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Our Natural Knowledge of God

A Prospect for Natural Theology after Kant and Barth

Ned Wisnefske

Natural theology, the claim that we come to know God through the natural world, has persisted in the common understanding in spite of the fact that modern philosophy - and even theology - rejected it. The author argues that the reason for this is that natural theology was taken to rest on abstract proof or subtle religious feelings, when actually it stems from more ordinary experiences and practices common in our natural life. He shows that even Kant and Barth, the leading philosophical and theological opponents to natural theology, opened the door for a more pragmatic appraisal of natural theology in their late work. The author then shows how the common conviction that our natural life testifies to the reality of God arises inevitably and for good reason from natural practices, propensities, and the dispositions stemming from them. The pragmatic natural theology which results is one neither Kant nor Barth need object to, for it neither illegitimately extends our scientific knowledge of nature nor presumptuously legitimates christian theology.