Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Natural Theology

Again I'm going to point out my utter incredulity at the creationist mindset, and my utter inability to follow creationist logic. This is not to do with their false dichotomy of chance or design arguments, nor to do with their argumentum ad consequentiam meaningless immoral existence arguments. This is about God being the author of Nature, yet the insistence to shape Nature into the creation myth found in Genesis.

Natural theology has been around for thousands of years, it's nothing new. But surely if one were to believe that God is the author of Nature then it would follow that the word of God comes through understanding nature itself. If there is such a disparity between a story being proclaimed to be a historical account of the universe and between the scientific understanding of the universe, why should the story be preferred to the measured account?

The engagement in this kind of thinking is a story of special pleading. For while we know that humans author stories, it's alleged that the story of the bible was written by God. Meanwhile the story that the universe provides as measured by humanity is one that believers would say that is authored by God, yet this information is met with almost universal dismissal because of its contradiction to the bible.

Yet at the same time that so many question the foundation of rationality without God, that without God how can we trust our senses, or our capacity to reason? Such an argument is self-defeating if one is to reject science and critical thinking, and value myth more highly than measurement. It's rejecting the very faculties that is being said could only come from God.

It seems odd that the expectation is that God communicates to the world not in the intricate design of creation but through ancient storytelling or modern translations thereof. As part of the English speaking audience, should there be the expectation that the King James Version is a result of divine inspiration in translation any more than any other translation done in history? For that matter, why do we expect the initial Hebrew to be God's word?

It makes no sense if God is both author of The Bible and Nature that the accounts of The Bible contradict Nature almost completely. It would mean that there has to be deception either in Nature itself or in the accounts, bringing forth the problem of evil and the distinct possibility of a malevolent deity.

Yet all this is avoided by keeping God as the author of Nature and humanity as the author of The Bible - that it's not an infallible account of the universe but humanity's way of reaching out and understanding their place in the context of the divine. It is a strange inversion of attribution to expect it to be otherwise.

1 comment:

Richard T said...

Haven't though about it much but going from the Christian standpoint it is possible that with the fall the nature of the planet changed to obscure God. Scientific data that is incongruous with Genesis accounts of creation does not automatically make either incorrect. (I suppose it makes evolution false because the world has only existed from "6000" years but from the point of human observation we can't know any different through our own endeavours so it might as well be true.)

I don't find it that strange that we would expect God to appear both in creation and in word. By seeing you in person I know you exist but until you speak to me I have no idea what you want me to do.

To me whether we come about via the Genesis account or via evolution matters less than the fact that we exist and the world exists around us.