Natural theology attempts to show that there is a God, and what he is like, on the basis of evidence which both theists and atheists can recognize as obviously true, such as the existence of the universal laws of nature. Many recent Eastern Orthodox thinkers have questioned the cogency and religious value of natural theology. This volume contains essays by David Bradshaw, Richard Cross, Alexey Fokin, Paul Gavrilyuk, Travis Dumsday, Dionysios Skliris, and Richard Swinburne, on the history of natural theology in the Orthodox Church and its contemporary relevance.
- Introduction – David Bradshaw
- 1. Natural Theology in Patristic Thought: Arguments for the Existence of God – Alexey Fokin
- 2. Natural Theology in St. Gregory Palamas – David Bradshaw
- 3. Medieval and Early Modern Natural Theology in the West – Richard Cross
- 4. Natural Theology in Modern Russian Religious Thought – Paul L. Gavrilyuk
- 5. Reactions of Modern Greek Theologians to Natural Theology – Dionysios Skliris
- 6. Experiential Objections against Natural Theology in Some Recent Orthodox Thinkers – Travis Dumsday
- 7. Natural Theology for Today – Richard Swinburne
“If this book contained only David Bradshaw’s marvelous introduction, it would still be well worth the cover price. But the stellar essays that follow are a goldmine for anyone who cares about the things of God. Drawing upon oft-neglected sources as well as the Church Fathers and St. Gregory Palamas, the authors showcase the extraordinary richness of Orthodox reflection upon the existence of God—while also addressing the standard charges against natural theology. Refreshing, stimulating, and utterly timely, this book marks a brilliant start for the IOTA series.”
- Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois
“This is an exciting, superb collection of insightful essays on natural theology in the Orthodox tradition. Its publication should radically alter the current canon of natural theology as limited to the West from Aquinas to Paley to the current revival of natural theology in Anglo-American philosophy. This volume is fascinating both in terms of the history of ideas and religious practice, and in its challenge to both religious and secular skeptics of the power and promise of natural theology.”
- Charles Taliaferro, Overby Distinguished Chair and Professor of Philosophy, St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota
“Anyone acquainted with the Fathers of the Church is well aware of the fact that natural theology is an intrinsic, albeit secondary and subordinate, component of their theology. In the twentieth century, however, many Orthodox theologians, including Vladimir Lossky and Christos Υannaras, rejected natural theology for the sake of a one-sided emphasis on experience and apophaticism. This book is an admirable effort to reopen the discussion in a nuanced and balanced way that will hopefully make a distinct contribution to the wider debates of our times.”
- Fr. Demetrios Bathrellos, Visiting Professor, Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge, UK
“Natural theology has been rather neglected and indeed often dismissed within modern Orthodox theology. This splendid volume stands to change that. Assembling an impressive range of contributors, this book amply demonstrates natural theology’s long patristic pedigree and ongoing vital importance while also bringing in perspectives from the medieval and early modern West. This tour de force will generate considerable theological discussion and, one hopes, further work on the topic. It should also serve to underline further the indispensability of the Orthodox witness within contemporary academic theology and philosophy.”
- Marcus Plested, Professor of Greek Patristic and Byzantine Theology and Henri de Lubac Chair, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
“A must-read for philosophers of religion and very beneficial for other scholars of religion, this volume makes a distinctively Orthodox contribution to contemporary natural theology. It brings into the discussion both well-known patristic authors and some who may be unknown to a broader audience—Fiodor Golubinskii, Viktor Kudriavtsev-Platonov, Panayiotis Nellas, and Fr. Dumitru Staniloae. It is without question a very insightful book.”
- Kirill Karpov, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
“The idea that Orthodoxy has nothing to do with natural theology and the use of discursive reason is widespread. The present collected volume offers a careful survey of the patristic tradition and contemporary Orthodox theology, suggesting that a certain role is preserved for reason in discussing the existence of God. As the essays of the volume demonstrate, reason is part of the Incarnation, and as such is capable of knowing and participating in God. Hence, natural theology is still a valuable means of doing Orthodox theology.”
- Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Volos, Greece
DAVID BRADSHAW is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom, and the editor of Philosophical Theology and the Christian Tradition: Russian and Western Perspectives and Ethics and the Challenge of Secularism: Russian and Western Perspectives.
RICHARD SWINBURNE is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is best known for a trilogy on the meaning and justification of theism: The Coherence of Theism, The Existence of God, and Faith and Reason.