Category Archives: Theology of nature
Daniel Deen (aka Philosurfer), over at Peaceful Science, has just reviewed a chapter by Brian Curry in the book Christ and the Created Order. The chapter is interesting in focusing on the role of the “powers” that are so prominent in New Testament teaching, but so completely absent from science-faith discussion generally.
Molinism has come up for discussion again on Peaceful Science. Although it’s popular nowadays with significant Christian thinkers like William Lane Craig, it seems to me to be a complicated philosophical way of failing to solve the problems for which it is designed, whilst creating more.
Somebody’s leading a discussion on Christian gratitude and generosity. He cites Deuteronomy 6, where Moses reminds people, once they arrive in the promised land and have cities they didn’t build, houses they didn’t provision, cisterns they didn’t dig, and crops they didn’t plant, not to forget the Lord who brought them there from slavery in Egypt. But one man, an older Christian, says he has a problem with that, because these things were taken from the Canaanites, sometimes by violence.
In a Peaceful Science thread continuing the discussion of the view mentioned in my last post, John Harshman criticises what he calls the incoherence of the very idea of free will.
Writing on the gender differences in the account of the Fall in the garden prompts me to reflect on a factor in the modern (or actually, postmodern) zeitgeist that profoundly affects our reception of the whole biblical doctrine of creation, let alone Adam and Eve. This arises from my old bogey of Promethean thinking, spelled out at length in God’s Good Earth but in brief here, but which has its own peculiar manifestation only in our times.
My wife was preparing for a Bible study yesterday, and we were discussing whether “blessed” or “happy” is the better translation in the beatitudes of Matthew 5. It turns out to have some relevance for the understanding of the theology of nature.
A commenter on Peaceful Science told how his school science teacher used to demonstrate student inattention in physics classes by saying that flies can walk on the ceiling because they are too small to be affected by the law of gravity. That’s actually quite a good introduction to this piece on the universality of providence, for the lawlike processes of nature have, theologically speaking, been historically referred to as God’s general providence.
Something odd happened during the history of the mechanical philosophy that, in effect, gave us the theology of nature which now forms our default thinking. Bacon and his chums dispensed with teleology within nature (inherent teleology) with the aim of removing Aristotelian superstition and glorifying God as the only will operating in nature. And God’s purposes for nature (extrinsic teleology) were excluded from scientific study because they were considered intractable. Science would deal only with an entirely passive nature operating under efficient causes only.
At the end of his 2018 Gifford lecture series, N T Wright tells us that the coming of Christ not only unlocks the coming new creation, but enables us to understand the present creation. The cross is at the centre of any theology of nature. I think he’s right, but this needs some careful unpacking to contribute to our theology of nature.
At the end of this section of the series on the theology of nature, a section in which I have looked at modes of divine action, I want to say a word about an alternative concept called “continuous creation”, usually put in Latin as creatio continua.