Natural Theology in the Classical World

Natural theology is about arriving at truths in nature regarding the existence of a supreme being through reason alone (Engen, 1997). This is in contrast with revealed theology, where truths are revealed through divine revelation. As one may notice, truths using natural theology are readily acceptable to human reason. This is due to the fact that one arrives at truths through intuition, and one need not be part of an elite group of people with access to the Scripture or divine revelations. Knowledge about the existence of a supreme being can be ascertained through one’s own experiences, therefore knowledge gained from it fits one’s framework.

Any knowledge one gains about a supreme being through this process is based on one’s own experiences. So for a blue-collar worker, if he uses natural theology to arrive at knowledge regarding a supreme being, he will probably think God is a vague being out of his reach. He will base this on his experience as a blue-collar worker: low wages, back-breaking work, with no salvation in sight. This concept of a God is consistent with his environment.

Revealed theology, however, needs primarily not one’s experience, but other outside information, such as the Scripture or divine revelation (such as miracles). People learned with such topics are more likely to arrive at truths through revealed theology. The basis of this theology is that there are parts God can only reveal by Himself (Winters). Whatever He reveals, it is up to the witness to fit that piece into his own framework. Revealed theology leaves it to us to make sense of what has happened, since not all of the revelation may be rational, especially if one is not a scholar of the Scripture.

References

  1. Engen, J.V. (1997). Natural Theology. Retrieved 17 April 2008 from http://mb-soft.com/believe/txn/natural.htm.
  2. Winters, J. Saying nothing about no-thing: apophatic theology in the classical world. Retrieved 17 April 2008 from http://bahailibrary.org/personal/jw/my.papers/apophatic.html.

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