Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Cautionary Ideas for the Academic Year

With the start of the new academic year this week at Sydney University, hebel will be publishing some quotes over the coming days about the current state of academia and the place of Christians within it. To start us off is a question Timothy Dalrymple posed historian Mark Noll in a recent interview. Noll's answer will be published soon.
In Between Faith and Criticism, you say, "a history of evangelical biblical scholarship must heed both the professional community in which scholars willingly adopt a mien of intellectual neutrality, and the community of belief, in which the same scholars embrace a childlike faith."

In my own graduate education, I sometimes heard believing professors and historians say that, "As a historian I believe X, because I am required to operate according to a certain methodology. But as an individual believer, I believe Y." The question is: Is that a stable arrangement? Over the long haul, the more that one practices a methodological naturalism, or something of that sort, will one eventually come not only to practice naturalism as a methodological matter but to accept it as a metaphysical matter? Is it practical to bifurcate ourselves as scholars into one part that draws conclusions according to rigorous methodological criteria and another part that confesses a different set of beliefs?
Thoughts? h/t Caitlin

1 comment:

NeilFoster said...

Hey Matthew, interesting quote. I disagree with the concept that one can operate one way in the "academic" sphere and another way as a believer. As a law academic I read and interpret documents, as a Christian I do the same, and I use the same skills and principles in doing both. Of course when I teach law at Uni I don't assume students share my beliefs about the meaning of life and the importance of the gospel. But occasionally I manage to point out that the history of legal concepts can often be traced back to ideas in the Bible that were the shared heritage of Western thought for many years.