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.
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)
[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)
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 paper examines the cognitive foundations of naturaltheology: the intuitions that provide the raw materials for religious arguments, and the social context in which they are defended or challenged. We show that the premises on which natural theological arguments are based rely on intuitions that emerge early in development, and that underlie our expectations for everyday situations, e.g., about how causation works, or how design is recognized. In spite of the universality of these intuitions, the cogency (...) of natural theological arguments remains a matter of continued debate. To understand why they are controversial, we draw on social theories of reasoning and argumentation. (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)
This article examines Martin Luther’s view of Naturaltheology and natural knowledge of God. Luther research has often taken a negative stance towards a possibility of Naturaltheology in Luther’s thought. I argue, that one actually finds from Luther’s texts a limited area of the natural knowledge of God. This knowledge pertains to the existence of God as necessary and as Creator, but not to what God is concretely. Luther appears to think that the (...)natural knowledge of God is limited because of the relation between God and the Universe only one side is known by natural capacities. Scholastic Theology built on Aristotelianism errs, according to Luther, when it uses created reality as the paradigm for thinking about God. Direct experiential knowledge of the divinity, given by faith, is required to comprehend the divine being. Luther’s criticism of Naturaltheology, however, does not appear to rise from a general rejection of metaphysics, but from that Luther follows certain ideas of Medieval Augustinian Platonism, such as a stark ontological differentiation between finite and infinite things, as well as the idea of divine uniting contradictions. Thus the conflict between faith and reason on Luther seems to be explicable at least in part as a conflict between two different ontological systems, which follow different paradigms of rationality. (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)
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 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)
In ‘The Presuppositions of Religious Pluralism and the Need for NaturalTheology’ I argue that there are four important presuppositions behind John Hick’s form of religious pluralism that successfully support it against what I call fideistic exclusivism. These are i) the ought/can principle, ii) the universality of religious experience, iii) the universality of redemptive change, and iv) a view of how God (the Eternal) would do things. I then argue that if these are more fully developed they support (...) a different kind of exclusivism, what I call rational exclusivism, and become defeaters for pluralism. In order to explain rational exclusivism and its dependence on these presuppositions I consider philosophers J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga, who offer arguments for their forms of exclusivism but I maintain that they continue to rely on fideism at important points. I then give an example of how knowledge of the Eternal can be achieved. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine various philosophical approaches to religious experience and naturaltheology and look at some ways in which the former might be relevant for the latter. I argue that by thinking more about oft-overlooked or -underemphasized understandings of a) what might constitute religious experience and b) what functions naturaltheology might serve, we can begin to develop a more nuanced approach to natural theological appeals to religious experience — one that makes use (...) of materially mediated religious experience to develop a naturaltheology more sensitive to the varieties of experience of lived religion “on the ground”. (shrink)
Matthew D. Eddy and David Knight’s new edition of William Paley’s NaturalTheology deserves to become the standard scholarly edition of what is a historically, theologically, and philosophically important work, despite a certain neglect of philosophical issues on the part of the editors.
This paper is a careful examination of the various approaches that Alvin Plantinga has taken towards naturaltheology over the course of his academic career (from *God and Other Minds* to *Warranted Christian Belief*).
Josiah Parsons Cooke established chemistry education at Harvard University, initiated an atomic weight research program, and broadly impacted American chemical education through his students, the introduction of laboratory instruction, textbooks, and influence on Harvard's admissions requirements. The devoutly Unitarian Cooke also articulated and defended a biogeochemical naturaltheology, which he defended by arguing for commonalities between the epistemologies of science and religion. Cooke's pre-Mendeleev classification scheme for the elements and atomic weight research were motivated by his interest in (...) numerical order in nature, which reflected his belief in a divine lawgiver. (shrink)
Designed as a textbook for use in courses on naturaltheology and used by Immanuel Kant as the basis for his Lectures on The Philosophical Doctrine of Religion, Johan August Eberhard's Preparation for NaturalTheology (1781) is now available in English for the first time. -/- With a strong focus on the various intellectual debates and historically significant texts in late renaissance and early modern theology, Preparation for NaturalTheology influenced the way Kant (...) thought about practical cognition as well as moral and religious concepts. Access to Eberhard's complete text makes it possible to distinguish where in the lectures Kant is making changes to what Eberhard has written and where he is articulating his own ideas. Identifying new unexplored lines of research, this translation provides a deeper understanding of Kant's explicitly religious doctrines and his central moral writings, such as the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and the Critique of Practical Reason. -/- Accompanied by Kant's previously untranslated handwritten notes on Eberhard's text as well as the Danzig transcripts of Kant's course on rational theology, Preparation for NaturalTheology features a dual English-German / German-English glossary, a concordance and an introduction situating the book in relation to 18th-century theology and philosophy. This is an essential contribution to twenty-first century Kantian studies. (shrink)
This is the outline: Introduction : le praticien d’une science-philosophie; Épiphénoménisme retourné et subjectivité délocalisée; Dieu est-il jamais inféré par la science ?; La question du panthéisme; Le pilotage axiologique et la parabole mécaniste; L'unité domaniale comme ce qui reste en dehors de la science.
In the current dialogue of “science and religion,” it is widely assumed that the thoughts of Darwinists and that of atheists overlap. However, Jerry Fodor, a full-fledged atheist, recently announced a war against Darwinism with his atheistic campaign. Prima facie, this “civil war” might offer a chance for theists: If Fodor is right, Darwinistic atheism will lose the cover of Darwinism and become less tenable. This paper provides a more pessimistic evaluation of the situation by explaining the following: Fodor’s criticism (...) of adaptationism (as the backbone of Darwinism), viz., his refutation of any counterfactual-supporting laws on the macro-evolutionary level, implies that a law-maker is dispensable on this level. This will either encourage skepticism against the omniscience (at least that concerning the future of macro-evolution) of the Creator, or render the notion of God less appealing. (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)
In the nineteenth century, naturaltheology was ‘natural’ because the evidence was taken from direct observation of the natural world, or from observations made in the increasingly specialised settings of science. It was ‘theological’ because such evidence was interpreted in light of the attributes of God laid out in the Bible and in Christian doctrine. However, the extent to which the evidence of revelation was augmented or superseded by the facts provided by reason varied between authors. (...) This chapter discusses how different authors structured their design arguments, and shows that design arguments were increasingly recalibrated to incorporate new scientific evidence. But the basic premise of a theistically designed world also remained widely accepted by scientists and the reading public alike at the dawn of the twentieth century. (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)
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)
Process thought refers to the mode of thinking rooted in the philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. Drawing heavily on Whitehead and Hartshorne, this chapter presents an account of process naturaltheology. The discussions cover the decline of naturaltheology's reputation in modern times; process theology in the broad sense; panexperientialism's avoidance of materialism's mind–body problems; sensationism's knowledge problems; how prehensive perception solves sensationism's knowledge problems; and process theology in the narrow sense.
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 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 considers the different forms of naturaltheology in the Patristic Period, first examining the Stoic Middle Platonism of Philo Judaeus and Josephus. In Philo – uniting Plato's and Moses' genesis, and thus connecting God, the cosmos, and the human in the opposite way to the one taken by Lucretius in his De Rerum Natura – we encounter most of the forms naturaltheology took in the period. We find not only that there is no (...) operation of pure nature abstracted from the divine activity but also that physics leads to theology, and that nature, the human, and community depend on gifts given beyond them from above. The philosophies of Boethius, John Scottus Eriugena, and Augustine are also discussed. (shrink)
This chapter analyzes what is often regarded as the locus classicus of modern theological disputes about naturaltheology: the 1934 debate between Karl Barth and Emil Brunner published as NaturalTheology: Comprising ‘Nature and Grace’ by Professor Dr Emil Brunner and the reply ‘No!’ by Dr Karl Barth. One of the most striking things about the debate is that, although Barth is rightly regarded as opposing naturaltheology, Brunner repeatedly draws attention to his agreement (...) with Barth on these dilemmas and of his desire to uphold the latter disjunct in each case. For Barth and Brunner, the question of the propriety of naturaltheology could not be reduced to a series of straightforward, independently stateable, independently resolvable dilemmas. Despite the way in which the still-all-too-common caricatures of the debate would portray the matter, both Barth and Brunner thought that there was more at stake than an understanding of the opposing terms, apart from wider dogmatic and methodological considerations, might be supposed to imply. (shrink)
This chapter examines various Islamic perspectives on naturaltheology, and briefly outlines the reasons why the philosophy of Ibn Rusdh does not represent a definition of naturaltheology in Islam. It then discusses varieties of naturaltheology and Islam; Kalām texts and revelation; al-Ghazālī's criticism of philosophers; Nizām al-Dīn al-Nīsābūrī's views on the reasoned study of nature; naturaltheology and religious obligations; Sharī'a and natural law; and reactions to Darwin in the (...) nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Near East. (shrink)
This chapter begins by defining naturaltheology in analytical philosophy, and next considers analytical philosophers's rejection of naturaltheology and the rise of analytical theism. The focus then turns to one of the most prominent arguments debated in recent discussions of naturaltheology, the so-called fine-tuning argument. The FTA is a sophisticated version of the traditional argument to design, one that appeals to the apparent ‘fine tuning’ of the fundamental constants of nature, such as (...) the gravitational constant, such that even a minute variation in these values would not have permitted the development in our universe of complex forms of life or, a fortiori, intelligent and sentient creatures. The chapter first presents a statement of the argument by two of its defenders – William Lane Craig and Robin Collins – and then looks at criticisms by such philosophers as Robin Le Poidevin and Graham Oppy. It concludes by asking whether the recent debates among analytic philosophers of religion have really advanced the case for naturaltheology. (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 discusses chemistry's connection to naturaltheology, tracing the history of chemistry from its origins in alchemy to developments in the twentieth century. Alchemists sought to ape and speed up God's creation, but were concerned about whether artificial gold would be the same as natural gold. Modern chemists too, as they sought to improve the world through their syntheses of dyes, vitamins, and textiles, have been taxed with producing poor substitutes for the natural and the (...) organic. God's creations are still seen as superior to humans'. The nature of chemistry has made it a less-obvious science for naturaltheology, but by no means a barren field. (shrink)
In many cultures and societies, there has been, at least intuitively, some connection between what is believed to be sacred and divine and the highest ideals of the good, justice, and the right. Moral beliefs and values are often sensed to have ultimate importance, as somehow holy, and thus the examination of those beliefs, values, and sensibilities would be a proper starting point for naturaltheology. The inverse is also true: reflection on and the experience of evil and (...) viciousness have provoked many to explore the negation of the holy and divine, namely, the demonic, in order to avert moral scepticism and despair that evil might prevail. This chapter, which examines an approach to naturaltheology undertaken with respect to morality, begins by clarifying what is meant by approaching naturaltheology through ethics. It then discusses ethical approaches to naturaltheology, theistic ethics, ethical theism, aspiration and ethics, and mediating theology, and concludes with prospects for future thought. (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)
In the broadest sense, naturaltheology is the effort to gain knowledge of God from non-revealed sources – that is, from sources other than scripture and religious experience – but there is also a much narrower sense of naturaltheology: the construction of arguments for the existence of God from empirical evidence. This narrower sense is most strongly associated with the argument for God's existence from the appearance that the natural world has been constructed for (...) a purpose. This argument is referred to as ‘the Design Argument’. This chapter addresses a generic theological question confounding the Design Argument. Why would God design or create anything at all, much less a world like this one? Let us call this question ‘Why design?’. It is shown that answering WD entangles proponents of the Design Argument in age-old debates about divine freedom, divine moral perfection, and divine rationality. Despite the pretensions of some of its proponents, the Design Argument is not and never has been ‘strictly scientific’. (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.
This chapter demonstrates how naturaltheology is both encouraged and challenged by the findings of the physical sciences. The scientific method is committed to finding naturalistic explanations, yet the vision that it gives suggests there is more to it than meets this particular eye: the universe seems to be permeated with signs of ‘mind’. The mysterious quantum world has shown us that new ways of thinking are required to deal with material ‘reality’. Quantum theory has also revealed new (...) forms of matter with ‘miraculous’ properties. These properties are not evidence of supernatural intervention in the normal running of the universe but manifestations of a deeper rationality that lay undiscovered by classical physics. (shrink)
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)
This chapter examines Karl Barth's denouncement of naturaltheology and the reactions of the group of theologians following him. These theologians have all engaged with the natural sciences, but also share similar concerns to Barth in terms of prioritising revelation and of maintaining or defending an orthodox theology. Dietrich Bonhoeffer offered opportunities for intellectual engagement with the world through his notion of the penultimate and in other ways. Wolfhart Pannenberg brought scientific rationality to bear directly on (...)theology. Thomas Torrance and Alister McGrath retreated into making naturaltheology dependent on prior commitment to a fully orthodox, Trinitarian dogmatic position. However, each offered further opportunities for naturaltheology as traditionally conceived, by highlighting features of the universe, such as its rational contingency, which point to the grounding of the universe beyond itself. (shrink)