Thursday, July 16, 2009

Daniel Dennett at the Darwin Festival in Cambridge

Daniel Dennett writes 'I've heard two of you talk now, and you keep saying this is an interdisciplinary effort--evolutionary theology--but I am still waiting to be told what theology has to contribute to the effort. You've clearly adjusted your theology considerably in the wake of Darwin, which I applaud, but what traffic, if any, goes in the other direction? Is there something I'm missing?'

Theologians, according to John Polkinghorne, are engaged in a search for truth.

So what progress are they making?

What problems did theology face at the start of the 19th century that theologians say that the know the answers to now, without having used one of the many sciences to arrive at that answer?


Blogger Chris Donato said...

How to read an ANE text better, for starters. Unless you want to suggest that hermeneutics is a science, which I suppose you could…

For example, reading Gen 1 better (i.e., in the sense its authors and audience would have understood it) is not accomplished through science (strictly defined). It's not a matter of accommodation, unless, again, we're wanting to include "how to better read an ancient text" under the rubric of "science."

7:40 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

I see.

So one thing scientists cannot do as part of their research is 'reading'?

And history cannot ever be considered a science?

8:09 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

And are you saying that Jesus did not know how to read Genesis 1 as that problem was only solved recently?

8:10 AM  
Blogger Chris Donato said...

Regarding your first response, no. Unless I misunderstood you, I thought you were saying that theologians have not solved any theological conundrums since the 19th cent. without the help of one or more hard sciences. That's simply not the case, as I've pointed out with respect to the creation narrative.

History (historiography) is not a hard science. You know this.

And I'm sure Jesus knew exactly how to read that ANE text; it's we moderns that lost our lenses, attempting to read back into it scientific theory, etc. For a large part of Western church history, yes, the problem of Gen 1 has been left 'unsolved.' Advancements in philology, archaeology, etc., have helped us better understand it as it would have been understood than ever before. I know this might sound like chronological snobbery, but on this point, I'll go there.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

So theology used history, and that does not count as a science because it is a 'hard' science?

And the whole object of theology is not to make any progress since the days of Jesus so that people can believe about theology exactly what Jesus believed 2000 years ago.

In fact,you claim that theologians have gone backwards since Jesus, and far from making progress, have lost the lenses.

How can theology be in the business of discovering truth when you claim people of 2000 years ago knew more about the truth than we do today?

Theology is clearly not a university subject as theologians are rubbish at making progress.

Even Jesus, 2000 years ago, knew more theology than modern theologians.

But scientists of today know far more about the science of the world than Jesus did.

Science makes progress. Theology goes backwards....

12:14 AM  
Blogger Chris Donato said...


6:52 PM  

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