A friend of mine in Russia asked me whether theology can be considered a science. And I suspect that, lurking behind this question, is the question whether theology should have a place as a discipline or field of study at a modern university. This video is a brief response to the question and related concerns.
In short, if we insist that only something empirically demonstrable is a proper object of knowledge, then we had better be prepared to begin casting aside some of our cherished, everyday beliefs that we take for granted, for example, my belief in the consciousness of other people, or my belief that my spouse loves me, or my belief about what I had for breakfast yesterday. None of this can be demonstrably proved or empirically examined.
If we insist that “hard science” is the only science that counts, then Socrates would have no place in a modern university. He spent his time asking questions like what is morality, what is love, what is happiness, what is the good life?
Indeed, questions like those have been marginalized and the void is filled by hard science. In the modern age, science has been pushed beyond the limits of its method and become the new, unquestioned authority. This privilege, however, is one worth questioning.
If, as a human race, we decide that there is nothing worth knowing that is not tangible, then there should be no place in the university or in learned discourse for theology and a whole host of other topics. And, for that, we would be worse off.