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Charles's avatar

Are you impressed by people with religious degrees from religious institutions?

Asked by Charles (4815points) April 15th, 2012

Are they equivalent to doctorates and Phds in astrology and alchemy? Same goes for ‘biblical scholars’.

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15 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

it sort of depends on the degree. A doctorate in Biblical History is probably more substantial than a doctorate in Christian belief.

A religious institution is not necessarily an indictment of the degrees they grant – Yeshiva University does some fine teaching in all aspects of religion without brainwashing. Same with fine schools like Georgetown and Catholic University. All of those grant theology degrees, but it would be inaccurate to say that those degrees are suspect.

I would have doubts – and frankly, I don’t know whether these are accurate – about a degree from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Would one get a balanced education at the home base of one of the world’s most notorious evangelists?

jca's avatar

Education is always impressive to me.

ragingloli's avatar

About as impressive as poem interpreters or folklorists. Which is, not very, especially when compared to actual scientists, medical doctors and engineers.
Interpretations of religions are as common as there are people on the planet, and contrary to what you might think, a degree in that does not make you an authority in that field.
And yes, I do consider it equivalent to astrology and alchemy.

gasman's avatar

It’s a huge human tragedy to see highly intelligent and scholarly minds – with the potential to do great intellectual work and contribute to advancing our species – wasted on the pursuit of religion & other drivel unworthy of such focus. Not that religion hasn’t inspired a lot of great art and philosophy over the ages – but if people weren’t so delusionally preoccupied with deities, all those works could just as well have been driven by humanist or scientific values instead. One can always hope for a sane and secular future, where people don’t waste their neurons trying to reconcile the bible’s literal value of pi=3.

Seek's avatar


I mean, sure they know stuff, but what’s the practical application? You only need to know so much in order to run the categories on Jeopardy!, and I pretty much have that down without any formal education.

Now, if you want to study biblical history in order to further your archaeological interests, I’ll be much more impressed.

thorninmud's avatar


I read an excellent book, Unlikely Disciple, written by a Brown University journalism student who spent a semester “undercover” at Falwell’s Liberty U. It confirms much of what you’d suspect: institutions like that are little more than places to get a degree without challenging your faith. I suppose students get a bolstered sense of legitimacy along with that diploma, something like: “See, fundamentalism is compatible with education, and I have a degree to prove it”. Meh.

But then I have a friend who is pursuing her MDiv at Harvard Divinity School. No such faith-coddling there, as far as I can see. Very high intellectual standards, no sheltering from ‘dangerous’ ideas, no false comfort. Just a rigorous, no-holds-barred examination of an important dimension of humanity. That’s worthy of some respect. If you emerge from that with some version of faith, I’d say you’ve earned it.

Blackberry's avatar

I’m not even impressed by people with secular degrees. Keep in mind Rick Santorum has multiple degrees. Anyone can get them with time and money.

Brian1946's avatar

I know this dude who became a Dr. of Tongues after getting his PhD at Oral-Genital Roberts university, so how could I not be impressed?

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yeah why not? I got one at the same time as the degree in evolutionary biology. Both turned out to be as much use as each other.

jca's avatar

@Brian1946: I want to meet a Dr. of Tongues!

Seek's avatar

^ Me too. Mrowr.

JLeslie's avatar

No matter what a degree shows committment, acheiving a goal. If someone feel religion in some way will be their career, then of course it makes sense they seek an education in religion, I would think some religions require it.

You say religious degrees from religious institutions. What I am wary of is other degrees from religious institutions. Notre Dame, Boston College, no problem, good schools, respected. Some little Christian college in the middle of nowhere? I think the person has done themselves a disservice if they ever want to move out of the area into a different region of the US. Better to go to a better known and respected university that has a strong and active Christian group on campus.

ratboy's avatar

I’m impressed by anyone with such a degree who holds a job outside of the fast food industry.

Qingu's avatar

I think holding a degree in theology is like being an expert in the science and mechanics of lightsabers and the Force in Star Wars.

Speaking as a religious study major.

I do think it’s important to know about religion. So my analogy is unfair. Religion is much more broadly applicable to human society than Star Wars. But “theology” deals more with the nitty-gritty mechanics of religion than simply studying religion broadly, which is why it seems absurd to me, since those mechanics are bullshit.

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