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Important Research into Sophisticated Theology - Comments

Galactor's Avatar Comment 1 by Galactor

Some brief amendments have been made to the questionnaire since publication. Answer two to the remark of William Lane Craig should read "with a loving all-powerful god who couldn't make an omelette without breaking eggs."

The explanation of the fourth classification should read "bleedin' marvellous" in respect of Her Majesty the Queen.

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 17:15:48 UTC | #903009

Moderator's Avatar Comment 2 by Moderator

You're right, Galactor, we did tweak it a little here and there. We've now added the "bleedin'" into the explanation of your fourth classification (though that isn't one of the things we tweaked before publishing it), and have changed 'could' to 'couldn't' - but are you sure that's what you wanted? An all-powerful god COULD make an omelette without breaking eggs, surely? Let us know if you want us to change it back!

The Mods

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 17:24:26 UTC | #903011

Galactor's Avatar Comment 3 by Galactor

Comment 2 by Moderator :

You're right, Galactor, we did tweak it a little here and there. We've now added the "bleedin'" into the explanation of your fourth classification (though that isn't one of the things we tweaked before publishing it), and have changed 'could' to 'couldn't' - but are you sure that's what you wanted? An all-powerful god COULD make an omelette without breaking eggs, surely? Let us know if you want us to change it back!

I had noticed that you had corrected my spelling of omelette. Thank you for that. As it stands, I am sure the questions should assist us greatly in understanding what sophisticated theology is, and why so many of us have difficulty understanding exactly what they are on about.

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 17:28:06 UTC | #903013

The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 4 by The Jersey Devil

OK, I see this is tagged humor but...

These days I would respond to the questionaire with the second response. However, back when I was a young adult I believed that I did have evidence of God. I was a member of a 12-step recovery program and it seamed to me that I saw evidence of God all the time. My life had changed and a lot of people around me had similar stories. What I didn't know about at the time were things like selection bias, confirmation bias, psuedo-science, group affirmation, control groups, etc.

The point is, at the time I was a believer I would have said to myself, "The atheist's mockery in this article doesn't apply to me. My belief is based on observation not philosophy."

=======

As an aside, how come I never see 12-step groups included in the Pew report or any of the other surveys about religion?

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 17:37:04 UTC | #903016

Galactor's Avatar Comment 5 by Galactor

Comment 4 by The Jersey Devil :

OK, I see this is tagged humor but...

I resent that it has been tagged as humour. This is serious, sophisticated research.

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 17:43:52 UTC | #903019

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 6 by Premiseless

Theology is the one discipline that promises much and then starts off from a failed foundation. Doomed to mess up peoples minds.

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 18:08:38 UTC | #903029

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 7 by Steve Zara

I'd like to contribute my findings to this important work. What I have found is that theology can be more easily understood if you consider that it is spoken by a young child, as the arguments are of the same level of intellect. So, we can translate as follows:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leading theologian of the Church of England, describes his faith as a “silent waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark”.

Go on. What I holding? Go on. What I holding. No, can't look. You don't know! You don't know! I win.

"Ubertheologian Alvin Plantinga quotes Aquinas in describing god as a very simply being."

You're wrong. You're wrong. You're wrong. You're wrong. God is true and you smell like poo.

"Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves."

I didn't do it. Wasn't me. You didn't see. You didn't see me and you can't say I did it. Not fair. You always tell me off when it wasn't me. Anyway, he deserved it. He pinched me. I'm not gonna say sorry.

If anyone can provide me with a theological statement which is not far clearer in toddler-speak, I would be quite surprised.

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 22:07:44 UTC | #903112

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 8 by Tyler Durden

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leading theologian of the Church of England, describes his faith as a “silent waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark”.

Any chance we can get the AoC checked for concussion?

(btw, I had to actually Google that quote to verify it wasn't a Poe.)

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 22:35:20 UTC | #903120

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan4discussion

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leading theologian of the Church of England, describes his faith as a “silent waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark”.

Was that the postman with the letter offering a date for the psychiatric appointment?

Damn! Just another preaching event! - Back to the postmoderist generator!

Sophisticated theologian John Haught can transcend the religious/science debate over a cup of tea.

I'm sure that's what it said in the tea-leaves!!! - Better use a goat's entrails next time!

Top theologian and darling of philosophical theology William Lane Craig thinks that the Israeli soldiers sent to butcher all that was alive in Canaan should receive psychological counselling

Obviously he worked this out during his last session with the psychiatrist in the absence of any thought processes! Need answers! Need answers!! Need meaning!! Need answers!

Ubertheologian Alvin Plantinga quotes Aquinas in describing god as a very simply being:

Simplicity for simpletons looks like a good formula for fantasy!

That splendid fellow, the Archbishop of Canterbury, describes god as a very complex being.

But then stringing words together into coherent sentences approaches irreducible complexity for him, judging by his statements.

Wonderful stuff this: Slopissticated fee-ology!!

Wed, 28 Dec 2011 11:20:40 UTC | #903261

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 10 by Schrodinger's Cat

4.Fenton. FENTON!

Verily, verily, thus did Fenton go viral and lo, the people did worship him at the innermost sanctum of the temple of Utube. And behold, the people did turn away from the one true Fenton and worship strange Fentons from Jurassic Park and Aliens. And the Lord was sorely grieved, and regreteth he made Fenton, and did send his only begotten son 'Big Man' to sort out fare dodgers in Glasgow instead.

Wed, 28 Dec 2011 22:17:11 UTC | #903397

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 11 by Carl Sai Baba

Dan Dennett, who has read virtually every book on the planet and is normally happy to strip small interesting passages from larger works which are overall not too important, basically says there isn't a single bit of this theological/apologetic stuff worth reading (except to know how bad it is). Having read some of the classics on the subject, that is not surprising. The quotes above aren't unfortunate extremities as are silly quotes from politicians. The entire genre is that bad. Every sentence is a string of nonsense, and you would have a hard time finding any two which make more sense next to each other than any other two chosen at random.

Wed, 28 Dec 2011 23:02:16 UTC | #903415

ShinobiYaka's Avatar Comment 12 by ShinobiYaka

The Archbishop of Canterbury is certainly no William of Ockham, I’m not actually sure if he has said anything at all in the above, except maybe admitting that truth is as yet unknown to him, as in “silent waiting on the truth”, but maybe I have misunderstood something more profound, but knowing the Archbishop I very much doubt it, also the image of some huge mystical question mark hanging unseen is rather disturbing, for some reason I have imagined it as yellow with dark blue bevelling (times new roman), an even more disturbing thought is that these unseen yellow and blue icons of doubt and uncertainty are slowly revolving over every church as if we are trapped in some cruel cosmic game of “Theological SimCity”, and we don’t have enough manna energy for our theological assets to operate properly.

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 00:23:13 UTC | #903426

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 13 by Steve Zara

comment 12 by ShinobiYaka

The Archbishop of Canterbury is certainly no William of Ockham, I’m not actually sure if he has said anything at all in the above, except maybe admitting that truth is as yet unknown to him, as in “silent waiting on the truth”

I have absolutely no problem with the Archbishop of Cantebury admitting that truth is yet unknown to him. Good for him. It's a healthy acceptance of lack of knowledge. I don't mind the idea of mystical question marks either, providing the font isn't too bad. I would not mind if in every Anglican Church on Sundays preachers preached that they were ignorant of what to preach, that theology is a great big fluffy question mark that we should all hug and accept into our lives.

[You just know that a "but" is coming. I don't want to let you down, so here it is]

But....

What gets my goat, in fact what gets my entire farmyard, is that someone who insists that theology is a great big Times New Roman Fluffy Question Mark then has the arrogance to start telling other people how to live their lives:

Look at this:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8349321/Archbishop-says-the-Church-will-resist-Government-moves-on-gay-marriage.html

The Archbishop of Canterbury has vowed to defend the Church’s traditional stance on marriage against Government moves to introduce homosexual weddings in churches.

Where is the question mark? This isn't a comfy question mark, but a great big thuggish exclamation mark, complete with studs and pointy bits. It's not a punctuation mark, but a club he's using to beat up gay Christians who want to be treated as equal.

This is what I object to: the way the Archbishop sits there like some James Bond villain stroking the fluffy question mark on his lap when he wants to appear nice, but he locks the question mark away at other times, and replaces it with utterly unfounded sureness about bigoted views.

The poor question mark must be squeaking to be let out, and scratching at the door behind which it has been locked away, conveniently forgotten.

Someone who embraces uncertainty should have the integrity to shut up. That means shut up about everything, because he has admitted he has no justification for being an authority about anything. I don't care if he preaches the kind of left-wing politics I support, he should not say anything.

If you have said you are uncertain and ignorant then shut the heck up.

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 01:02:58 UTC | #903430

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 14 by susanlatimer

Comment 13 by Steve Zara

Nicely written. Bonus marks for punctuation. :-)

From the OP:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leading theologian of the Church of England, describes his faith as a “silent waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark”.

I'm picturing all of the churches and all of the cathedrals replacing their crosses with big question marks. I wonder what the non-theologians in the pews would think.

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 03:21:24 UTC | #903451

Galactor's Avatar Comment 15 by Galactor

Comment 14 by susanlatimer :

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leading theologian of the Church of England, describes his faith as a “silent waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark”.

I'm picturing all of the churches and all of the cathedrals replacing their crosses with big question marks. I wonder what the non-theologians in the pews would think.

I think the Archbishop must have had a guest appearance on Sesame Street.

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 09:08:46 UTC | #903486

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 16 by susanlatimer

I think the Archbishop must have had a guest appearance on Sesame Street.

He would inspire a great muppet. It would be perfect for teaching kids their ABCs.

(I'm resisting the urge to create a hyperlink to Sweetums because that would be a cheap shot.)

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 09:27:29 UTC | #903487

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 17 by susanlatimer

The urge has overcome me. Damn it!

Sweetums

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 09:39:57 UTC | #903491

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 18 by Mark Jones

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leading theologian of the Church of England, describes his faith as a “silent waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark”.

I'm not too keen to encourage this particular quote, because, as someone pointed out before, the original exchange the Archbishop had with Humphrys doesn't quite say this:

JH: I want to believe, I want to believe in the sort of vague God, if you'll forgive me, that you do.

ABC: Believe in; why?

JH: Because you clearly get great satisfaction from it, and because I want to make sense of the world, because I cannot understand why we're doing what we're doing to each other, because there seemed to be many answers out there. Now, bizarrely, those people who profess faith don't seem to worry about being able to find the answers. You see the number of times you've said to me, 'actually I don't know, but that's what I believe'. I'd like to be able to do that. That's sounds more cynical than it's meant to be.

ABC: No, I hear you. I could say the basic question, the challenge if you like to you is, can you believe that you John Humphrys are the object of an unconditional eternal love which values you in such a way that your contribution as you to the world is uniquely precious to the one who made it?

JH: No I can't because I don't believe that there is one who made it, so I'm stuck

ABC: Does it help at all to give the time not just to talking to God but to the silent waiting on the truth, which for some people is the beginning of this? I mean pure sort of sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark, because ...

JH: Presence of what? You've got to remove the question mark.

ABC: Well I can remove it for you theoretically, I can't remove it for you personally. For me, the presence of an eternal personal love. But thinking of people I've known who've found their way to faith, sometimes it's been in the context of that silence in the presence of and the question mark very, very gradually, very gradually eroding, as something of love comes through.

It seems to me that the ABC describes his own faith as, perhaps, sitting and breathing in the presence of an eternal personal love, not the question mark. I say this because in my view the ABC says plenty that can be highlighted as silly (his god is 'sort of vague', as Humphrys says), so perpetuating this misunderstanding is rather unnecessary. The 'question mark' meme does seem to have stuck, rather, a bit like Richard's 'selfish gene'!

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 09:44:08 UTC | #903492

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 19 by phil rimmer

Comment Removed by Author

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 10:01:44 UTC | #903495

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 20 by phil rimmer

Thanks for the clarification, Mark.

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 10:13:45 UTC | #903498

ShinobiYaka's Avatar Comment 21 by ShinobiYaka

Comment 18 by Mark Jones

It does put a different perspective on it when seen in the original context, pity, was fun while it lasted and I liked “sweetums”.

Steve’s post still makes a valid point though, as it highlights the contradictory nature of theological moralising quite nicely, and yes… questions marks would be a far more truthful icon of worship than the existing instrument of torture which adorns a lot of our houses of worship and far too many places of education.

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 13:30:40 UTC | #903528

GBile's Avatar Comment 22 by GBile

Susan:

A bright new future for the Church of England.

And a new Gravatar for me ...

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 14:53:28 UTC | #903536

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 23 by Schrodinger's Cat

Theologians are a complete waste of space anyway. Theo = god, and logos= knowledge. Well, as God is entirely a matter of faith, there is no logos to be had. Religion would not be a matter of belief if there was logos.....knowledge. So all theologians are left with is sitting around and pontificating on what they don't know. Does anyone really need some guy in a fancy hat and frock to do that for them ??

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 16:19:06 UTC | #903558

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 24 by susanlatimer

Comment 18 by Mark Jones

Thanks for putting that in context.

I still like GBile's avatar, though. Even if the ABC had never said anything about question marks in any context, it makes a certain kind of sense.

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 17:24:10 UTC | #903574

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 25 by SomersetJohn

Since the subject is, however tenuously, sophisticated theologs, may I just ask about any, err, possible connection between sophisticated and sophistry.

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 19:42:07 UTC | #903597

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 26 by Alan4discussion

Comment 25 by SomersetJohn - may I just ask about any, err, possible connection between sophisticated and sophistry.

If you look at the last line of my comment @9, it suggests a much closer correlation between excessive consumption of communion wine, pontificating babblings, and collecting money for speechifying!

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 22:41:31 UTC | #903637

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 27 by Premiseless

The question is begged as to how directly the human mind corrupts and is corrupted by religious inheritance: a slavery of the mind to capitalisms mass marketing of human emotions for the life of the host; the ease with which financial security and power can be got from pandering to an illusory despot; the self fulfilling reliance upon a system suspected of having few answers whilst claiming to have access to all of them just because the invisible is where all answers lie.

Furthermore the questions are begged as to degrees of self delusion/corruption employed in the minds of leaders/believers in support of infrastructures which, financially and in terms of status, rewards individuals positioned to take advantage of such human speculations. The absolute focus that: the bigot is above all truth; the dominant above all law; the holy are stealers of power; believers inheritors of absolute lies. Science will point out there can be few alternative conclusions that can be drawn as to why such lies persist and the motives that drive them.

This is when theology starts to become sophisticated, but it has far to go and I fear it has out defined its own competence. It is forever enslaved to denials of its untruths.

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 07:06:26 UTC | #903731

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 28 by irate_atheist

Zugzwang!

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 16:20:50 UTC | #903816

raytoman's Avatar Comment 29 by raytoman

Religion/theology was invented 5-300 thousands years ago by shamen as a power and control mechanism. The actual content is pretty much irrelevant. The key aspects are,

  1. Kill all who don't accept the dogma (or use this as an excuse to remove competitors).
  2. Engender irrational fear by having a belief in life after death with the efficacy of the afterlife dependant on how well you obey the religious leaders (the biggest carrots and biggest sticks you can invent)
  3. Brainwash alll children from birth, utilising parents and culture and local laws, etc, and ensuring only the leaders are educated/given knowledge.
  4. Destroy all others you encounter who will not change to your belief system (or work with their leaders to devise a win win compromise where both sets of leaders retain the power but obviously cull a few who would have to lose out.

That's religion/theology, still holding our species back after all these millennia. It's just a bit more silly now since people other than religious leaders have acquired knowledge, just not the power. Religion has also made it's dieties more obscure (not wooden or rock idols or planets and suns any more, just something that exists outside all knowledge. Insane!

Sat, 31 Dec 2011 01:24:52 UTC | #903914

Galactor's Avatar Comment 30 by Galactor

Comment 28 by irate_atheist :

Zugzwang!

It's like being slapped by Moe am I right?

Sat, 31 Dec 2011 08:39:09 UTC | #903978