Arrested Spiritual Development, AKA Theology
Theology is generally defined as a methodically formulated “study” which dares to claim that it provides “knowledge” and the “science” regarding the nature of God. In actuality theology is more of a speculative exercise system of belief which builds upon the hypothesis that a supernatural being (with humanlike characteristics) created and sits in judgment of everything in Creation. This “study” is heavily promoted as religious truth and theological science which allegedly provides rational inquiry into religious questions. Oddly, all organized faith systems, especially those which are run by the book, pivot upon somewhat differing opinions as to what constitutes “divinity” and what humanity’s relationship is with that alleged “divine being.” The subject of theoloty is marketed as a study course which specializes in “religious research,” and is commonly obtainable at a faith-based university or seminary. In other words, the “science” (loosely defined) is a money oriented study for attaining a salary-oriented career.
The modern use of the term “theology” refers to a rather narrow approach to the universal powers which are imagined to correspond to a super-humanlike being. This is a self-serving mode of propaganda which insinuates that it teaches exclusive knowledge. But in more ancient timeframes such as classical Greece, theology, by the etymology of the word, signified a discourse about the divine Source as ultimate god by men such as Pherecydes of Syros (6th century BCE), a teacher of Pythagoras, and the man Epimenides of Crete (around 600 BCE), who is reputedly the “prophet” quoted by “Saint” Paul in Titus 1:12. Broadly speaking, theology includes the earliest classical understanding as being a discourse about God, but the study also theorizes man’s nature which seems to indicate a distinct (faith system) relationship with that theorized god. This is then easily expanded into speculation of how each person’s life experiences determine the relationship of each person’s destiny with God.
Theological studies assert that “other sciences” such as biology are incorporated, and these true sciences allegedly support and affirm “the scientific explanation of religious life.” Even so, this claimed “scientific” relationship still generates only a system of doctrines, dogmatism, and duties which support and promotes the faith system. Nothing in such a setup really elevates a seeker’s spirit into true enlightenment. It might be concluded, therefore, that theology is an elaborate practice which was invented for the bedevilment of reason.
There is, consequently, an abundance of terms and expressions that have been produced to promote the beliefs which each faith system offers. About the only thing that all these man-formulated systems (categorized under the umbrella of “religion”) actually agree upon is that anyone who does not subscribe to a supernatural explanation of universal powers is damned and those poor souls’ rational skepticism is spoken of as (gasp) “atheism!” In other words,a theist’s judgment is systematically and subconsciously programmed with hatred toward any differing search for enlightenment instead of being infused with spiritual tolerance. Meanwhile the vocabulary of faith system believers remains colored with its descriptive theist tag, meaning “god,” in words such as monotheist, henotheist, polytheist, pantheist, and even atheist, and the misunderstood term deist. Deism, as an example, is the belief that the truth of the existence of the creative Life Principle (which is commonly personified as God) can only be discovered by each individual through the evidence of reason and nature, and without resort to any particular church or to claims of revelation. The bulk of founding fathers of the United States were deists, not Christians, as example. Deism is from Latin, theism is from Greek.
Excesses of any faith system are inestimable, and they flourish under such proudly displayed emblems as two interlocked triangles making up a six pointed star, a dead body hanging on a cross, a crescent moon cupping a five-pointed star, and other faith system insignia. All too commonly religious devotion to imagined divinities has been slyly misdirected and that yearning by seekers for true enlightenment then becomes sacrificed for an indulgence in eccentric procedures. Theological construction utilizes (for it own ends) philosophical terms of value, but rationality is the least valued of those terms. At its best, theological study can only tippy-toe around philosophical dedication to rationality in its pursuit of theological tenets.
True philosophy is the attempt to uncover an ultimate truth by rational means; theology, however, is prone to limit (and heavily so) rational investigation, willingly sacrificing that standard of philosophy for the faith system purpose which strives to impose a submit-and-obey following. To accomplish this, theological study has to incorporate a philosophical starting point if it is to make the study appear rational. Thus are alleged “revelations” which have been handed down by tribal ancestors made to serve as the starting point upon which a pretense of “scientific study” of those revelations may be presented by imitating philosophical premises. Theology’s claimed affiliation with philosophy, we could thus say, is something like an occasional behind-the-barn intimacy. It is akin to a hormone-driven need to feel intimacy with rationality, but those moments of dalliance must be kept hidden from the gullible public.
Exegetical theology is a more recent attempt at trying to include genuine scientific principles in support of their belief system by accepting the evidence of evolution as being active in both the spiritual and material dimensions of creation. In other words, exegetical theology leans strongly toward universalism. By this means, however, the creative life-infusing power which is personified as “God” can never really be classified as Jewish, Christian, Muslim or any other man-contrived membership belief system, for that Source power continues to indiscriminately uphold any and all aspects of whatever mankind may perceive from his limited observation of Creation.
So is it ever appropriate to bestow upon ethnic faith systems a collection of invented theological claims as being “scientific” or “facts”? The central tenets of any established faith system must, of necessity, provide some allusion of historical background for those tenets, but any in-depth investigation of any faith system will reveal that there is not one in existence which has not heavily whitewashed its true history. Ignoring true historical data does not enhance spiritual reliability.
Related post: Haggling Over What To Believe, January 2013