Theology as an Empirical Science

Theology as an Empirical Science

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Theology as an Empirical Science

Theology as an Empirical Science

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Excerpt

Theology, in its days of undisputed supremacy, was defined as the science of God. Of late, under the stress of much hostile criticism, there has been a strategic retreat, and the definitions generally favored are modest statements to the effect that theology is the intellectual expression of religion. The general situation, however, has come to be such as calls for a counterattack, having as its objective the recovery of a scientific status for theology, and a much stronger and more secure consolidation of this scientific position than originally existed.

But, of course, this counter-attack must begin from where theology now is. Whatever else it may have a right to be or the power to become, theology is the intellectual expression of religion. And by religion what is meant here more particularly is what may be called experimental religion. There is a broad sense in which the term "religion" may be used, as meaning conscious relation to the divine, the term "divine" standing for either ideal value or supreme reality. Devotion to the divine, i. e., to values worth living for and on occasion worth dying for, may be called fundamental religion. Experimental religion will then be an appropriate term for dependence upon the divine, i. e., upon a supreme or at least higher power, regarded as capable of responding in some way to this attitude of dependence. A conceivable harmony of fundamental and experimental religion is involved in the two-fold fact that on the one hand while in fundamental religion the religious object must be regarded as ideal, it may also be believed to be real, and on the other hand while in experimental religion the re-

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