New Book! Theologians and Philosophers Using Social Media

Theologians and Philosophers Using Social MediaHave you seen the #1 book on Amazon’s list of new releases in religious studies education?

Thomas Jay Oord, ed., Theologians and Philosophers Using Social Media: Advice, Tips, and Testimonials (SacraSage Press, September 2, 2017)

It includes a section by me on using social media, in which I discuss things like the Biblical Studies Online website, John Dominic Crossan’s holiday photos, online discussions that were very helpful in writing my recent article about Jesus turning into a Giant in the Gospel of Peter, a contribution to an engagement with Larry Hurtado, Sathya Sai Baba’s injunction to ‘Love all, serve all’, and some other words of sage theological advice.

The insights in these 90+ essays are nothing short of inspiring! Their tips on best practices for social engagement, time management, social media as a resource for scholarship or creativity, technology and pedagogy, etc. will help readers tremendously.

The contributors are diverse. They include….

– Public theologians like Ben Corey, Brian McLaren, and Richard Rohr

– Younger scholars like Tripp Fuller, Jorey Micah, and Alexis Waggoner

– Biblical scholars like Michael Gorman, Joel Green, and Daniel Kirk

– Philosophers like Helen De Cruz, Aaron Simmons, and Kevin Timpe

– Establish scholars like James Crossley, Kwok Pui-lan, and Amos Yong

– Scholars outside North America like Deane Galbraith, RT Mullins, Hanna Reichel, and Atle Sovik

– Pastoral theologians like Patricia Farmer, Len Sweet, and Kurt Willems

– Historical theologians like Kim Alexander and Christine Helmer

– Science and religion scholars like Ron Cole-Turner, Karl Giberson, Lea Schweitz, and Jim Stump

– Constructive theologians like Oliver Crisp, Grace Ji-Sun Kim, and Jason Lepojärvi

– Ethicists like Miguel De La Torre, David Gushee, and Michael Hardin

…and the list goes on!

Whether the reader is an armchair theologian, a professional scholar, a graduate student, or simply interested in how social media is changing religious and philosophical studies, that reader will find Theologians and Philosophers Using Social Media of great help.

 

Have a look on Amazon!

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The demarcation of humanities from pseudo-humanities. Or, is Theology the queen of the pseudo-sciences?

man-universe

I’m interested in the question of whether it is possible to specify a demarcation of the humanities from pseudo-humanities, and the related question: if so, how? One valuable outcome of settling these questions is that it would counter all the wacky theorizing out there – such as reptilian shape-shifting overlord conspiracies, vaccine conspiracies, 9/11 conspiracies, and theology.

But the basis for a demarcation has been notoriously difficult to arrive at, even in the “hard” sciences.

What Michael Mahner points towards in the quote below – in a discussion of theology – seems like a good basis for demarcating pseudo-scholarship from genuine scholarship within the humanities.

The main problem with theology is institutional, because theology is by its very essence denominational: the theologian is the representative of some particular religion and is therefore expected to accept its creed as a given. The core of this belief system is not open to revision as a matter of principle, wherefore it must be regarded as a form of unscientific dogmatism. Thus, it is impossible that, as a result of internal progress in research, Christian theology will come to the conclusion that Christianity is actually false and Hinduism is true after all. For example, in the past 200 years the research of many theologians has contributed to demolishing the authority of the scriptures by putting them in a proper historical perspective, but this has not led them to abandon Christianity. Rather, it has spawned a hermeneutic industry of apologetics, attempting to save the Christian faith by reinterpreting and re-reinterpreting its tenets, often in unintelligible terms.

– Martin Mahner, “Demarcating Science from Non-Science”, pages 515-575 in Theo A.F. Kuipers, ed., Handbook of the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 1, General Philosophy of Science: Focal Issues (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2007), p. 551

To summarize: good scholarship in the humanities tests every idea; bad or pseudo-scholarship in the humanities begins with ideas that it seeks to defend, and finds ways to continue to defend those ideas, being forced to dismiss or relativize any conflicting evidence.

In practice, however, this difference becomes difficult to measure. Tendentious people don’t think they’re any more tendentious than anybody else. Is it tendentious if one assumes that the laws of physics are universal, applying everywhere and for all time? Is it any more tendentious if my research takes it as properly basic that God exists, that he is a triune being comprising three persons, that the Son is co-eternal with the Father, that all people are sinners and do not deserve eternal beatific life, and that the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth results in the salvation of certain people?   It is always possible to point to certain seemingly “core” understandings within any field of research which seem to be beyond challenge. So is support for a certain body of knowledge – e.g., chemistry, physics, biblical studies, history, theology, mesmerism, reiki – just a matter of personal preference? Do they all provide knowledge, yet just of different kinds?

I don’t think so. Instead of a hard and fast demarcation, it might be better to think of the divide between pseudo- and genuine scholarship in the humanities as one of degree. Up one end of the scale are disciplines that have generated a lot of knowledge over the past couple of centuries, both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sciences. Down the other end are those fields which seem bent on construing any facts to serve their theories, while ignoring or relativizing those facts which don’t so easily fit with them. I think it is possible to work out the grounds for such a distinction – albeit a contentious one.

In this regard, theology must be the queen of the pseudo-sciences. For it is the domain in which the most human energy has been applied in order to defend a significant body of assumptions which no longer cohere with knowledge derived from the commonly accepted genuine sciences. No doubt theologians will disagree…

A Book Review only 97 Years After Publication: The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France

Anatole France

Over at Religion Dispatches, Bernard Schweizer provides an entertaining, albeit somewhat belated, review of Anatole France’s satirical 1914 novel Revolt of the Angels.

As in Philip Pullman’s recent His Dark Materials trilogy, in Revolt of the Angels, God is a cruel despot who is overthrown by angels, who in turn take his place. However, in Anatole France’s novel, the heavenly revolution is quickly followed by terror. After Satan assumes the throne, power corrupts him, and things quickly start to go downhill until they descend to the unthinkable …

And Satan found pleasure in praise. . . . Satan, whose flesh had crept, in days gone by, at the idea that suffering prevailed in the world, now felt himself inaccessible to pity. He regarded suffering and death as the happy results of omnipotence and sovereign kindness. And the savor of blood of victims rose upward towards him like sweet incense. He fell to condemning intelligence and to hating curiosity. . . . Dense fumes of Theology filled his brain.

Just as I always thought: Satan loves Theology.

You can get the book on pdf, for free, here: Revolt of the Angels (26.9 mb). Great moustache.