June 25th, 2013
Thomas Torrance argues that if scientific investigations of the world are understood to make real contact with the real of things (i.e., the truth of being), and then are able to bring our thought or knowledge into a consistent and illuminating mathematical representation which enables persons to penetrate to even more profound levels at many points, then the inherent rationality of the objective world “imposes” itself upon the human knower. So it is, he says, with scientific theology,
…[in scientific inquiry] into the ways and works of God we consider
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May 15th, 2013
I am approaching the world as a realist. (For a background of my epistemology please see: My Evidentialist Epistemology). What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality. This is in contrast to instrumentalism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions. An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.
For the realist-evidentialist, the ontology of the world determines one’s epistemology. They congruently correspond. It is important to note the order of entailment. Antecedently, reality determines our epistemology. It would be illicit to reverse the term order and as Roy Bhaskar notes, it would be the epistemic fallacy. I am not advocating a naïve realism where reality acts on the human mind without personal inquiry nor am I advocating postmodern anti-realism where one can construct whatever type of reality is desired. I am advocating a form of critical realism.
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May 13th, 2013
Thomas F. Torrance (1913 – 2007) – the developer of scientific theology
Thomas Torrance was a professor of Christian Dogmatics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He was heavily influenced by Karl Barth and contemporary science. He translated Barth’s Dogmatics from German to English. (Which is quite voluminous–thirteen volumes, six million words). He was also a recipient of the Templeton Prize for the advancement of religion.
In reality all entities are ontologically connected or interrelated in the field in which they are found. If this is true then the relation is the most significant thing to know regarding an object. Thus, to know entities as they actually are what they are in their relation “webs”. Thomas Torrance termed this as onto-relations, which points more to the entity or reality, as it is what it is as a result of its constitutive relations.
The methodology of the epistemological realist concerns propositions of which are a posteriori, or “thinking after,” the objective disclosure of reality. Thus, epistemology follows from ontology. False thinking or methodology (particularly in scientific knowledge) has brought about a failure to recognize the intelligibility actually present in nature and the kinship in the human knowing capacity to the objective rationality to be known.
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January 4th, 2013
I consider myself a moderate evidentialist when it comes to epistemology. There is a sense of deontology to it in that one ought to base their beliefs corresponding to the evidence; however, there is a sense in which one may hold a belief without sufficient evidence and still be rational. The source of truth is the objective prime reality and our knowledge should correspond to the truth of reality. My epistemology yields my theology in the sense of scientific theology. What I know about reality is what I know about God.
Everything that we know is intuitive or experiential. Intuition will be discussed later but the knowledge gained is from sensory apparatus’. The characters read on paper are only the result of photons reflecting off of the paper and the photoreceptors in the eye receiving that information. All knowledge cannot be deemed sensory only since it seems feasible that a person with a sensory handicap or no functioning sensory apparatus’ may still be justified in believing in his own existence by intuition (as well as moral truths). The task of justification, or determining the truth of p, must meet the criteria of an inference to the best explanation (IBE).
Consider the following definition for justification:
S is justified in believing p = S possesses sufficient evidence for p to be true.
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August 17th, 2012
The pursuit of science as a pursuit of the sacred may not be too far-gone since many philosophers and scientists find their meaning, value, and purpose in nature. Friedrich Nietzsche based his teleology and understanding of truth in biology. If this universe [or multiverse] is all that exists it seems that this scientific driven teleology may not be sufficient.
Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg provided a self-comforting dialogue in The First Three Minutes suggesting that his own research in the field of physics has provided himself with meaning, value, and purpose. Paradoxically, he believes that the more he learns about the universe, the lesser of an ultimate meaning it has.
Physicist Victor Stenger seems to agree with Weinberg’s understanding of the purpose as it relates to reality. In his book, God the Failed Hypothesis, he displays a rather existential reflection when he ponders the universe and reality. He believes that if God created matter with humanity in mind, then it was not done so for a purpose.
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June 13th, 2012
Word of the Week: Kinetic Thinking
Definition: That step forward in which one allows his reason to move along with the movement of the Truth in order to acquire the mode of rationality for apprehending the Truth that moves and lives and acts upon us in history.
More about the term: The Reformation opened up the historical perspective of understanding and initiated a historical mode of thinking, due as much as anything else to the Old Testament studies. However, the Reformation did not have the philosophical or intellectual tools with which to consolidate that insight and elaborate the change in method, and so Protestant theology soon fell back upon the old Aristotelian tools of thought. Consequently the development of historical thinking was severely retarded. When it did finally break out, however, it developed in two ways, each involving a fundamental error at the root, i.e. the historical thinking of the Enlightenment on the one hand and of Romanticism on the other hand. It is this duality that is ultimately responsible for the false problem in which the Dilthey-Troeltsch-Herrmann-Bultmann line of thought is entangled in their distinction between Historie and Geschichte.
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June 7th, 2012
Theologian: Thomas F. Torrance (1913 – 2007) – the development of scientific theology
More about his theology: Thomas Torrance was a professor of Christian Dogmatics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He was heavily influenced by Karl Barth and contemporary science. He translated Barth’s Dogmatics from German to English. (Which is quite voluminous–thirteen volumes, six million words). He was also a recipient of the Templeton Prize for the advancement of religion.
Torrance was the primary contributor to the development of scientific theology. He argued that the universe of space and time is the means by which God has revealed himself to man, as it comes to view under human inquiry to develop and formulate knowledge of God. This was the development of an exegesis of nature.
Lorenzo Valla (1406-1457) developed the interrogative (interrogatio) rather than the problematic (quaestio) form of inquiry. Valla’s mode of inquiry was one in which questions yield results that are entirely new, giving rise to knowledge that cannot be derived by an inferential process from what was already known. This method was similar to the works of Stoic lawyers and educators like Cicero and Quintilian; that is, questioning witnesses, investigating documents and states of affairs without any prior conception of what the truth might be. Valla transitioned from not only using this method for historical knowledge but also applied it as “logic for scientific discovery.” Valla’s logic for scientific discovery was the art of finding out things rather than merely the art of drawing distinctions and connecting them together. He called for an active inquiry (activa inquisitio). John Calvin (1509-1564) applied this method to the interpretation of Scripture and thus became the father of modern biblical exegesis and interpretation. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) applied it to the interpretation of the books of nature, as well as to the books of God, and became the father of modern empirical science.
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May 17th, 2012
Theologian: Alister McGrath (1953 – present)
More about his theology: McGrath is considered one of the leading developers and proponents of scientific theology. There is a long tradition within Christian theology of drawing on intellectual resources outside the Christian tradition as a means of developing a theological vision. This approach is often referred to by the Latin phrase ancilla theologiae (a ‘handmaid of theology’). The evolution of thought and method from Newton to Einstein vitalized scientific theology. Scientific theology argues that the working methods and assumptions of the natural sciences represent the best—or the natural—dialogue partner for Christian theology.
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