Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In what sense was Barth's theology "scientific"?

I was delighted to receive my copy of Barth and Rationality: Critical Realism in Theology by D. Paul La Montagne, just published by Wipf and Stock (Cascade Books). The concluding section of chapter 6 has a nice summary of some of the key ideas:
Karl Barth’s dialectical theology is properly to be characterized as a form of critical realism. Dialectical theology understands its own place as a form of human thought as well as its primary object, God’s self revealing address to humanity, in a critically realistic manner. Dialectical theology in Barth exhibits, .... analogies to the following features of scientific realism... 
(1) It presumes the reality of the object of its discourse. This is why theology and science are both post hoc investigations into what is the case, rather than what must be the case. 
(2) It is post-foundational. 
(3) It is both critical and self-critical. Moreover, it acknowledges that it is the reality of the object of knowledge that forces us to be critical. 
(4) It finds that positive and negative knowledge are bound together in the act of knowledge. 
(5) It considers that knowledge is co-determined by the structure of our minds, our cultural antecedents, and the external reality to which we refer in our discourse. 
(6) The referential power of our discourse is founded upon the power of the reality to which we refer to be a cause of our knowledge. 
(7) It uses a referential, correspondence idea of truth. 
(8) It recognizes that our knowledge is always indirect and mediated. 
(9) It accepts that all our knowledge is fallible and dares to propound fallibility as a criterion of truth. 
(10) It uses hypothetical method for an investigation into an unknown object.

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