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The Elimination of Natural Theology
ABSTRACT: The dispute between fideists and rationalists seems intractable since those who argue for faith alone claim that they are offended by the use of reason in religion. The advocates of reason claim that they are equally offended by the appeal to faith. This dispute may be resolved by showing that those who rely on faith may be seen as engaging in an experiment of living, so they can become part of a rational experiment without having to alter their practice; in contrast, those who use reason to justify religion can be seen as addressing a spiritual need. From an evangelical point of view, it would be wrong to disparage the mathematician’s use of the mathematical proof of God’s existence (such as Gödel’s). Wittgensteinian objections to natural theology can be met by showing that the use of reason in religion is distinct from the general kind of philosophical speculation to which Wittgenstein rightly objected. Those who claim that one must already have faith in order to seek understanding successfully can be answered by showing that their…