I’m reading lots of sophisticated theology, so you’ll have to suffer along with me. It’s no surprise that many theologians—and religious people—argue that despite the fact that their religions make claims about empirical truth, they can’t be tested or falsified. That’s because they have been falsified, repeatedly, and by adopting the “no more testing” stance, the faithful have immunized their beliefs against both scrutiny and rejection.
One such theologian is an eminent scholar who was here at The University of Chicago: Langdon Gilkey (1919-2004). Famous for his beard, beads, scarf, and earring, he took them off (and shaved) only once: when he testified for the plaintiffs in the Arkansas creationist trial of McLean v. Arkansas. In that famous trial, Judge Overton handed down his eloquent decision banning the teaching of “scientific creationism” in the state’s public schools.
By all accounts Gilkey was a terrific teacher (specializing in the work…
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