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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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The Problem of God

A new book presents the case for a minimalist theism
By Coleen L. Geraghty

J. Angelo Corlett, professor of philosophy and ethics, has never shirked the big issues. Since 2001, he’s published on the subjects of evil, racism, reparation, responsibility, punishment and justice.

Now, he’s addressing perhaps the most profound philosophical topic of all—the problem of God. It’s a subject with which he is intimately familiar as the product of a devout Latino family, a former seminarian and later, a committed atheist.

In his latest book, “The Errors of Atheism” (Continuum Books, 2010), Corlett reverses course and declares atheism untenable. He calls for robust philosophical discussion of a renewed theism “simultaneously scientific and political in the justice-centered sense, one that refuses to deny the sciences their proper place…and one that also seeks justice for harmful wrongdoing.”

Corlett wrote “The Errors of Atheism” after re-examining the thinking of theologians John Cobb, David Ray Griffin, James H. Cone, Gustavo Gutierrez and others who’ve interpreted Christianity through the lens of social and political justice. Their thinking resonated with Corlett’s experience growing up among the working poor in economically depressed Ontario, Calif., and his years of research on moral and social philosophy, racism and forgiveness.

Though his book reproaches orthodox Christians bogged down by centuries of what he calls indefensible dogma, the point of Corlett’s rhetorical spear is aimed at atheists.

“I wrote ‘The Errors of Atheism,’” he said, “because I am deeply concerned about the problem of whether or not God exists, and because there are some rather arrogant atheists who have influenced the minds of millions of folk with the logical errors of their arguments.”

Corlett calls his theism “the new agnosticism.” Though minimalist, he hopes it will advance debate on the subject of God’s existence and on the urgent theological questions that have engaged humanity for centuries.

“Is this a being worth paying attention to or praying to? Is this a being who can help you through the death of a loved one?”