Author Topic: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)  (Read 5827 times)

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Offline Hermes

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[Title of this thread changed to draw in more theists ... please read the following.]

Every year, in almost any discipline, there is an expectation of new knowledge and progress.  Change is expected and encouraged.

In business there are think tanks and professional groups that develop new methods of managing projects and people.  Accountants work on new methods of improving their fields.  Even plumbers have innovations in tools and practices that change that field every year.

All of this work -- and the work of countless other disciplined professionals from white and blue collar disciplines -- are expected from those who work in those fields as well as those who benefit from the work of those fields.  As time marches on, the consensus of what is the best way to do things changes ... but it is a consensus.

Yet, I see no innovations from the theologians or other religious professionals.  No new knowledge.  No new practices.  The only consensus is based on dogmas of a specific sect -- dogmas that don't span from a Baptist to a Buddhist, a Hindu living deity to an Imam.

Maybe I'm mistaken. 

So, here's the question to anyone out there, especially the theists;

What new knowledge
have religious professionals
brought to the world
in the last 50 100 years?

So, what do you say?

Is there any innovation ... any knowledge ... being found or created by religious scholars that leads to a consensus among all or even most religious scholars?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2008, 07:25:29 AM by Hermes »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline velkyn

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2008, 04:16:24 PM »
really good question, hermes.  I'm curious to see if anyone has an answer.  I can't think of any examples at all.

except maybe whacking off one's cojones and covering oneself in a purple triangle really doesn't get you to a spaceship.   ;D
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2008, 04:49:35 PM »
really good question, hermes.  I'm curious to see if anyone has an answer.  I can't think of any examples at all.

except maybe whacking off one's cojones and covering oneself in a purple triangle really doesn't get you to a spaceship.   ;D

Can you imagine that as a staff meeting?

[45 minutes into the meeting ... Bob raises his hand]

Bob: "So, I'm supposed to chop off my man-bits and then wear that purple thing?"

Sam: "You misunderstand.  The sinful earth bound vessels can not be brought into the other realm.  The only way is the true way; the way of The Cloth."

Bob: "What?"

Sam: "Go see John.  He's in the other room.  He can help you."

Bob: "OK."   [Bob goes off whistling to find John.]

[2 minutes later we hear Bob screaming]
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Pale Rider

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2008, 04:52:11 PM »
They have learned how to scam people for money on TV.

Offline Hermes

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2008, 04:54:55 PM »
They have learned how to scam people for money on TV.

Hmmmm... [thinks about it for a bit]
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline bahramthered

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2008, 05:49:07 PM »
Warping new sceinces to show some sort of proof of their faifth.

Decrying new sceinces as against their god.

Offline Hermes

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2008, 07:08:48 PM »
Yeah, I guess I'm going to get nothing from the theists.  Their professionals don't innovate or produce anything ... just divide, berate, recruit, and subjugate.

If I'm mistaken ... I'm open to being shown where there is something that is produced.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Pale Rider

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2008, 07:12:03 PM »
Hermes they have produced some great scandals the last 50 years:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_evangelist_scandals

Offline Atheist_Convert

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2008, 07:15:33 PM »
You're purposely ignoring the scientific field of Intelligent Design.

Do you know the watchmaker? Have you ever looked closely at a banana?

Offline JII

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2008, 07:37:49 PM »
...the scientific field of Intelligent Design.

Do you know the watchmaker? Have you ever looked closely at a banana?

Yes indeed. They're shaped very much like the human penis in the erection state. What about 'em?

Offline Hermes

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2008, 07:38:21 PM »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline GotMooo

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2008, 08:06:32 PM »
* Jimmy Swaggart came up with the God that forgets.  Quite Popular.   ;D
* Mega Church Entertainment Centers!
* The Catholic Church is accepting Evolution to some degree.

Sorry Hermes... I really don't know!

Offline Hermes

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2008, 08:22:24 PM »
I'll throw in Scientologists and the whole e-meter BS.  Making a device to support a new myth is innovative, but the devices themselves are modern only because of the plastic case and the batteries.  The guts of meter consists of a few wires and (if I remember right) a transistor or two hooked up to a needle for output.

So far, I'd say that the question is a washout.  A few techniques mostly for subsets of specific sects, but nothing new that isn't linked to dogmas or promotion/marketing.  No new knowledge.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline I KILLED JEBUS

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2008, 08:42:03 PM »
if god or even satan would show their pansie asses there would be no need for scholars to do anything

Seeing as they both have done S.F.A. in what 1999 years
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Offline Deus ex Machina

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2008, 06:59:08 AM »
I think Theology's bases are pretty much covered nowadays by Philosophy, Cosmology, Biology, Psychology and Sociology. It's dead in the same way that Alchemy is dead.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2008, 07:01:52 AM by Deus ex Machina »
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2008, 07:17:06 AM »
I think Theology's bases are pretty much covered nowadays by Philosophy, Cosmology, Biology, Psychology and Sociology. It's dead in the same way that Alchemy is dead.

Yet, theists keep saying there is something there and that atheists are throwing the baby out with the bath water.

I'm willing to grant that describing phenomena using the current sciences (Psychology, Biology, Sociology) doesn't necessarily cover the whole ball of wax known as religion.

Yet, no theists have stepped forward with positive support for new knowledge.  So, if there is any evidence out there to say that theology or other serious efforts by religious professionals can bear fruit it is beyond what even the theists who come here know.   They are going with ignorance not an honest search for knowledge.

More likely, though, you are right; theology is dead and has been just like alchemy or (more appropriately) astrology.  Astrology has followers who make up stuff and are serious about it just like religious book writers and priests, while I can't remember anyone who is serious about practising alchemy.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2008, 07:19:16 AM »
Changing the title of this thread to make it more contentious.

Maybe some Christians or other theists will see this and actually come up with something beyond the current defining silence?
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline alwight

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2008, 07:36:21 AM »
But haven’t they got this institute set up purely for discovery, look it’s got a proper web site and everything, they must have discovered something?
 http://www.discovery.org/

Quote
Founded in 1990, the Institute is a national, non-profit, non-partisan policy and research organization, headquartered in Seattle, WA. It has programs on a variety of issues, including regional transportation development, economics and technology policy, legal reform, and bioethics.


Oh silly me I thought they were creationists but it turns out that they claim to be “non-partisan”, still can’t find what they’ve discovered though if you don’t count apologetics.
I would amputate both legs before I would walk away from God.

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2008, 07:40:12 AM »
It's a typo.  They are non-Pastafarians
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline cruguru

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2008, 10:05:31 AM »
Off the top of my head (okay, I also poked around on wikipedia a bit...) some innovations of religious thought include process theology, open theism, Teilhard's noosphere, the emergent church and new atheism.

However, I'm not sure that your query is really useful.  I think of theology as more like art or music than physics or biology.  I mean, I don't think there have been any new colors or notes 'discovered' in the last 100 years, but there have certainly been innovations in art and music (see movies and jazz).  So asking what new knowledge theology has produced is a bit of a non sequitur.

Offline Ashe

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2008, 10:44:33 AM »
Bookmark.
2 miles!
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2008, 12:22:46 PM »
Off the top of my head (okay, I also poked around on wikipedia a bit...) some innovations of religious thought include process theology, open theism, Teilhard's noosphere, the emergent church and new atheism.

So, these are things that religious people in general have adopted?  Kinda like "Best Practices" in business?

If so, if you can point to an indication of that kind of support I'd appreciate it.

If not, then I'm really looking for something different.

However, I'm not sure that your query is really useful.  I think of theology as more like art or music than physics or biology.  I mean, I don't think there have been any new colors or notes 'discovered' in the last 100 years, but there have certainly been innovations in art and music (see movies and jazz).  So asking what new knowledge theology has produced is a bit of a non sequitur.

Important: I did not mention sciences on any level.  This was intentional as science is irrelevant for the point of the question being asked.  I'm talking about knowledge within disciplines.  That's why I mentioned plumbers and accountants and managers -- but not chemists.

Besides, with the possible exception of John Cage, even artists have deliverables as well as methods that they share and adopt.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline cruguru

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2008, 01:05:49 PM »
Quote
So, these are things that religious people in general have adopted?  Kinda like "Best Practices" in business?

If so, if you can point to an indication of that kind of support I'd appreciate it.

If not, then I'm really looking for something different.

One problem with your request is that you can't really treat religious people as a monolithic group.  They have wildly different beliefs and different goals.  For example, the Southern Baptist Convention is quite concerned with 'hot button' issues and has done a fantastic job of driving those issues to the forefront of US politics.  Meanwhile, the Latter Day Saints have added the practice of post-humous baptism, which allows them to save souls after you're dead.  Less inward focused, you have the non-violent movements in India led by Gandhi, eventually influencing MLK.  I'm sure you'd find a lot of the goals and concerns of many (if not all) religious groups to be silly, but they have found ways of achieving those goals.

(To see why this is a bit of an odd question, invert it.  What things have non-religious people in general adopted?)

Quote
Important: I did not mention sciences on any level.  This was intentional as science is irrelevant for the point of the question being asked.  I'm talking about knowledge within disciplines.  That's why I mentioned plumbers and accountants and managers -- but not chemists.

Besides, with the possible exception of John Cage, even artists have deliverables as well as methods that they share and adopt.

(I have to be honest, I first thought you were talking about that character from mortal kombat)

In terms of disciplines, seminaries across the US teach how to be an effective speaker, how to structure your thoughts in a sermon, best ways to interpret pieces of scripture, etc.  They also teach pastors how to counsel, manage and connect with their congregations.  All of the pastors at my previous churches had a minimum of a Masters degree and had studied quite a bit of history and philosophy, as well as Hebrew and Greek. 

So within denominations, you have standards and best practices.  I think it's easier for other professions to set national or international standards because they can be regulated by governments.  Plumbers have to meet county or state codes, accountants have to be certified (and managers, well, let's leave that one alone for now).  Churches are basically only accountable to themselves or their denomination.

Offline Samantha

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Re: Theology: Innovative, Knowledgeable, or Dead?
« Reply #23 on: December 04, 2008, 04:31:15 PM »
Warping new sceinces to show some sort of proof of their faifth.

Decrying new sceinces as against their god.
Been watching this site for some time wish you'd learn how to use the spellcheck, just a thought.

Offline Samantha

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2008, 04:34:34 PM »
I don't know how there can be anything "new" to come up with Hermes when the whole belief system is based on the old, the Bible.
If someone is not willing to accept it as is there is nothing new.

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #25 on: December 04, 2008, 06:17:14 PM »
Quote
So, these are things that religious people in general have adopted?  Kinda like "Best Practices" in business?

If so, if you can point to an indication of that kind of support I'd appreciate it.

If not, then I'm really looking for something different.

One problem with your request is that you can't really treat religious people as a monolithic group.  They have wildly different beliefs and different goals.

The US Department of Defense and a state (not national) welfare department only have a few things in common.  The main one is that they are part of some government.

Yet, I can guarantee that both of them follow similar management standards and quality controls at the base level.  The main differences show up in narrow projects and often are based on other concerns unique to the organizations.  Why?  Because I've dealt with both groups and read the contracts.

So, I'm not interested in what they can't share -- that's a given -- but what they do share.  There should be substantial overlap if they are developing knowledge bases or practices that mean anything.

Institutional standards and growth in knowledge are the main indications that separate the professionals from the amateurs -- if they are plumbing pipes or launching payloads into space.

For example, the Southern Baptist Convention is quite concerned with 'hot button' issues and has done a fantastic job of driving those issues to the forefront of US politics.  Meanwhile, the Latter Day Saints have added the practice of post-humous baptism, which allows them to save souls after you're dead.  Less inward focused, you have the non-violent movements in India led by Gandhi, eventually influencing MLK.  I'm sure you'd find a lot of the goals and concerns of many (if not all) religious groups to be silly, but they have found ways of achieving those goals.

Those limited institutional goals, often one-off and episodic.  They don't develop standards or gain general knowledge. 

For example, I'm not asking about the equivalent of the plumbing contractor's efforts to do something innovative for one customer's hotel chain.  I'm interested in what that plumbing contractor either learns from an industry group to manage and improve all jobs, or what they have done to improve the knowledge and practices of the plumbing industry.

(To see why this is a bit of an odd question, invert it.  What things have non-religious people in general adopted?)

I'm puzzled why you think this is a strange question.  Have you ever dealt with institutional knowledge and standards?  Have you ever been trained to make sure you follow those standards to be licenced or to practice your career?  Have you ever proposed standards and seen them adopted? 

If you aren't in a career (white or blue collar) that makes these issues explicit, then that would make some sense.  Yet, I can't think of anything -- including fast food chains -- that aren't highly systematized or constantly adapting to new changes as they learn what to do and how to do it better.

For example, I've taken courses on CMM and CMMI and have implemented each at different times across multiple projects.  If I were authorized, I could tell you the names of the projects and what CMM or CMMI levels each achieved and exactly what steps were being performed to reach higher levels and why.    What's CMMI?   Do a search.  I get over 2 million hits, and the first page has all the basics for someone who wants to know casually what it is.

If you want to know what other groups do, ask them.

Quote
Important: I did not mention sciences on any level.  This was intentional as science is irrelevant for the point of the question being asked.  I'm talking about knowledge within disciplines.  That's why I mentioned plumbers and accountants and managers -- but not chemists.

Besides, with the possible exception of John Cage, even artists have deliverables as well as methods that they share and adopt.

(I have to be honest, I first thought you were talking about that character from mortal kombat)

4:33 baby.

In terms of disciplines, seminaries across the US teach how to be an effective speaker, how to structure your thoughts in a sermon, best ways to interpret pieces of scripture, etc.  They also teach pastors how to counsel, manage and connect with their congregations.  All of the pastors at my previous churches had a minimum of a Masters degree and had studied quite a bit of history and philosophy, as well as Hebrew and Greek.

Not really new knowledge or practices, are they?
 
So within denominations, you have standards and best practices.  I think it's easier for other professions to set national or international standards because they can be regulated by governments.  Plumbers have to meet county or state codes, accountants have to be certified (and managers, well, let's leave that one alone for now).  Churches are basically only accountable to themselves or their denomination.

Yet, none of those groups are waiting around for the government to tell them what to do.  They see a need for change, change, and those changes are adopted.

Can you think of anything that the religious professionals have added to general knowledge or practices over the last 100 years?  Not borrowed, but added, to the vast swath of knowledge the other groups have added?
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #26 on: December 04, 2008, 06:34:59 PM »
I don't know how there can be anything "new" to come up with Hermes when the whole belief system is based on the old, the Bible.
If someone is not willing to accept it as is there is nothing new.

You're probably right.  When the conclusion is that it's a done deal, where is the motivation to do anything?

Christopher Hitchens said something along the lines of 'religion is a dead subject; they can't say anything new since it is all based on a rehash of dogma'^^, though I've attempted to expand on his core idea in the hope that someone somewhere can tell me something that isn't tied to dogma (promoting or following) that these people do all day.

I'd like to know that there is productive, re-usable, trainable, content coming out of a theologian or a priest.  Something that isn't old or borrowed.





^^. If you know the real quote, please post it or a tip on where I can search for it.  I'm sure that I am missing something subtle or impactful in my mangled weak version.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline cruguru

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #27 on: December 04, 2008, 10:06:04 PM »
Herms,
I can keep digging around for you to get more answers, but I get the impression that you just want me to roll over and admit that your vague assertion is absolutely correct.
But considering that you assume from the get go that G-d doesn't exist, how did you expect to get an answer that you thought was worth while when your question was 'has the study of G-d produced anything worth while?'

I think I'm going to follow Deus ex Machina's example: mu...

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #28 on: December 05, 2008, 06:38:02 AM »
I can keep digging around for you to get more answers, but I get the impression that you just want me to roll over and admit that your vague assertion is absolutely correct.

I'd like to see that work actually has been done beyond maintenance that has lead to new knowledge that is shareable across groups of religious professionals.  That would be interesting -- so I ask for others to inform me of what I can't seem to find myself.

I haven't seen anything new from theologians, so I'm doubtful there is anything.  That is a reasonable conclusion based on what I know so far. 

Are you encouraged from your investigations so far?  Do you see possible avenues where that new knowledge may reside even if it is not currently in plain view?

But considering that you assume from the get go that G-d doesn't exist, how did you expect to get an answer that you thought was worth while when your question was 'has the study of G-d produced anything worth while?'

Listen carefully.

This is important.

I don't assume some form of your god or any deity doesn't exist.  As a practical step, I conclude that the lack of evidence in support of the proposition means something.  Show me what I don't know.  Show me evidence, credible evidence, and I'll be a theist.  It's that simple.  That's why I identify as an agnostic atheist;

What is your religious position?
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=833

Unfortunately, I never get any evidence.   What I get are bold assertions that a narrow dogma is correct or nebulous fallacies based on Paley's watchmaker argument.

That said, the question I'm asking here has nothing to do with the existence of a deity.

It has to do with the expansion of  knowledge of religious professionals as a group.  What have they added to the sum of human knowledge -- that isn't either ignored or disputed by the majority of the other religious professionals?

Every other disciplined profession has best practices and common knowledge that expands over time and is refined or replaced.  Knowledge that is accepted by most of the professionals.  Practices that are followed by most of the professionals.  This mix is self-reinforcing where knowledge and practices integrate with each other and inform each other.

Where is the same thing from religious professionals?  I expect that they do have it, and if they do you or others who may be aware of what I'm not will be able to show me.

I think I'm going to follow Deus ex Machina's example: mu...

Did Deus say mu?  I did in the past few weeks so you may be thinking of me ... in either case the question is not a mu question.

It's easily answerable by most disciplined organizations and the professionals in them, so it should be answerable by religious professionals as well.   A mu question would not be right to begin with.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer