Guide Faith, Reason, and Skepticism (James Montgomery Hester Seminar)

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Pakistanlawsite carried left in the und with the request to share the unique systems of suspicious and context hands, plus perhaps, those of the wider star and clinical commentary. To this fuel, we follow to provide fluid family first, few and diverse. Frederick Suppe. Linda Zagzebski. Nicholas Wolterstorff. Nicholas Rescher. Mortimer Adler. Kelly James Clark. Stephen Davis. Only Books by Terence Penelhum X. Only Hardcover Binding Books X. Holmes and Merold Westphal. Merold Westphal and Arthur F. Holmes In a short article titled Faith Seeking Understanding, Merold Westphal briefly explains his journey towards becoming a Christian philosopher.

He notes, on the second page of this article, the influence of Arthur F. Holmes, a well-known Evangelical philosopher who was the son of a Baptist lay-preacher. I mean simply that he affirmed, with Nietzsche, both that our thinking is inescapably perspectival and that the goal of objectivity was to be pursued, not by trying to escape perspective in a Platonic flight from the body or a Cartesian flight from history and tradition, but in a conversational multiplying of perspectives.

Knowledge is necessarily perspectival.

What can we find

The thoughts of any thinker are necessarily anchored in the traditions and cultures that they found themselves already immersed in. McGrath, RN, Morris, ed. Westphal, according to his article, followed in the steps of Holmes, and realized that the Enlightenment and modern pursuit of objective and absolute truths was misplaced.

Though each of these thinkers hold to some distinctive claims, there is also a great deal of agreement between them.

One of the major areas of agreement is their adherence to philosophical perspectivalism which leads them to deny the possibility of Natural Theology unless we first assume the existence of the divine. In other words, Natural Theology is only possible if we first presuppose that God exists. In what follows, I will offer two critiques of these views.

This might seem like nothing more than an appeal to authority, however, given the claims of the authors we are interacting with, this critique should carry a great deal of weight.

Most frequently terms

That is, if 1 these authors claim and they do that all knowledge is situated in some socio- 77 Westphal, Faith Seeking Understanding, This is starting to become a recurring theme. In what follows, I will restrain myself to 2 overarching critiques of Christian perspectivalism, in relation to Natural Theology. In other words, if 3 , then embracing Christian perspectivalism amounts to rejecting the historic Christian teaching about Natural Theology.

McGrath seems to think that the traditional conception of natural theology, as providing some knowledge about God that God exists, and something of his nature through the natural light of reason without recourse to special revelation in scriptures, finds its origin in the works of Enlightenment thinkers. He apparently ignores the pre-enlightenment articulations of what humans can know about God based solely upon the natural light of reason. This is precisely not what pre-modern theologians and most theologians during the reformation understood as the role of natural theology.


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Christian theology, prior to the advent of modern philosophy, understood natural theology not as the exercise of proving Christianity from nature, but, rather, as the praeambula fidei—truths about God, man, and the world, which can be known by all humans as human via the natural light of reason, without recourse to inspired scriptures, and which are presupposed by the claim that some God has revealed himself to humans.

Pre- modern Christian thinkers listed the following truths amongst the praeambula fidei: that God exists, something of the nature of God, that humans subsist after death, and that there will be a post-mortem judgement of man based on works. None of these truths are particular to Christianity, though all are held by Christians. One need only read the works of pre-modern Christian theologians to realize that they held it to be true, that, somehow, even unregenerate humans can come to know something of the one true God minimally, his existence and power through their observations of the sensible universe.

That Aquinas thought this to be true should, itself, be evident; however, a simple quote from the Summa Contra Gentiles might help.

PHILOSOPHY - Religion: Reason And Faith [HD]

In chapter 12 of the first volume, Aquinas begins by noting that some have proposed that it was not possible to demonstrate that God exists. Then, it is shown to us from the order of the sciences. For, as it is said in the Metaphysics [IV, 3], if there is no knowable substance higher than sensible substance, there will be no science higher than physics. It is shown, thirdly, from the pursuit of the philosophers, who have striven to demonstrate that God exists.

In other words, no prior assumption of the divine is necessary for Natural Theology. Other important theologians could also be mentioned. Augustine seems to think, based upon his work On the Trinity, that we can come to know that God exists and is Good, from our human observations of the good.


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Gregory Nazianzus agrees with Gregory of Nyssa both that arguments can be given, as well as in the specific argument to be used. Note that Aquinas here seems to think that the Bible teaches the primary claim of Natural Theology that all humans can come to know something of God from their observations of the universe. It is interesting that McGrath prefers, on this subject, the opinion of Spencer to Aquinas.

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Clarke, , 1: Stephen Reynolds Trinity College, , It seems, then, that McGrath is so concentrated on refuting one notion of natural theology in order to advance his own post-modern theory, that he has ignored what a major part of Christian tradition has to say on the subject. That is, Christian Perspectivalists are either rightly correcting the historic Christian position on Natural Theology, or they are wrongly allowing contemporary philosophy to influence their approach to Christian theology, and wrongly rejecting the historic Christian position.

This means that we must now ask the question, is perspectivalism true? A Critique from Philosophy The second critique that I am offering is from philosophy, that is, I will seek to show that to adhere to perspectivalism and to claim that the fundamental claims of the Christian tradition is true, is a self-contradictory claim. I propose that none of these consequences are acceptable a, b, c, and d are unacceptable for a Christian thinker, c and d are unacceptable as philosophical positions.

This critique, we think, not only points out a fatal flaw in his perspectivalism, but also responds to the 5 major critiques that McGrath levels against traditional natural theology. McGrath wants to hold to a form of critical realism, and constantly repeats the claim that all knowledge,91 with the noted exception of mathematics and logic, is culturally, socially, and theoretically situated. Natural theology — unlike mathematics or logic — always arises within, and is informed by, a tradition of rationality. Whatever the leading representatives of the Enlightenment may have thought, reason is never objective, neutral, or free from bias…It is not — and cannot be — irrational to assert that being situated in history and society makes absolute certainty and the quest for universality impossible.

It is simply a recognition of an awkward truth, which should not be seen as an obstacle to true knowledge, but rather as a condition for proper knowledge. Why should we not propose that such a claim is, itself, situated, biased, and theory-laden? If it is, as it must be if McGrath is right, then it cannot be said to be absolutely or universally true!


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If it is not absolutely or universally true, then there may be some truth claims which are not historically, theoretically, or culturally situated. In fact, it is simply the case, as philosophers who study logic and mathematics would tell us, that there are philosophical theories which undergird both logic and mathematics; making both of these practices theory- laden and contextualized.