chapter  2
27 Pages

Reason and religion

The role of natural theology
ByRodney Holder

This chapter provides an overview of natural theology from Thomas Aquinas to the present day. There will be some discussion of the objections to the enterprise from David Hume and Immanuel Kant. The chapter argues that William Paley is more subtle than often portrayed, implicitly answering some of Hume’s criticisms. It points out how the position of such figures as Temple and Charles Kingsley are consonant with the classical position on creation of St Augustine. Natural knowledge of God has been the subject of natural theology, and could be construed as an immediate impression of God’s existence, power and majesty, coming from simply gazing in awe at the heavens. From Aquinas to William Paley in the nineteenth century there was a subtle shift in natural theology. In the eighteenth century natural theology came under fierce attack by Enlightenment philosophers Immanuel Kant and David Hume. Hume made a number of criticisms of natural theology, particularly the argument from design.