Harvard's Curriculum and the Study of Religion

By Tim Butler | Posted at 7:40 PM

An interesting piece from Newsweek.

Enough people agreed with him. In December the task force withdrew its “Reason & Faith” recommendation, substituting instead a category called “What It Means to Be a Human Being.” On the phone, Louis Menand, the English professor who cochaired the task force, sounds exhausted. “It's noncontroversial that there is this thing called religion out there and that it has an enormous impact on the world we live in. Scholars should be able to study and teach it without getting cooties”—a term of art, not science.

It's rather interesting — and disturbing — that scientists have become so anti-religious that they do not understand the academic reasonability of studying religion. Studying religion does not mean forced conversion of students. What are they scared of? Maybe they are afraid that the truth will set students free.

The problem with studying religion, if one is anti-religious, is that it shows that faith is not set against reason. It may be beyond reason (the crisis point of faith), but the system ultimately is reasonable. If students see that theology is “faith seeking understanding” (Fides Quaerens Intellectum), as Anselm so appropriately put it, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps students would — gasp! — decide that a thinking person could believe in God!

(Found via Dr. Sean Michael Lucas's blog; I have not yet met Dr. Lucas but will be taking a course from him this semester.)


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