Natural theology reconsidered (again)

Re Manning, R (2017) 'Natural theology reconsidered (again).' Theology and Science. ISSN 1474-6700 (Forthcoming)

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In this article I have another look at the very idea of natural theology and, more specifically, reconsider (again) the vexed question of its apparent demise. I shall also, by way of conclusion, say something about the future of natural theology, the prospects for which are, I think, far from as bleak as is commonly believed. In brief, my argument is that neither what I shall call the ‘traditional’ nor the ‘revisionist’ accounts of the nature and fate of natural theology are adequate to the task of explaining the peculiar trajectory of its history and, in particular, the consensus view of its apparent terminal decline since its alleged ‘heyday’ in the original series of Boyle Lectures established by Robert Boyle’s benefaction of 1691. To anticipate my main contention: I suggest that the fundamental reason behind the seeming eclipse of natural theology in the modern era was the increasing ‘specialisation’ of Christian theology in the attempts, characteristic of the 19th and 20th centuries, by theologians to establish an unambiguous subject matter for theology: initially through the notion of faith and subsequently through that of revelation. It is, I propose this quest for disciplinary purity that proved fatal for the inherently ‘impure’ enterprise of natural theology – namely that of looking to nature to speak of God. The conviction of modern theology that it be primarily – indeed exclusively – about religion or about God’s own self-revelation is, I propose, incompatible with the idea – crucial to the vibrancy of natural theology – that knowledge of God is not restricted to one specific domain – be it religion or revelation – but is available, in some form or another, to all simply on the basis of their experiences of the world they find themselves in.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Natural Theology, Boyle Lectures
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2017 14:05
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2017 14:06
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