NT Wright at Stanford University: Yet another debate between an Atheist and a Christian

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The day after Cinco de Mayo, The room filled. I pessimistically presume that it’s mostly with Christians, since Bishop NT Wright is a big name in the intellectual Christian community. For whatever reason, I don’t find this conversation interesting– you know, the [general] Christian vs. Atheist debate.

I first heard NT Wright at a conference in 2008. He spoke as if reciting poetry. I have a lasting memory of him saying, “new creation has begun, therefore, we have a job to do.” What a great way to put things.

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Having written many books on theology, NT Wright can be seen as a modern day CS Lewis. When describing him to a friend, I tried showing one of his appearances on Colbert Report. Unfortunately, much of what NT Write says is in “Christianese.”

It wasn’t until breakfast with the Bishop that got a better handle of who NT Wright was. In addition to theologian, he is an Ancient Historian, and, sometimes, goes by the name, Tom.

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Breakfast was good. I ate some deliciously crunchy grapes. The smaller meeting was far more engaging than the debate.

Here are some notes I took (I apologize for any inaccuracies):

NT Wright has 3 degrees from Oxford and was a junior professor McGill. He spent part of career half campus minister and half university teaching. He has a wife, 4 children, and 4 grandchildren, and lives on the Scottish coast.

He talked about conversations among Ancient History scholars, which can be as specific as how many times the rooster crowed on the day of crucifixion. Wright furthered with the works of Josephus, stating that you cannot explain the rise of Christianity without the resurrection.

He described the current western religion or the American religion to be a “moral therapeutic deism”– God is a CEO and can be assessed (a better compromise than deism and pantheism).

Science brought mixed blessings. Same scientific enterprises brought us gas chambers and war vehicles. Technology, in our history, has enabled machines for war, not peace. Science can gesture at dimensions of human existence that are important to people, but “can’t tell you why mozarts music is beautiful.”

He referenced a book called, the Great Partnership – science and religion, by a PhD Rabbi. The question of meaning does not come with science. Science reduces meaning to biological evolutionary purposes. Most of us think life is a little bit more important.

Ian McGilchrist wrote a book called, the Master and his Emissary regarding the left and right brain. We live schizophrenic as a culture with just science, where the right brain leads, and left brain fills in the details.

NT Wright also works with Biologos and gets long angry letters about being a heretic, specifically when giving credit to science. He was also part of a think tank in washington 10 years ago, ~2001 while he was at Westminster. In regards to Darwin’s Origin of Species, he thought. “oh that’s how God did it.”

The last note I wrote is: “if you tried to have an Atheist state, you would invent new religions.”

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2 thoughts on “NT Wright at Stanford University: Yet another debate between an Atheist and a Christian

    1. I wouldn’t give yourself that much credit. You’d be surprised at the sort of religion science inspires. Just get a PhD, or watch that South Park Trilogy that makes fun on Richard Dawkins.

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