I posted a link to a podcast of Peter Rollins here. My reply in the comments would be too long, and I feel that it is worth explaining here what I took the message to be. Incidentally, I agree with what is said:
We need to not look just at the manifest discourse, but what lies underneath the words – the implicit message. We are creatures that can suspend disbelief, like sexual fantasy, we can believe what we don’t believe. So someone may say that they believe because they have studied philosophy and intellectually it makes sense, but really the only reason they studied philosophy was because they wanted to find reasons to justify their beliefs. The real reason they believe is a fear of meaninglessness.
If we believe like this then we become aggressive if our beliefs are attacked. When we experience that resistance inside us it suggests that we get a psychological pleasure from those beliefs. We don’t want to know that there are issues in our belief system, so it makes us angry. Very often we don’t want to be told what we already know, like climate change – we have wilful ignorance, because the only alternatives are that we take action or we accept that we are not nice people. In addition, we may project onto others; it is important to us that our minister believes and doesn’t have doubts. We need them to believe fully what we don’t really believe.
New Atheism attacks the manifest beliefs, which is mainly a form of fundamentalist belief. However they need to go further and attack the psychological need to believe. They need to challenge why it is that believers get so offended if someone has a differing view than them.
In Christianity, Jesus cried out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’, he was suffering not from intellectual doubt – because it is addressed to God, but he experienced the absence of God, there was no psychological benefit in believing in God, it is emotional doubt, if you like.
This is terrifying, mystics call it the “dark night of the soul”, the feeling of being utterly alone. Whether or not that is real is immaterial – that is the experience of the cross. In Christianity we are loosed from the need for psychological belief. In the resurrection God is incarnate in the material world. God is found in loving others, in demanding justice. Bonheoffer said that the transcendence of God is God in the midst of everything, in the suffering, in the joy, in the material world.
If Christianity isn’t changing you then it is just a lie. The Bible uses death and life in different ways to common language. Death is a mode of living, life, the eternal life, is living life in all its fullness, anything else is death.