Newsflash: some people in the Netherlands go to church but don’t take goddy beliefs altogether seriously.

The Rev Klaas Hendrikse…[doesn’t] believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.

“When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that’s where it can happen. God is not a being at all… it’s a word for experience, or human experience.”

No it isn’t, actually. It may be a word that Hendrikse is using to mean that, Humpty Dumpty fashion, but it’s not a word for that, any more than “Anna Karenina” is a word for borscht, or mulligatawny. “God” is a word for a supernatural agent with omni-properties.

Not to say that I think Hendrikse should be more literalist in his preaching, just that it seems to be a bit silly to cling to the word while changing the meaning by fiat.

Professor Hijme Stoeffels of the Free University in Amsterdam says it is in such concepts as love that people base their diffuse ideas of religion.

“In our society it’s called ‘somethingism’,” he says. “There must be ‘something’ between heaven and earth, but to call it ‘God’, and even ‘a personal God’, for the majority of Dutch is a bridge too far.”

“Somethingism.” Now that’s a good name for it.

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