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Thread: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

  1. #21
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    Re: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Napoleon View Post
    Biases don't exist just because a Fox News mouthpiece says they do.

    Looks like the author of that criticism didn't do much research. Aslan has four degrees: BA in Religion from Santa Clara University, Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in sociology and the history of religion from UC Santa Barbara.
    Looks like you didn't actually read the criticism. Aslan claimed in the interview to hold a Ph.D. in History:

    "I am a scholar of religions with four degrees including one in the New Testament . . . I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions . . . I am a professor of religions, including the New Testament–that’s what I do for a living, actually . . . To be clear, I want to emphasize one more time, I am a historian, I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions."

    In fact, Aslan holds NO degrees in history. Religion isn't history (BA), theological studies isn't history (MTS), creative writing isn't history (MFA), and a Ph.D. in Sociology is NOT a Ph.D. in History.

  2. #22
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    Re: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

    Quote Originally Posted by nota bene View Post
    Looks like you didn't actually read the criticism. Aslan claimed in the interview to hold a Ph.D. in History:

    "I am a scholar of religions with four degrees including one in the New Testament . . . I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions . . . I am a professor of religions, including the New Testament–that’s what I do for a living, actually . . . To be clear, I want to emphasize one more time, I am a historian, I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions."

    In fact, Aslan holds NO degrees in history. Religion isn't history (BA), theological studies isn't history (MTS), creative writing isn't history (MFA), and a Ph.D. in Sociology is NOT a Ph.D. in History.
    Read your own quotes, he said history of religions, not history with a focus in religions. His doctorate in sociology focuses in the history of religion. The term "history of religion" cannot be subdivided without changing the meaning.
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    Re: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

    I don't know how to explain more clearly that a doctorate in sociology is not the same as a doctorate in history. Yes, sociologists do study religions, but this does not make them historians, which is what Aslan claims he is. What you could do is go to Google Scholar and see how many publications Aslan has in history journals. Answer: None.

    reza aslan - Google Scholar

    Here is a link that will describe what a sociology degree in the history of religions is about:

    Baylor University || Sociology || Ph.D: Emphasis in Sociology of Religion

    And here is an excerpt from an article at Powerline by Joe Malchow:

    This is a pattern well known to the modern. One dabbles in religion in undergraduate, maybe purchases a pricey Masters at a good school, and then turns to what he always wanted to do in the first place, which is to compose expressive narrative fiction [Aslan is an associate professor of creative writing]. ...One does not gather up a B.A. in religion, an M.F.A., a sociology doctorate, and a masters and set about pronouncing historical fact like an antiquarian archeologist fresh from a dig. Aslan’s doctoral thesis was a 140-page work entitled “Global Jihadism as a Transnational Social Movement: A Theoretical Framework.” The phrase “A Theoretical Framework” translates to “Not History.”

    My best read of Reza Aslan is that he wanted to write novels roughly along the lines of the screenplay of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but fell into the degree-collecting trap while on his way, and that final veer from serious scholarship–the M.F.A. at modern novelist factory Iowa followed by sociology in sun-drunk Santa Barbara–left poor Aslan without any sense of direction at all. He looked back upon all that time in academe and concluded rightly that he, as have so many of us, chose poorly; he started to make an orthogonal shift into serious studies. But that is the sort of thing one does very gingerly, very delicately. Which makes his pulling rank on Fox News really very amusing. This is the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Reza Aslan | Power Line

  4. #24
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    Re: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

    Quote Originally Posted by nota bene View Post
    I don't know how to explain more clearly that a doctorate in sociology is not the same as a doctorate in history. Yes, sociologists do study religions, but this does not make them historians, which is what Aslan claims he is.
    He said he is a scholar in the history of religions. That is indivisible, Once you remove the "of religions" portion, you entirely change what Aslan was saying. Again, read your own quotes, he works in the history of religions.

    I don't know why you see Aslan say "history" and take it to mean that he claims to be anything but a historian of religions. To any objective observer, it is ridiculously obvious that Aslan holds he is a scholar in the history of religions. Not history. History of religions. I can't stress this enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by nota bene View Post
    What you could do is go to Google Scholar and see how many publications Aslan has in history journals. Answer: None.reza aslan - Google Scholar
    History of religions

    Quote Originally Posted by nota bene View Post
    Here is a link that will describe what a sociology degree in the history of religions is about:

    Baylor University || Sociology || Ph.D: Emphasis in Sociology of Religion

    And here is an excerpt from an article at Powerline by Joe Malchow:

    This is a pattern well known to the modern. One dabbles in religion in undergraduate, maybe purchases a pricey Masters at a good school, and then turns to what he always wanted to do in the first place, which is to compose expressive narrative fiction [Aslan is an associate professor of creative writing]. ...One does not gather up a B.A. in religion, an M.F.A., a sociology doctorate, and a masters and set about pronouncing historical fact like an antiquarian archeologist fresh from a dig. Aslan’s doctoral thesis was a 140-page work entitled “Global Jihadism as a Transnational Social Movement: A Theoretical Framework.” The phrase “A Theoretical Framework” translates to “Not History.”

    My best read of Reza Aslan is that he wanted to write novels roughly along the lines of the screenplay of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but fell into the degree-collecting trap while on his way, and that final veer from serious scholarship–the M.F.A. at modern novelist factory Iowa followed by sociology in sun-drunk Santa Barbara–left poor Aslan without any sense of direction at all. He looked back upon all that time in academe and concluded rightly that he, as have so many of us, chose poorly; he started to make an orthogonal shift into serious studies. But that is the sort of thing one does very gingerly, very delicately. Which makes his pulling rank on Fox News really very amusing. This is the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Reza Aslan | Power Line
    That's a wonderful opinion piece. It doesn't do much to show how Aslan is any less qualified to talk about the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth, nor does it say how
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  5. #25
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    Re: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

    In principal, no of course not. In practice, when it comes to the historical evidence that clearly disproves a person's religion despite their emotional attachment to it, yeah it tends to work out that way.
    Liberté. Égalité. Fraternité.

  6. #26
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    Re: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

    It can, it depends on why someone is delving into history. People will want to believe whatever supports their ideas. Atheists do this too, not just the religious. Remember when Zeitgeist and the Jesus/Horus/Mithra stuff was popular among anti-Christian bloggers? There will be Christians that want to attribute stuff that would seemingly support the Bible, Muslims may do so in regards to the Koran, and atheists may do so in an attempt to discredit or disprove a faith. Being a religious person or an atheist doesn't mean someone will not have an objective view on history, but it can contribute to them being selective with facts or believing lies/inaccurate info.

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    Re: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

    Well, when historians read creative writing prof Aslan's new book, their opinions will surely be both interesting and valuable.

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    Re: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

    Quote Originally Posted by nota bene View Post
    Well, when historians read creative writing prof Aslan's new book, their opinions will surely be both interesting and valuable.
    *Dr. Aslan

    Look, if you think he's not qualified to make the claims, despite him having a Ph.D in Sociology with a focus in the history of religion, bring up a claim that you think is wrong and argue that he's wrong.

    No one is going to agree that he claimed he was qualified as a history teacher when he said "history of religions"
    Veni. Vidi. Vici.
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    The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself.
    -Franklin Delano Roosevelt

  9. #29
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    Re: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

    It’s what Dr. Aslan claims about himself in the “cringe-inducing” Lauren Green interview that is at issue, at least for me. I haven’t read his new book and don’t plan to. But I did suffer through the entire Green interview and heard for myself Aslan’s claims. About these, Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington Post wrote yesterday:

    [Aslan]…still seems to be calibrating his identity in small but telling ways. Even as he has achieved phenomenal success as the author of well-crafted religious history books that appeal to a mass audience, he’s eager — perhaps overeager — to present himself as a formidable academic with special bona fides in religion and history.

    The boy who posed as something that he was not has become the man who boasts of academic laurels he does not have. Aslan, 41, has variously claimed to hold a doctorate in “the history of religions” or a doctorate in “the sociology of religions,” though no such degrees exist at the university he attended. His doctorate is in sociology, according to the registrar’s office at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

    Reza Aslan: A Jesus scholar who’s hard to pin down - The Washington Post

    As I’ve said, Aslan is an associate professor of creative writing. The WaPo article claims, “He has asserted a present-day toehold in the field of religion by saying he is “a cooperative faculty member” in Riverside’s Department of Religious Studies.” This is apparently untrue. Vivian-Lee Nyitray, the just-retired chair of the department, “says she discussed the possibility last year with Aslan but that he has not been invited to become a cooperative faculty member, a status that would allow him to chair dissertations in her former department.”

    Aslan himself refers questions back to his grad advisor, Mark Juergensmeyer (UC Santa Barbara):

    “We don’t have a degree in sociology of religions, as such,” Juergensmeyer acknowledges. But he says he doesn’t have a problem with Aslan’s characterization of his doctorate, noting that his former student did most of his course work in religion.

    Juergensmeyer helped arrange the shift of Aslan’s doctoral dissertation on Jihadism from the religious studies department to sociology. Juergensmeyer says the shift was undertaken to get Aslan out of time-consuming required language courses; Aslan says he moved to another department because religious studies professors were jealous about the 2005 publication of his best-selling book No God, but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. Juergensmeyer did not recall resentment among professors being a factor.

    Reza Aslan: A Jesus scholar who’s hard to pin down - The Washington Post

    I agree with the Yale religious studies professor who reviewed Zealot and who praises Aslan’s writing talent, Dale Martin, that Aslan just “overplayed his hand” but that “The record needs to be corrected. Both about his credential and his thesis.”

  10. #30
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    Re: Does Religious Background Preclude Historical Objectivity?

    I do not think than any man , writing anything, is free from influences.
    Human nature - this can be controlled only to an extent.
    I think that if the man is a writer first and a believer second, then the results should be good.
    But, the writer has to know himself and be honest.

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