Faith and TV dinners (was: DETOUR)

Russell Turpin
Mon, 24 Mar 2003 20:58:16 +0000

>>The faithful are quick to take refuge in poor analogies.

Joseph S Barrera III:
>As are the unfaithful. What's your point?

I think I explained my point: any analogy
between how theology operates and how science
operates is flawed from the outset. In science,
the problems come from data to which there is
shared access, there is a disciplined effort to
understand how theories explain the field's
data and to filter out aspects of theories that
are non-explanatory of the data, methods to
refine data collection and analysis are
developed alongside the theories, etc. There is
NONE of this in theology, per se. [1] ANY
attempt by theologians to adopt a scientific
approach is nothing but play acting, until they
come across some relevant data. Until then,
they are going through the motions of an
intellectual exercise with no understanding of
its purpose, like five year-old boys washing
their hands before playing surgeon. (See, Jeff?
I don't mind an analogy when it makes sense.)

>>Most people would have a hard time pointing
>>to where there is a conflict between QM and GR.

Joseph S Barrera:
>Are you arguing that inconsistency doesn't
>matter if most people don't know about it?

Since physics DOES have a subject matter, two
conflicting theories can be reconciled if you
know where each applies. Rules and context.
Beyond that, I made clear the importance of
conflict between scientific theories. Since you
seemed to miss that part, I'll return it for

Where scientific theories conflict, there
is a problem, and one or both of the theories
are mistaken. Scientists don't say "ah, well,
GR and QM conflict in this way, but hey, that
just gives us a 'greater view of the truth.'"
Instead, being rational, they say, "ah, there
is a problem here, because two conflicting
theories cannot both be correct. We need to
figure out better candidate theories to resolve
the issue, and what experiments we can do to
decide which of those candidates is the better
model." Any resemblance of that process to
theology is purely a figment of your imagination.

>Your hatred of the religious right (based on your previous posts) is 
>probably well-founded enough, but it seems to have clouded your thinking 
>about religion as a whole.

You have the cause and effect reversed. Faith in
totalizing ideologies is not just irrational, it
is the kind of irrationality that, in its social
manifestation, presents our greatest existential
danger. The religious right is just one example of
that. Other examples include the Marxists and the

You're dabbling around the edges of the issue.
You want religious faith to be given respect,
and are eager to draw comparisons with all the
problems, flaws, and processes in other fields,
ignoring that these analogies will fail, precisely
because faith is the excuse made to avoid the
fact that no theologian can demonstrate his
subject matter. Any similarity between how the
theologian thinks on god(s) and how a scientist
thinks on a given domain is either accidental, or
empty motion by the theologian.

[1] Which brings me to the footnote. Yes, I
realize that a theologian can do real intellectual
work when acting as a historian, archaeologist, or
linguist. But none of those are theology PER SE.
The issue isn't whether theologists can try to
piece together a history of gospel development. Of
course they can. [2] They pretty much must, since
few secular historians have any interest in the
subject. The issue is whether they can show that
the gospels have ANY relevance to their allegedly
primary subject matter: the god(s). That's where
they start to wave their hands furiously in a bad
imitation of intellectual labor. The fact that some
people can do excellent work in history or chemistry,
and then discard their critical faculty on Sundays,
shows only the remarkable ability for the human
mind to compartmentalize.

[2] A second footnote. JS Kelley thought I might
confuse people talking about the demi-god Q from
the Star Trek show, after Joseph had mentioned
the Q document, a hypothesized pre-Marcan text.
I can only hope, if I mention J, P, and E, that
the context makes clear whether I am discussing
Old Testament sources or sail measurements.

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