Saturday, February 2, 2008


Claims, or doctrines, such as Papal Infallibility are prime examples of Dogmatic Theological Methods - or circular thinking. They are self-authorizing and self-asserting “proofs”, and therefore cannot be challenged or questioned.

Biblical Inerrency is another good example of this. What becomes interesting is that the more Problematic Theology evolves, the more epicyclic Dogmatic Theology grows in response.

Its all about paradigms, isn't it? Maybe it would be better to refer to the two as Ptolemaic Christians and Copernican Christians. It is only the Ptolemaic Christian that makes use of “Epicycles”. Actually, these terms apply far beyond just Christians.

I like the word “epicycle” because it reminds me of the epicycles needed to add to the Ptolemaic view of the universe to accurately maintain the earth as it's center.

The paths of the planets and the sun and the stars were all to orbit around the earth. But as the planet's and sun's paths became better known, they didn't match this Ptolemaic view. So to resolve this discrepancy, epicycles were added – a series of smaller orbits, revolving with their centers on their original larger circle, or orbit. If the planet could be imagined moving on one of these smaller circles, while still following its original orbit, the actual path more complex and significantly closer to what was empirically observed.

These additions of epicycles allowed this view, this paradigm, to maintain its core belief that the earth was indeed in the center. However, adding epicycle upon epicycle upon epicycle in an attempt to 'tweek' the system to match the evidence became increasingly contrived and encumbered.

It would be like two computers talking with one another and deciding to explore the question of how Artificial Computer Intelligence came to be, but, before starting this discussion agreeing that the answer simply could not be a human being.

The same may be said of a group of atheistic scientists attempting to discover the origins of life, but agreeing on the onset that the answer absolutely cannot be supernatural or God. (One of the reasons why I hold so much respect and admiration for Stephen Hawking. He is definitely a Copernican thinker), even if the evidence leads in that direction.

...maybe this is an all too intellectual way of attempting to describe what Problematic Theology, or a Copernican Christian is. Sometimes I've found that satire - comedy - humour is another effective way. The following comic strip particularly jumped out at me. (Especially when we understand "bullshit" more along the lines of what Harry Frankfurt means in his piece On Bullshit)

I suppose what is important is that we take an honest look at ourselves, at our beliefs, at our "theologies", and being willing to ask the question some of these questions...

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