I’ve been slowly working through Peter van Inwagen’s The Problem of Evil, and I gave pause at the following remark:
I believe that science has made only two contributions to the data of natural theology. The discovery of this fact [that animals have been suffering long before the arrival of humans] is one of them; the other is the discovery that the physical world does not have an infinite past. (112)
One could question PvI’s claims both about what have been contributions to natural theology and what have not. Regarding the former, I didn’t think the finitude of the physical world was an established scientific discovery.
Regarding the latter, I wonder whether there are counterexamples to PvI’s claim. Maybe we can make a list and consider why he doesn’t think they are contributions to natural theology. Given my respect for PvI, the fact that he doesn’t think X is a contribution to natural theology gives me strong reason to think it isn’t.
To start off the list, there has been the discovery that the conditions of the universe shortly after the big bang are finely-tuned so that life can exist; the probability that those conditions would be life-permitting rather than life-prohibiting is very small. Surely, this is a contribution to natural theology? I can’t see why he would think they weren’t.
Any other examples?