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Title: T.F. Torrance's natural theology understood in its intellectual context : the synthesis of rational structure and material content
Author: Irving, Alexander John Dolman
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 5270
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis argues that the pertinent intellectual context for understanding Thomas F. Torrance's reconstruction of natural theology is the synthesis of the rational structure of knowledge and the material content of knowledge. The bridge between the synthesis of (i) rational structure and material content, and (ii) natural theology is the analogous relation Torrance set between the relation of natural theology and revealed theology and the relation of practical geometry and physics, which is constituted by the same formal relation of rational structure and material content. By examining Torrance's work on natural theology in this connection it is apparent that the germane methodological issue at stake is the manner of the relation between the rational structure of human understanding and the material content of God's self-revelation in theological cognition. Torrance's criticism of natural theology concerns its autonomous formulations in which theistic argumentation is established as an antecedent rational sub-structure, from which revealed theology is interpreted and cognized within an anthropocentric correlate system. Accordingly, Torrance's reconstruction of natural theology is the reconfiguration of the relation of rational structure and material content within theological rationality. Applied to the classical loci of natural theology, this takes the form of a reconceptualisation of the cosmological argument and ontological argument, such that the rational structure of theistic argumentation is determined through its connection to revelation at key points. The significance of this inversion of the relation of rational structure and material content extends outwards into Torrance's broader dogmatics, where natural theology is identified as the rational intra-structure of theology, which, in conjunction with revealed theology as material content, constitutes theological science. The result is a theological approach that sets itself as a development beyond Karl Barth's rejection of natural theology, which conceives of natural theology as the necessary but insufficient condition of theology, under the determination of God's self-revelation.
Supervisor: McGrath, Alister Sponsor: Templeton Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Natural Theology ; Theological Cognition ; Torrance ; Thomas F. (Thomas Forsyth) ; 1913-2007 ; Karl Barth ; Epistemology ; T.F. Torrance