Sorry if I missed this, but I just read back over your posts and I don't see you making this point anywhere. I have no problem admitting that I don't know the difference. Now I know that there is one, but I don't know what it is, because your posts, as much as I love them, are much better at telling people that there's something wrong with their argument than they are at telling them what exactly it is that is wrong. I think this is a perfect example. I got nothing from it except the knowledge that I'm being inaccurate. It's just not that constructive.
What's shockingly lazy is the fact that you'll disagree with something someone says and then essentially just say, "ummm no" and leave it at that.
you're right. you've accused me of this before and evidently i've not become any better at explaining myself coherently. that'll have to be a new year's resolution. for whatever it's worth, i keep things short because i don't want to be patronising or sound like a broken record, not because i want to be all cryptic and mysterious. also because i'm lazy.
the academic study of religions (the 's' on the end is important because to speak of religion in the singular implies a sort of essence which is universally shared by all religions, and that's not something which can be taken for granted) is the attempt to study 'religions'—whatever those might be—in an objective (lol), scientific way. it draws on lots of other disciplines (history, sociology, psychology, anthropology and so on). theology has many definitions, and academic theology is one approach to the study of religions, but it's generally practiced by a 'member' of a particular religion (i'm sure you can see the potential conflict of interest here). more broadly it includes things like sunday school, interpreting texts, talking about god.
Who are these scholars?
well there are lots of them. if you want an exhaustive list i can pm you. these are people whose work i'm reasonably familiar with, most of whom i like very much: talal asad, steve bruce, peter glasner, rodney stark, roger finke, ian reader, edward said, jonathan z smith, russell mccutcheon, toshio kuroda, robert campany.
none of these guys are really theologians. some of them are specialists in certain areas or traditions. the first five have all written about secularisation, which is a really interesting topic. steve bruce, for example, is one of the few scholars who still believes that god is dead and that religion will eventually disappear. i don't really keep up with contemporary theology, so sorry. also worth noting is the lack of women in this list. feminists have contributed a lot to the study of religions, but i haven't read enough in that area. that'll change. one thing i think they all have in common is that they wouldn't be very pleased with language like this:
the vast majority of people who are religious...a lot of people..."most" religious folks...your average everyday religious believer...the "common" religious person
i'm assuming you'd agree with this. we were only discussing the problem like a week ago in the sports thread.
I guess my point is that the "new-atheists" (e.g., Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris) write from a position of ignorance of almost all philosophical thought post-Enlightenment (or, if they are not ignorant of it, then they hide their awareness quite well). Their books read like intellectual junk food, to me. By that, I mean that the books are fun to read, but I feel that they aren't convincing anybody who isn't already convinced.
This is quite scathing and I think it's a very valid point.
yes, davo hit the nail on the head.