Monday, May 14, 2018

what is theology good for?

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Here is an example of why one needs to read a lot of theology before one deems to criticize it. Let's take the op in the thread that as an example: thread by Skylurker about "what is theology good for." (from CARM--link no longer good--2013)

Theology: The study of the nature of God and religious belief.

this is his definition of what he thinks theology is about. There are two definitions of theology that are used by 99% of people in the field, one is the old one the other is the modern one.

The old one (Anselm) Faith seeking understanding!

The main reason that one is disliked is because it makes theology a matter of concern only for the believer; it would have us think that theology is just the faitful trying to understand their faith.

New version: (John Macquarrie) Participation in in and study of the content of a religious tradition.

That's very different from faith seeking understanding because "participation" doesn't necessarily require faith and it opens it up to a much greater field of inquiry than just "seeking to understand faith." Yet both are very different from the study of the nature of God and religious belief, because nature of God and RB:

(1) leaves out the need to seek understanding

(2) it leaves out the need to sort out problems with faith

(3) leaves out a social scinece understanding of the tradition

(4) it's basically limits theology to doctrine alone.

The latter "religious belief" seems like a worthy field of study but as i like to maintain more of a sub-field of anthropology or human psychology. 
A sub field of anthropology would be limited to academic objectivity and leave out the need to answer for the faith. It would also mandate certain approaches that would totally limit theologians from most of what they do. While there is a form of thought connected with theology called "anthropology" itis' not the 19th century social science that grew up around the work of Malinowski and August Compt.

Limiting theology to academic anthropology would kill the entire discussion. that's the only way atheists can shut it up. That's the little nasty trick the brain washers have set you to work on, destroy the confidence in technological answers so that the ignorant little nay sayers will be undisturbed in their character assassination of the faith. Why not ust do anthropology? The whole question is just throwing a wrench in the works,

The former "nature of God" is the question for this OP. Have they made any progress?
That question asserts that there's some quasi scientific answer they have to come to. As though God is impersonal force like magnetism and we have to understand it in the say way we understand scientific things. there no reason to think this way. this nothing more than an extension of the reductionist dictum that one thing can exist that's the realm of knowledge that we control.
Can someone list the major important products or achievements of this field of study? Any general consensus? 
Well there's yacult yogurt. Yacult is the name of a section of the Talmud, also a rand of yogurt, there;s the joke you see. Trying to treat faith like a commercial product. Unless it has some pragmatic end that can be empirically demonstrated, like better gas mileage or fewer cavities then there's no justification of even considering it. that's nothing more than the comoditifacation of knowledge and the scientfication of reality.

why should there be such a hard cash value to something before it's worth considering? What's the cash value of Shakespeare? What hard tangible product does Beethoven produce? Has there been any progress in writing more symphonies? 

On the other hand if you want to play that game how about the "cash value" in getting your life fixed up? hard tangible results are all on the believer's side.[these are results from reciprocal studies--Wuthnow study and Noble study--used in my book The Trace of God] [1] [2]

less depression 
less mental illness
great sense of well being
overcome drug addiction
greater sense of meaning in life
greater sense of self authentication
greater self actualization
greater happiness
greater physical health
Now I am glad there are people exploring this because who knows maybe someday they will make a breakthrough - but so far it seems pretty much like they have drilled dry holes and created elaborate castles in the sky... especially compared to the fields of physical and biological sciences. So chastise me and straightening me out. 
 We will get Dupont on it right away. Maybe we can get something on the market before the next quater.

We are not developing a commercial product. faith is an inward journey. Only the individual can measure it's value. you are not going to do that by making bad analogies to a lame and shallow understanding of science.

The real value of theology is not a matter of  "progress" and can;t be measured  as though it's a race to the moon, It can only be measured by the individual in terms of personal growth, Those who made those comments are speaking the langue of one-dimensional man. At the same time   it needs to be said I had comments from fundamentalists on more than one occasion. One guy in particular began warning the carm board I was a false teacher,why? Because i would rather believe theologians than the Bible! Of course he meant his reading of the bible. They don't understand the value of theology either,

Christian theology has always encompassed all other areas of thought. St, Augustine made major contribution of the philosophy of the self,and set in motion ideas that have led to modern notions of selfhood [3]This was by way of developing his notion of self in the doctrine of the Trinity. Even thatis too close to cash value. In framing those concepts we come closer to understanding ourselves in ways that can't be packaged or tallied in the quarterly earnings.


[1]Joseph Hinman The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief, Colorado Springs: Grand Viaduct Publishing, 2014. page on Amazon

[2] the lists of benifits can be seen on y site religious aprioorio

States of Univtive Consciousness"

Also called Transcendent Experiences, Ego-Transcendence, Intense Religious Experience, Peak Experiences, Mystical Experiences, Cosmic Consciousness. Sources:

the original sources:
(1) Studies Wuthnow, Robert (1978). "Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 18 (3), 59-75.

Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.

Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being. (Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, p. 19.)

(2)Long-Term Effects


*Say their lives are more meaningful,
*think about meaning and purpose
*Know what purpose of life is
Meditate more
*Score higher on self-rated personal talents and capabilities
*Less likely to value material possessions, high pay, job security, fame, and having lots of friends
*Greater value on work for social change, solving social problems, helping needy
*Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident life style


*Experience more productive of psychological health than illness
*Less authoritarian and dogmatic
*More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient
*intelligent, relaxed
*High ego strength,
*relationships, symbolization, values,
*integration, allocentrism,
*psychological maturity,
*self-acceptance, self-worth,
*autonomy, authenticity, need for solitude,
*increased love and compassion

[3] Charles Taylor, Sources of the self


7th Stooge said...

I agree with you about the commodification of thought and the scientification of reality. From these assumptions, theology, and most of philosophy, are generally viewed as lacking any real 'cash value'.

Theology doesn't make linear 'progress' the way technology does, but it does change. maybe even 'progress.' Again it's not a linear development, but i think theology and philosophy gradually become more sophisticated, in the sense that certain lines of inquiry get closed off, or certain arguments get rejected. People who want to pursue these avenues have to do so with past criticisms in mind. Not that there's some 'end goal' that we're moving inexorably towards, but there is development and increased sophistication.

Mike Gerow said...

Interestingly, there are criticisms like Peter Rollins's that many churches also "sell" a commodified form of spirituality: "peace and satisfaction packaged as a product, so just say this prayer" (or whatever).

But nonetheless there's some thoughtful criticism in your piece - I liked it! - with its references to 1DM and all.

You should mention 1DM more often!


Joe Hinman said...

yes I miss comrade Marcuse,