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Title: Religious atheism in contemporary Western thought : a Christian problem and a Buddhist perspective
Author: Gray, Karen Mary
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1975
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The thesis is divided into two parts, the first presenting the material and undertaking general interpretation, and the second engaging in more specific interpretation, analysis and development of themes. Both of these parts are in turn divided into two sections, and the thesis as a whole is begun with an introduction and ended with a brief conclusion. The Introduction describes the preliminary difficulties of the subject and.sets the tone in which the thesis will be developed. The conclusion represents a summary of the subject based upon the development within the body of the thesis and includes a personal evaluation of the present contribution and significance of Christian atheism. The first part of the thesis constituting a little over half of its length, looks at atheism in Christianity in the first section and in Buddhism in the second section. The Christian section begins with a long but crucial chapter on the general atheistic position of each of the ten persons whom we are considering to be Christian atheists. This is followed by three chapters in which sub-topics which emerge naturally as the major concerns of the Christian atheists, are surveyed. The final chapter of this section is designed to categorise the thought of each of the Christian atheists and their relationships to each other. With the exception of this latter chapter, we have attempted to draw all of the material for this section from the writings of the Christian atheists themselves. The second section of Part I attempts to do for Buddhism what the first section does for Christian atheism. It begins with a brief introductory chapter and proceeds with a chapter on general Theravada Buddhism based primarily on the Suttas, and a chapter on the more specific Theravada theories based primarily on the Abhidharma, Finally, there is a chapter on Mahayana teaching developed largely from Madhyamikan teaching and a chapter summarising both the Theravada and Mahayana systems in terms which are especially meaningful when undertaking a study of modern Christian atheism. Materials cited in this section are from Buddhism or from the works of students of Buddhism, The second part of the thesis begins with a section in which the Christian atheists are individually considered, especially in light of Buddhist thought. Here they are treated singly but in the course of five chapters organised so as to keep those most like each other together. Effort is made to outline all the major similarities and dissimilarities with Buddhism and some of the minor ones, as they appear to the author of this thesis. This kind of activity appears not to have been undertaken elsewhere and consequently citations are primarily to works used in the first part of the thesis. The second section of Part II-the final section of the thesis sketches the overall structure of Christian atheism with reference to Buddhist structure where applicable. This section draws from contemporary reactions to all kinds of atheism or developments relevant to it, and thus intends to set the matter of Christian atheism within the context of modern theology and theological discussion. It does this by considering in turn the primary differences between the Christian atheists and Christian orthodoxy, the characteristic methodology or modes of thought which Christian atheists tend to display, the general outlines in which the "sacred" can be identified within their thought, and their relationship to a changing orthodoxy taking Post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism as an example. The thesis as a whole attempts to describe a plane on which it is meaningful to speak of Christian atheism and to seek an atheistic form of religiousness which is both characteristically Christian and cognisant of the development of atheism within Buddhism, It assumes that future development in the West of-this form of religiousness will be most fruitful if it is able to understand its own Christian roots and the profound possibilities of atheism as exemplified by Buddhism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available