Natural Theology in Evolution: A Review of Critiques and Changes


  • Rope Kojonen University of Helsinki



Critiques of Natural Theology, Evidentialism, Swinburne, McGrath


The purpose of this article is to provide a broad overview and analysis of the evolution of natural theology in response to influential critiques raised against it. I identify eight main lines of critique against natural theology, and analyze how the defenders of different types of natural theology differ in their responses to these critiques, leading into several very different forms of natural theology. Based on the amount and quality of discussion that exists, I argue that simply referring to the critiques of Hume, Kant, Darwin, and Barth should no longer be regarded as sufficient to settle the debate over natural theology.


Alston, William. 1967. “Religion.” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. P. Edwards. New York, NY: Macmillan. 140-145.

—. 1991. Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

—. 1995. “The Place of Experience in the Grounds of Religious Belief.” Our Knowledge of God: Essays on Natural and Philosophical Theology. Ed. Kelly James Clark. Dordrect: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 87-112.

—. 2005. “Two Cheers for Mystery.” God and the Ethics of Belief: New Essays in the Philosophy of Religion. Eds Andrew Dole Andrew and Andrew Chignell. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Barbour, Ian. 1997. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. San Francisco, CA: HarperOne.

Barr, James. 1994. Biblical Faith and Natural Theology. The Gifford Lectures for 1991: Delivered in the University of Edinburgh. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Barth, Karl. 1946 [1934]. “No!” Natural Theology: Comprising “Natural and Grace” by Professor Dr Emil Brunner and the Reply “No!” by Dr. Karl Barth. Translated by Peter Fraenkel. Introduction by John Baillie. London: Greffrey Bles. 65-128.

—. 2005 [1938]. The Knowledge of God and the Service of God According to the Teaching of the Reformation. The Gifford Lectures Delivered in 1937 and 1938. Translated by J. L. M. Haire & Ian Henderson. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.

Brooke, John Hedley. 2002. “Natural Theology.” Science and Religion: a Historical Introduction. Ed. Gary Ferngren. Baltimore, MA: The John Hopkins University Press.

Brooke, John Hedley & Cantor, Geoffrey. 2000. Reconstructing Nature : the Engagement of Science and Religion. Edinburgh : T&T Clark, 2000.

Chignell, Andrew. 2009. “’As Kant Has Shown’: Analytic Theology and the Critical Philosophy.” Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology. Ed. Oliver Crisp & Michael Rea. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 116-135.

—. 2016. “The Ethics of Belief.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 Edition). Ed. Edward N. Zalta. Available at: <>.

Clark, Kelly James. 2014. Religion and the Sciences of Origins: Historical and Contemporary Discussions. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Clifford, W. K. 1877 [1999]. “The Ethics of Belief”. The Ethics of Belief and Other Essays. Ed. T. Madigan. Amherst, MA: Prometheus, 70–96.

Collins, Robin. 2012. “The Teleological Argument.” The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Eds William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. 202-281.

Craig, William and Moreland, J.P. Eds. 2012. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Davis, Stephen T. 1997. God, Reason and Theistic Proofs. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Dawes, Gregory A. 2009. Theism and Explanation. New York, NY: Routledge.

De Cruz, Helen & De Smedt, Johan. 2015. A Natural History of Natural Theology: The Cognitive Science of Theology and Philosophy of Religion. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2015.

De Ridder, Jeroen; Peels, Rik & van Woudenberg, René. Forthcoming. Scientism: Prospects and Problems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Evans, C. Stephen. 2010. Natural Signs and Knowledge of God: A New Look at Theistic Arguments. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Feser, Edward. 2008. The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism. South Bend, IN: St Augustine’s Press.

Gifford, Adam. 1885. The Will of Lord Adam Gifford. Available at <>. Accessed on June 8, 2016.

Griffin, David Ray. 2013. “Process Thought and Natural Theology.” The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology. Ed. Russell Re Manning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 276-294.

Hart, David Bentley. 2009. Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Holder, Rodney. 2012. The Heavens Declare: Natural Theology and the Legacy of Karl Barth. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press.

Holmes, Stephen R. 2007. “The Attributes of God.” The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology. Eds John Webster, Kathryn Tanner and Iain Torrance. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 54–71.

Hume, David. 2008a. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Ed. Peter Millican. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

—. 2008b. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Ed. J. C. A. Gaskin. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

James, William. 1896. “The Will to Believe.” The New World. Vol. 5. 327-347. Houghton: Mifflin & Co.

Jenson, Robert. 2001. Systematic Theology, Volume 1: The Triune God. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kant, Immanuel. 1957 [1781]. Critique of Pure Reason. Translation by N.K. Smith. London: Macmillan.

Keller, John A. 2014. “Theological Anti-Realism.” The Journal of Analytic Theology. Vol. 2. 10.12978/jat.2014-1.091413100417a

Kojonen, Erkki Vesa Rope. 2016a. The Intelligent Design Debate and the Temptation of Scientism. London: Routledge.

—. 2016b. “The God of the Gaps, Natural Theology and Intelligent Design.” The Journal of Analytic Theology. Vol. 4. 10.12978/jat.2016-4.041708101413a

—. 2016c. “Salvaging the Biological Design Argument in Light of Darwinism?” Theology & Science. Vol. 14. No. 3. 361-381. 2016.

—. 2016d. “Methodological Naturalism and the Truth Seeking Objection.” The International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. Published as Online first, DOI 10.1007/s11153-016-9575-0.

Lipton, Peter. 2004. Inference to the Best Explanation. London: Routledge.

Macquarrie, John. 1975. Thinking about God. London: SCM Press.

—. 1977. Principles of Christian Theology. Revised Edition. London: SCM Press.

Marion, Jean-Luc. 2016. Givenness and Revelation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mascord, Keith. 2007. Alvin Plantinga and Christian Apologetics. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.

McCarthy, Gerald D. 1986. The Ethics of Belief Debate. Atlanta, GA: Scholar’s Press.

McCord-Adams, Marilyn. 2014. “What’s Wrong with the Ontotheological Error?” Journal of Analytic Theology. Vol. 2. 10.12978/jat.2014-1.120013000318a.

McCormack, Bruce. 1995. Karl Barth’s Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

McGrath, Alister. 2009. A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology. Louisville, KN: Westminster John Knox Press.

—. 2016. Re-Imagining Nature: The Promise of a Christian Natural Theology. Hoboken: Wiley.

McGrew, Timothy. 2012. “The Argument from Miracles: A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.” The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Eds J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craign. Oxford: Blackwell. 593–662.

—, DePoe, John. 2013. “Natural Theology and the Uses of Argument.” Philosophia Christi. Vol. 15. No. 2. 299-310.

McIntyre, Alasdair. 1988. Whose Justice? Which Rationality? Notre Dame, MD: University of Notre Dame Press.

Menuge, Angus & Taliaferro, Charles. Ed. 2013. Special Issue of Philosophia Christi on Ramified Natural Theology. Winter 2013.

Moore, Andrew. 2013. “Theological Critiques of Natural Theology.” The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology. Ed. Russell Re Manning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 227-244.

Nielsen, Kai. 2004. Naturalism and Religion. New York, NY: Prometheus Books.

Otte, Richard. 2003. “Review of The Resurrection of God Incarnate, Richard Swinburne.” Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. 2003.09.04.

Padgett, Alan G. 2004. “Theologia Naturalis: Philosophy of Religion or Doctrine of Creation?” Faith and Philosophy. Vol. 21. No. 4. 493–502.

Pannenberg, Wolfhart. 1977. Jesus: God and Man. 2nd Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster.

—. 1991. Systematic Theology. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: T & T Clark.

Pelikan, Jaroslav. 1997. What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem? Timaeus and Genesis in Counterpoint. University of Michigan Press. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Penelhum, Terence. 2005. “Hume’s Criticisms of Natural Theology.” In Defense of Natural Theology: A Post-Humean Assessment. Ed. James F. Sennett & Douglas Groothuis. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Phillips, D. Z. Ed. 2008. Whose God? Which Tradition? The Nature of Belief in God. London: Routledge.

—. 1988. Faith after Foundationalism. London: Routledge.

Plantinga, Alvin. 1982. “The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology.” The Christian Scholars Review. Vol. 11. 187-198.

—. 1990 [1967]. God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

—. 1991. “The Prospects for Natural Theology.” Philosophical Perspectives. Vol. 5. 287-315.

—. 2000 Warranted Christian Belief. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Rauser, Randall. 2009. “Theology as Bull Session.” Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology. Ed. Oliver Crisp & Michael Rea. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 70-84.

Rosenberg, Alex. 2011. The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co.

Rossi, Philip. 2014. “Kant’s Philosophy of Religion.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Fall 2014 Edition. Ed. Edward N. Zalta. Available at


Runehov, Anne L.C. 2010. “Natural Theology or Theology of Nature and the Natural?” The Human Project in Science and Religion. Copenhagen University Discussions in Science and Religion. Eds. Anne L.C. Runehov, Niels Henrik Gregersen and Jacob Wolf. Copenhagen: Publications from the Faculty of Theology. No. 20.

Russell, Paul. 2014. “Hume on Religion.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition). Ed. Edward N. Zalta. Available at


Russell, Robert J. 1998. “Special Providence and Genetic Mutation: A New Defense of Theistic Evolution.” Ed. Robert J. Russell, William R. Stoeger, S. J and Francisco J. Ayala. Vatican City State; Berkeley, California: Vatican Observatory Publications; Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. 194-95.

—. 2008. Cosmology from Alpha to Omega: The Creative Mutual Interaction of Theology and Science. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Sennett, James F. & Groothuis, Douglas. Eds. 2005. In Defence of Natural Theology: A Post-Humean Assessment. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Smart, Ninian. 1992. “Soft Natural Theology.” Prospects for Natural Theology. Ed. Eugene Thomas Long. Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press. 198-206.

Stenmark, Mikael. 1995. Rationality in Science, Religion and Everyday Life: A Critical Evaluation of Four Models of Rationality. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

—. 2001. Scientism: Science, Ethics and Religion. Burlington: Ashgate.

Stump, Eleonore. 2016. The God of the Bible and the God of the Philosophers. The Aquinas Lectures Vol. 80. Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University.

Sudduth, Michael. 2009. The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology. Burlington: Ashgate.

Swinburne, Richard. 2003. The Resurrection of God Incarnate. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

—. 2004a The Existence of God. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

—. 2004b “Natural Theology, its ‘Dwindling Probabilities’ and ‘Lack of Rapport’”. Faith and Philosophy. Vol. 21. No. 4. 533–546.

Tahko, Tuomas E. 2015. An Introduction to Metametaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taliaferro, Charles. 2012. “The Project of Natural Theology.” The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Eds. William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland. Oxford: Blackwell. 1–23.

—. 2013. “Philosophical Critique of Natural Theology.” The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology. Ed. Russell Re Manning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 385-394.

Turner, Denys. 2004. Faith, Reason and the Existence of God. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Vainio, Olli-Pekka. 2010. Beyond Fideism: Negotiable Religious Identities. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

von Loewenich, Walter. 1976. Luther’s Theology of the Cross. Belfast: Christian Journals.

Wahlberg, Mats. 2012. Reshaping Natural Theology: Seeing Nature as Creation. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wainwright, William J. 2009. “Theology and Mystery.” The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology. Eds Thomas P. Flint and Michael C. Rea. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 78–102.

White, Thomas. 2016. Wisdom in the Face of Modernity: A Study in Thomistic Natural Theology. 2nd Edition. Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press.

—. 2010. The Analogy of Being: Invention of the Antichrist or Wisdom of God? Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Williams, Thomas. 2005. “The Doctrine of Univocity is True and Salutary.” Modern Theology. Vol. 21. No. 4. 575–585.

Visala, Aku. 2016. “What Does Theology Have to Do With Evidence? Exploring Analytic Theology and Epistemology.” Journal of Analytic Theology. Vol. 4.

Wiebe, Phillip. 2009. “Review of Richard Swinburne, Was Jesus God?” Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009.03.32.

Woolford, Thomas A. 2011. Natural Theology and Natural Philosophy in the Late Renaissance. University of Cambridge Doctoral Dissertation.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas. 1986. “The Migration of the Theistic Arguments: From Natural Theology to Evidentialist Apologetics.” Rationality, Religious Belief, and Moral Commitment. Ed. William Wainwright & Robert Audi. Cornell University Press. 38-81.




How to Cite

Kojonen, Rope. 2017. “Natural Theology in Evolution: A Review of Critiques and Changes”. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (2):83-117.