Friday, 2 April 2010

How Theology of Nature Works

Theology does not have the same privilege of science in being able to use repeatable experimentation in order to verify a hypothesis. Instead, the objective gives way to the subjective. Nowhere is the contrast in methodology more obvious than in the interface of science and theology. I'm often asked what theistic evolution offers that a secular reading cannot, but that is another subject for another time. For now I present only this quote about empirical fit, from mathematician and philosopher of religion Ian Ramsey:

The theological model works more like the fitting of a boot or shoe than like the 'yes or 'no' of a roll call. In other words, we have a particular doctrine which, like a preferred and selected shoe, starts by appearing to meet our empirical needs. But on closer fitting to the phenomena the shoe may pinch. When tested against future slush and rain it may be proven to be not altogether water-tight or it may be comfortable - yet it must not be too comfortable. In this way, the test of a shoe is measured by its ability to match wide range of phenomena, by its overall success in meeting a variety of needs. Here is what I might call the method of empirical fit which is displayed by theological theorizing.

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