Re: Liberals & Science

From: george murphy (
Date: Mon May 19 2003 - 08:34:26 EDT

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    "Howard J. Van Till" wrote:

    > >From: Burgy <>
    > > Where did Tillich (IMHO of course) err? Like Bultmann, I think he did not
    > > understand well the scientific enterprise. Indeed, I think that is where
    > > almost all "liberals" founder, Borg, Spong, etc.
    > Interesting comment. Could you elaborate on that a bit? In your judgment,
    > what was/is the character of the misunderstanding of science that "liberals"
    > manifest?

            Not to preempt Burgy of course, but a comment on Bultmann & Tillich may
    be useful & perhaps illustrative for other "liberals." It seems to me that the
    main problem with Bultmann in relation to science isn't how well or poorly he
    understood the scientific enterprise but the fact that his theology simply
    isn't interested in the world which science studies. His famous comment about
    how it's impossible for people who know about radio and modern medicine to
    accept the biblical picture of the world is, of course, in an important sense
    true. But his response to that isn't to try to develop a theology which is
    consistent with the basic commitments of Christian faith and which takes
    seriously more adequate scientific understandings of the world. Instead, he
    essentially declares the physical world to be of little interest to theology,
    hands it over to science, and develops a theology whose core is an inner
    existential faith in Christ.

            One of the best expressions of this is what he says about the doctrine
    of creation in _Jesus Christ and Mythology_:

            "First, only such statements about God are legitimate as express the
    existential relation between God and man. Statements which speak about God's
    actions as cosmic events are illegitimate. The affirmation that God is creator
    cannot be a theoretical statement about God as /creator mundi/ in a general
    sense. The affirmation can only be a personal confession that I understand
    myself to be a creature which owes its existence to God."

            & though their approaches are different, I think a similar thing can be
    said about Tillich. By relegating science to the realm of "technical reason,"
    he keeps it from having any significant positive impact on his idealistic
    theology which is concerned with "ontological reason." (This is the distinction
    which so annoys Dick Fischer.) At most it has a negative effect - i.e., telling
    us things we can't believe.



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