chapter  1
8 Pages

Theology as a scientific discipline

The place of natural theology and ramified natural theology
ByRodney Holder

This chapter aims to show that religious belief, and in particular Christian belief, is rational in a way similar to that in which science is rational. Arguments for the existence of God have come under the domain of ‘natural theology’ and have often utilized evidence from scientific findings about nature. Natural theology, however, only gets one so far—to a creator God behind the universe and its laws. To get to the specifically Christian God one needs to go further and to engage in ‘ramified natural theology,’ a term introduced by Richard Swinburne. Ramified natural theology is the providing of arguments for the specific claims of Christianity. The German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg, whom we shall meet again in these pages, makes this very point. Pannenberg is adamant that theology is dealing with truth, but there is a job of work to be done: ‘dogmatics may not presuppose the divine truth which the Christian doctrinal tradition claims.