Thursday, June 10, 2010

The existence of God is a contestable hypothesis

Natural theology attempts to start with a study of the material world and deduce the existence of God and something about God's character. In his Doctrine of Creation, Karl Barth takes a distinctly different approach.
Our first emphasis is …. that the doctrine of the creation no less than the whole remaining content of Christian confession is an article of faith, i.e., the rendering of a knowledge which no man has procured for himself or ever will; which is neither native to him nor accessible by way of observation and logical thinking; for which he has no organ and no ability; which he can in fact achieve only in faith; but which is actually consummated in faith, i.e., in the reception of and response to the divine witness…. It is a faith and doctrine of this kind which is expressed when …. we confess that God is the Creator of heaven and earth.
Church Dogmatics 3.1, page 5.
To support this emphasis Barth points out how the great chapter on faith in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It begins with (11:3)
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
He then goes on to discuss how "the supreme problem of theology is not the existence of God, as natural theology supposes, but the independent existence of creaturely reality." (Editors preface)
More on that later...

The picture is part of Michelangelo's paintings on the roof on the Sistine Chapel.

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