Participatory knowledge : theology as art and science in C.S. Lewis and T.F. Torrance
The thesis argues that an intriguing similarity exists between the theological epistemology of C.S. Lewis, a literary critic and lay theologian, and that of T.F. Torrance, a reformed theologian deeply concerned with the epistemological questions of modern science. Their epistemological interaction is brought to bear on several interrelated issues: the theological roots of modern science, the nature of scientific objectivity, the nature of art and the structures of theological rationality, with particular inquiry into the roles of logic, intuition and imagination. I argue that their writings reveal a fundamental agreement on the nature of rationality, which in turn reflects a universal way of knowing in the arts, sciences and theology. This agreement reinforces the validity of each of these fields of knowledge. I call this way of knowing 'participatory knowledge'; it consists of both cognitive and feeling qualities. Its object-centred participation leads us to a realist commitment to a knowledge of objective reality and ontological structures, though not in the sense of a detached, objectivistic knowledge. From this perspective, I explore the 'field-relationship' between science, art and theology and describe an a posteriori approach to natural theology implicit in Lewis and explicit in Torrance. I conclude that the theological claim to know God is like a science in that a real, empirical object is known, and yet is like an art in that a qualitative experience is of the essence of this knowledge - the knowledge of the living God. The intermingling of the art and science paradigms does not exhaust our understanding of theology, but is a promise and pledge of theology's maturity.