More Warfare ThesisIf you attend Taede Smedes talk at Trinity College this Thursday on “Why is Special Divine Action a Probem?” beware that his use of the term “theological naturalism” falls into the Warfare Thesis category. As Smedes explains:
As I will argue in this lecture, the problems surrounding the plausibility of SDA are mainly theological and philosophical in nature. The main problem is what I will call “theological naturalism” and that depicts the tendency to conceptualize theological ideas using ideas and ways of thinking taken from the natural sciences, which results in a distortion of the theological concepts involved. Rather than defending a particular view or even “theory” of SDA, this lecture aims at a philosophical diagnosis that aims at clarifying some of the conceptual confusion surrounding the concept of SDA. Perhaps SDA remains a problematic concept, but not for the reasons that are so often given.
It would be interesting to know what are the reasons from the natural science against SDA “that are so often given” because, in fact, I don’t know of any. There are, on the other hand, a plethora of reasons against SDA, that are often given, from theology. Here is how I discussed “theological naturalism” in Science’s Blind Spot:
There are, as it were, theological ground rules imposed on science. And although these theological concerns are varied, they all funnel toward a similar consequence. Put simply, the primary theological ground rule is that scientific explanations must be purely naturalistic. The term naturalism can take on different meanings when used by historians and philosophers of science. Here it is used to refer to this restriction of science to naturalistic explanations for religious reasons. I use a new term, theological naturalism, to clarify this and avoid ambiguity.
This term theological naturalism reminds us that the assumption of naturalism in science is neither a result of atheistic influence nor an empirically based scientific finding. It is a consequence of metaphysical reasoning, and the implications for science are profound. Theological naturalism provides science with well defined universal criteria to which it conforms. Instead of merely following the data where ever it may lead, science has a framework already in place. The answer, to a certain extent, is already in place.
Nonetheless the Warfare Thesis continues to attract adherents from all sides.