Re: MD Philosophy and Theology

From: Scott R (
Date: Sun Apr 06 2003 - 00:49:18 BST

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MD Mysticism and the appearance/reality distinction"


    DMB to SAM:
    > Myths are not facts. Doesn't that mean so much more now? I mean, don't the
    > quotes help? Symbols function and operate upon us properly when the
    > intellect is NOT engaged, it hits us at a different level, the social
    > This is not a put-down. Its a designation. Claiming that such things are
    > intellectual does not flatter or elevate, it only causes confusion and
    > misunderstanding about the things.

    The status (intellectual or social) of myths and symbols is not the issue
    here (I too see them as having social origin and utility). The question is
    whether or not *theology* is an intellectual activity. Theologians *comment
    on* and *interpret* the myths and symbols of their religion, not just repeat

     This is about different states of
    > consciousness, among other things. Its about the different levels within
    > each of us. I think they each have their own way, their own kind of truth.
    > think they are at odds, but that this is a temporary situation,
    > speaking. Many thinkers besides Pirsig are working on the problem. Making
    > the distinction between the social and intellectual levels is supposed to
    > add clarity. He too, is trying to rescue myth from the realm of the

    Theologians are also working on the problem, for example (quoting from "The
    Craft of Theology" by Avery Dulles):

    "The biblical message, according to Bultmann, is encased in ancient
    mythological structures of thought and language that make it difficult for
    contemporary readers, whose world view is shaped by science and technology,
    to grasp the real meaning. Bultmann therefore institutes a program of
    demythologizing the New Testament. He tried to strip away the mythological
    structures in order to retreive the existential meaning that lies hidden
    beneath them."
    "Conservative Protestants, who based their faith on the authority of the
    Bible, regarded Bultmann as a dangerous heretic. Catholics, who believed the
    Bible always had to be interpreted in light of philosophical and scientific
    knowledge, saw some merits in the Bultmannian program. But they objected
    that its purely existential exegesis was too narrow. The Bible, they
    insisted, had a lot to tell about God and not only about human

    (Note that word "always" in the third to last sentence. As Sam said: "What
    is claimed by Christians is that it is compatible with reason, that there
    are no ultimate contradictions in the Christian faith." He should have
    excluded those Conservative Protestants, though.)

    That is, Bultmann's project has come under criticism because he was too
    modern, that is, too SOM-ish. A contemporary theologian is more likely to
    treat Christian myths more or less as Campbell does. In sum, the Bible is
    seen as telling a lot about God (and people) mythically, while theologians
    attempt to translate that telling into something the intellect can handle.

    - Scott

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