When it comes to the crunch, it seems that very few genuinely embrace, or are prepared to admit they embrace, a form of religion that doesn’t make supernatural claims. This finding was backed up by two surveys I conducted, which while far from authoritative strongly suggest that churchgoers do, indeed, hold traditional beliefs about such things as Christ’s resurrection and the need to worship God. (Oddly, many people have claimed I was surprised by these results, when, as I explained in a reply, I have never expressed any amazement at all.)
So where does this leave me and does it constitute progress? The more procedural points merely clear the way for progress, so at best they represent a kind of proto-progress. It is a kind of negative progress to discard, set aside or reduce in importance aspects of the debate that are red herrings or have become too central. On the positive side, I think the real movement has come from grappling with the question of how important literal belief is to religion.
I’m fine with the idea of religion staying locked in a cyclical battle with disbelief for eons. What I’d like to do away with is this fetishization of linear “progress” in human psychology, this Hegelian faith that every thesis and antithesis can be synthesized, this tiresome pose of being the hero with enough balance and level-headedness to lead us safely between Scylla and Charybdis.