Contemporary Perspectives in Philosophy of Religion
Edited By Sebastian Kolodziejczyk and Janusz Salamon
Why Hume and Kant Were Mistaken in Rejecting Natural Theology
Natural theology in the sense of arguments from evident features of the natural world to the existence and nature of God has been part of the Christian intellectual tradition for most of its life, and it has roots both in the Old Testament and in Greek philosophy.2 Not that any of the Christian Fathers, scholastics, and later theologians thought that everyone needed natural theology; but they thought that it was available for any who doubted the existence of God and were capable of understanding the arguments. But this whole tradition became discredited among philosophers and theologians as a result of the similar arguments put forward by Hume and Kant about the bounds to what humans could understand and know. Kant’s arguments have had an enormous influence for the past two centuries on the thinking of philosophers on the continent of Europe, and via these philosophers on theologians in English speaking countries as well as on the continent of Europe. Hume’s arguments had their greatest influence on the thinking of English speaking philosophers; and the latter influence was at its strongest in the middle years of the twentieth century. I claim that the arguments of both philosophers about the limits to human understanding and knowledge are totally unsound, and so there is good reason for natural theology to resume its proper place in the Christian and – more generally – the philosophical tradition.
I begin with Hume. Hume’s very general principle of the bounds...
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