Theology for atheists? Watch

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#1
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Hi, my first post!

I'm musing over doing a joint degree in philosophy plus rs/theology. But, I'm wondering whether theology is rewarding for those who don't accept many of its premises...

Are there any non-believing theologians out there who can tell me what they get out of theology? My motive to study religion is a fascination with the whole phenomenon and also with how real people relate to the sort of 'ultimate' issues raised by philosophy. I think I'd be willing and motivated to go more in-depth into Christianity at degree level if this gives me the necessary skills for understanding and studying religion generally. But is any theology degree so objective? I'm incredulous of the idea of the Bible being divinely inspired, for example. Has anyone enjoyed a theology degree despite this? Or has Bible study been frustrating?

Additionally, can anyone tell me if studying Christian history and ancient texts has changed the way they look at things in day to day life? I worry that compared to subjects like sciences or psychology, poring through ancient text would feel like a dead end of a subject to learn about. Let's be blunt... what's it like to study theology?

Thanks all

p.s. Courses, I'm looking at oxford, durham, edinburgh, king's, heythrop, nottingham...
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OllyThePhilosopher
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Theology is the study of God but it also includes what you do with your belief. For example, you can study the concepts of a just war and the problem of evil. These, in your case, would be a hypothetical situation ('if you believed in god...') and may not be a problem.
With regards to religious texts, you will probably compare the foundations of Christianity to the works of Plato etc. which is very interesting and will probably change the way you see religion at least.
I must warn you though, I'm not a theology student.
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Noémie
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i think it's easier to do theology as an athiest.
perhaps i'm wrong.
i know devout jews taking theology, they're happy about it.
no course can be reall yobjective but the point is that the people teaching you knwo how to teach the facts without trying to convert you. mostly the teachers will not be devout themselves.
heythrop, where i'd love to go if they did my course, is taught by priests but i was there last week and a jesuit/catholic priest was fine with my tellign him Catholicism was silly.
you need to remember that teachers have taught for years and have been researching for years and they cannot teach theology trying to convert you. it just doesn't happen.


and take a look at manchester and kcl. the religion in the contemporary world course at kcl may be up your street.
at many places there are religion philosophy and ethics courses which sounds very appropriate too - there's one at kcl, there's one at gloucestershire.

but i dont do theology at uni so :P
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lozibella
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the religion philosophy and ethics course looks really interesting. If you do philosophy and ethics at Alevel Id take a look at it as its quite simular but on a different level. Unfortunatly only four unis do it in the UK, two are based in London, Kings College London Heythrop College so if you dont like the idea of London theres only two choices. Gloustershire (but the course is based in Cheltenham) and Lancaster. The entry requirements for the course is 280 -240 at most of the unis bar KCL where is ABB- BBB.
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~ Purple Rose ~
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I did Theology and I'm not religious.
I did feel disadvantaged at times because people on the course who were religious knew the Bible for example, whereas I didn't, which meant I had to do more reading, but it didn't cause major problems.
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philjw
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Hi,

I'm a Christian studying Theology at Nottingham University. As Noémie has said, lecturers don't expect you to agree with everything they believe. As a Christian who identifies with the Reformed theological tradition, I have differences of opinion with other Christian theology lecturers on numerous issues, but it doesn't stop me getting firsts or getting on personally with those lecturers. About a third of the theology students I know would be either agnostic, atheist, or undecided, and there doesn't seem to be that much of a difference between how well they enjoy the course.

I would say, however, that anyone studying theology will have their ideas and beliefs challenged (in a good way!) and will have to engage with ideas that make them uncomfortable (whether you ultimately end up agreeing with them or not). Studying the Bible, in particular, is both challenging and rewarding. I know as an atheist you won't agree (yet), but it is precisely because the Bible is the Word of God that it challenges our perspectives and ideas - Christian theologians find themselves constantly rebuked, corrected and trained by study of the Bible so I can imagine it might be even more exciting, uncomfortable and (potentially) rewarding for a non-Christian student.
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