Street Theologian’s Short-Form Response to the Academy of Ideas: Do We Need God?

Street Theologian
10 min readDec 3, 2023
Gordon Riots. Charles Green. All images are from Wikimedia Commons.

Is a religious revival needed to save society?

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This is a short form article of the below:

Do we Need God? The Loss of God and the Decay of Society Under the False Gods of Sex, Status, Science and State. Street Theologian Responds to the Academy of Ideas

Key questions in assessing 5 key religions: 1. One-ism or two-ism? 2. Who was Jesus? 3. Done versus doing? Today Crisis of meaning Academy of Ideas The false gods The 4 S’s Why is there anything at all? Playing god to beat false gods Christ as a way forward for humanity

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The crisis of meaning

Many in the world today lack any sort of ultimate meaning in life. Most of us have experienced it. I sure have.

We all have an existential void. A need to feel loved, included or part of a meaningful cause. Where do you turn for this?

Academy of Ideas

The Academy of Ideas (AOI) contend most people in society base their lives around false gods and a religious revival is needed to stop the downward trajectory

On God?

The Academy of Ideas recently posted an interesting video titled Do we Need God? — The Loss of God and the Decay of Society.

They also posted a video titled, Why do Most Relationships Fail? — The Myth of the Magical Other.

In this video, they contended that the pursuit of a romantic partner has replaced the pursuit of God as a source of ultimate meaning in life.

AOI have also posted videos on Why the Lack of Religion Breeds Mental Illness and Is the Government the New God? The Religion of Totalitarianism.

The death of God

A key theme running through these videos is spelled out in Nietzsche and Nihilism — A Warning to the West.

According to Nietzsche, the death of God through reason and scientific progress, would give rise to other “shadow gods” which would make for worse gods than a transcendent Being.

The false gods

Everyone worships something. AOI note the numerous false gods which people have turned to.

The 4 S’s

We can summarise some of the key gods in today’s society with the 4 S’s.

Sex- obsessions with sexual acts and romantic relationships as a means to medicate existential pains

Science- the source of meaning which will deliver a utopia through technological innovation

State- solving key problems in society through the State with the State determining moral values

Status- living for the approval and recognition of others whether through social conformity (sheep) or trying to appear superior (peacock)

No transcendent basis in life

None of the 4 S’s offer a transcendent basis in life.

For example, on what basis can there be moral progress if no objective moral values exist?

In science, we assume the immaterial laws of logic and mathematics, the rational intelligibility of the universe and the uniformity principle that tomorrow will be like today. There’s no reason why an immaterial, universal, transcendent truth should be binding on someone in Botswana as well as Brazil if they’re bags of meat fizzing away to disconnected, unguided chemical reactions.

Why is God HIDDEN?

The Virgin Births of Secularism: 10 Impossible Things You Assume Everyday

God is a more plausible basis for this immaterial, transcendent order built into the universe than a mere disorderly chemical accident.

Why is there anything at all?

AOI quoting Iain McGilchrist, astutely point out that if the universe having a beginning signified the beginning of time, space and matter as we know it, the Cause of the universe must be on an altogether different plane.

Iain M

William Lane Craig’s version of the Kalam Cosmological argument is used to show this cause is “a personal Creator of the universe.. who is uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and unimaginably powerful.”

The Gratitude Myth: Affirm goodness but forget the Source?

Manifesting the UNIVERSE: Faith with no strings attached

AOI may also wish to look into Liebniz’ Contingency argument for God’s existence- why is there something rather than nothing?

Playing god to beat false gods?

AOI note the fact anything exists at all points to God and that society largely follows false gods. Where I would substantially disagree with AOI is their suggested eclectic approach to God- whereby one effectively picks and chooses aspects of the five key religions according to what subjectively brings one closer to their own view of God.

Mix and match

The fact is if everyone comes up with their own eclectic approach to world religions they are in effect, creating a new one- their own micro-religion.

You can mix rice with old banana peels or seasoned chicken or tofu or dry grass or mouldy beetroot- what you mix something with makes a big difference!

That’s not how accessing truth works.

What AOI are in effect suggesting is you become your own god. You are determining your own religious path according to what you mix and match for you.

Whose terms?

If God is real and exists, why think you decide the terms on which you come to this Being?

The solution to false gods isn’t to become your own god and pick and choose religions to make your own unique mix. The question is what religious beliefs are fundamentally true?

How arrogant of you to think every other religion is wrong

Corruption in organised religion

A reason AOI give for not sticking to any particular religion is corruption in organised religion. We all have corruption inside ourselves.

What ultimately drew me to Christianity was Christ himself, not Christians. Being a Christian is about choosing Christ. Followers of Christ are then called to show love to others in contexts such as church rather than basing their identity in religious institutions.

Identity Crisis: 6 Subtle Idols We Easily Fall For

Literalistic interpretations of Scripture

Another reason AOI give for avoiding committing to any one of the 5 key religions is a literalistic interpretation of Scripture.

AOI are again dictating the terms on which texts which are supposedly from God should be read.

Scriptural texts should be read in the context of the type of literature they are in the manner than was intended for the original audience. Not as we would read the text ourselves.

The Bible, for example, contains various forms of literature- ancient historical biographies, poetry, apocalyptic literature, letters, songs and so forth. Christianity stands and falls on a historical understanding of the resurrection of Jesus but not on reading Genesis like a modern scientific text.

Quoting Ehrman: 20 Bart Ehrman quotes every NON-CHRISTIAN should know

Are the Gospels based on eyewitness accounts? 10 key considerations

Were the 4 Gospels given FAKE names?

Did Jesus rise from the dead? Your comprehensive 2023 Guide

A sender or receiver issue- 5 key religions

AOI emphasise the 5 key religions of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism should be a logical starting point for a spiritual journey. We can assess the 5 as follows:

1. One-ism or two-ism?

The 5 key religions can broadly be split into one-ism and two-ism.

Under one-ism, all is one and shares the same nature. Under Hinduism we are all part of Brahman- everything is of the same essential Brahman divine nature.

Buddhism can also fall into the one-ism category, yet under Buddhism, as Keith Ward notes in the Big Questions in Science and Religion, a view closer to none-ism is perhaps more suitable. All that is is illusory. Even the self is an illusion.

For God to be on a different plane of existence, we need two-ism.

That is where Islam, Christianity and Judaism come in.

In these three key monotheistic religions, there is a fundamental Creator and creation distinction. God has a different essential nature to his creation. As AOI note in quoting McGilchrist, God “must lie on a plane different from, and deeper than, everything else”.

2. Who was Jesus

Jesus is what distinguishes the key two-ism worldviews from each other.

In Christianity, Jesus is a Jew who is the divine Messiah fulfilling the Hebrew Scriptures, crucified, and risen Lord and Saviour. Jesus is the only Way to God.

In Judaism, Jesus is not the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.

Is Jesus the Messiah? 3 Portraits from Daniel

In Islam, Jesus is a prophet, the Messiah (Surah 4:171) but was not crucified on the cross (4:157), nor is Jesus God’s Son or divine (eg. 4:171).

3. Doing versus done

What AOI seem to miss is that in Christianity, God does what we could not do ourselves. Rather than us moving in the direction of God, God first moves in the direction of us. Loving us before we loved him (Rom. 5:8). God is the One who makes harmony with him possible through Jesus’ death on the cross.

Salvation is a gift of grace in Christ Jesus. We ourselves are all fallen and corrupt. Through Jesus, God the Father sees Christ’s perfection instead of our sin.

The most important thing that needed to happen has been DONE through Christ’s death and resurrection.

The “doing” in Christianity then is an act of genuine gratitude and love to the one who saved us. It is not as in other religions a “doing” in order to be blameless or to become enlightened or for God to be more likely to show you mercy.

Christ as a way forward for humanity

The events concerning Jesus are rooted in history. They aren’t mere mythos.

Yet, the way of Christ poses a way forward for humanity. Christ’s sacrifice for us leaves us with a sense of awe and wonder. We are fallen, corrupt and broken. Yet, the Perfect experienced pain for us.

Conclusion

I would like to thank AOI for their incredible work they are doing.

To AOI and all their followers who have already been asked why there is something rather than nothing, I would ask three more questions:

  1. Are you a one-ist or a two-ist?
  2. Who was Jesus?
  3. Has the most important work for you been done or still needs doing?

If AOI are correct and a spiritual revival is what is needed to save society, then I encourage you to get onto exploring these questions as soon as possible.

Death approaches. Don’t edge one day closer to your death without first thinking of the three key questions.

All the best on your journey!

Street Theologian

Did you know you can subscribe to our Substack mailing list?

https://streettheologian.substack.com/

Want a more detailed response to AOI?

Read this:

Do we Need God? The Loss of God and the Decay of Society Under the False Gods of Sex, Status, Science and State. Street Theologian Responds to the Academy of Ideas

Key questions in assessing 5 key religions: 1. One-ism or two-ism? 2. Who was Jesus? 3. Done versus doing? Today Crisis of meaning Academy of Ideas The false gods The 4 S’s Why is there anything at all? Playing god to beat false gods Christ as a way forward for humanity

Read full story

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Article archives spanning back to 2020:

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Street Theologian

Theology and apologetics for those who want to get their hands dirty