Re: [asa] Theology of Nature

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Thu Oct 23 2008 - 17:07:47 EDT

Hi Greg,

As Ted says, excellent questions.

Alister McGrath has given the idea of "nature" a fair bit of thought and you might find his trilogy "A Scientific Theology" of interest. At the very least, I'm not sure you could credibly engage with the idea of a theology of nature without reference to McGrath - it might even require a MAJOR engagement.

Ted, incidentally, made reference to Thomas Torrance. He's a very important contributor and one whom McGrath engages with at depth.

In the first volume of "A Scientific Theology" ("Nature") McGrath looks at the various ways the idea of nature has been defined and appropriated - showing that it ISN'T a value neutral term - let alone one with an obvious meaning. One of his major points is that the very idea of "nature" has always been a social construct so there can never be a strictly objective appeal to "nature". Note that McGrath isn't arguing for an anti-scientific or anti-realist view - quite the opposite, in fact, as he's arguing that appeal to "nature" is inherently anti-realist as the concept "nature" (not the concept "reality") is socially constructed.

If you'd like a precis of his views try his little (compared with the trilogy!) book "The Science of God" - which is an abridged version of the trilogy written by McGrath himself.

For an even shorter summary/intro again, you might try the following (a piece for which McGrath has expressed praise on more than one occassion);

Benjamin Myers, “Alister McGrath’s Scientific Theology.” Reformed Theological Review 64 (2005): 15-34.

There is what seems to me a quality summary and review of "Vol 1. Nature" on the Ars Disputandi site;

And, of course, Google will give you a fair few more - although, obviously you'll get a variation in quality.

Murray Hogg
Pastor, East Camberwell Baptist Church, Victoria, Australia
Post-Grad Student (MTh), Australian College of Theology

Gregory Arago wrote:
> Hi Ted,
> Following on one of your recent responses to Timaeus (which mentioned H.
> Bergson), a thought crossed my mind that has not yet ceased. So, I
> express it here below:
> How can there be a ‘theology of nature’? We see many cases where/when
> natural things are used in 'the service of' *personalities* in
> Scripture. This does not mean to ‘depreciate’ nature in the eyes/ears of
> humanity. Rather, it means to raise a question of the priority of
> ‘nature’ in contrast with ‘human nature’ (that rather problematic
> duo), the latter which seems to be something unique as a result of being
> *ensouled, e.g. given character (psyche)*.
> Surely there can be a 'science of nature.' But is there a distinct
> ‘theology of nature’ and what does it (or might it) mean in today’s
> academy?
> Regards,
> Gregory
> p.s. I write this having recently attended the International
> Sociological Forum wherein ‘sociology of environment’ and ‘sociology of
> the body’ were among the most popular sessions.
> John Cobb, Jr. (process theologian) says:
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Received on Thu Oct 23 17:08:17 2008

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