17 November 2009

"Deepity" and Modern Theology

Does anyone think that a "Sokal Affair" experiment with modern theological scholarship is overdue?

I suggested a theological "Sokal Affair" experiment on my blog back in 2007 .

The section where Daniel Dennett talks about "deepity" in theological thought happens at 30:25 in his talk.


Joel Monka said...

Very good stuff; but I do have one nit to pick, and it's as big an error as the use/mention one: imprecise definition of terms. He speaks of "religion" and "theology", but what he means is Trinitarian Christian theology. Just as one example, I doubt very much that a Shinto priest was disillusioned by errors in the Bible, and is now living a lie. This error is a way of Life for Dawkins, and extremely common in virtually all critiques of "religion".

Steve Caldwell said...

Joel -- this is a valid criticism and it's one that Dennett would acknowledge given the preliminary nature of this research.

However, my guess is that his initial exploration into clergy folk who no longer believe their denominations hold as core faith elements was limited to those folks he could easily interview in North America (Dennett is a professor at Tufts - a historically Universalist university in Boston).

I suppose that Shinto priest who had rejected the teachings of his Shinto religion but remained closeted about it and continued to work as a priest would make for an interesting interview. But that's probably pretty hard to find in North America. Perhaps a Japanese philosopher can do the research you've suggested in your reply.

Keep in mind that his research subjects were clergy who finding themselves in conflict with core aspects of their outward religious identification but who remain closeted about it.

The hypothetical Shinto priest who rejects the Bible example you bring up would make as much sense as interviewing a Methodist minister who rejects Wicca.

Dennett did say this was a pilot study with just six interview subjects -- 3 liberal Protestants and 3 traditional Protestants.

He mentions that he would want to interview Mormon and Roman Catholic clergy for the next phase of his research.

Anonymous said...