Hi John Yuhu,
I can’t speak for the theology faculty worldwide, or the American Universities for that matter, but from an academic perspective, I work in the UK University sector, and the overriding culture within Universities is a secular one, based upon the study of the prevailing evidence for any given subject - that which can be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Academic research methods are nothing if not relatively simple, man-made and objectively robust - requiring the utmost rigour to be applied to an argument or principle - in a similar context to a court of law before a jury. Arguments or principles for general acceptance must be repeatable or to some extent based on reliable evidence, and publications can only be made following peer scrutiny.
This is not to say that Catholicism, religion and spirituality are not relevant, simply that they require fundamental belief in supernatural concepts, and while these may be beyond doubt to many of us, our subjective experiences are not easily repeatable or reliable to the public at large, unless they themselves attempt the same spiritual journey - a uniquely subjective process.
Spiritual matters may extend well beyond that which can be proven in conventional human terms, and beyond the scope of the accepted rules of objective academic rigour - thereby creating reasonable doubt. Not only does this ***not ***mean that spiritual matters don’t exist - it means that such matters cannot be scientifically proven not to exist Any attempted extension of scientific methods or rigour to disprove spiritual elements must therefore be rejected as hypothetical on the basis of unreliable evidence.
- To the academic mind we are, and exist within, a physical presence which can be measured objectively, producing rational scientific evidence of some form of evolutionary physical development across many subjects or disciplines.
- To the spiritual mind we have a soul, or spiritual presence, which can be felt and experienced through many subjective facets within and beyond our physical presence, and there are numerous/countless personal experiences documented by rational people over several millennia to form a body of evidence for the existence of numerous spiritual dimensions.
- It can be proven also that we all have some form of free will, which allows us to either accept or deny the existence of a spiritual dimension to our physical presence, or to express a preference as to what form it may take.
In academia, quite often it can be seen that the more an individual adopts the scientifically rational approach to understanding problems, the less likely they are to consider any form of spiritual dimension to their hypothesis or intended solution. This is ok for conceptual theory, but it doesn’t always translate too well in the real world.
Aside from the rare individuals who naturally experience the living presence of supernatural forces, people generally have shown a tendency throughout the ages of turning towards spiritual concepts in times of need where no physical or scientifically rational explanations are available. Earthly forces beyond our comprehension or control are thereby reasoned to be ‘Acts of God’, and as our understandings of such forces have improved in recent times, the number of occasions that humans feel the need to turn to spiritual explanations are being proportionally diminished in line with the number of events
that cannot be explained. Science is fashionable right now - but it only takes an, ‘Act of God’ like a tsunami around twenty minutes to raise serious questions about the prevailing wisdom and shortcomings in that department.
The best exponent I have seen of both academic rigour and spiritual understanding in the world today, based on the published evidence, is Pope Benedict XVI, a uniquely gifted individual.