Science or Natural Theology?
Interesting written and oral exchanges among my circle of friends have transpired over the past decade. These exchanges have supplied personal inspiration for significant subject matter of this blog. The sharing of views relates to how science discoveries contribute to and reinforce our faith. By faith we mean, broadly, (1) our belief in the existence of God, (2) our belief that God has acted in past ages to create the universe as we know it, and (3) our belief that God still acts to sustain and preserve the order of the universe we observe. In the three points listed above, we use God to mean the God of Judeo-Christian scripture.
Beyond (1) God’s existence, (2) God’s past creative actions, and (3) God’s sustaining power in our universe, the concept of a loving God who cares especially for his created living things, especially man, shines through the pages of scripture. In the case of humanity, the biblical message of redemption is paramount. However, the reality of God’s care for humanity in the physical realm is a concomitant of God’s care in the redemptive realm. In humans, physical existence precedes spiritual awareness.
Our blog has connected our physical existence with a soulish and spiritual awareness. The popular categorization of body, soul, and spirit is an expression by some authors as the tripartite nature of humanity. Man is uniquely able to connect physical bodily existence with the presence of soul and spirit. A simplified definition of soul could be “immaterial awareness.” Spirit relates more closely with character and emotions. One popular traditional definition of spirit is “God-consciousness.” Ecclesiastes 12:7 refers to “our spirit returning to God who gave it.” In terms of God-consciousness, we connect man’s ability to investigate the categories of God’s existence, past actions, and sustaining power to the presence of spirit in a human being.
Past posts have used knowledge of both science and natural theology as a means of strengthening belief in the existence, creative ability, and sustaining power of God. Most science professionals are very territorial in connecting their discoveries to a naturalistic process. They are driven by methodological naturalism (MN) as an inviolable principle. This “rule of science” does not permit them to suggest that even the most remarkable scientific discoveries such as the Cambrian Explosion or the existence of the information-packed DNA code may be examples of the creative works of God. Neither do professional scientists report recent revelations concerning the complexity of the cell as a possible example of natural theology—the principle that observation of the natural world argues for the existence of God.
The discoveries of science and the principles of natural theology both strengthen belief in the Creator. But science has become more secularized since late in the 19th century. The secularization has become more absolute in the 20th and 21st centuries. Science is methodologically formal but belief in the principles of natural theology could be considered more devotional. People of faith believe both science and natural theology point to the Creator-God of order and purpose.
Scientist and theologian Alister McGrath has written on the science and theology interface. Readers are encouraged to investigate this complex issue for themselves. This link will help you get started: