All the professional atheists get it wrong. So does theologian John F. Haught’s new book.
Jessa Crispin in The Smart Set:
In the house I grew up in, there was no god but Science, and the PBS Nova programming was his prophet. There was a little-g god, as we attended church every week, but we were just there for the dose of morality and the teachings of Jesus. So what if we did not believe in concepts like heaven or hell, probably not the devil, and now that you mention it, that idea of an omnipotent creator? Going to church wouldn’t do us any harm. There is no fire and brimstone with Methodists — just a few hymns, a quiet sermon, and a potluck lunch in the basement sure to include casseroles made with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.
God did not follow us home. My father did not lead us in prayer at dinner, but he did design chemistry experiments for me and my sisters to perform in the basement, to be followed by detailed lab reports. I never saw him awed at church, only when he woke us at 2 a.m., wrapped us in quilts, and took us outside to watch meteor showers. And he was perhaps the only father who regaled his family with a spot-on Carl Sagan impression. (“Dad, how many slices of pizza are left?” “Billions and billions! Oh wait, no, I ate the last one.”)
This was in Kansas, a state that produced Fred Phelps and his “God Hates Fags” protests, a state the decided (mercifully briefly) that the theory of evolution was just pulled out of Darwin’s ass. After I left, I was as cagey as a backpacker in Europe about my state of origin, wanting to sew a Nebraska flag onto my pack. I later became terrified of the world leaders suddenly discussing the End of Days and throwing the word “crusade” around. Relief came when the latest trend in publishing turned out to be atheist manifestoes. Finally. Some rational thinking. I lunged at Christopher Hitchens’s God Is Not Great, Sam Harris’s The End of Faith, and Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion. They will show us the way.
Imagine my surprise, then, when it turned out I was becoming as embarrassed to be associated with atheists as I had been with Kansans.