A revived natural theology



A Conference with the title ‘One World’ (which seems to me to be a very good title!) is bound to reject the idea that science and theology coexist in insulated separation. Yet this is, perhaps, the most widespread of the variety of mistaken views currently held about their mutual relationship. It has a certain specious plausibility. Science is concerned with matter, with asking the mechanistic question ‘How?’; theology is concerned with spirit, with asking the teleological question ‘Why?’. Each, therefore, has its own domain, its own language (indeed, its own language game, in the Wittgensteinian sense). So the story goes, and it leads to a modus vivendi, in which science is allocated its role in a public domain of fact, whilst theology is relegated to a private domain of opinion. (‘True for me’ is the best that it can aspire to.) Lesslie Newbigin has eloquently warned us of the dangers of such a compromise1. The true God is not a private, existentially-meaningful symbol; he is the Lord of all that is — the God of science as well as the God of the soul. Such a compartmentalised view of the relation between science and theology would be false to history. The two disciplines have always interacted with each other. One has only to think of the changes in the tone of theological discourse brought about by Darwinism and by discoveries of physical cosmology, to get the point. Necessarily science and theology impinge upon each other because, inescapably, they meet in us. We are both evolved physical systems, with a continuous history stretching back over thousands of millions of years, and also, if Christianity is true, men and women for whom Christ died. Science and theology just cannot be treated in isolation from each other.


Physical World Grand Unify TheorieS Downward Causation Natural Theology Classical Dynamical System 
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    W.B. Drees, physicist and theologian, Staff member of Bezinningscentrum (Interdisciplinary centre for the study of science, society and religion), Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeEngland

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