Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Friday, July 9, 2021

Process Theology & Natural Theology: Resources and Information

I hope to keep adding to this subject in the months and years ahead but as a recap there are several recent articles I wrote as introductions to the physics areas of EM/QED. In those intros I speak to why process theology goes so well with today's scientific outlooks and how process philosophy is becoming a foundation for the new cosmologies, metaphysics, and even ethics of the world. I will leave these links here immediately below. In the remainder of this post will be found a link to the Center of Process Studies (above at the emblem), several books on the subject, and brief historical reviews of the church's several positions it has taken over the past centuries in the area of natural theology. Enjoy.

R.E. Slater
July 9, 2021
* * * * * * * * *

Natural Theology from a Process Perspective
(recent introductions to scientific articles)

Friday, July 2, 2021

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Thursday, July 1, 2021

* * * * * * * * *

Amazon Link

A Christian Natural Theology, Second Edition:
Based on the Thought of Alfred North Whitehead

by John B. Cobb Jr. (Author)
Paperback – September 19, 2007

John B. Cobb, Jr., Ph.D. is Professor of Theology Emeritus at the Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California, and Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies there. His many books currently in print include: Reclaiming the Church (1997); with Herman Daly, For the Common Good; Becoming a Thinking Christian (1993); Sustainability (1992); Can Christ Become Good News Again? (1991); ed. with Christopher Ives, The Emptying God: a Buddhist-Jewish-Christian Conversation (1990); with Charles Birch, The Liberation of Life; and with David Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (1977). He is a retired minister in the United Methodist Church. His email address is cobbj@cgu.edu..

Published by Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1965. Used by permission. This book was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

When the first edition of A Christian Natural Theology appeared in 1965, it was a groundbreaking work that incorporated Alfred North Whitehead's metaphysical philosophy as a framework for developing a Christian natural theology. The work was so significant it helped to launch process theology as a leading alternative to neo-orthodox theology and has since become a classic in the literature of process theology. This new edition by one of America's preeminent theologians is an essential work for all those interested in process theology.

There is a need for a Christian natural theology. To John Cobb, the philosophy of Albert North Whitehead provides the best basis for one, and Dr. Cobb provides a such a systematic theology in this important book.

There is a place for a less rigorous and more personal explanation for the reopening of the work of natural theology and specifically for the appeal of Whitehead.

Chapter 1: An Introduction to Whitehead’s Philosophy
An introduction to Whitehead’s perspective and a clue as to the meaning of some of his essential terms.

Chapter 2: The Human Soul
A number of features of Whitehead’s doctrine of man that have bearing upon theological anthropology — the nature of humankind.

Chapter 3: Man as Responsible Being
A summary of the major features of the value theory as developed by Whitehead. Also reflections on the specifically ethical situation of man that goes beyond anything to be found in Whitehead.

Chapter 4: Whitehead’s Doctrine of God
The development of the thought about God in Whitehead. His methodology is discussed descriptively rather than critically.

Chapter 5: A Whiteheadian Doctrine of God
Systematic problems and developing solutions as raised by Whitehead are discussed, but with some points which lead to conclusions definitely not accepted by Whitehead.

Chapter 6: Religion
An attempt to understand religion in Whiteheadian terms along with how his own philosophy can account for types of religious experience not reflected upon by Whitehead himself. “Here too,” Cobb states, “to the best of my knowledge, I am breaking new ground.”

Chapter 7: The Theological Task
An attempt to explicate that understanding of theology and its problematic nature which underlies this whole book, and Cobb’s own understanding of the nature of philosophy and theology. The reader with strongly methodological interests may wish to turn to this chapter before he reads the first six.

* * * * * * * * *

Amazon Link

The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology
(Oxford Handbooks) Reprint Edition

by Russell Re Manning (Author, Editor),
John Hedley Brooke (Contributor),
Fraser Watts (Contributor)


Introduction Russell Re Manning

Historical Perspectives on Natural Theology

Theological Perspectives On Natural Theology

Philosophical Perspectives on Natural Theology
Process thought refers to the mode of thinking rooted in the philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000). Drawing heavily on Whitehead and Hartshorne, this chapter presents an account of process natural theology. The discussions cover the decline of natural theology'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.
David Ray Griffin is professor of philosophy of religion and theology, emeritus, at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, where he remains one of the co-directors of the Center for Process Studies. His thirty-two books include Religion and Scientific Naturalism: Overcoming the Conflicts (2000), Reenchantment without Supernaturalism: A Process Philosophy of Religion (2001), Two Great Truths: A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith (2004), Deep Religious Pluralism (ed., 2005), and Whitehead's Radically Different Postmodern Philosophy (2007).

Scientific Perspectives on Natural Theology

Perspectives on Natural Theology From the Arts

End Matter

* * * * * * * * *

Transcripts of four Morse lectures given
at Union Theological seminary in 1964.

Charles Hartshorne was educated at Harvard University, where he coedited with Paul Weiss the first six volumes of The Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce (1931--36) and became associated with Alfred North Whitehead. He has taught at Harvard, the University of Chicago, Emory University, and the University of Texas-Austin. Hartshorne is the undisputed leader in the development of process philosophy and theology since the death of Whitehead. A consummate metaphysician, Hartshorne has resurrected the ontological argument for the existence of God, reframing it in terms of contemporary modal logic. He has espoused a doctrine of panpsychism, according to which mind (with feeling) permeates all things, and has defended the compatibility of this doctrine with contemporary physics. A panentheist, Hartshorne has proposed a complex theory of God, which views divinity as a relative, processional kind of being, with an abstract eternal nature and a concrete nature subject to change and suffering. He has presented his process theology in his widely read book The Divine Relativity. In addition to his labors as teacher and philosophical author, Hartshorne is an avid birdwatcher and has written a prizewinning book, Born to Sing: An Interpretation and World Survey of Bird Song.

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Amazon Link

Contemporary Arguments in Natural Theology
God and Rational Belief

In recent years there has been a bold revival in the field of natural theology, where “natural theology” can be understood as the attempt to demonstrate that God exists by way of reason, evidence, and argument without the appeal to divine revelation. Today's practitioners of natural theology have not only revived and recast all of the traditional arguments in the field, but, by drawing upon the findings of contemporary cosmology, chemistry, and biology, have also developed a range of fascinating new ones.

Contemporary Arguments in Natural Theology brings together eighteen experts working in the field today. Together, they practice natural theology from a wide range of perspectives, and show how the field of natural theology is practiced today with a degree of diversity and confidence not seen since the Middle Ages. Aimed primarily at advanced undergraduates and graduate students, the volume will also be of interest to researchers in philosophy, theology, biblical studies, and religious studies, as an indispensable resource on contemporary theistic proofs.

Table of Contents

Introduction, Colin Ruloff and Peter Horban

1. The Argument from Contingency, Joshua Rasmussen
2. The Kalam Cosmological Argument, Andrew Loke
3. The Fine-tuning Argument, Michael Rota
4. The Ontological Argument, Jason Megill
5. The Moral Argument, CS Evans and Trinity O'Neill
6. The Argument from Phenomenal Consciousness, JP Moreland
7. The Biochemical Argument, Michael Behe
8. The Argument from Information, Stephen Meyer
9. The Argument from Beauty, Brian Ribeiro
10. The Argument from Desire, William A. Lauringer
11. The Argument from Religious Experience, Kai-man Kwan
12. The Conceptualist Argument, Greg Welty
13. The Argument from Common Consent, Jonathan Matheson
14. The Argument from Mathematics, William Lane Craig
15. The Wager Argument, Joshua Golding
16. The Argument from the Meaning of Life, Stewart Goetz
17. The Argument from Ramified Natural Theology, Sandra Menssen and Thomas D. Sullivan

* * * * * * * * *

Note: Because Alister McGrath approaches Natural Theology in a very conventional way, he consequently follows the traditional church approach steeped in Western philosophical modernism with all the cautions and care a classical theology might consider. I offer his authorial work as a good surmise of the evangelical church's position as a healthy comparison to the perspectives above, some of which utilize the Process philosophical approach via process theology and the postmodernistic quantum sciences. - re slater

Amazon Link

Re-Imagining Nature:
The Promise of a Christian Natural Theology
by Alister E. McGrath
Reimagining Nature is a new introduction to the fast developing area of natural theology, written by one of the world’s leading theologians. The text engages in serious theological dialogue whilst looking at how past developments might illuminate and inform theory and practice in the present.

This text sets out to explore what a properly Christian approach to natural theology might look like and how this relates to alternative interpretations of our experience of the natural world.

Alister McGrath is ideally placed to write the book as one of the world’s best known theologians and a chief proponent of natural theology.

This new work offers an account of the development of natural theology throughout history and informs of its likely contribution in the present.

This feeds in current debates about the relationship between science and religion, and religion and the humanities.

Engages in serious theological dialogue, primarily with Augustine, Aquinas, Barth and Brunner, and includes the work of natural scientists, philosophers of science, and poets.

Alister McGrath is currently Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford; he was previously Professor of Theology and Education at King’s College, London. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading Protestant theologians and is the author of some of the world’s most widely used theological textbooks, including the bestselling Science and Religion (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), Christianity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015), Christian Theology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), and The Christian Theology Reader, (5th edition, 2016). He is in constant demand as a speaker at conferences throughout the world, especially in Southeast Asia.


Introduction 1

1 Natural Theology: Questions of Definition and Scope 6
  • The Aim of This Work 8
  • A Brief Genealogy of Natural Theology 11
  • Natural Theology: Six Approaches 18
  • The Natural Theology Project: Thick and Thin Descriptions 22
  • In Defense of a “Christian” Natural Theology Project 25
  • The Christian Accommodation of Classic Natural Theology 35

2 Natural Theology and the Christian Imaginarium 41
  • Sensorium and Imaginarium: Christianity and the Re-Imagination of Nature 42
  • Modernity and the Suppression of the Imagination 47
  • Metanoia: Seeing Things as They Really Are 50
  • Imaginative Transformation: The Church as an Interpretive Community 55
  • Theoria: Imaginative Beholding and Rational Dissection 57
  • Nature as logikos: Reflections on the Doctrine of Creation 61
  • Metaphors of Beauty and Order: Harmony and the Dance 66

3 Text, Image, and Sign: On Framing the Natural World 69
  • Natural Theology as a Habitus 69
  • The Intellectual Challenge of the Ambiguity of the World 73
  • Nature as a Text: Natural Theology and the Book of Nature 78
  • Nature as Image: Natural Theology and Landscapes 87
  • Nature as a Sign: Natural Theology and Semiotics 93

4 Natural Theology: Contexts and Motivations 101
  • The Importance of Cultural Location for Natural Theology 101
  • A New Vocational Space: Natural Theology as a Religious Calling 105
  • The Wasteland: Natural Theology and the Recovery of a Lost Nature 107
  • Wonder and Mystery: Transcendent Experiences 110
  • Re-Enchantment: Sustaining a Sense of Wonder 113
  • The Rational Transparency of Nature and Faith 116
  • Connectedness: The Human Longing for Coherence 120
  • Meaning: Nature and Ultimate Questions 122
  • Natural Theology as a “Natural” Quest 124

5 Natural Theology: Some Concerns and Challenges 128
  • Natural Theology: Improper and Redundant? 128
  • Ontotheology? Natural Theology and Philosophical “First Principles” 133
  • David Hume: The Intellectual Inadequacy of a Deist Natural Theology 135
  • Charles Taylor: Natural Theology and the “Immanent Frame” 138
  • Barth and Brunner: The Debate which Discredited Natural Theology? 144
  • Fideism: Natural Theology as Self-Referential and Self-Justifying? 149

6 The Promise of a Christian Natural Theology 154
  • The Natural Sciences: Natural Theology and the Subversion of Scientism 156
  • The Affective Imagination: Natural Theology and the Spirituality of Nature 163
  • Boundaries and Trespass: Natural Theology and Systematic Theology 168
  • Apologetics: Natural Theology and Public Engagement 173

Conclusion 181

Bibliography 184

Index 240

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Image courtesy of Wellcome Library, London

[Precedents to Classical] Natural Theology

Natural Theology was an important school of thought during the 19th century. The term refers to the belief that God can be approached through observation of the natural world and the use of reason, rather than exclusively through faith in revealed religion.

Its classic statement was by the English Reverend William Paley, whose 1802 book was used at universities and colleges in Britain and the United States. Paley thought that the beauty and order of the world were proof that there was a single Designer behind all of life. It was Paley who used the image of the so-called "Watchmaker God". If we look at a watch, we perceive . . . that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, or placed after any other manner or in any other order than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it. . . . the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker – that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use.

Therefore, according to Paley, only an Intelligent Designer could have created the world of plants, animals, and people. Charles Darwin studied Paley’s book while a student at Cambridge University, as did students at Oxford, Edinburgh, Yale, and Amherst College. While Darwin was impressed with the argument, he was also troubled by it: Why would a loving God allow so much waste, pain, and cruelty in His designs? Why did so many young animals die, with only the stronger siblings surviving? Why were there so many seeds that never came to fruition?

The idea of Intelligent Design has come back into public discourse in the United States today, particularly in the context of public education.

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[Classical] Natural theology

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This article is about the branch of theology. For the 19th-century book by William Paley, see Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity.
Natural theology, once also termed physico-theology,[1] is a type of theology that provides arguments for the existence of God based on reason and ordinary experience of nature.[2]

This distinguishes it from revealed theology, which is based on scripture and/or religious experiences, also from transcendental theology, which is based on a priori reasoning. It is thus a type of philosophy, with the aim of explaining the nature of the gods, or of one supreme God. For monotheistic religions, this principally involves arguments about the attributes or non-attributes of God, and especially the existence of God, using arguments that do not involve recourse to supernatural revelation.[3][4]

The ideals of natural theology can be traced back to the Old Testament and Greek philosophy.[5] Early sources evident of these ideals come from Jeremiah and The Wisdom of Solomon (c. 50 BC)[5][6] and Plato's dialogue Timaeus (c. 360 BC).[7]

Marcus Terentius Varro (116–27 BCE) established a distinction between political theology (the social functions of religion), natural theology and mythical theology. His terminology became part of the Stoic tradition and then Christianity through Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas.

Ancient Greece

Besides Hesiod's Works and Days and Zarathushtra's GathasPlato gives the earliest surviving account of a natural theology. In the Timaeus, written c. 360 BCE, we read: "We must first investigate concerning [the whole Cosmos] that primary question which has to be investigated at the outset in every case, — namely, whether it has always existed, having no beginning or generation, or whether it has come into existence, having begun from some beginning."[7] In the Laws, in answer to the question as to what arguments justify faith in the gods, Plato affirms: "One is our dogma about the soul...the other is our dogma concerning the ordering of the motion of the stars".[8]

Ancient Rome

Varro (Marcus Terentius Varro) in his (lost) Antiquitates rerum humanarum et divinarum (Antiquities of Human and Divine Things, 1st century BCE)[9] established a distinction between three kinds of theology: civil (political) (theologia civilis), natural (physical) (theologia naturalis) and mythical (theologia mythica). The theologians of civil theology are "the people", asking how the gods relate to daily life and the state (imperial cult). The theologians of natural theology are the philosophers, asking about the nature of the gods, and the theologians of mythical theology are the poets, crafting mythology.[10]

Middle ages

From the 8th century CE, the Mutazilite school of Islam, compelled to defend their principles against the orthodox Islam of their day, used philosophy for support, and were among the first to pursue a rational Islamic theology, termed Ilm-al-Kalam (scholastic theology). The teleological argument was later presented by the early Islamic philosophers Alkindus and Averroes, while Avicenna presented both the cosmological argument and the ontological argument in The Book of Healing (1027).[11]

Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225 – 1274) presented several versions of the cosmological argument in his Summa Theologica, and of the teleological argument in his Summa contra Gentiles. He presented the ontological argument, but rejected it in favor of proofs that invoke cause and effect alone.[12][13] His quinque viae ("five ways") in those books attempted to demonstrate the existence of God in different ways, including (as way No. 5) the goal-directed actions seen in nature.[14]

Early modern onward

William Paley, publisher of Natural Theology

Raymond of Sabunde's (c. 1385–1436) Theologia Naturalis sive Liber Creaturarum, written 1434–1436, but published posthumously (1484), marks an important stage in the history of natural theology.

John Ray (1627–1705) also known as John Wray, was an English naturalist, sometimes referred to as the father of English natural history. He published important works on plantsanimals, and natural theology, with the objective "to illustrate the glory of God in the knowledge of the works of nature or creation".[15]

Title page of Natural Theology by William Paley

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) established another term for natural theology as theodicy, defined exactly as "the justification of God".[16] He viewed the science in a positive light as it supported his personal ethical belief system.[17]

William Derham (1657–1735) continued Ray's tradition of natural theology in two of his own works, Physico-Theology, published during 1713, and Astro-Theology, 1714. These later influenced the work of William Paley.[18]

In An Essay on the Principle of Population, published during 1798, Thomas Malthus ended with two chapters on natural theology and population. Malthus—a devout Christian—argued that revelation would "damp the soaring wings of intellect", and thus never let "the difficulties and doubts of parts of the scripture" interfere with his work.

William Paley, an important influence on Charles Darwin,[19] gave a well-known rendition of the teleological argument for God. During 1802 he published Natural Theology, or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity collected from the Appearances of Nature.[20] In this he described the Watchmaker analogy, for which he is probably best known. However, his book, which was one of the most published books of the 19th and 20th century, presents a number of teleological and cosmological arguments for the existence of God. The book served as a template for many subsequent natural theologies during the 19th century.[21]

Professor of chemistry and natural history, Edward Hitchcock also studied and wrote on natural theology. He attempted to unify and reconcile science and religion, emphasizing geology. His major work of this type was The Religion of Geology and its Connected Sciences (1851).[22]

The Gifford Lectures were established by the will of Adam Lord Gifford to "promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term—in other words, the knowledge of God." The term natural theology as used by Gifford means theology supported by science and not dependent on the miraculous.[23]

William Lane Craig (1949-present) continues to show further interest in natural theology via his ongoing work at Houston Baptist University and Talbot School of Theology. Specifically, he explores through his work, exactly what natural theology has evolved into, in more modern terms.[24]

Bridgewater Treatises

Debates over the applicability of teleology to scientific questions continued during the nineteenth century, as Paley's argument about design conflicted with radical new theories on the transmutation of species. In order to support the scientific ideas of the time, which explored the natural world within Paley's framework of a divine designer, Francis Henry Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgewater, a gentleman naturalist, commissioned eight Bridgewater Treatises upon his deathbed to explore "the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation."[25] They were published first during the years 1833 to 1840, and afterwards in Bohn's Scientific Library. The treatises are:

  1. The Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Condition of Man, by Thomas Chalmers, D. D.
  2. On The Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical Condition of Man, by John Kidd, M. D.
  3. Astronomy and General Physics considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Whewell, D. D.
  4. The hand, its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as evincing Design, by Sir Charles Bell.
  5. Animal and Vegetable Physiology considered with reference to Natural Theology, by Peter Mark Roget.
  6. Geology and Mineralogy considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Buckland, D.D.
  7. On the History, Habits and Instincts of Animals, by William Kirby.
  8. Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion, considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Prout, M.D.

In response to the claim in Whewell's treatise that "We may thus, with the greatest propriety, deny to the mechanical philosophers and mathematicians of recent times any authority with regard to their views of the administration of the universe", Charles Babbage published what he termed The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, A Fragment.[26] As his preface states, this volume was not part of that series, but rather his own considerations of the subject. He draws on his own work on calculating engines to consider God as a divine programmer setting complex laws as the basis of what we think of as miracles, rather than miraculously producing new species by creative whim. There was also a fragmentary supplement to this, published posthumously by Thomas Hill.[27]

The theology of the Bridgewater Treatises was often disputed, given that it assumed humans could have knowledge of God acquired by observation and reasoning without the aid of revealed knowledge.[28]

The works are of unequal merit; several of them were esteemed as apologetic literature, but they attracted considerable criticism. One notable critic of the Bridgewater Treatises was Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote Criticism.[29] Robert Knox, an Edinburgh surgeon and major advocate of radical morphology, referred to them as the "Bilgewater Treatises", to mock the "ultra-teleological school". Though memorable, this phrase overemphasizes the influence of teleology in the series, at the expense of the idealism of the likes of Kirby and Roget.[30]

Criticisms of natural theology

The ideals of natural theology did not come without criticism. Many opposed the idea of natural theology but some philosophers had larger influences on the population. The ideals became widely discredited under the influences of David HumeImmanuel KantSøren Kierkegaard, and Charles DarwinKarl Barth's Church Dogmatics also heavily opposed the entirety of natural theology.[31]

David Hume's Dialogue's Concerning Natural Religion played a major role in Hume's standpoint on natural theology. Hume's ideas heavily stem from the idea of natural belief.[32] It was stated that, "Hume's doctrine of natural belief allows that certain beliefs are justifiably held by all men without regard to the quality of the evidence which may be produced in their favour".[32] However, Hume's argument also stems from the design argument.[33] The design argument comes from people being labeled as morally good or evil.[33] Hume's argument claims that if we restrict ourselves to the idea of good and evil, that we must also assign this to the designer as well.[33] Hume states, "I will allow that pain or misery in man is compatible with infinite power and goodness in the Deity...A mere possible compatibility is not sufficient. You must prove these pure, unmixt, and uncontrollable attributes...".[33] Hume argues for the idea of a morally perfect deity and requires evidence for anything besides that.[33] Hume's arguments against natural theology had a wide influence on many philosophers.[34]

Immanuel Kant and Søren Kierkegaard both had similar ideals when it came to natural theology.[35] Kant's ideals focused more on the natural dialect of reason while Kierkegaard focused more heavily on the dialect of understanding.[35] Both men suggest that, "the natural dialect leads to the question of God".[35] Kant heavily argues for the idea that reason leads to the ideas of God as a regular principle.[35] Kierkegaard heavily argues that the idea of understanding will ultimately lead itself to becoming faith. [36]Both of these men argue that the idea of God cannot solely exist on the idea of reason, that the dialect and ideals will transcend into faith.[35]

Charles Darwin's criticism on the theory had a broader impact on scientists and commoners.[34] Darwin's theories showed that humans and animals developed through an evolutionary process. The idea of this argued that a chemical reaction was occurring, but, it had no influence from the idea of God.[34] However, Darwin's ideas did not erase the question of how the original ideas of matter came to be.[34]

Karl Barth opposed the entirety of natural theology. Barth argued that "by starting from such experience, rather that from the gracious revelation through Jesus Christ, we produce a concept of God that is the projection of the highest we know, a construct of human thinking, divorced from salvation history".[31] Barth argues that God is restricted by the construct of human thinking if He is divorced from salvation. [37] Barth also acknowledges that God is knowledgeable because of His grace. Barth's argument stems from the idea of faith rather than reason.[37]

See also


  1. ^ "Physicotheology | Encyclopedia.com"www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  2. ^ Chignell, Andrew; Pereboom, Derk (2020), "Natural Theology and Natural Religion", in Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2020 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 9 October 2020
  3. ^ Wahlberg, Mats (2020), "Divine Revelation", in Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2020 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 9 October 2020
  4. ^ "Natural Theology | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  5. Jump up to:a b Swinburne, Richard (2007). "THE REVIVAL OF NATURAL THEOLOGY". Archivio di Filosofia75: 303–322 – via JSTOR.
  6. ^ Jennifer Mary Dines (8 June 2004). The Septuagint. A&C Black. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-567-08464-4usually assigned to the late first century BCE
  7. Jump up to:a b Plato, Timaeus
  8. ^ Plato, Laws
  9. ^ "Marcus Terentius Varro | Roman author"Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 4 January2019.
  10. ^ "Charles Darwin: Evolutionary Theory, Past and Present" (PDF)earth.northwestern.edu. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 June 2010.
  11. ^ Abrahamov, Binyāmîn (1990). "Introduction". In Abrahamov, Binyāmîn (ed.). Kitāb al-Dalīl al-Kabīr. Brill. ISBN 9004089853.
  12. ^ Hedley Brooke, John. Science and Religion. 1991.
  14. ^ "Thomas Aquinas' Five Ways (Part 2): Contingency, Goodness, Design"thatreligiousstudieswebsite.com.
  15. ^ Armstrong, Patrick (2000). The English Parson-Naturalist. Gracewing. p. 46. ISBN 0-85244-516-4.
  16. ^ "Principles of Natural Theology 2"maritain.nd.edu. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  17. ^ Youpa, Andrew (2016), "Leibniz's Ethics", in Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 9 October 2020
  18. ^ Weber, AS., Nineteenth-Century Science: An Anthology, Broadview Press, 2000, p. 18.
  19. ^ Wyhe, John van (27 May 2014). Charles Darwin in Cambridge: The Most Joyful Years. World Scientific. pp. 90–92. ISBN 9789814583992.
  20. ^ Paley, William (2006). Natural Theology, Matthew Daniel Eddy and David M. Knight (Eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  21. ^ Eddy, Matthew Daniel (2013). "Nineteenth Century Natural Theology"The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology.
  22. ^ Hitchcock, Edward. "Making of America Books: The religion of geology and its connected sciences". University of Michigan. Retrieved 8 August 2009.[page needed]
  23. ^ See Gifford Lectures online database accessed 15 October 2010.
  24. ^ Craig, William Lane; Moreland, J. P., eds. (17 April 2009). The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theologydoi:10.1002/9781444308334ISBN 9781405176576.
  25. ^ Robson, John M. (1990). "The Fiat and Finger of God: The Bridgewater Treatises". In Helmstadter, Richard J.; Lightman, Bernard V. (eds.). Victorian Faith in Crisis: Essays on Continuity and Change in Nineteenth-Century Religious Belief. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-1602-4.
  26. ^ Babbage, Charles (24 October 2018). "The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise. A Fragment". John Murray – via Google Books.
  27. ^ Hill, Thomas; Charles Babbage (1874). Geometry and faith. GP Putnam.
  28. ^ Darwin Online: The Bridgewater Treatises. Retrieved on 29 April 2014.
  29. ^ CriticismEdgar Allan Poe, (1850)
  30. ^ Alexander, Denis; Numbers, Ronald L. (2010). Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-226-60841-9.
  31. Jump up to:a b Sherry, Patrick (2003). "The Religious Roots of Natural Theology". New Blackfriars84(988): 301–307. doi:10.1111/j.1741-2005.2003.tb06302.x – via JSTOR.
  32. Jump up to:a b Gaskin, J.C.A. (July 1974). "God, Hume and Natural Belief"Philosophy49 (189): 281–294. doi:10.1017/S0031819100048233JSTOR 3750118 – via JSTOR.
  33. Jump up to:a b c d e Bradley, M.C. (September 2007). "Hume's Chief Objection to Natural Theology". Religious Studies43 (3): 249–270. doi:10.1017/S0034412507008992 – via JSTOR.
  34. Jump up to:a b c d Swinburne, Richard (2007). "The Revival of Natural Theology". Archivio di Filosofia75: 303–322 – via JSTOR.
  35. Jump up to:a b c d e Fremstedal, Roe (March 2013). "The Moral Argument for the Existence of God and Immorality: Kierkegaard and Kant". The Journal of Religious Ethics41: 50–78. doi:10.1111/jore.12004 – via JSTOR.
  36. ^ Pourmohammadi, Na'imeh (2013). "KIERKEGAARD AND THE ASH'ARITES ON REASON AND THEOLOGY". Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica105: 591–609 – via JSTOR.
  37. Jump up to:a b Matthews, Gareth (30 January 1964). "Theology and Natural Theology"The Journal of Philosophy61 (3): 99–108. doi:10.2307/2023755JSTOR 2023755 – via JSTOR.

Further reading

External links

The Bridgewater Treatises

  1. The Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Condition of Man, by Thomas Chalmers, D. D.
  2. On The Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical Condition of Man, by John Kidd, M. D.
  3. Astronomy and General Physics considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Whewell, D. D.
  4. The hand, its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as evincing Design, by Sir Charles Bell.
  5. Animal and Vegetable Physiology, Considered with Reference to Natural Theology Animal and Vegetable Physiology considered with reference to Natural Theology, by Peter Mark Roget.
  6. Geology and Mineralogy considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Buckland, D.D.
  7. The Habits and Instincts of Animals with reference to Natural TheologyVol. 2, by William Kirby.
  8. Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion, considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Prout, M.D.