RE: [asa] Francis Collins shows mild signs of dementia, NA snark

From: Thomas Pearson <>
Date: Mon Oct 19 2009 - 17:40:26 EDT

On Monday, October 19, 2009, George Murphy wrote:


>>>All Christians believe that the revelation to which they
believe the Bible witnesses is a fundamental source for ethics.<<<


Not all Christians. Just about the time he was starting to develop his thesis on "religionless Christianity," Dietrich Bonhoeffer began by affirming an "ethics-less Christianity," a Christianity without specific ethical content. In this, he was following Barth in rejecting natural theology/natural law, while at the same time moving away from Barth's more narrowly-conceived biblicist ethics. You can read Bonhoeffer's striking conclusions in his 1929 lecture in Barcelona, "What Is A Christian Ethic?" I think Bonhoeffer has got this right.


Nonetheless, I do note that you wrote, George, that scripture is "a fundamental source for ethics," and not "the fundamental source for ethics." That distinction may be important, if it means that scrpture does little more than point to an ultimate source of ethics as a condition without which ethics would not be possible. However, developing a coherent ethical outlook and practice without ever pushing the question back to such an ultimate source is an entirely feasible project -- it's been done before; and by Christians, not just atheists. Not all authority (certainly not all moral authority) is located in the origins of things.


Tom Pearson




Thomas D. Pearson

Department of History & Philosophy

The University of Texas-Pan American

Edinburg, Texas

e-mail: <>



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Received on Mon Oct 19 17:42:52 2009

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