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Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Feb 13, 2007.

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  1. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Sorry to be a while answering these. It's been a busy couple of weeks.

    Plato doesn't actually talk about a "Logos". That's a Stoic term. Plato has a World Soul (in the Timaeus); it was only later that the Middle Platonists combined this concept with the Stoic divine Logos to come up with an entity which orders and runs the world, but which is lower than the "High God". This is the basic view we find in figures such as Philo, Plutarch, and Alcinous.

    The question whether the prologue to John draws on this kind of philosophical worldview, or whether it is more properly interpreted in the context of Jewish Wisdom literature (compare Proverbs 8:22 etc), is a very contentious one. I don't think there is a scholarly consensus at all. Of course it's made particularly tricky by the fact that some of the Jewish Wisdom literature itself was apparently influenced by Greek philosophy; I believe that the book of Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) is thought to show the influence of Stoic Logos ideas.

    It's only when you get to Justin Martyr that the influence of the Greek Logos is very clear - although there is still controversy over exactly where Justin got it from, and in particular, whether he was familiar with Philo. The question is whether Justin was following John's lead in applying Logos philosophy to Christ, or whether he was innovative in assimiliating John's non-philosophical Logos and the Greek philosophical one.

    I don't know exactly when the Jews became monotheists, because that's really not my field, but it was certainly long before the time of Jesus. I'm sure it was at least before the Exile, since the Pentateuch dates from around that time and it's certainly monotheist (although I suppose it doesn't follow that all the Jews were monotheist then). But monotheism was definitely one of the agreed absolutes among the various religious groups in Jesus' day.

    I don't think those forms of paganism and magic were very influential on early Christianity. The early Christians thought all such things were wrong and avoided them. Now some later magical theory proved to have some influence. Iamblichus, for example, tried to use Neoplatonic principles to show how magic (theurgy) worked. Pseudo-Dionysius later incorporated some of these into his own work, and borrowed the very term theurgy itself - but for him it referred to the sacraments. However, I think this sort of thing was really a borrowing of details rather than the main outlines.

    Neoplatonism was much more influential, as that last example illustrates; I think Plotinus was definitely the most important non-Christian influence upon Christianity in late antiquity. If you read Gregory of Nyssa, for example, you'll find much of what he says could be lifted straight from Plotinus (except that Gregory can write well). The idea of the supreme reality as the perfect Beauty, the source of all beauty in the lower realms, and the task of the soul to look upwards towards it and order itself according to the divine Beauty, and then bring order to the lower parts of the soul and the body - all very Neoplatonic and central to Cappadocian theology. Other theologians highly influenced by Neoplatonism include Marius Victorinus, but he wasn't very influential himself, because no-one could understand him (as even Jerome admitted!).

    Probably the most well known aspect of Neoplatonism to become incorporated into Christianity was the analysis of evil as non-being, which both the Cappadocians and Augustine made central to their thought. Although it's worth pointing out that this wasn't necessarily an exclusively Neoplatonic idea. Origen had said the same thing, and he was a generation older than Plotinus (they supposedly had the same teacher, Ammonius Sacchas, who is sometimes credited with being the true founder of Neoplatonism - without any real foundation, since we know nothing about him or his teachings).

    One shouldn't over-stress the influence of Neoplatonism on early Christianity, though, because there always remained major differences. For example, although Plotinus talked about three hypostases which bear a superficial resemblance to the three hypostases of the Christian Trinity, they are really completely different. For a Neoplatonist, reality spreads down in a fairly uniform way from the ultimate One (or whatever) down to matter (or at least, material bodies). But for a post-Nicene Christian, there was a fundamental division between the divine on the one hand and created things on the other. A Christian also could not hold matter to be the principle of chaos and evil, as some Neoplatonists tended to believe, since a Christian believed matter to be God's creation just as much as anything else, and therefore fundamentally good.

    As for Philo, he was quite influential - perhaps more as an example of how to combine a semitic faith with Greek philosophy, rather than as a direct source of ideas. Quite a few Christian authors spoke approvingly of "Philo Judaeus" and by the Middle Ages he was practically an honorary, though minor, church father. His use of the "Logos" was clearly important, although as I said before, it's uncertain whether this was a direct influence on Justin and Clement or whether they were independently doing the same thing. His idea of interpreting the Bible allegorically, just as pagan rhetoricians did with the Greek classics, was hugely important. Indeed, even details of his allegories became standards in Christian exegesis. For example, Philo interpreted the life of Moses as an allegory of the mystic drawing closer to God. Origen did exactly the same thing, even incorporating details of Philo's explanations (for example, when Moses takes off his sandals to approach the burning bush, this symbolises the need to turn away from physical things in order to contemplate God). Gregory of Nyssa did the same thing in his own Life of Moses, and so the tradition continued.

    It depends on what period you're talking about. If you're talking about (say) the second to the fifth centuries, I think the differences tend to be a bit over-exaggerated. For example, people often talk about two rival "schools" of theology, Alexandria and Antioch/Constantinople. Supposedly, the former tended to Origenism, engaged in allegorical exegesis of the Bible, and tended towards logos-sarx christologies. And the latter disapproved of Origen, engaged in typological exegesis of the Bible, and tended towards Nestorian christologies. Personally I think this a caricature. Origen met more opposition in Alexandria than he did anywhere else. Eutyches, the most extreme "Alexandrian" christologist, was trained at Antioch and lived near Constantinople. And the difference between allegorical and typological exegesis is really overblown. There is a subtle theoretical difference, but in practice no difference at all. For example, it's true that Theodore of Mopsuestia set out different principles of exegesis from Origen, and even attacked Origenist allegory; but then Origen himself didn't follow his own rules of exegesis. In practice, both these exegetes, like most from both "schools", distinguished between a "plain" or "literal" sense of the text and an "edifying" one; whether they thought it was edifying because it was an allegory or because it was a type didn't really make much difference, and I'm sure their readers didn't care.

    There were linguistic differences, of course. Initially, Christianity was an almost exclusively Greek-speaking religion; even the Christians in Rome were speaking Greek well into the second century. Then it settled down into the three great linguistic groups - Latin in the western empire, Greek in the eastern empire, and Syriac in Persia and the border cities. This did lead to differences in practice and doctrine. For example, after the second century, the Syriac-speaking churches stopped using the four canonical Gospels and instead used the Diatesseron of Tatian, a Gospel harmony. This went on until the fifth century, when Rabbula of Edessa suppressed the Diatesseron and re-instated the canonical Gospels, bringing the Syriac-speaking church back into harmony with everyone else. Differences in language exacerbated differences in doctrine - for example, during the Arian crisis, most westerners didn't understand what the easterners were talking about with their language of ousia and hypostasis, and they tended to assume that all easterners were Arians (just as the easterners tended to assume that all westerners were Sabellians). The Syriac-speakers, for their part, sat out the Arian conflict because they were too busy being horrifically persecuted.

    Not at all, questions like that are fine.

    I've never read it, so I don't know.
     
  2. mankongo

    mankongo Chieftain

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    Thank you for the detailed response!
     
  3. MayNilad Man

    MayNilad Man Chieftain

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    Exactly how malleable is RCC teaching?

    I mean, you here about how these modernists are criticized for saying that church teaching changes. While this is true, is there a limit to where the changes happen?
     
  4. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Do you mean according to the Catholic Church itself, or from an objective viewpoint? According to the Catholic Church itself, its teaching never changes. All that happens is that doctrines which were previously only implied or imperfectly understood become explicit. For example, the assumption of the Virgin Mary only became an official part of Catholic teaching in 1950, but the church holds that even before this date it was at least implicitly held by the church. So although, say, St Paul never mentions such a doctrine, if you were to go back in time and ask him if he agreed with it, he would say he did. An analogy might be Euclidean geometry. Euclid sets out a number of basic axioms and then goes on to derive all kinds of propositions and proofs from them. Even though these are not explicitly stated at the start, they are deductively deriveable from what he begins with. He never introduces anything really new; he only draws out what is implicitly contained within the opening axioms.

    From a more objective viewpoint, however, Catholic teaching certainly does change. I think if you really did go back in time and propose the doctrine of the assumption of the Virgin Mary to St Paul he'd be astonished at it. However, this question is closely tied up with the more fundamental problem of what doctrines actually are. For example, can you make a meaningful distinction between the doctrine itself and its expression? Is it possible to change the way a doctrine is stated without changing the doctrine itself, and conversely, can a doctrine change even when the form of words remains the same? Questions such as these are among the most pressing asked by theologians of all stripes today, and the answers to them will largely determine your answer to the question whether and to what extent doctrines change - as well as your answer to the question how much doctrines should or may change.
     
  5. MayNilad Man

    MayNilad Man Chieftain

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    Interesting.
    Do you think the Marian Doctrines contribute much to Catholic worldview?
     
  6. Maimonides

    Maimonides Chieftain

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    Just to add a bit if I may, it's really unkown exactly when Jews became monotheists. Here's what is known:

    The earliest example of Hebrew known is an inscription called the Gezer Calendar named by where it was found & what it is. Basically, it lists the months of the Hebrew calendar & what farmers should be planting or harvesting at the time. It dates to about 1200 BCE. The Hebrew alphabet was adopted from the Phoenician original(they are almost identical in early Hebrew examples).

    The Bible has examples of early Jews turing away from monotheism (see the Golden Calf), but descriptions from their neighbors like the Assyrians & Egyptians refer to them as monotheistic never reporting more than one Jewish god.

    The archaeological record shows the Jewish tribes invading Canaan between 1300-1250 BCE. Biblical scholars date this much earlier because they follow the chronology of the Bible which doesn't exactly match the archaeological & extrabiblical historical record. Until the reign of Solomon, only one Jewish temple is known-at Jerusalem-further evidence of monotheism. During the reign of Solomon, a another Jewish temple was built at Arad which is a real mystery. Why didn't they build temples elsewere as well? Why did they build one at Arad? We don't really know.

    Prior to the Jewish invasion of Canaan, very little is known. The Egyptians mention nomadic tribes in the area of present-day Israel & Jordan that were probably the ancestors of the Jewish ones that invaded Canaan, but there is no archaeological record of them & they had no written language so we just don't know exactly when those wandering herdsmen became monotheistsic.

    Still a great thread, Plotinus!
     
  7. mankongo

    mankongo Chieftain

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    Whenever I read the bible, I always wonder how much Augustine I read into Paul, or how much Paul I read into Matthew or John. Also, I always forget how important Mary to certain, well the majority of Christians in the world, both past and present. I always get the feelings in the gospels that Jesus and his mom have a bad relationship. Like in the passage where she wants him to deal with the wine-shortage and he calls her "woman!" Plus "who are my mothers, brothers, and sisters," and then I can imagine him adding, certainly not you unsupportive people. That's just my reading tho and I'm sure ancient and medieval people saw it differently.
     
  8. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    [MayNilad Man] I'm not sure what you mean by "contribute to the Catholic worldview". Catholic mariology is certainly one of the distinctive features of Catholicism as opposed to other forms of Christianity - although of course they're not unique to Roman Catholicism. I've known Anglicans who believe in the physical assumption of the Virgin, for example.

    [Maimonides] Thanks!

    [mankongo] Yes, I think Jesus was probably pretty disruptive to families, something which certain modern groups who think that "religion" and "family" go together ought to remember. I seem to recall hearing that addressing his mother as "woman" wouldn't have been quite as rude as it sounds to us - although of course the wedding at Cana is in John's Gospel and therefore of highly dubious authenticity anyway!

    As for reading earlier authors in the light of later ones, it's an ever-present danger. Of course, on some views, it's perfectly legitimate. For example, if you accept the Catholic belief that I just mentioned, that the church has never changed its mind (although it has taught some things only implicitly at first and explicitly later), then it's quite reasonable. For example, you might be reading that strange bit in Romans 5:12-14 where Paul talks about sin coming into the world through Adam, and wonder what he means. You might then open some tome of Augustine and read his explanation of original sin, and conclude that that is what Paul meant. Now from a scholarly point of view, such a procedure would be highly unwise: who is to say that Augustine understood Paul perfectly, or even that Augustine meant to agree with Paul at all? Yes, you might read a later author in the hope that he has some insight into the earlier one - you might think that Augustine was a clever character who might offer you good guidance on reading Paul - but you wouldn't assume that he must necessarily be right. But from a traditional Catholic point of view, that would be perfectly legitimate. Paul and Augustine both express the teaching of the church, so they do not disagree; you can therefore read one in order better to understand the other.

    Indeed, I think most religious people (not simply Catholics or those who hold a similar view on doctrinal development) do this to some extent, at least with those authors they consider authoritative. For example, it's a point of dogma among Protestant evangelicals (just as with Catholics) that all the books of the Bible agree with each other. So an evangelical will interpret James in the light of Paul, and vice versa, despite the fact that they appear to contradict each other. Now on the face of it, perhaps they're right to do so - perhaps the apparent contradictions aren't real after all. But from a scholarly point of view, you can't just assume that.

    It's easy to do though. An interesting example also concerns Paul and his contrast between salvation by faith and salvation by works. Luther understood this to mean a contrast between two means of being saved: Paul was attacking those who think people are saved because of what they do, and asserting instead that people are saved because they have faith. That's the traditional understanding. But about twenty years ago, E.P. Sanders argued that such an interpretation is nonsense in the context of first-century Pharisaism. On his view, Paul actually meant to contrast two groups of people who are saved. He's attacking those who think that those people who do good works are saved, and asserting instead that those who have faith are saved. On that interpretation, Paul is neutral on the matter of what actually saves you (at least in the passages in question). Now there's still considerable controversy over whether Sanders is right or not; but if he is, then this is an example of where most people, scholars included, have been reading Paul "through" Luther in an illegitimate way.
     
  9. m4gill4

    m4gill4 Chieftain

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    edit - no longer contemporaneous to the conversation...my bad
     
  10. Imrahil91

    Imrahil91 Chieftain

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    Does the Bible say that everyone that aren't christian/believe that Jesus was Messiah will be lost in Hell forever or is that just a rumour?
    Jews don't believe that Jesus was Messiah, what about them?
    What about all the people that lived before Jesus' time?

    What do you think about the life after death?
    I have a theory, just a theory... I've heard that Satan lived on Earth before Adam end Eve, then we could live in a "safe spot" (Eden), but we ruined it, so we live in Hell. But if we believe in God's word, we will come to heaven, and if we don't, our soul will be reborn on Earth.
    Can anything of that be true?

    Do you have any idea about the date for the Great Flood (Noah)?

    Thanks
     
  11. Atticus

    Atticus Chieftain Retired Moderator

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    Few questions about devil...

    What opinions different churches have about the existence of the devil and hell? Is devil integral part of hell (or is thought of him as the master of hell just mixture of Hades/Pluto and devil)?

    How powerful is devil thought to be? (Is he for example omniscient?)
     
  12. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    PLOTINUS:

    I'm taking a philosophy seminar on normative issues in epistemology, and in my reading (on debates about the nature of normative-epistemic evaluations) I encountered a question in value theory about the distinction between "good for god" and "good for us". Is that something theologians talk about? If so, any thoughts and/or reading recommendations on the matter?
     
  13. Ansar

    Ansar Détente avec l'été

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    Plotinus - Are all theologians as smart as you?
     
  14. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    First, don't assume that believing that Jesus is the Messiah is the same thing as being a Christian. James 2:19 says that even the devils believe, and tremble. So the traditional view is that you can believe that a certain doctrine is true, but that's not enough; faith isn't about propositional belief but about an existential attitude.

    Laying that aside, there are certainly passages that state, or seem to state, that those who don't believe (in the required sense) in Jesus are doomed. Acts 4:12 is one, and there are several in John's Gospel: 3:18; 14:6; 15:6.

    Of course, just because something's in the Bible doesn't mean either that it's true or that all Christians believe it. In this case we have the additional problem that there are other verses that apparently teach that everyone will be saved. Romans 5:18-19 and 1 Corinthians 15:24 are the most obvious. So either Paul disagreed with Luke and John, or some way of harmonising them must be found.

    One common answer is that you have to believe in Jesus to be saved, but that's not the same thing as being a Christian; Jesus can be found elsewhere. Another is that you do indeed have to be a Christian, but people will have the chance to convert even after death, and eventually everyone will.

    Of course, there are others who have no problem with a strict exclusivist position according to which anyone who's not explicitly a Christian in this life will be damned for ever. Personally I see nothing illogical or inherently problematic with this, but I do think it's very hard to reconcile with two other traditional Christian beliefs: God's infinite love for all his creatures, and his sovereignty over the universe.

    Anyway, I dealt with this more fully here.

    Most improbable in my view, but you never know. My girlfriend's a medium so I have to revise my views on this constantly, which is probably a good thing...

    It's a consistent story, so it might be true, but I can't see any reason to suppose that it is.

    I don't know much about this sort of thing, so I don't know how likely it is that such a thing ever happened at all. I do know that there are many parallels to the story in other ancient Middle Eastern traditions (most famously in the Epic of Gilgamesh), and that these go back at least to the seventeenth century BC, so presumably if a real historical event underlies them it would be before then.

    I don't know much about this sort of thing either, I'm afraid. The one thing I can definitely say is that the devil has never been thought to be omniscient or to have any of the divine attributes. Traditionally, the devil is supposed to be roughly equal in status and power to the more powerful angels, such as Michael. Obviously he can never be anything like the equal to God himself.

    I'm pretty sure that all the mainstream churches agree that both the devil and hell exist, although by no means all individuals within those churches would agree. There's obviously a very wide range of possible interpretations of these doctrines even among those who accept them: for example, some theologians will suggest that being "demonic" is a relational property. That is, if something acquires a hold over you - say if you're addicted to drugs - then it can be called "demonic" in the way it affects your life. This sort of idea allows us to demythologise the notion of Satan and his cohorts, get rid of red men with pitchforks and think in terms that are relevant to us today.

    I'm not sure where the idea of Satan as the "master" of hell comes from; I think you must be right that it involves some kind of influence from Pluto or whoever. It's important to remember that "Satan" as a character developed even within Biblical times too. In some texts he seems to be conceived as one of God's angels in his court; later he evolves into a more antagonistic character. So in Job, Satan seems to be on quite pally terms with God, although they argue. By the time of the New Testament he's a wicked character who tempts Jesus and prowls about like a lion seeking to ensnare unwary Christians.

    Wow, that sounds a bit frightening. Basically, no, theologians don't generally tackle that sort of thing, at least not qua theologians. As far as I know, all the important work in virtue ethics (which is what that really is) has happened in philosophy. Of course, this sort of approach is central to Thomas Aquinas, and also later Thomism, but I'm sure you'll know that already!

    There's a quote to go in the sig...

    Well, without directly answering that, I will say that one advantage I have which seems to be surprisingly uncommon is that I'm fairly well versed in both theology and philosophy (not that you'd think so from some of my answers here, perhaps). Most theologians have some notion of philosophy but it often seems to be surprisingly weak. Typically, modern theologians have a tendency to know about some (usually rather trendy) philosopher or school of philosophy, such as existentialism, or Wittgenstein, or phenomenalism, or something like that, and get incredibly enthusiastic about it and try to turn it into the central idea of their theology. I suppose existentialism has been the main culprit in the twentieth century, with figures as important as Bultmann and Tillich trying to re-think theology in a way dictated by this method - even Barth did it for a bit, and there are other, more minor figures, who did the same thing, such as Macquarrie (who I actually really like). Alternatively, think of Don Cupitt going on about Wittgenstein. The problem is that these theologians tend to take the philosophy in question on board rather uncritically (generally talking about "Wittgenstein's insight" or something rather than "Wittgenstein's argument", as if Wittgenstein had discovered something which is now generally accepted, rather than simply put forward a position which may be disputed), and they tend to be a bit behind the times too (ie, obsessing about philosophical trends which were the rage perhaps thirty years ago).

    However, the ignorance of theologians about philosophy is not nearly as bad as the ignorance of philosophers about theology; most of them simply don't know what it is or what it does. Often they think that theology is a sort of more dogmatic version of philosophy or religion, or they think it's something that only religious people do. This is especially striking when the philosopher in question is someone who you would think would know more about it. I remember reading a book by Alvin Plantinga, who is one of the foremost philosophers of religion and a well-known defender of the claim that religious belief is rational (and a Reformed Christian, with a son who is a theologian) in which he was dealing with the argument that Biblical scholarship undermines the rationality of Christian belief. He simply didn't have a clue about it, quite frankly.
     
  15. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Is there a large difference between the philosophy of religion and theology in the 1st sense that you use the term (in the OP)?
     
  16. Margim

    Margim Footy's back.

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    As one doing a Master of Theology 'in the first sense', I'll just chip in and say yes. Philosophy of religion is more objective, looking at religion externally from a purely critical mindset. As I understand it, it pays more attention and focus to the functions, operation of, and purpose of religion. More a structural examination of, rather than interaction with, the idea of religion.

    The kind of theology I engage in is more subjective, in that it operates on the assumption of a type of God, and then seeks to hypothesise/explore/experience what this God is about. A few things should be noted particularly, though...

    1) Subjective does not mean blind. Systematic theology, biblical studies, practical, pastoral and other kinds of theology of this kind are often highly critical, academically balanced disciplines that have little more tolerance for poor scholarship than any other.

    2) That does not mean that there are not bad theologians and those who are purely out there to spread a particular religious doctrine.

    3) Nothing is completely objective or subjective. We all operate under a system of basic assumptions... theology (in the living, practiced-to-understand-God-better kind of way) tries to objectively understand a God that we understand we are all subject to - systematically testing, weighing and working through the validity of our own understanding and claims. This kind of higher self-criticism is particularly developed in Jewish and Christian (Western) tradition, and I imagine scholarship will continue to develop within other faith traditions.
     
  17. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    That's a good answer. I'd mention that one difference is quite easy, which is that "theology" covers a whole lot of other stuff that's not even close to philosophy of religion, such as textual studies, church history, language, and so on. The part of it which seems to overlap with philosophy of religion is just doctrinal or systematic theology, the subject which used to be called "dogmatics". So there's a difference right there, to begin with.

    As for the difference between dogmatics and philosophy of religion, one difference that people often say is that in dogmatics you assume God's existence while in philosophy of religion you don't. I'm not convinced by that; it seems clear to me that what (say) Aquinas does is (at least in part) philosophy of religion. I think, on reflection, that I would also disagree that philosophy of religion is more critical or objective than theology. After all, theologians can bitterly disagree with each other; they subject each other's views to criticism just as much as philosophers do. The difference, such as it is, is more in the nature of the criticism rather than the degree. For example, a philosopher is more likely than a theologian to criticise the argument supporting a particular position. Indeed, a philosopher is more likely to give an argument to support his position than a theologian is. Of course, in some ways, theologians and philosophers criticise in the same way: for example, in both theology and philosophy, you can criticise a view for being intrinsically implausible or even inconsistent. Although even there, theologians are less likely to worry about that sort of thing.

    So I'd say that the degree to which one is focusing on arguments is a good indicator of whether you're doing theology or philosophy of religion.

    Here's an example of theology:

    And this is philosophy of religion (written as an introduction - I couldn't find any heavier stuff offhand) on a similar subject:

    It's easy to see which is theology and which is philosophy of religion, but harder to specify precisely what distinguishes them - if indeed anything listable does. Personally I've often thought that theology is more like continental philosophy than philosophy of religion; indeed it's quite reminiscent of the more theoretical kinds of anthropology or sociology, at least in tone. If you read Barth and then Bourdieu you'll see what I mean.

    Then of course there's something called "philosophical theology", which is even harder to pin down...
     
  18. Margim

    Margim Footy's back.

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    Systematics is moving a touch out of my field, so I'm not going to armwrestle too heavily over this.

    But essentially, I think we are agreed.

    I don't think that I personally argued that philosophy is more critical than theology (by any means!!). I did say 'more objective' though. Perhaps the better way to state it is 'more objectively critical'. That's not saying there is no subjectivity about philosophy, or no objectivity in theoloy. Both are critical in their own ways.

    Rather, its a common tendency and movement of different disciplines. A generalisation.

    (philosophical theology... is that a generic conversation about attributes of religionless deity/deities?)
     
  19. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Basically, philosophical theology is systematic theology done in a philosophical way. If that means much!
     
  20. Verità

    Verità Chieftain

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    Hello Plotinus, my commendations on your very informative thread. A thoroughly delightful read, truly.

    I have recently taken interest in the epochal debate between atheism and theism. Where do you stand in terms of the taxonomy of beliefs and what were the determining factors that influenced your position? Also can you give some insight on your view of the anthropic principle and the mounting evidence of a 'fine tuned' universe.
     
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