Scholars plus Losing Faith?

This is a cover page under which are separate pages for Scholars. The links below are to papers/articles about scholars or interviews with more than one scholar. This is a work in progress as interesting materials are found that I will want to reconsider.

Losing Faith: Who Did and Who Didn’t – How Scholarship Affects Scholars

Several media stories recently reported that Bart Ehrman, a leading expert on the apocryphal gospels and one of BAS’s most popular lecturers, had lost his faith as a result of his scholarly research. This raised a question for us that is not often talked about, but seemed well worth a discussion: What effect does scholarship have on faith? We asked Bart to join three other scholars to talk about this: James F. Strange, a leading archaeologist and Baptist minister; Lawrence H. Schiffman, a prominent Dead Sea Scroll scholar and Orthodox Jew; and William G. Dever, one of America’s best-known and most widely quoted archaeologists, who had been an evangelical preacher, then lost his faith, then became a Reform Jew and now says he’s a non-believer. The discussion took place in the offices of the Biblical Archaeology Society on November 19, 2006…

Above & Below Extracted from

Has your scholarship deepened your faith? Or has it caused you to question it? Jim Strange’s answers are extracted below.

Strange: I just don’t see the connection. My faith is not based upon anything like a propositional argument. When I indulge myself in all this scientific research and explication, I’m not doing anything about faith.
Strange: My faith is based on my own experience—a good old Protestant principle.
Strange: I love the existentialist philosophers. I love to read them, not because they’re giving me any testable facts. It’s because it’s like reading a really good poet. It does something to you that propositional truth never does.

Strange: Propositional truth is like: There is a loving God that intervenes upon the earth. That’s a proposition. It’s testable or it’s not. If it’s not testable, then you can’t falsify it; you can’t know if it’s true or not. If it really is testable, then the way you test it is to start checking out a list of experiences people have—and suffering is a prime one human beings have in common. So you end up saying, I’ve tested the hypothesis and it is now wanting. Suffering tends to disconfirm the hypothesis.

Shanks: You say your faith is not based on this proposition?
Strange: That’s correct.
Shanks: What is it based on?
Strange: Based on my own experience with God. For a lot of people, this makes me sort of a mystic in a cave or something. But I think it’s eminently practical and out there.I think that there’s as much reason to see the face of God in someone like William Dever.
Dever: Hold on. [Laughter]

Shanks: Does this God of yours have any attributes?
Strange: I suppose so, but I’m not really much interested. If I’m passionately in love, I hardly ever want to discuss the attributes of the person I’m in love with. Or if I do, I wind up saying superfluous things for everybody listening. “She’s wonderful.” “Can you give me some more information?” “Yeah, she’s
really wonderful.” [Laughs] When you’re in this state, you don’t utter propositions.

Shanks: Would you say that your scholarship, then, has had really no effect on your faith?
Strange: Virtually none. I mean I have a wonderful intellectual time with my scholarship.I get the same existentialist thrill out of touching the dirt when I’m excavating as I do holding my wife’s hand.
Shanks: You love the earth that you’re excavating really?
Strange: Yes.
Shanks: Does that have anything to do with your faith?
Strange: It has something to do with the center of my being. But I don’t know how to express that like a philosopher. I have a B.A. in philosophy, which doesn’t make me much of a philosopher. I grew up in east Texas, where the choices were you believed in the Bible literally or you didn’t believe in the Bible literally. That was it. I didn’t. So it’s my own experience with God that tipped me over on the other side. My best analogy is falling in love.