One not infrequently hears rumors that the robust practice of naturaltheology reeks of epistemic pride. Paul Moser’s is a paradigm of such contempt. In this paper we defend the robust practice of naturaltheology from the charge of epistemic pride. In taking an essentially Thomistic approach, we argue that the evidence of naturaltheology should be understood as a species of God’s general self-revelation. Thus, an honest assessment of that evidence need not be (...) prideful, but can be an act of epistemic humility, receiving what God has offered, answering God’s call. Lastly, we provide criticisms of Moser’s alternative approach, advancing a variety of philosophical and theological problems against his conception of personifying evidence. (shrink)
We respond to Swinburne’s reply to our critique of his argument for the Resurrection by defending the relevance of our counterexamples to his claim that God does not permit grand deception. We reaffirm and clarify our charge that Swinburne ignores two crucial items of Negative NaturalTheology (NNT)—that God has an exceptionally weak tendency to raise the dead and that even people with exemplary public records sometimes sin. We show, accordingly, that our total evidence makes it highly probable (...) that Jesus was not sinless, incarnate, or resurrected and that God has permitted massive deception regarding these defining Christian dogmas. (shrink)
[from the publisher's website] Questions about the existence and attributes of God form the subject matter of naturaltheology, which seeks to gain knowledge of the divine by relying on reason and experience of the world. Arguments in naturaltheology rely largely on intuitions and inferences that seem natural to us, occurring spontaneously—at the sight of a beautiful landscape, perhaps, or in wonderment at the complexity of the cosmos—even to a nonphilosopher. In this book, Helen (...) De Cruz and Johan De Smedt examine the cognitive origins of arguments in naturaltheology. They find that although natural theological arguments can be very sophisticated, they are rooted in everyday intuitions about purpose, causation, agency, and morality. Using evidence and theories from disciplines including the cognitive science of religion, evolutionary ethics, evolutionary aesthetics, and the cognitive science of testimony, they show that these intuitions emerge early in development and are a stable part of human cognition. -/- De Cruz and De Smedt analyze the cognitive underpinnings of five well-known arguments for the existence of God: the argument from design, the cosmological argument, the moral argument, the argument from beauty, and the argument from miracles. Finally, they consider whether the cognitive origins of these natural theological arguments should affect their rationality. (shrink)
Summary The object of this study is to analyse certain aspects of the debate between David Brewster and William Whewell concerning the probability of extra-terrestrial life, in order to illustrate the nature, constitution and condition of naturaltheology in the decades immediately preceding the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin's Origin of species. The argument is directed against a stylised picture of naturaltheology which has been drawn from a backward projection of the Darwinian antithesis between (...)natural selection and certain forms of the design argument. Contrary to the popular image of naturaltheology as an essentially static, autonomous and monolithic set of presuppositions about the existence of design in nature, the paper underlines the existence of a fundamental divergence of strategies within naturaltheology, a divergence that, in the case of Brewster and Whewell, can be correlated with the religious cultures to which they most closely belonged. The fact that, in the plurality of worlds debate, their respective positions became mutually exclusive suggests that the fragmented and disordered state of naturaltheology, only too apparent before the Darwinian impact, was occasioned as much by the ulterior problem of rationalising the excessive space of the astronomers and the excessive time of the geologists as it was by any principle of the uniformity of nature in the biological sphere. The argument is substantiated with particular reference to the breakdown in communication as Brewster and Whewell developed conflicting strategies to expose the ?development hypothesis? that had appeared in Vestiges. Their altercation also reveals a certain conflict of status concerning the conclusions of astronomy and geology which, in turn, suggests that tensions between the physical and life sciences were not peculiar to the period following the publication of Darwin's theory. (shrink)
This essay replies to the responses of Harold Netland, Charles Taliaferro, and Kate Waidler to my symposium paper, “Gethsemane Epistemology.” It contends that a God worthy of worship would not need the arguments of traditional naturaltheology, and that such arguments would not lead to such a God in the way desired by God. In addition, it explains why Paul’s position in Romans 1 offers no support to the arguments of traditional naturaltheology.
Arguments in naturaltheology have recently increased in their number and level of sophistication. However, there has not been much analysis of the ways in which these arguments should be evaluated as good, taken collectively or individually. After providing an overview of some proposed goals and good-making criteria for arguments in naturaltheology, we provide an analysis that stands as a corrective to some of the ill-formed standards that are currently in circulation. Specifically, our analysis focuses (...) on the relation between the veracity of the premises and their relation to the conclusion of an argument. In addition to providing a clearer account of what makes an argument good, an upshot of our account is that there remain positive contributions for "weak" arguments, especially within cumulative case arguments in ramified naturaltheology. (shrink)
The development of naturaltheology in the Middle Ages was driven by the rebirth experienced by Western Europe beginning in the 1000s owing to the emergence of stable monarchies and reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula. This expansion gave scholars access to the vast libraries of scientific and philosophical literature held in Arabic cultural centres – libraries that contained Aristotelian works on natural, ethical, and metaphysical sciences, which had for centuries been lost to the Latin West. The new (...) texts fed the growth of universities, where secular interests helped shape the curriculum, as the centre of intellectual gravity shifted from the monastery to the town. This chapter examines the figures that represent various moments in the medieval tradition, during and after these developments. Anselm and Abelard immediately predate the universities and recovery of Aristotle. Aquinas and John Duns Scotus write on either side of the Condemnations of 1277. Raymonde of Sabunde's work first applies the expression ‘naturaltheology’ to Christian practice, and Yves of Paris seeks late into the seventeenth century to revitalize this project. The chapter begins with a brief discussion of Aquinas' thought and influence. (shrink)
This essay describes two styles of naturaltheology that emerged in England out of a debate over the correct interpretation of divine evidences in nature during the seventeenth century. The first style was exemplified in the work of John Wilkins and Robert Boyle. It stressed the lawful operation of the universe under a providential order. The second, embodied in the writings of the Cambridge Platonists, was more open to evidence for the wondrousness of nature provided by the marvelous (...) and by spiritual phenomena. Initially appearing to be alternative and complementary arguments for orthodoxy, these two approaches to naturaltheology underwent different transformations during the ensuing decades. In the process, a naturaltheology predicated on the intellectual demonstration of divine power through the argument from design came to predominate over alternative strategies that placed greater emphasis on the wondrousness of nature. (shrink)
This chapter examines Eastern Orthodox perspectives on naturaltheology. The discussions cover the classical roots Orthodox understanding of knowledge of God; worship and eschatology; creation and the limits of naturaltheology; panentheism and the structure of theophany; and science and theology in Orthodoxy.
This paper comments on the other papers in this special issue of ’Faith and Philosophy’ on naturaltheology. It claims that most people today need both bare naturaltheology (to show that there is a God) and ramified naturaltheology (to establish detailed doctrinal claims), and that Christian tradition has generally claimed that cogent arguments of naturaltheology (of both kinds) are available. Plantinga’s "dwindling probabilities" objection against ramified naturaltheology (...) is shown to have no force when different pieces of evidence are fed into the arguments at different stages. But showing the cogency of arguments of naturaltheology involves the lengthy process of helping people to see the correctness of certain moral views. (shrink)
This chapter examines the simultaneous rejection and endorsement of naturaltheology within Protestantism, focusing on two contentious issues representing the tensions within Protestant perspectives on naturaltheology. Firstly, it considers the historical theological question of the attitude to naturaltheology amongst the Reformers and the post-Reformation Protestant Orthodoxy. The chapter engages with the established consensus that the increasingly positive evaluation of the possibility and value of naturaltheology within Protestant Orthodoxy represents a (...) regrettable discontinuity with the ‘original’ rejection of naturaltheology by the early Reformers. Secondly, it explores the place of naturaltheology within contemporary Protestant philosophical theology, looking in particular at Alvin Plantinga's ‘Reformed objection to naturaltheology’. The chapter disputes Plantinga's argument that the Reformers' rejection of classical foundationalism, in favour of a Reformed epistemology in which belief in God can be properly basic, entails a Reformed objection to naturaltheology. Rather, it suggests the possibility of an alternative Reformed naturaltheology consistent with the epistemological framework characteristic of Reformed dogmatic theology. (shrink)
Scotus’ naturaltheology has distinctive claims: (i) that we can reason demonstratively to the necessary existence and nature of God from what is actually so; but not from imagined situations, or from conceivability-to-us; rather, only from the possibility logically required for what we know actually to be so; (ii) that there is a univocal transcendental notion of being; (iii) that there are disjunctive transcendental notions that apply exclusively to everything, like ‘contingent/necessary,’ and such that the inferior cannot have (...) a case unless the superior does; (iv) that an a priori demonstration of the existence of God is impossible because there is nothing explanatorily prior to the divine being, and so, reasoning must be a posteriori, from the real dependences among things we perceive to the possibility of an absolutely First Being (The First Principle); (v) that such a being cannot be possible without existing necessarily; and (vi) that the First Being (God) is simple, omni-intelligent, free (spontaneous), omnipotent and, positively infinite; and moreover, (vii) that there is a formal distinction, that is more than a distinction within our concepts or definitions, among the divine attributes. He makes that first point obvious throughout his several treatments, that one cannot reliably reason from conceptual consistency for us to the real and formal possibility or necessity of something; one must reason only to those necessities that are conditions of the possibility of what is known to be actual. The schema of the reasoning is, in a word, that “only the existence of God can make an effect even possible”. Thus, it is explicitly incorrect to classify him along with St Anselm, Descartes and Leibniz, among those who reason a priori to the being of God. He characteristically and deftly argues by indirect proof. He supposes the opposite of his intended conclusion and deduces a contradiction between that supposition and certain self-evident, or previously proved propositions, thus, getting his own conclusion by using the principle that whatever entails the denial of what is already known to be so, is false and its opposite is true, “si negatur negatio, ponitur affirmatio.” He also uses the argument form, “ if ‘p’ is not necessary, then ‘not-p’ is possible”.. (shrink)
I propose that reasons advanced in support of theism serve just as well, or can be modified to serve just as well, as reasons for believing that there exists a wholly evil supreme being. Accordingly, I suggest that attempts to justify theism are futile, since all would-be success is neutralized by the corresponding support that is thereby provided for antitheism.
This essay examines the relation of Darwin's orchids book to a central persuasive flaw in theOrigin: Its inability to give variation sufficient “presence” to break the hold of “design” in the mind of the reader. Darwin characterized the orchids book as “a flank movement on the enemy”; this essay identifies the “enemy” as Paley's naturaltheology and the “flank” as thetopoi, maxims, and habits of perception that led Darwin's colleagues and contemporaries to see design in nature. Moreover, this (...) essay examines three aspects of rhetorical timing pertinent toOrchids - time askairos, time as adequate duration, and time as transformation - and then relates those features to Robert Cox's Heideggerian logic of repetition, disavowal, and transcendence. The essay concludes with implications of the tactical and temporal aspects of Darwin's reasoning for understanding both the logic of science and of Darwin as a rhetorical artist. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the two kinds of philosophical critiques of naturaltheology: external and internal critiques. External critiques take aim at the whole project, objecting to the metaphysics, epistemology, or theory of values that make naturaltheology possible at all. Internal critiques allow that naturaltheology can succeed but none of its arguments are cogent or meet high philosophical standards. Among external critiques, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason seeks to undermine all metaphysics, as do (...) contemporary forms of nonrealism. The chapter demonstrates that external philosophical critiques of naturaltheology have been less than successful, and also considers four internal critiques: the incoherence of theism, the poverty of theism, Humean uniqueness, and Kantian disappointment. (shrink)
This chapter begins with a review of recent philosophical literature on religious experience, which has generally been concerned with experiences that focus on God or some other supernatural ‘thing’, and then considers other kinds of religious experience which should be of some interest for naturaltheology. It suggests that these kinds of religious experience invite a certain conception of God, namely, as an overarching meaning, rather than as a supernatural ‘object’, and also a correlative epistemology, one which gives (...) due acknowledgement to the sense-making capacities of the human body and of affective responses in particular. (shrink)
We argue there is a deep conflict in Paul Moser’s work on divine hiddenness. Moser’s treatment of DH adopts a thesis we call SEEK: DH often results from failing to seek God on His terms. One way in which people err, according to Moser, is by trusting arguments of traditional naturaltheology to lead to filial knowledge of God. We argue that Moser’s SEEK thesis commits him to the counterfactual ACCESS: had the atheist sought after God in harmony (...) with how God reveals himself, she would have had access to filial knowledge of God. By failing to incorporate arguments or propositional evidence for God’s existence, Moser’s account leaves the doubting seeker without any evidential reason to think that either SEEK or ACCESS is true. Without this rational motivation in place, the doubting seeker is unlikely to seek after God in the way ACCESS describes. We argue that naturaltheology provides an evidential epistemic aid to motivate persons to seek God the way ACCESS describes. Thus, Moser is mistaken. Such arguments can be evidentially helpful in coming to know God. In conclusion, we explain how our reply naturally fits how we form and maintain trusting interpersonal relationships with others. (shrink)
This article tells the story of Christian naturaltheology from the late 18th century to our own time by locating the key moments and thinkers, who have shaped how naturaltheology has been practiced in the past and how it is now being re-assessed and developed. I will summarize certain key elements that unite all forms of naturaltheology and assess briefly two basic criticisms of naturaltheology.
This chapter discusses the significance of mathematics in naturaltheology. It suggests that the existence of an independent noetic realm of mathematics should encourage an openness to the possibility of further metaphysical riches to be explored. Engagement with mathematics is only a part of our mental experience. In itself it can give just a hint of what might be meant by the spiritual. The realm of the divine is yet more distant still, but just as arithmetic may have (...) led our ancestors to begin an exploration that would eventually lead them into the riches of higher mathematics, so taking mathematical reality seriously might be the start of a journey which will lead to greater discoveries about the scope and nature of reality. In this way, mathematics has a modest preparatory part to play in the approach to naturaltheology, and may also contribute to naturaltheology through its role as a component in a more complex form of encounter with reality. (shrink)
Norman Kretzmann expounds and criticizes Aquinas's theology of creation, which is `natural' in that Aquinas developed it without depending on the data of Scripture. Because of the special importance of intellective creatures like us, Aquinas's account of the divine origin and organization of the universe includes essential ingredients of his philosophy of mind. The Metaphysics of Creation is a continuation of the project Kretzmann began in The Metaphysics of Theism; as before, he not only explains Aquinas's natural (...)theology, but advocates it as the best available to us. (shrink)
Leibniz was writing his "Discourse on the NaturalTheology of the Chinese" as the Leibniz-Clarke Controversy developed. Both were terminated by his death. These two fronts show interesting doctrinal correlations. The first is Leibniz' concern for the "decadence of natural religion." The dispute with Clarke began with it, and the Discourse is a defense of Chinese natural religion in order to show its agreement with Christian natural religion. The Controversy can be summed up as "clockmaker (...) God versus idle God." Leibniz wants to escape from the perverse consequences that all criticism of divine voluntarism seems to cause. Thus, his elaboration is directed at a distinct concept of a God that rules without interposing, a supramundane intelligence. And the Leibnizian interpretation of the naturaltheology of the Chinese can be viewed the same way: it emphasizes a First Principle, Li, which rules without interposing. (shrink)
In this chapter, I hope to show, by referring to two specific literary examples, that works of literature can demonstrate the possibility of NaturalTheology and can prompt their readers’ thinking along Natural Theological lines by allowing them to have experiences which mirror the structure of those dealt with by NaturalTheology.
The first section of this paper introduces talk about absolutely everything -- the world as a totality -- as an integral element in the project of naturaltheology, as it has been presented by Fergus Kerr and Denys Turner respectively. The following section presents talk about the world as a totality of facts as a theme in philosophical logic and outlines a problem it has given rise to there. After confronting the solution originally suggested by Bertrand Russell and (...) defended by David Armstrong, the paper points to key elements of the solution presented by Wittgenstein in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. I show how Wittgenstein’s answer to the question of unrestricted quantification draws on his notion of showing and the inexpressible. Against this background, the concluding section draws attention to an important difference in ambition between Kerr’s and Turner’s description of the prospects for naturaltheology. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to provide a broad overview and analysis of the evolution of naturaltheology in response to influential critiques raised against it. I identify eight main lines of critique against naturaltheology, and analyze how the defenders of different types of naturaltheology differ in their responses to these critiques, leading into several very different forms of naturaltheology. Based on the amount and quality of discussion that (...) exists, I argue that simply referring to the critiques of Hume, Kant, Darwin, and Barth should no longer be regarded as sufficient to settle the debate over naturaltheology. (shrink)
In his NaturalTheology, the eighteenth-century Anglican theologian William Paley compares a watch with objects in nature, arguing that “every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature…” Charles Darwin read Paley's NaturalTheology as a young man and offered natural selection as an alternative, naturalistic explanation of Paley's explanandum: the appearance of design in nature. Many of Paley's successors diverged from him in their approach to the living world. (...) This chapter examines some of these alternative approaches and the extent to which the literature of naturaltheology had trodden the path between Paley's watchmaker and Darwin's natural selection prior to the publication of the latter's Origin of Species. In particular, it focuses on the Bridgewater Treatises, a series of eight highly popular works published in the 1830s, which illustrate the far-reaching development that took place in naturaltheology in Britain during the early nineteenth century. (shrink)
This chapter demonstrates the significance of the biological sciences in naturaltheology. It does so by considering three major topics: the argument from design, the problem of evil, and the place of humans in the cosmic scheme of things. In the light of modern biology, specifically modern Darwinian evolutionary theory, there is little support for definitive proofs of the nature and existence of the Christian God. However, notwithstanding arguments to the contrary, there is nothing in modern Darwinian evolutionary (...) theory that makes impossible a belief in a traditional form of Christianity. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the type of naturaltheology appropriate to the reading of ecosystems, and gives a number of examples of such an approach. It begins by discussing the impact of Darwinism and the possibilities for a naturaltheology of the biosphere, and then presents the author's own approach to a theological reading the ecological world. The approach involves stressing the integrity of the scientific account, and hence the ambiguity of ecosystems; taking seriously the few scriptural (...) passages that seem to offer clues about the eschatological relationships between God, humans, and the non-human creation; developing a theology of gift; and fusing scientific insights with those of poets and other contemplatives. (shrink)
This chapter, which discusses how the mind sciences can be used in naturaltheology, identifies two aspects of human mental functioning to consider from a theological point of view. First, there is the theological significance of the general capacity for advanced mental functioning found in humans. Second, there is the theological significance of particular human capacities such as religion.