Philosophical god-talk, Theology of Nature God-talk, Dialogical God-Talk & Polemical GOD-TALK

​There’s god-talk and then there’s God-talk.


Philosophical (or natural) theology, or god-talk, refers to the hypothetico-deductive propositions, which take philosophy as their starting point, then argue to establish the reasonableness of various a/theological presuppositions, more generally speaking. Beyond conceptual consistency and internal coherence, which help demonstrate a/theological possibilities, logically, they also rely on a modicum of external congruence, which helps to demonstrate a/theological plausibilities, to generate reasonable suspicions, evidentially. 

The propositions of god-talk, then, are essentially tautological in that, while they may or may not be true, they add no new information to our systems. Since not all tautologies are equally taut (plausibilistically), we do aspire to construct them as congruently as we can with the empirical evidence we have available.

Generally speaking, while not all a/theological propositions are equally virtuous, epistemically, we can rest assured that, if we do dig deep enough, we will discover that philosophy, which includes common sense, has long ago demonstrated that both theological and atheological stances can be eminently defensible and not unreasonably held. Most popular a/theological debates engage caricatures of those stances, are not philosophically interesting and are a sad waste of time.

There are other hypothetico-deductive propositions, which take a given creed as their starting point, then argue to establish the reasonableness of various theological conceptions, more particularly speaking. Rather than a natural theology, starting outside the faith, these represent various theologies of nature, which begin within the faith and employ the facts of natural science and interpretations of various metaphysics to better express how the universe, as a general revelation, is related to the God of one’s creed, a special revelation.

In god-talk, philosophy enjoys primacy. God-talk, though, proceeds beyond one’s presuppositional god-talk, while remaining consistent with its general theological priors, to better articulate one’s creedal commitments. In a theology of nature, we don’t appeal to science and philosophy to prove creedal dogma. Instead, we use their concepts – along with the ideas, languages, values and interpretations of other cultures – in a process of inculturation to better share our faith, which norms our God-talk.

Another type of God-Talk, the dialogical, includes both interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, including apologetics, where we can deepen our self-understanding using other stances as a foil, deepen our understanding of others via active listening and possibly discover common grounds.

Finally, we often encounter the polemical GOD-TALK, where others are effectively shouting and proselytizing, argumentatively.

Notes re: philosophical theology to be fleshed out later

  • modal contingency refers to 1ns (EM w/o NC or Possibility or Past), 3ns (NC w/o EM or Probability or Future) 
  • modal temporality refers to modal contingency
  • modal adequacy refers to in/finitude
  • trans-modal necessity refers to brute 4ns (Necessity or Atemporality)
  • dependent contingency refers to 2ns (NC + EM or Actuality or Present), where fallacy of composition may or may not apply from case to case

from blog comment:

I no longer enjoy natural theology as most popular conversations engage only caricatures of history’s greatest a/theological thought. As it is, most of its suggestions can be evaluated in a single parlor sitting.

I am really put off by any proselytizing or polemical theology, whether a/theological or internecine.

I have a deep appreciation for dialogical theology, both interreligious and ecumenical. It gives me hope — for peace.

Finally, I really support good theologies of nature, which are mostly about inculturation processes and making the Good News more recognizable using the languages, ideas and interpretations of different sciences, philosophies and cultures to better express the kerygma. 

     

    Apart from the life of prayer, there can be no talk of doing theology.

    ​We all engage, whether explicitly or implicitly, in a philosophical triad of saying, unsaying and weighing. 




    We aspire to descriptive accuracy of God in saying what He, analogically, is like, then unsaying what He, literally, is not, or analogically, is not like, weighing the cumulative evidence presented by tradition, only ever coming up with successful references to — but, not descriptions of — God.

    This is often called natural theology or philosophical theology but it’s, essentially, philosophy. It provides no proofs. It frames up questions but gives no conclusive answers. It does demonstrate that our existential leaps in faith can be reasonable, a reality most seem to know, implicitly, in their very bones and via common sense, but which, for others, needs to be worked out, explicitly, in our heads.

    A theological triad, however, engages in saying, unsaying and praying, telling stories about our encounters of divine immanence, quieted by our encounters of divine transcendence and reflecting on our experiences in prayer:

    how our cooperating with the Spirit in synergia, loving God, others, cosmos and even self, has, theopoietically, taken us from image to likeness

    how our surrendering in the loving contemplation of theoria has, theotically, gifted us unitive experiences of divine communions, partakings and participations in the activities, works and energies of God!

    The divine antinomies of theology — as expressed in scripture, tradition and reason — are not finally resolved philosophically but get dissolved existentially by an Answer that arrives in the form of intimacy via a robustly, Personal relationship.

    Apart from the life of prayer, then, there can be no talk of doing theology.

    Now, there can be a philosophy-speak that takes place within the life of faith and after the leap of faith, a true theology of nature. But it’s much more closely related to psalmody and scriptural allegory than it is to philosophy. It’s moreso a prayer of the heart.

    So much of the impulse for philosophical theology today seems animated by the search for a persuasive evidential theodicy, which, for all sorts of reasons, I believe is misguided. For one thing, theodicies seem rather cold, hence cruel, responses to many of life’s victims. For another, theodicies can be so summarily and cursorily dismissive of the enormity of human suffering and immensity of human pain. Let us eschew, then, specific theodicies in response to the evidential problem of evil and be content, rather, with general defenses in response to the logical problem of evil, as have been handed down and refined in our traditions.

    The most effective response to a world disoriented, lost, hungry, wounded, marginalized and deformed, then, will come from a missiology, wherein we cooperate with the work of the Spirit in the fivefold Christological mission that will

    • orient us, eschatologically
    • save us, soteriologically
    • nurture and heal us, sacramentally
    • empower us, ecclesiologically, and
    • transform us, sophiologically.

    The problem of evil doesn’t finally resolve, philosophically, but dissolves, existentially, through the realization that we are be-loved. Far more than any conceptual map-making, our participatory imaginations will gift us divine communion along with all the gifts it entails.

    What return shall I make?