I'm taking a philosophy class because I have to, not because I like philosophy. And I don't dislike philosophy because I'm a close-minded jerk who hates having her beliefs questioned -- I hate philosophy because there's no freaking yes-or-no answer to any of the questions you bring up. And if you decide that there is, well, that's just your personal theory. And you darn well better know every other person's theory on the planet so you can pass the test, because knowing someone else's beliefs is way better than building your own and learning how to defend them instead of some other dude's.
There was a guest lecturer at our school this week. He gave a (very long) lecture based on his book, Why Religion is Natural and Science Is Not, and then my class along with some graduate psychology students met with him for a more "intimate" discussion.
First of all, I freely admit that I slept through a good portion of the guy's talk. But I've been getting very little sleep the past few weeks (23 hours of school, 17 hours of rehearsals, 4 hours of work...), and he wasn't making any kind of sense, so... Yeah. But when I was paying attention, I had no idea what he was talking about. The only time I truly tuned in was when he mentioned in passing his views on the relationship between theology and religion.
"Religion, by the way, does not have to have theology. Religion has existed for millions of years, but theology itself is fairly new."
This is not an exact quote, but you get the gist. At first, I thought I might have misheard him (I was asleep after all), because this statement is just absurd. I really was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
So this morning we met with him and listened to him talk a whole bunch more and I was content to just sit there and tune him out, but then, once again, he made a comment that drew me in.
"Religion and theology don't have to coexist. Theology requires literacy, and religion predates literacy."
Well, okay. Maybe you just don't understand what theology is.
"The idea of creationism and intelligent design is just absurd! I mean, it's really laughable! Creationists have no concept of science!"
OH OKAY. So you just hate creationism, that's all. Okay then.
His behavior honestly surprised me. I understand being firm about your beliefs, but outright calling creationists absurd and stupid? That's just rude. Not only that, but every time anyone asked him a question, he responded: "First of all, I don't accept your premises, so I don't accept your conclusion" or "I accept your premises, but I don't accept your conclusion" and then go off on some rabbit trail for ten minutes just to prove how right he was and how wrong everyone else was. As icing on the cake, he continuously treated us undergraduate philosophy students like children compared to the graduate psychology students.
Now, I do not and have never claimed to be a great theologian or a great scientist. I have been around both, though, and have been extremely honored to hear them teach and watch them debate with prominent evolutionists and the like. So even though I don't consider myself the smartest Christian on the planet, I don't consider myself uneducated.
1. The rational and systematic study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truth.
2. A particular system or school of religious beliefs and teachings.
More casually: the study of religion.
For Christians specifically: the study of God.
Why the heck do you need literacy to study, well, anything (except literature I suppose)? All you need is the thing itself. In times where there was no literacy, people still studied stuff, just in a different way. People still had to learn how to survive, how to do basic math skills, how to trade, etc. Religion is no different. Just because a person does not extensively study, memorize, read, and write documents on God does not mean that they are not engaging in theology.
If I had the time, I would go through all of this guest lecturer's reasons for creationists having "no concept of science" and give him a nice answer for each and every one, although he probably would accept none of them because he's right and I'm wrong. But I have written enough for this post, and have gotten my initial disgust and disbelief out of my system.
I know it might be petty, but I did get extremely offended by his behavior. People always tell you that teachers will challenge your beliefs in college, but it honestly has not happened to me before now (and he actually wasn't even a real teacher). I wasn't really sure how to handle it because he did it in such an open, obnoxious way. I definitely welcome thoughts and experiences on this kind of situation, because such closed-mindedness fascinates me.
One final gem from our guest: "Really there's no point in discussing philosophy and religion unless someone brings something entirely new to the table. It's just been talked about for far too long."
Uh, isn't that all philosophy is? And uh, why are you writing a book about it then?