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Response to Cobb at hbc

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Response to Cobb at hbc

  1. 1. We are indeed proving too much, telling untellable stories and saying more than we can possibly know if we suggest that philosophy and metaphysics can either conclusively demonstrate or successfully describe the reality of God. But we commit these same errors if, at the same time, we suggest that beliefs in at least some God-concepts are not therefore epistemically justified, metaphysically plausible, normatively defensible and existentially actionable in ways that can be at least weakly truth-indicative even if not otherwise robustly truth-conducive. Still, theodicy problems, intellectual puzzles and conflicts with life experiences will not be eliminated by new or revised kataphatic affirmations of the reality of God for that would entail falling into the paradigmatic trap of trying to solve a problem with the same mindset that created it. Both the reality of God and the absurdity of evil remain immersed in mystery and neither will yield to rational explanations but invite, rather, in addition to apophatic shoulder shrugs, existential solutions that can be found in the answers to such questions as: “To Whom shall we go?” and “What return shall we make?” A good natural theology requires philosophical rigor while a good theology of nature aspires to liturgical splendor. Natural theology asks questions about and frames approaches to primal realities. Philosophically, it discovers what is logically possible and metaphysically plausible (at least, equiplausible). Natural theology, properly considered, does not pretend to successfully describe such realities or answer such questions but it does suggest that many of these questions are not unreasonable. Natural theology thus reveals why a belief in certain God-concepts, at least as vaguely conceived, can be both normatively defensible and existentially actionable (pragmatically guiding us). And this may be very important to those who would want to justify their fundamental trust in uncertain reality. This also means that, while successful descriptions of an incomprehensible God will necessarily evade natural theology vis a vis our propositional cognition, successful references to a supremely intelligible God are not out of the question for a good theology of nature vis a vis our participatory imagination. Eminently liturgical, a good theology of nature can have significant evaluative import as it formatively shapes our desires, as it both consoles and enlivens us. And it can also have tremendous normative impetus as compassion and mercy ensue both from the unitive aims of love (emphasized in but not exclusive to the West) as well as from the solidarity that flows in the wake of experiences of unitary being (emphasized in but not exclusive to the East). Finally, since ALL interpretive approaches regarding primal realities are inescapably tautological and all metaphors eventually collapse, one way science can enhance our understanding of God’s word and creation is by providing more accurate descriptions for our interpretations such that our 1
  2. 2. metaphors are more robust (last longer before collapsing, as we mine their meanings) and our tautologies are more taut (tautologies do not provide new info but that doesn’t mean they are not true or that all are equally true; there are criteria for how well they “fit” reality). We don’t need a root metaphor or metaphysic or system to successfully navigate reality through the eyes of a lively faith, just common sense (that is uncommonly self-critical), like that of Peirce and Hartshorne. 2

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