Re: Process problems from Re: Evolution: A few questions

From: Howard J. Van Till <>
Date: Mon Jun 28 2004 - 11:14:51 EDT

On 6/28/04 10:26 AM, "Terry M. Gray" <> wrote:

> George,
> This question is aimed at you, but, of course, anyone can respond.
> It strikes me in following this thread that process theology is a
> version of natural theology. Would you agree with that?
> And, for the most part, it's the kind of natural theology that is
> untethered from traditional special revelation (either Biblical or
> heilsgeschichte). Right?


I look forward to George's reply, but here are some first thoughts.

Is process theology a form of natural theology?

I'm inclined to say, No, for the following reasoning.

a) If I understand correctly, most natural theologies have been crafted in
the context of "substance metaphysics" (substantive beings/things are the
fundamental units of reality) and the assumption that God and World are
radically distinct "substances" (beings, or kinds of beings).

b) Next, add to that the idea that God alone is the primary substance
(Ultimate Being) and the assumption that the world is a secondary substance
(derived being) that was given its being ex nihilo by God (not only its
specific nature, but its very existence, with every aspect of its nature
freely chosen by God).

c) Then natural theologies can be constructed in this substance metaphysics
context on the assumption that some attributes of the Ultimate God-substance
can be inferred from the freely chosen nature of the secondary
world-substance. George has a number of objections to this approach, as I

d) Process theology, on the other hand, is built on a metaphysics of
experiences/processes as the fundamental units of reality and posits no such
radical distinction between God and World. As members of the world we
experience God and we build our theologies from our human reflection on that
authentic human experience. From this we can construct theologies of nature
as we reflect on the World as one member of God + World as mutually
dependent entities.

e) Yes, process theology is untethered from the idea of special revelation
as traditionally formulated. Revelation is important to process theologians,
but it is conceptualized differently. For one example, see "The Revelation
of God in Christ" by Henry Nelson Wieman, available at

Received on Mon Jun 28 13:15:43 2004

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