POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

McGrath's Scientific Theology

Ben Vastine, a friend here on the POCBlog and graduate student in engineering at Texas A&M commented on some recent reading he had been doing in Allistair McGrath's Scientific Theology series.  I asked him if he had any article length summaries of his position and he passed one on to me.  Though I should be reading seminary books for class next week (apologies Kasey) - I found this little morsel very stimulating.

The article is found here.  I found his reflection on how our view of "nature" is not worldview neutral to be fascinating.  Here is a brief quote:

Nature is a construction of the reader, reflecting her theoretical precommitments; it is not an autonomous reality, which can be the objective basis of theoretical reflection. Suggestions such as these radically undermine the plausibility of worldviews which hold that ‘nature’ is an objective reality, capable as functioning as the basis of a worldview. If anything, ‘nature’ is itself the outcome of a worldview. Without an ontology of nature, the concept has little value in critical intellectual discourse. It is for this reason that Christian theology offers a specific reading of nature, regarding it as God’s creation, and insisting that it is only in this manner than the notion of ‘nature’ can be given any intellectual stability. 

Interesting for those who get all geeked up about theological method (all 3 of you).  I would be interested in his project of "scientific dogmatics" - or stating the beliefs arrived at by his methodology - but as he concludes the article. That is perhaps for some other day.  He uses the insights of postmodernism to critique enlightenment certainty which poses as if it exists without philosophical worldview.  I found this good.  But postmodern insight often throws a mass of babies out with some dirty bathwater.  I would however love to ask him his view of escaping the postmodern rabbit hole.  For me, the revelation of God in Scripture and in Jesus Christ - and the attending biblical worldview, ground a view of reality that allows a robust realism to persist.  From Ben's comments, I think this would be Dr. McGrath's position - which should be no shock.  It has been the position of Christian philosophy for centuries - ontology grounds our pursuit of knowledge.  And Christian ontology gives ground to rationality, science, and an ethic that does not shift with the sands of time.