Dale Tuggy

Dale Tuggy is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.


  1. Weekend Atheism and Religion Report (02/27) | Evangelically Atheist
    February 27, 2015 @ 6:52 pm

    […] Dale Tuggy posted not that long ago on the late Marcus Borg’s view of God, declaring it essentially a form of atheism. This is a very old accusation. […]

  2. Miguel de Servet
    February 6, 2015 @ 8:37 am

    Ultimately the question is that of mysticism. Even if some Christians try to distinguish “christian mysticism” from other forms of mysticism, ALL mysticism has to do with an impersonal “god”. ALL mysticism, without exception.

  3. Roman
    February 6, 2015 @ 8:06 am

    This is why theology has to be fitted to scripture, the God of a bible is a person With a story and plan, not a shroom style trip experience. If you define God down to the God of the philosophers (I don’t mean offense to philosophers here, that’s just the term used for deist and patheistic forms of God), there is no reason to think of God as having personal qualities if he cannot be described as a person, and I don’t know if philosophically, one can seperate personhood from being, a person is a being, a person thinks about things, has a will, has relationships to Things. If you’re treating a non person as a person, then the atheists who mock christians as having an “imaginary friend” are right. If God is just a some spiritual reality, some paganistic inpersonal force, then all you have is a strange form of neo-paganism.
    I don’t think Christianity Works without a hisorical personal god, that acts in history, and has a plan, if you break that all down into pure metaphore, you might as well become a neo-pagan pantheist.

    • Rivers
      February 6, 2015 @ 12:51 pm

      Hi Roman,

      Good point about “being” and “person.”

      The biblical Hebrew and Greek languages didn’t have any vocabulary to conceptualize the difference between “being” and “person.” This is one of the critical underlying problems with the way Trinitarians try to define God as “one being = three persons” in order to make their exegetical arguments seem plausible.

      Unfortunately, I’ve always found it difficult to get my Trinitarian friends to think critically enough to realize that just the terminology they use to describe the “Godhead” requires a departure from any semantics that the biblical writers even had to work with. Thus, it’s unlikely that they could have even conceived of anything like a “multi-personal being.”

  4. Miguel de Servet
    February 4, 2015 @ 2:17 pm


    [3:20] “The one in whom we live and move and have our being.”

    This is a quotation from the Greek poet Aratus (ca. 310-245 BC), in turn quoted by Paul in his speech at the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:28) to refer to the “unknown god”. Do you think that Marcus Borg was implicitly suggesting that also Paul was a “transcendental atheist” like himself?

    [7:45] God loves us, but we can’t take that love for granted [OR] God is gracious, compassionate, loves all creation.

    How could Borg speak of an impersonal “God” “loving” and/or “being gracious”? One is seriously led to wonder if his “mystical experiences” had not impaired his thinking capabilities …

    [> 10:30] … even though God is not a person, my relationship to him is “personal.”

    With the addition of your comment about the “pet rock”, isn’t this precisely what idolatry is all about?

    • Dale Tuggy
      February 4, 2015 @ 3:04 pm

      “Do you think that Marcus Borg was implicitly suggesting that also Paul was a “transcendental atheist” like himself?”

      No, anyone who thinks there’s a being beyond the natural world, who in some sense or other is everywhere, can use that quote. So the monotheist like Paul can use it just as readily as Borg, but it fits Paul’s theology better (“in whom”).

      “an impersonal “God” “loving” and/or “being gracious”

      I take it that we are supposed to imagine “God” this way, since (1) it is helpful, and (2) this “God” is incapable of any sort of disapproval.

      I don’t think Borg’s view is literally idolatry… it’s consistent with idolatry, to be sure. It’s not clear to me that he actually believed in *worshiping* – as opposed to wondering, or being amazed at this “God.” His view is atheism – the God of monotheism, he thinks, is unreal. But he wishes to re-interpret and re-use the outward forms of traditional Christianity.

  5. Rivers
    February 4, 2015 @ 12:24 pm


    I get the impression that Borg simply lost his way as he got older. It seems that he moved away from a rational acceptance of the historical evidence behind the Christian faith to a lot of pseudo-intellectual theoretical speculation that suited his own desire to redefine “God” according to his own experiences.

    Borg’s “God” could just as well be the air that we breathe, or the electricity that energizes our cells, or the plasma sheath in which our whole solar system “has its being.”

    • Dale Tuggy
      February 4, 2015 @ 3:06 pm

      I’d be interested to hear more of his story. In this video, there’s not a lot of evidence of critical thinking. In particular, there seems to be a yawning gap between his reported religious experiences and his unclear, ultimist theology.