What is the value of theology?

Perhaps… but there must be a reason why people make the comments they do right…

Anyway, I don’t want to sidetrack you from the main discussion… so let’s drop it then.

I’m afraid I don’t see the relevance. You’re trying to circumscribe philosophy to exclude everything except American analytic philosophy. Now, I’ve had one philosophy course in my life, and it was all about existentialism. I suppose that’s not really philosophy by your definition. (Incidentally, one of those existentialists was Kierkegaard.)

The only reason I’m doing so is that analytic philosophy is the dominant style of philosophy in most university philosophy departments in the US today. Thus I am not surprised that the focus of such departments is different from the “grand questions” that we’ve been talking about in this thread. Existentialism is certainly relevant for discussions about “grand questions”, but it’s rare to have philosophers specializing in that in most US philosophy departments. It’s more often considered part of European continental tradition.

I’m not sure of your point. If it’s merely that most philosophy departments in U.S. universities don’t encompass more than a narrow range of the subject, I’m not sure how that relates to whether the asking of big questions should be called theology.


I think this is the place to look for examples of how people and scholars and institutions are already rethinking and remodeling “theology” or at least the structures commonly associated with theology. At least one divinity school offers a degree (master’s but not MDiv I think but haven’t checked) in humanist chaplaincy, and I know of two major divinity schools (Yale and Harvard) that have programs friendly to humanists. None of these institutions seem to think that they should remove ‘divinity’ from their names even though the word implies (at least in part) gods.

My point is that surely ‘theology’ can be repurposed just as ‘religion’ and ‘divinity’ can be repurposed. Maybe there are good reasons not to use the word ‘theology’ to describe the pursuits and efforts that Joshua is advancing and that I enthusiastically support. But then that might just mean that broad, inclusive, humanistic efforts to dialogue and build consensus around “what it means to be human” would include theology but not be equated with it. That seems fine to me, and so I reckon this current discussion to be semantic (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and not more.