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Theological Confusion

In a recent interview Richard Dawkins defended his foray into religious criticism by claiming that theology is an invalid form of intellectual pursuit. Or that’s what he meant I guess because he said something like theology is a discipline which doesn’t really exist or something like that. It sounded like it was a bit extreme at the time but now I’m wondering whether he’s got a point.

The reason I say that is I listened to a podcast today which mainly consisted of a discussion between two theologians and it just made no sense to me. That could be because I’m not smart enough to understand but I don’t think so. I listen to podcasts about quantum physics, philosophy, and other complex subjects and while I don’t claim to understand everything at least most of it makes sense and I can follow the arguments involved. So I think a more likely explanation is that theology really does just consist of a load of meaningless noise about nothing.

The dictionary defines theology as “the study of the nature of God and religious belief”. If you follow any reasonable chain of logic you will conclude that god doesn’t exist so what’s the point in studying his nature? OK, so the study of religious belief is a valid subject for study but I think that’s done well enough by anthropologists and psychologists. So that really means that theologians have no real subject matter to study. It’s no wonder the results of their study are so lacking.

Of course it’s not really fair to form a conclusion on whole area of scholarship from just one discussion. And while I really respect Richard Dawkins I don’t really think a single “throw away” comment should be taken too seriously either.

So I guess I should listen to some more podcasts about theology to give it a reasonable chance. That could be really interesting or it could just involve me getting more confused trying to extract meaning where there might be none.

  1. April 20, 2010 at 2:12 am

    I admire your open mind.

    There are of course many meaningless theological debates that take place. I guess this is similar to philosophy. There can be a descent into semantics and artificial complexity (in my opinion.)

    But I would not dismiss it on this basis. There is plenty to be admired.

    Read some Don Carson.

    Then again, this is a bit of a defeater, ‘If you follow any reasonable chain of logic you will conclude that god doesn’t exist so what’s the point in studying his nature.’ Naturally, if that is the position that you hold to, then theology will always look stupid.

  2. ojb42
    April 20, 2010 at 3:44 am

    OK, fair point. What I should have said is that “every reasonable chain of logic I have followed so far has lead me to conclude that god doesn’t exist”. I am open to new lines of evidence but I rarely really see anything new.

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