the science of god (Alistair McGrath)

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Alister McGrath defends the idea that creation (or “nature”) is a real entity that discloses knowledge in such a way that shapes the knowledge it discloses.  In other words, ontology structures epistemology without negating the latter. Echoing Thomas Torrance, we know “kata physin.”

He begins with his own life-journey from studying chemistry at Oxford to studying theology–and becoming a Christian along the way.

Contra Hellenism and Orientalism, since creation is contingent, the real can be found by acknowledging nature’s contingency (McGrath 51).  For Greeks, to get to the real was to get beyond appearances and nature. For the creation-tradition, however, the opposite was the case. The natural order possesses its own goodness and rationality.

Creation (or “nature”) finds itself within an interlocking network of divine and human rationality (62).  Following the Hebrew writers, particularly Job (38ff), creation is linked with the idea of God’s “ordering.”  This ordering is not the result of God’s being under necessity, but is rather contingent.

McGrath defends natural theology but in a new way.  Natural theology isn’t looking at a squirrel and then deducing God’s simplicity.  Rather, it begins with revelation and sees the natural world as disclosing real truths.

The book then moves from “nature” to “theory.”  McGrath criticizes communitarian approaches like Lindbeck and to an extent, Barth.   He also interacts with John Milbank and Alasdair McIntyre.

This book is a summary and popularization of his larger Scientific Theology.  It succeeds in channeling key aspects of Thomas Torrance (on epistemology and ontology) while leaving Karl Barth behind.

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
This entry was posted in Book Review, theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to the science of god (Alistair McGrath)

  1. landzek says:

    It is interesting how people can argue postmodern multiplicity without even knowing it.

    Just judging from your notes and synopsis here:

    You could very well be a description of each individual‘s way of coming upon the world.

    Four through the smaller view, View which has no reflection except itself, The world naturally appears as something that everyone is also included in, which also means that there are these natural or give in truth or laws of nature that is common throughout everyone and everything. The only reflected consciousness sees it self over everything, and what it understands as reflection then it is able to see as “God”. Some of Western philosophy is really just centering in on this kind of reflection, which is to say, need cheese death of God and all the stuff of the 20th century etc..

    This kind a reflection is so pervasive that is on able to witness disagreement even when it comes across it, and instead shut it down and put claims it’s version over what disagrees with that, and Christians call this offending situation “sin”. That which Offends a person, as much as they are Christian, is also offending god because it is the reflection within that which is not reflected by which the idea of God become so pervasive and almost obvious. And so when something comes up in the world which is obviously not part of that reflection not sticking in accordance with that reflection of non-reflection, so to speak, it is completely missed, and the “real universe” is mapped on top of it.

    Plus we see basically the history of the past two or 300 years of Europe in the colonization of the world which ultimately leads to what we have now or at least the past 40 years of multiple voices and systems of oppression, etc.

    Because the only reflected consciousness cannot see and indeed will not admit that which is beyond its sensible understanding.

    Cool. Thx.


  2. landzek says:

    (Many bad auto corrects. But it think it is stil readable. But often: “only reflection” should be “non-reflection”.


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