In the discussion thread to “Another pale blue dot” Honest John Law quoted Lawrence Krauss making the following declaration:
“I’ve challenged theologians to give me a single example of a contribution to human knowledge that theology has provided in the last 500 years”.
Presumably no theologian has succeeded in satisfying Krauss that the demand has been met.
I suspect that this asinine comment is generated by two tacit assumptions. First, he assumes that the subject matter of theology is false. Of course if you believe, for example, that Christianity is false, then you can challenge Christian theologians to demonstrate what contribution they’ve made to human knowledge. Since you believe it’s all false, the answer, of course, is none.
(However, things are a bit more complex than that. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Christianity is false and Islam is true. It could still be the case that there is sufficient conceptual overlap in Christian and Muslim conceptions of God that Christian theologians make genuine advances in knowledge of the divine nature, despite their adherence to additional erroneous conceptions.)
Second, he assumes that for theology to demonstrate otherwise, it must conform to the methods that Krauss himself uses as a scientist. I have heard this kind of stuff often enough to know that “human knowledge” is taken as roughly approximate to “scientific and technological understanding”. Thus, I am quite sure, for example, that Krauss would have little patience with the advances of philosophical theology.
So yeah, if one tacitly assumes atheism and scientism then theologians haven’t made any contributions to human knowledge in the last five hundred years. Heck, why stop at five hunred? Go back five thousand years and the story is the same.
If you’re going to make statements like this, why not make them more interesting with a dollar value attached? Perhaps this:
I’ve challenged theologians that if they can demonstrate a single contribution to human knowledge ever made courtesy of theology that I’ll give ’em a million bucks, tattoo “Theoloy rocks” on my forehead, dye my hair pink, and join Justin Beiber’s fan club. Fortunately they couldn’t deliver!