RE: MD Philosophy and Theology

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Thu Apr 03 2003 - 03:47:29 BST

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    Sam, Rick and y'all:

    I'm enjoying the thread too, Gents. Like Rick, I'm say behind on everything
    and only have a few minutes to write.

    Sam said:
    I think you're running together philosophy of religion and theology. They
    overlap, but their basic approaches are distinctly different. Whilst
    theology operates within a faith tradition, with a potential to grow away
    from that base. ... After all, the vast majority of theological writing is
    in fact based in a particular framework.

    DMB says:
    Within a faith tradition? Based in a particular framework? That's the
    clincher for me. If that's what theology is at it core, then I don't think
    we can rightly call it intellectual in the Pirsigian sense, and probably not
    in the conventional sense either. What I'm finding is that more philosophy
    is mixed up in theology than I ever thought and in some very strange ways -
    particulariy in Christian theology. More about that later.

    Sam said:
    The essential conceit which I object to is the notion that there is 'neutral
    ground' from which it is possible to impartially assess the truth claims of
    different religious beliefs (ie 'objectively').

    DMB says:
    I'm almost entirely with Rick in his repsonse to this point. All this talk
    about "objectivity" and "impartiality" got started in the first place, I
    think, because I'd said that 'to begin with the conclusion' violates the
    most basic of intellectual values. Once again I turned to my trusty Oxford
    Companion to Philosophy. Curiously, Theology had no entry of its own, but
    there was an article called "Theology and Philosophy". I quote....

    "Theologians sometimes claim that philosophical appraisal has no legitimacy
    in relation to what they see as a 'revealed' system of belief. But surely
    this cannot be right. FIRST: to preface a statement of doctrine with such
    words as 'It is divinely revealed that...' cannot confer coherence on whatis
    logically incoherent or make a contradicion come out as true. There is
    therefore legitimate work for logic and philosophy of language in the
    analysis of such docturnal claims. SECOND: however much of his religious
    beliefs a theologian regards as revealed, that cannot constitute a complete
    theistic system. The revealed totality has to be intelligibily related to
    the deity who allegedly revealed it, imparted it to mankind; and its
    authority needs to be more convincignly established that the of rival
    claimants. What is taken to be the esssential nature of that deity cannot
    itself be derived from revelation. It is a proper topic for philosophical
    (metaphysical) inquiry. A philosophical component - an epistemology of
    belief - is thus vitally necessary to a revealed theolgy."

    More later,

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