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"Theology, once acclaimed ‘the Queen of the Sciences,’ today hardly rises to the rank of a scullery maid; it is often held in contempt, regarded with suspicion, or just ignored.”"- [1]

Theology is the attempt to study faith based concepts in an academic way. Usually theology refers to Christian theology but the term can refer to the theology of any religion.

Faith and science

Faith based theology cannot be reconciled with the Scientific method. Still studying theology at universities is a long standing tradition dating back to well before the scientific method was developed. Due to this tradition tax payers continue funding expensive theology departments and paying high salaries to the academics there. Is theology relevant?

As early as the 18th Century Thomas Paine argued that theology is valueless.

The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not any thing can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is not the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing. [2]

In the 21st Century also many atheists see no value in theology. Richard Dawkins has criticised theology in a similar way to Thomas Paine with more modern language.

When has theology ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? I have listened to theologians, read them, debated against them. I have never heard any of them ever say anything of the smallest use, anything that was not either platitudinously obvious or downright false. If all the achievements of scientists were wiped out tomorrow, there would be no doctors but witch doctors, no transport faster than horses, no computers, no printed books, no agriculture beyond subsistence peasant farming. If all the achievements of theologians were wiped out tomorrow, would anyone notice the smallest difference? [3]

Richard Dawkins believes further that theology is not a suitable subject for a university because it is not scientific

But as for theology itself, defined as "the organised body of knowledge dealing with the nature, attributes, and governance of God", a positive case now needs to be made that it has any real content at all, and that it has any place in today's universities. [4]

Theology is relevant mainly to the extent that people take the subject seriously.

Sophisticated theology

See the main article on this topic:Sophisticated theology

Christians adopt double standards in several areas:-

  1. Atheists like Richard Dawkins are criticised for attacking Christianity without studying sophisticated theology.
  2. Christians feel able to attack atheism without studying the more sophisticated atheist arguments against the existence of God in detail.
  3. Theologians believe atheists should study sophisticated theology but when ordinary followers in churches embrace simplistic beliefs the same theologians see no reason to educate those ordinary followers in sophisticated theology. [5]
  4. Christians see no need to study in detail the theologies of every religion and sect in the world before deciding every type of religion except their favourite brand must be false.

PZ Myers has satirized the theologians' argument with a sequel to a classic fairy tale: The Courtier's Reply.

Conclusion

Trying to extract factual information from mythology or fiction is pointless.

See also

References

  1. The Queen of the Sciences now a scullery maid
  2. Age of Reason by Thomas Paine
  3. The Emptiness of Theology
  4. Letters: Theology has no place in a university
  5. Myth: Atheist Critiques are Simplistic, Don't Understand Sophisticated Theology


External links

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