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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Professing and Belief

I was struck with a thought today. Why is it that at the university level, professors of religion don't necessarily have to believe what they teach? If a math professor, physics professor or a psychology professor stood up to profess the truth of their department and yet claimed not to hold to that truth, they would be quickly escorted off the campus. Yes, they may not hold to all of their department's teachings (you can't expect a Freudian to accept all the premises of a Jungian, or a classical physicist to use quantum mechanics) but they still hold to some part. They don't deny the general teachings, or approach it as a skeptic. But when it comes to the religion department it seems to sway the other way. The secular professor stands apart from the sacred to pierce, to prod, to critique and is hailed a hero. The general premise being that to believe, ruins the ability to approach the subject objectively... therefore nonbelievers are the only legitimate religious scholars.

Isn't that all just hogwash? Shouldn't all that be required for the professor is to be honest and upfront with his or her beliefs, presuppositions and underlying premises? (I would hope that said professor would understand how such things may affect their approach to other ideas, thoughts and religions besides their own, and strive for an objective position on those points for the benefit of the students).

I guess there is a difference between teaching ABOUT a subject and teaching THE subject.

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