chapter  2
Natural theology
Philosophical and historical issues
ByPaul Oslington
Pages 9

This chapter introduces and clarifies one of the key categories in the book, that of natural theology, concentrating on the British tradition of scientific natural theology which the argument mostly draws upon. Natural theology is often contrasted with revealed theology, but there is no rigid dividing line between the two. For Bacon and many other natural theologians, it is a distinction between types of revelation. Although the scriptures are held by most theologians to be of divine origin, they were authored by created human beings and are an object in creation. Natural theology has a long history and there are many varieties. It was important in pre-Christian Greek thought, especially among the Stoic philosophers. Natural theology in its British scientific form depends for its coherence on the revealed doctrines of creation and providence. The doctrine of providence is closely intertwined with natural theology. Providence is God's care for creation and involves both preservation of creation and God's governance of creation.