Which theism?

Charles F. Austerberry (cfauster@creighton.edu)
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 08:08:56 -0600

Dear Colleagues:

Ed Schroeder is a Lutheran theologian and a dear friend. I sent him Rob
Koons' report (that John Burgeson contributed to this forum) on the
Naturalism, Theism, and the Scientific Enterprise conference at UT-Austin,
along with George Murphy's comments (copied below). Ed gave me permission
to share his reaction, which follows George's comments. I'd be happy to
share with Ed any further ideas you may have.

Chuck Austerberry

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 20:22:38 -0500
Subject: Re: NTSE #15

John W. Burgeson wrote:
> NTSE #15
> Uploaded by permission from Rob Koons by Burgy
> NTSE Final Report
> Conference on Naturalism, Theism, and the Scientific Enterprise
> University of Texas at Austin
> February 20-23, 1997
> Reflections from an Organizer
> Prof. Robert C. Koons

A comment on just one point in this report:

> We should not expect intelligent design theory to offer much, if anything,
> in the way of support to Christian theology, which, in any case, does not
> stand in need of any such support.

A stronger statement is possible. Some Christian theologies - &
IMO some of those which deal best with science and creation - not only
do not expect or need support from science which intends to be
explicitly theistic. They are in fact opposed to the idea that there
should be such a theistic science.
Some philosophers and scientists may argue that theology should
not set any boundaries for them, and that they should be free to
consider theistic models without constraint from theologians. But
speaking about anything "theistic" without a clear idea of who or what
_ho theos_ is is a dubious procedure. & if the claim is that philosophy
by itself can provide an adequate concept of God, then a very
fundamental conflict with Christian theology proper is joined.
George Murphy


Ed Schroeder wrote to me (Chuck Austerberry):

Just which God is involved in the "theism" being talked about here? is a
good question. Martin Luther kept reminding the academic world of his day
that the God of theologies of glory, and the God of the theology of the
cross were two different Gods. Only one of them, he claimed, was the God
the Bible is talking about. Isn't that relevant for today's discussion?
Namely, which theism are we talking about?

Among (some) theological types these days that's a hot topic again. To
wit: is the generic notion of God resident in the heads of folks in the
(western?) world, a God-notion that came from Mount Olympus and the Greek
tap-root of our western world, or from Mt. Calvary and the other major
tap-root of western thought and science? And that is so both for folks who
are atheists or theists. This Greek kind of God is the one they do or
don't believe in.

It's not simply that the Greek kind of God is a "false" one to worship, but
that to use the Greek god-notion--even in your thinking--is wrong-headed,
guaranteed to lead you to erroneous conclusions. E.g., To ask about God
(present or absent) in the causal chain of reality is a Greek question. To
ask about God as the Author of creation is the Bible's take on the issue.
Does that make any sense?

history, geology, biology, physics, computer science, rhetoric and the soc.
sciences" were present. Why nobody from my union? Is it that everybody know
that "theism" is, so you don't need theology specialists? Admittedly there
are different types of those folks too, but my kind of specialists were
conspicuous by their absence, I thought.


Charles (Chuck) F. Austerberry, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology, Creighton University, Omaha, NE 68178
Phone: 402-280-2154 (Office) and -2321 (Lab)
Fax: 402-280-5595
e-mail: cfauster@creighton.edu