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From: Jeremy Crampton <jcrampto@gmu.edu>
Subject: (urth) natural theology, argument from design, Wolfe, and other
Date: Sat, 06 Nov 1999 10:09:56 

Dan sez:

>The "argument from design" is a much more modern theological supposition ...


>Natural theology, on the other hand, is a much older and more complex
> As I understand it, natural theology argues, among other things, 
>that because the world was created by a supernatural being, that being can 
>intervene in the affairs of the world, producing miracles.

Hm, interesting. Here is what I know about this, tho I'm no expert on it so
invite comment:

Natural theology doesn't necessarily deal with miracles and is indeed based
on the design argument (teleology). So I guess I'm disagreeing with you here.

Evidence: Encyclopedia Britannica WWW edition (which I swear I didn't read
before my last post!): 

"Natural theology is generally characterized as the project of establishing
religious truths by rational argument and without reliance upon alleged
revelations, its two traditional topics being the existence of God and the
immortality of the soul. 

Arguments for the existence of God

The design (or teleological) argument

St. Paul, with many others in the Greco-Roman world, believed that the
existence of God is evident from the appearances of nature: "Ever since the
creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and
deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made"
(Romans 1:20). The most popular, because the
most accessible, of the theistic arguments is that which identifies
evidences of design in nature, inferring from them a divine designer. The
argument was propounded by medieval Christian thinkers and was developed in
great detail in 17th- and 18th-century Europe by such writers as Robert
Boyle, John Ray, Samuel Clarke, and William Derham and at the beginning of
the 19th century by William Paley. Such writers asked: Is not the eye as
manifestly designed for seeing, and the ear for hearing, as a pen for
writing or a clock for telling the time; and does not such design imply a
designer? The fact that the universe as a whole is a coherent and
efficiently functioning system likewise, in this view, indicates a divine
intelligence behind it."

In other words, traces of a Deity are found in the landscape and we can
come to know that Deity better by studying how the world works. So
interestingly enough it has scientific pretensions. William Paley for eg
was a cleric and geologist (IIRC) (and also creationist) who wrote "Natural
Theology, or evidences of the existence and attributes of the Deity" which
made the analogy of the universe as a watch (the divine watchmaker). This
later influenced anti-teleologists such as Darwin and Dawkins (eg "Blind
watchmaker : why evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design"

What Wolfe is doing with the tea-lady is to give us her view of science
thru teleological eyes ie., that science destroys wonder (a common
anti-evolutionist claim to this day). When the ballooning of the cathedral
tent can be explained by the hot air from the fire which was started by
Severian's crash, this for her, misses the point, which is to see the Hand
(of God) in nature. She isn't calling for a miracle, but that the event
should send us to God, not to the explanation. We modernists in turn reject
her viewpoint, eg., viz. Dawkins last book "Unweaving the rainbow :
science, delusion and the appetite for wonder" which I believe argues that
scientific understanding is what truly leads to wonder and respect for
evolutionary explanation.

(That's enough teleology: ed).
Jeremy W. Crampton		         http://geog.gmu.edu    jcrampto@gmu.edu
Dept. of Geography & Earth Science
[MS 1E2]				’Tis true; there’s magic in the web of it.
George Mason University					--Othello (III.iv.69)
Fairfax, Va 22030

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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