About theology

Spend a bit of time piecing together the various diatribes accumulated within Richard Dawkins ‘The God Delusion‘, and you’ll very quickly spot a kind of common theme:  religious people in general, and Christians in particular, have nothing of value to say about our world that ‘science’ cannot already tell them – or perhaps that ‘science’ may one day be able to tell them.

Dawkins’ implicit faith in his own ‘god of the gaps’ comes out in many places in TGD, and explicitly surfaces in one spot where he suggests that the kind of polite noises of tolerance made by secularists are nothing more than a courtesy to disguise the fact that (in Dawkins’ opinion) “theologians have nothing worthwhile to say about anything else” (p57).  For Dawkins, the kinds of issues or questions that theology seeks to deal with are actually non-issues and non-questions, the kind that should not occupy the time and energies of sensible men and women.  It is perhaps significant that this consistent emphasis of mainstream atheists is to dismiss the questions that mankind has been preoccupied with for thousands of years, rather than seek to provide serious answers.  That feels like a denial of our essential humanity.

I, in company with most Christian people, would disagree profoundly with that kind of verdict.  ‘Theology’ derives from the greek words for ‘God’ (theo) and ‘study of’ (logy), and in its very nature is built upon the presupposition that there is something there, something objective, true and real, to study.  Dawkins, in his haste to write-off Christian theology as a non-subject, appears to forget that it was Christian theology which gave rise to ‘Natural Theology’, the precursor to modern science.  That whole field of endeavour which obsesses those of such a persuasion did not arise within any other context: it required the objectivism implicit in a Christian worldview to make it happen.

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