[asa] Natural theology

From: Terry M. Gray <grayt@lamar.colostate.edu>
Date: Wed Oct 31 2007 - 11:08:46 EDT

John, Mike,

The idea of idolatry that George is talking about comes out in the
next few verses (21-25) of Romans 1. The sinful human heart takes the
revelation of God in nature and worships and serves created things.
This is, indeed, the whole context of Romans 1:20-3:20. God is truly
revealed in creation, but the human response to that revelation,
apart from faith in Christ, is idolatry. "There is no one righteous,
not even one." Thus, a "natural theology" apart from Christ and
scripture will reflect that sinful condition. To make Romans 1:20 a
proof-text for a revelation independent natural theology is to take
it out of context.


On Oct 30, 2007, at 11:49 PM, mlucid@aol.com wrote:

> It was I who brought up Romans 1:20 in the thread and I have to go
> with John
> on this one, George. I see Romans 1:20 as saying that God is
> reflected in his creation
> (What has been made).
> -Mike (Friend of ASA)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>
> To: 'George Murphy' <gmurphy@raex.com>; asa@calvin.edu
> Sent: Tue, 30 Oct 2007 11:01 pm
> Subject: RE: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate
> epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science
> George,
> Sorry for the delay in the response but I wanted to get back to you
> on this. I remember your email on 23 October but then as now I am
> not sure I am in agreement with you on the interpretation of Rom
> 1:20. That is an interesting perspective but I don’t see that as
> being consistent with the rest of scripture.
> There are many other scriptures that seem to imply this same
> “idolatry” of natural theology. For instance, “The fool has said in
> his heart there is no God”, “The heavens declare the Glory of God”
> and God reveals His wrath against those “who suppress the truth in
> unrighteousness” etc., etc.. To me, these all make clear that God’s
> perspective on the default conclusion of natural revelation is that
> it leads to Him. I don’t know where you get this idolatry twist.
> This I would consider valid knowledge and truth and therefore
> impertinent to surrender that in any debate with atheists. I will
> concede that this is knowledge from a spiritual source ultimately
> but as the above scriptures indicate, all the evidence leads to it
> and the only way to avoid this conclusion is to willfully reject it
> and live in denial of it. But however, keep in mind that the source
> of truth or knowledge in no way disqualifies it from being so. For
> instance, a good example from the ID literature is the discovery of
> the benzene ring which was the result of a dream.
> John
> -----Original Message-----
> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-
> owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of George Murphy
> Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007 4:15 PM
> To: John Walley; asa@calvin.edu
> Subject: Re: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate
> epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science
> John -
> In a post of 23 October I pointed out some of the problems with the
> type of appeal to Rom.1:20 that you keep trying to make. In the
> real world in which all people are sinful, one can speak of
> "knowledge" of God from creation only in an extremely limited sense
> since the result of trying to develop such a knowledge from
> observation of the world alone is inevitable idolatry. That is
> Paul's whole point in that passage & it's a serious mistake to try
> to make it into an argument for natural revelation.
> & in fact "the project of natural theology" to which Groothuis
> refers is simply the project of idolatry. An attempt to base the
> claim that "there is a God" on observations of nature may be just
> barely defensible, but any attempt to say who or what God (which is
> what a "theology" will do) will always produce some false god.
> Again, it's a quite different matter to look at the natural world
> in the light of God's historical revelation which is centered on
> Christ & to try to develop a "natural theology" as part of
> explicitly Christian theology. But that doesn't seem to be what
> either Groothuis or you are talking about.
> Shalom
> George
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: John Walley
> To: asa@calvin.edu
> Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007 3:50 AM
> Subject: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate
> epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science
> Below is an excerpt of a blog posting of a review of a recent
> debate between Dinesh D’Souza and Christopher Hitchens at King’s
> College by philosopher and professor Douglas Groothuis.
> I am curious to get any comments from the list on his observations
> because he charges Dinesh with selling the farm ”epistemologically
> and apologetically” because he concedes faith beliefs are not valid
> knowledge and knowledge can only be what is empirically proven.
> This is very similar to the recent discussion on the philosophical
> foundation from Rom. 20 of God having revealed real knowledge (and
> not just faith) in his creation. And in fact from this scripture
> that says that those that reject this knowledge are “without
> excuse”, it is clear God considers this revealed knowledge to be
> valid and binding and manifest to all and not some subjective idea
> that is subject to interpretation or the approval of science.
> I think Groothius may have articulated it here better than I but I
> think we are in agreement that as soon as we surrender this
> revealed “knowledge” as not being valid and instead replacing it
> with only “science” then we have already lost the debate. And this
> does appear to be the strategy of atheists and therefore the danger
> in siding with them too strongly in their marginalizing the
> arguments from ID.
> Thanks
> John
> http://theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2007/10/debate-
> christianity-and-atheism.html
> Debate: Christianity and Atheism
> Dinesh D'Souza (author of What's So Great About Christianity) and
> Christopher Hitchens(author of God is Not Great) recently debated
> at King's College. I will not give a point by point commentary, but
> limit myself to three comments, the first of which is the most
> important.
> 1. At 1.26 D'Souza completely sells the farm epistemologically and
> apologetically--despite the many fine points he made throughout the
> debate. He claims that his religious belief is not knowledge. He
> does not know it to be true; he only believes it. In so doing, he
> seems to restrict knowledge to what is empirically verifiable. But
> there is no reason to do. We know many things apart from empirical
> evidence (such as basic moral claims). Moreover, we can infer the
> existence the supernatural from the natural (the project of natural
> theology; seeIn Defense of Natural Theology, which I co-edited and
> to which I contributed a chapter.)D'Souza goes on to say that while
> he leaps toward God, Hitchens leaps toward atheism. I groaned
> loudly to myself when I heard it (although my wife probably heard
> me). Many in the crowd applauded.
> This is tragic. We must enter the public square making knowledge
> claims, not mere faith claims that are allowable, just as allowable
> as theism or some other worldview. We need to try to out argue the
> opposition by marshalling the strongest possible arguments for
> Christianity and against atheism. In fact, D'Souza gave some strong
> arguments notadequately rebutted by Hitchens by the time he sold
> the farm. There was no need to do so; and in so doing, he sets a
> terrible example for Christian persuasion in the public realm
> (despite the virtues he exhibited in the debate).
> 2. The form of the debate was poor. Neither speaker has enough time
> for opening comments or for rebuttal. The supposed "cross
> examination" devolved into haranguing at time, with the moderator
> (Marvin O'laski) failing to intervene to keep order. Serious
> debates should have strict rules.
> 3. Both speakers issued cheap shots by insulting the other speaker
> in ways not required by their arguments. This may get applause, but
> makes no logical point.
> Apparently, D'Souza has come to a more mature Christian conviction
> recently. He is not known as a philosopher, but as a social critic
> and political writer. I never detected an overt Christian worldview
> in the several books I've read by him over the years. At that
> crucial time of 1:26 this weakness showed. I have not yet finished
> his book, however. Perhaps I'll say more then.
> Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL Mail!

Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801

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Received on Wed Oct 31 11:09:35 2007

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