A Christian Natural Theology

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A Christian Natural Theology
Author John B. Cobb Jr.
Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1965

A Christian Natural Theology

Reviewer Truman G. Madsen

Can the existence and, if so, the nature of God be known independent of specific religious experiences? The answer "yes" and attempts to vindicate it are known traditionally as "natural theology." They are extremely rare on the contemporary scene. For the Barthians the project is a futile withdrawal from the faith-state, for the humanists a throwback to defunct scholastic assumptions or fraudulent Protestant value-theory. For the fundamentalists it is dangerous intellectualizing; for the existentialists it is the idolatric identification of religion with finitude. Typically, the informed layman finds it suspect either because it seems loosely unscientific or because it does not touch on "matters of the heart."

Alfred North Whitehead, partly because he pre-dated most of these outlooks, was not lettered by them. Seeking models by which to account for reality in all its fullness and variety he was perhaps the last of the "grand style" metaphysicians, more fascinating because he was an acknowledged master mathematician, formal logician, and philosopher of science. Whitehead is the starting point for the natural theology of the book under review—but the result is a composite of Whitehead and the author. John B. Cobb, Jr. offers a summary-supplement to Whitehead as an alternative to contemporary trends. It amounts to a religious redefinition of secular experience.