Saturday, February 27, 2010

Key issues at the interface of theology and philosophy

Alister McGrath's widely used text, Christian Theology: An Introduction has a nice chapter on Philosophy and Theology. I read it partly because my daughter is about to start a philosophy subject at university. It is interesting how McGrath keeps coming back to parallel issues in the philosophy of science, particularly logical positivism, falsification, and critical realism.

Logical positivism was a view developed and held by the "Vienna Circle" in the early part of the twentieth century. They claimed that the only meaningful statements that can be made were those that could be empirically verified. [They rejected theology as "unscientific". Richard Dawkins thinking is implicitly that of logical positivism.] Karl Popper objected that scientific theories could not actually be "verified". Rather, all one could do was "falsify" them. The most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last half century was Anthony Flew's Theology and Falsification, in which he argued that God meets the "death of a thousand qualifications." [Flew now holds a different view].

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