to be multiple evenings where christians and non christians meet up to talk about the bible. It is particularly popular with the catholic church in france at least.

Now in fairness we have less of an issue around thing like thing like evolution, ecology and even to an extent homosexuality (most still think its a sin but my pastors have generally wanted to be welcoming of homosexuals). Although they certainly exist, in particular the ADD (assemblé de dieu) have a poor reputation on that front amongst the church I’ve be part of.

Ultimately you can’t expect a Church with more than even a few dozen people of having complexe theological debates on a sunday morning service. Not every person is at that level. What you can do though is promote things like house groups or connect groups to study the bible with a smaller groups. I really like doing those over launch.


The Alpha Course is also here in the US. I think it was created by Holy Trinity Bromptom and now widely used. I have had thoughts of starting one locally, but not sure how it would interface with local church politics. It seems like if a church doesn’t have it as “their” program, support is lukewarm at best.

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I’ve heard of it here in the U.S., and the people who are familiar with it think it’s so widely known that it needs no description. So, I still really know nothing about it except the name. And what you’ve said, gavin_kemp.

You mean… you met Mormons who knew the Bible well. Probably not Utah and perhaps missionaries. I had a similar experience with Jehovah Witnesses – meaning I met a few who knew the Bible quite well. But the majority… they read their church publications – and they assume it is the same as what is in the Bible. And in general, what they know well are the parts of the Bible they like.

If you live in Utah (as I do) or in community where LDS are the majority you learn that there are different kinds. And there are always differences between those converted to a religion and those raised in it. Those converted will tend to know more and ask more questions.

In general, religions only answer the questions which they choose to ask. This makes comparisons between religions difficult because most of the time they are not even asking the same questions. This is especially true of those raised in a religion – taught both the questions to ask and the answers their religion gives to them.

The Vineyard church I liked so much and attended until it closed down did the alpha course. I knew it came from the Anglican church in England.


It supposed to cover the very basics of the Christian faith and shouldn’t include denomination doctrine, for example the Catholics aren’t supposed to talk about Mary.

It is supposed to be used for evangelising so it might be a bit basic but at the same time its the place where atheist will ask their hardest questions.

I’ll have to see if I can get my father to give a better description. He was heavily involved to the point he got the Nick name “monsieur Alpha”.


This was one of the sources I based my thoughts on.

I saw it being quoted few times so I thought it’s credible enough, I didn’t look into scientific papers though.

Don’t mistake me for a person who had a lot of experience with talking to people about theology, the time I spent discussing on this forum (even though it was quite a short time) was longer or comparable to time spent discussing religion in my whole real life. Poland, the country I come from doesn’t have too much opportunities to talk about faith (at least it seems so from my experience because I really don’t have much control over environment I am in right now). People either reject religion (it’s visible by their mocking way of addressing it), believe in it strongly and share typical dogmas when questioning something and there is also mix of two and such people just avoid talking about religion.
It’s just looked down upon to question religion in my culture it seems.

Yeah, sometimes I meet a person who will talk about this but I never saw a group that wants people to give their thoughts on something theology-based. You either listen or you are asked to leave, so everybody just listens, even atheists among us.


Thanks for the citation.

Your rationale makes sense. I’m just biased against things that people manage to do with statistics, e.g. turn a statistical result from a survey into justification for self-praise. And, as Swedes say:


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Mystery solved:

U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey - Executive Summary

Screenshot 2022-09-05 at 09-19-01 U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey

The survey just surveyed U.S. Americans. Non-Americans need not apply. :rofl:


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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