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.