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)
[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 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)
It is no exaggeration to say that there has been an explosion of activity in the field of philosophical enquiry that is known as naturaltheology. Having been smothered in the early part of the twentieth century due to the dominance of the anti-metaphysical doctrine of logical positivism, naturaltheology began to make a comeback in the late 1950s as logical positivism collapsed and analytic philosophers took a newfound interest in metaphysical topics such as possibility and (...) necessity, causation, time, the mind-body problem, and God. This chapter begins by considering how we might characterise naturaltheology as a field of enquiry. It then proceeds to survey the landscape of contemporary naturaltheology, which has spawned a large and at times highly technical body of literature. Finally, consideration is given to two epistemological issues confronting the theist who wishes to appeal to naturaltheology, which could be termed the problem of the gap(s) and the problem of accessibility. (shrink)
Naturaltheology is the branch of theology and philosophy that attempts to gain knowledge of God through non-revealed sources. In a narrower sense, naturaltheology is the discipline that presents rational arguments for the existence of God. Given that these arguments rarely directly persuade those who are not convinced by their conclusions, why do they enjoy an enduring appeal? This article examines two reasons for the continuing popularity of natural theological arguments: (i) they appeal (...) to intuitions that humans robustly hold and that emerge early in cognitive development; (ii) they serve an argumentative function by presenting particular religious views as live options. I conclude with observations on the role of naturaltheology in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
The last three decades have witnessed a heated debate of the merits of intelligent design (ID) as a way to understand a number of observable natural phenomena. The present dispute has its roots in a much older discussion: that of naturaltheology, which has always had as its goal the discernment of design(s) attributable to God in the natural world. Despite its ongoing relevance, naturaltheology does not have a coherent scholarly history. Turning Points (...) in NaturalTheology from Bacon to Darwin deftly fills that gap, analysing the argument of design during the period from Francis Bacon (1561-1626) to Charles Darwin (1809-82), with a specific focus on those moments at which the rhetorical terms changed significantly. (shrink)
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*). In his earliest works, Plantinga has a very clear and strict conception of the project of naturaltheology, and he argues very clearly (and correctly) that that project fails. In his middle works, Plantinga has a tolerably clear and slightly less strict conception (...) of the project of naturaltheology, and he argues—in my view unsuccessfully—that this project succeeds. In his later works, Plantinga has a much less clear and less strict conception of the project of naturaltheology, and it is much harder to determine whether there is any merit in the claims that he makes for naturaltheology as thus conceived. (shrink)
My project is to examine and critically discuss the role of simplicity in Swinburne’s probabilistic naturaltheology. After describing that role and the details of his theory of simplicity, I challenge Swinburne’s view that the criterion of simplicity is a fundamental criterion for evaluating causal explanations, proposing instead that what is right about that criterion can be derived from a more fundamental criterion of “coherence.” I close by exploring the implications of my proposal for Swinburne’s natural (...) class='Hi'>theology. (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.
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)
By asking how well theological views of human nature stand up to the discoveries of modern science, Alan Olding re-opens the question of whether the "design" argument for the existence of God is fatally undermined. A distinctive feature of the work is its emphasis on the metaphysical implications of biology and how these at times conflict with other, more plausible metaphysical positions. Another is its close critical examination of the "design" argument and of the relation God has to the world (...) he creates. "Modern Biology and NaturalTheology" takes up issues currently of concern to many thinkers and will provide fascinating reading for anyone interested in philosophical problems, particularly the impact of Darwinism on naturaltheology. (shrink)
This contribution investigates the first treatise on naturaltheology intended as such by its author. Nicholas Bonetus is the author of this treatise. The article examines Bonetus' life, works, and commitment to Scotism before surveying Duns Scotus' views on naturaltheology. Scotus is shown to have been optimistic regarding whether some doctrines now regarded to be strictly theological, such as the Trinity, can be proven by pure reason. Bonetus followed in Scotus' footsteps. The article surveys Bonetus' (...) fundamental ideas on the nature of naturaltheology. It is shown that he organized the science along the lines of an Aristotelian science, with the result that naturaltheology has a subject, and attributes that are demonstrated of the subject. The subject according to Bonetus is the first immoveable mover, and the science demonstrates various attributes of God, such as divine intellect and will, from which Bonetus derives the Trinitarian processions. Following the article is an appendix containing descriptions of the manuscripts, where it is shown that the majority do name the text «theologia naturalis». (shrink)
The Oxford Handbook of NaturalTheology is the first collection to consider the full breadth of naturaltheology from both historical and contemporary perspectives and to bring together leading scholars to offer accessible high-level accounts of the major themes. The volume embodies and develops the recent revival of interest in naturaltheology as a topic of serious critical engagement. Frequently misunderstood or polemicized, naturaltheology is an under-studied yet persistent and pervasive presence (...) throughout the history of thought about ultimate reality - from the classical Greek theology of the philosophers to twenty-first century debates in science and religion. Thirty eight new essays trace the transformations of naturaltheology in different historical and religious contexts, the place of naturaltheology in different philosophical traditions and diverse scientific disciplines, and the various cultural and aesthetic approaches to naturaltheology to reveal a rich seam of multi-faceted theological reflection rooted in human nature and the environments within which we find ourselves. (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 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.
I mostly agree with most of what Paul Moser has said in his books in the Philosophy of Religion. The views he has defended are a needed corrective to the evidentialist paradigm in the philosophy of religion. At the same time, his development of his central ideas has resulted in views that are, somewhat idiosyncratic and extreme. In this essay I hope to present a different articulation of those ideas, also defensible from within a Christian perspective, that preserves their central (...) thrust without being so extreme. (shrink)
In this paper, I present a piece of naturaltheology, whose pro tanto conclusion is the existence of god-the-artist, that is a lower case “g” god, a creator who creates for the sake of beauty, but who is not worthy of worship, a god who can be admired but should not be loved. I then consider some only partially successful responses to this dismal conclusion. Finally, I show to reconcile the idea of a god motivated by love of (...) beauty with the religious tradition of an upper case “G” God, who is not merely to be worshiped but loves us and invites a loving response. (shrink)
One of the central themes of inquiry for Karl Barth, the twentieth-century Protestant theologian, was the notion of revelation. Although he was suspicious of naturaltheology, recent scientific advances and the flourishing modern dialogue between science and religion offer compelling reasons to revisit Barth’s thinking on the concept. We must again ask whether and how it might be possible to hold together the notion of revelation whilst employing reason and scientific evidence in the justification of belief. In The (...) Heavens Declare, author Rodney Holder re-examines Barth’s naturaltheology argument and then explores how it has been critiqued and responded to by others, starting with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Wolfhart Pannenberg. Holder then considers the contributions of two notable British participants in the science-religion dialogue, Thomas Torrance and Alister McGrath, who, despite their repudiation of naturaltheology in the traditional sense, also provide many positive lessons. The book concludes by defending an overall position which takes into account the ideas of the aforementioned theologians as well as others who are currently engaged positively in naturaltheology, such as John Polkinghorne and Richard Swinburne. Holder’s new study is sure to be of interest to theologians, philosophers of religion, and all scholars interested in the science-religion dialogue, especially those interested in naturaltheology as an enterprise in itself. (shrink)
This chapter examines naturaltheology perspectives from Eastern religions. It begins by exploring the possibility of a broader definition of ‘naturaltheology’ that encompasses the various forms it takes outside the Abrahamic religions. The chapter then considers the ways in which Eastern natural theologies can offer answers to Western questions, by focusing on Hindu approaches to the causal argument. Hindu conceptions of the divine provide a glimpse of what the options would be if the West (...) had not decided to uphold divine transcendence by means of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. This doctrine is a curious item in the Western natural theological vocabulary as it is not wholly based on revelation, and is largely there to uphold the Hebrew personalism of the Bible and the neo-Platonic value of the perfection of the divine nature. (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 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)
God and Goodness takes the experience of value as a starting point for naturaltheology. Mark Wynn argues that theism offers our best understanding of the goodness of the world, especially its beauty and openness to the development of richer and more complex material forms. We also see that the world's goodness calls for a moral response: commitment to the goodness of the world represents a natural extension of the trust to which we aspire in our dealings (...) with human beings. (shrink)
This book offers a rationale for a new 'ramified naturaltheology' that is in dialogue with both science and historical-critical study of the Bible. Traditionally, knowledge of God has been seen to come from two sources, nature and revelation. However, a rigid separation between these sources cannot be maintained, since what purports to be revelation cannot be accepted without qualification: rational argument is needed to infer both the existence of God from nature and the particular truth claims of (...) the Christian faith from the Bible. Hence the distinction between 'bare naturaltheology' and 'ramified naturaltheology.' The book begins with bare naturaltheology as background to its main focus on ramified naturaltheology. Bayesian confirmation theory is utilised to evaluate competing hypotheses in both cases, in a similar manner to that by which competing hypotheses in science can be evaluated on the basis of empirical data. In this way a case is built up for the rationality of a Christian theist worldview. Addressing issues of science, theology and revelation in a new framework, this book will be of keen interest to scholars working in Religion and Science, NaturalTheology, Philosophy of Religion, Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, and Science and Culture. (shrink)
The second chapter of Émilie du Châtelet's work Institutions de Physique focuses on naturaltheology -- that is, on questions of the rational demonstrability of the existence and nature of God. This chapter has three parts. The first examines du Châtelet's relation to three of her possible influences on the subject: Leibniz, Wolff, and Locke. The second examines her cosmological argument, and argues that though it bears marked resemblances to similar arguments offered by her three predecessors, it contains (...) novel elements that may represent an improvement on her sources. The third examines the remainder of the chapter, wherein she treats subject like the uniqueness and attributes of God. (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.
First it is argued that the linkage of naturaltheology to epistemology is invalid historically, epistemologically and metaphysically. Second it is argued that knowledge claims about the ultimate cause of everything should be evaluated not in terms of justified true belief but in terms of the intellectual virtue of wisdom.
Even if an argument from religious experience can show that the subjects of religious experience are in contact with something which can justifiedly be named 'God', this does not settle the matter because, 'God' has a use other than its use as a proper name, in which use the term had descriptive content. To be of interest to NaturalTheology, the argument from religious experience must show that the object of religious experience has the properties associated with the (...) term 'God' in this descriptive sense. In particular, it must show that the object of religious experience is omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly loving, and the creator of the physical universe. ;I consider five ways of making that further argument: a descriptivist theory of names, whereby the name has as its content the predicates in the description; an account of religious experience whereby the subject perceives that God has those properties named in the description; an argument from the testimony of God concerning his own properties; an argument from the effects of religious experience on its subjects to the effect that since it makes them better, the experiences must be at least of a benevolent being; and an argument that Christian practice is a well-founded doxastic practice, and so beliefs formed in this practice are prima facie justified, including the belief that the object of religious experience is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly loving. I find all these arguments inadequate to make the case. (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.
Based on the 1964 Morse Lectures delivered at the Union Theological Seminary, this brief volume provides the best introduction to Hartshorne's defense of naturaltheology and the distinctive themes that he has developed in exploring religious and theological matters. Once again he calls for throwing off the intellectual chains in which the Aristotelian, so-called Platonic and neo-Platonic influences have confined theological discussion and for repudiating the claims of Hume and Kant concerning naturaltheology. Whether discussing the (...) meaning of God, worship, love, the status of theistic proofs, the relations between religion and science, Hartshorne has fresh insights to share. There is a vital optimism that pervades these lectures about the future of naturaltheology and its ability to answer rationally its critics.--R. J. B. (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)
Cardinal Mercier’s Manual of Modern Scholastic Philosophy is a standard work, prepared at the Higher Institute of Philosophy, Louvain, mainly for the use of clerical students in Catholic Seminaries. Though undoubtedly elementary, it contains a clear, simple, and methodological exposition of the principles and problems of every department of philosophy, and its appeal is not to any particular class, but broadly human and universal. Volume II contains sections on naturaltheology, logic, ethics and outlines of the history of (...) philosophy. (shrink)
Naturaltheology can be defined as an attempt of proving the existence of God through the observation of the natural world and the use of reason, without appealing to divine revelation. Many theologians seem to think that early Lutheranism completely rejected the possibility of naturaltheology, based largely on the view of Luther himself that the human nature has been totally corrupted by sin and can only learn to know God through faith. It was, however, (...) neither the understanding of Luther nor his successors to completely dismiss naturaltheology. Indeed, Luther is sure that "all men naturally understand and come to the conclusion that God is some kind of beneficent divine power." Surely, the natural knowledge acquired by reason is distorted by sin and is only " legal" knowledge, but this knowledge still reveals the existence of God and leads us to look for the saving knowledge that can only be attained by faith bestowed by God. (shrink)
“Ramified naturaltheology” can be defined as naturaltheology employed in the service not of general theism but of some particular theistic tradition. Examples of ramified naturaltheology in the Christian tradition include Anselm’s philosophical arguments for the incarnation, Pascal’s use of biblical prophecy to defend the deity of Christ, the use of contemporary miracle reports to substantiate the efficacy of prayer to Christ, and so forth. In the Christian context we normally think of (...) ramified naturaltheology being used to argue in favor of the claims of so-called mere Christianity over and against those of other religions or metaphysical naturalism. But historically they have also been prominent in debates between Christian denominations. It is this latter usage that I wish to explore here. I argue that the use of ramified naturaltheology in interdenominational debate is both unavoidable and entirely proper. I also ask which denomination, if any, are most likely to benefit from this usage. (shrink)