McGrath used three approaches to natural theology: the philosophical, historical and systematic theology approach. In the philosophical approach, McGrath used the Biblical account of the creation stating that “classic Christian formulations of faith are perfectly adequate to function as the basis of a scientific theology” (p. 42). He argues that the account of Creation in the Old Testament suggest realities in the existence of the world today. Further stressed that religion, in the context of creation should not be held in contrast with science since there have been realities on both that seem to be parallel. McGrath also added that the account of creation in the Old Testament, God as the creator is not only a Creator but also the one who sustains the cosmos. The creation is also extended to the New Testament through the concepts of salvation and redemption and then Christ is the new Creator.
In the historical approach, McGrath noted that “the constant presence of new trends, and asserts that one must be constantly in dialogue with historical theology, constantly conversing with voices from the past”. In his view, the origins of things varied in history due to the diversity of culture and these origin stories are kept as traditions by people. However, McGrath stressed that in line with science, the search for the answers must be an endless quest where findings are updated from time to time but were never held as final (McGrath, pg 47). At the historical point of view, nature is seen subjectively, that is, because of the presence of the difference in culture.
The third approach is the systematic theology as in The Order of Things, McGrath analyzed the possible links between Darwinian evolutionary trends and the Piagetian account. In his analysis, he argued that there must be the presence of a “God” in the creation or existence of the world and the universe and that he held it impossible for these things to exist without the mediation of a divine power.
What exactly is a cosmogonic myth as defined by Mircea Eliade?
The cosmogonic myth, according to Eliade, is the paradigmatic model of the creation. Cosmogonic myth narrates a sacred history and tells only of that which really happened (Eliade, Mircea, pg. 5). It is a narration of the sacred establishment of the world and what it is today. For Eliade, cosmogonic myth is a sacred story that is true because it deals with realities. In the cosmogonic myth, Eliade extracted the actors of the sacred drama as the Supernatural Beings. For Eliade, the truth of the myth is proven by the existence of the world and the reality of death, as an example can be proven by the mortality of man.
Eliade explained that cosmogonic myth is embedded in the culture of most people wherein such myth, that is somehow different in the every culture and society, is being told or repeated by people in sacred occasions. In some societies, cosmogonic myth is reenacted usually by the youths in order to refresh the memories of the people of the origins of things. It is in this way that people are stepping towards union with God (the supernatural) who created or established the world. Further, it is in the narration of the cosmogonic myth that the powers of the Sacred are manifested to people. Cosmogonic myths, according to the explanation of Eliade do not only tell about the creation story but the origins of everything and anything in this world. For example, the myth of the origin of iron, the plants and animals are but part of the whole cosmogonic myth. What makes cosmogonic myth essential to man and reality is that this suggests facts of our present life. In conclusion, Eliade regarded cosmogonic myth as real because of the intervention of the Sacred and that the elements of the myth suggest realities that can be proven my man today.
What exactly is the essential ethical theme that emerges from myths of cosmic cataclysms, with respect to the judgment of humankind before and after the cataclysm?
In Eliade’s analysis, cataclysms are regarded by the religious people as a consequence of their disobedience to the law of the Sacred. The ethical consideration therefore is that the religious should always see to it that he faithfully obeys the laws in order to avoid cataclysm as a form of judgment. Cataclysm may come in the forms of floods, fire and ashes and in some societies, they believe on the war of the gods, the slow freezing of the world until all the inhabitants die. The myths of cosmic cataclysm are recited and performed in order that these may remind the people of their disobedience and that whatever it takes to judge the sinner, everyone should accept the judgment. Eliade cited the examples of such causes of cataclysms as the evils and demons escaping from the gods’ confinement, mortals who have overused their powers and were not able to control it and some for retribution of the divine laws aiming to destroy the world.
Eliade also stressed that cataclysm, in the universal level has already happened in the past but as the pattern of the myth of creation, cataclysm can still happen again. The point is that people were able to survive during the past cataclysms and so, people are hoping in the myth of creation that after the judgment, people will be able to survive and the world will be recreated. That hope then defies the ultimate end of the world since there exists a hope for recreation and survival on the part of the religious.
According to Mircea Eliade, why is the performance of religious ritual so pivotal to the faithful as an expression of commitment to a myth?
According to Eliade, religious people consider the performance of religious rituals as their expression being one with the Sacred. In his example of the people’s celebration of the New Year’s Eve, which for Christians marks a new beginning, Eliade stressed that the repetition of the cosmogonic act has a collective regeneration importance (Eliade, 75). The rituals of repeating Creation has been held in the history of the Babylonians, Egyptians, Hebrews and Iranians, the rituals of which were recorded and passed from generation to generation (Eliade, 74).
In Eliade’s examples of cultures and societies who have been performing such rituals cosmogonic myth, he did point out just one thing: the repetition of the rituals has different meanings and importance to every culture or people but the general implication is that it is their means of connecting with the Sacred as continuous renewal of their faith or belief. In the culture of the Polynesians for example, the repetition of the cosmogonic myth, as in the creation of the world has three important applications in their culture: the planting of the child in the barren womb, the enlightening of the mind and the body and the rituals of death, war and baptism (Eliade, 82).
“Collective or individual, periodic or spontaneous, regeneration rites always comprise, in their structure and meaning, an element of regeneration through repetition of an archetypal act, usually of the cosmogonic act” (Eliade, 85). The repetition of the rituals for the religious primitive makes him live always in atemporal present, a continual present that is by their thoughts are breaking the sense of time.
What is one key theme of Sigmund Freud in regards to religious belief?
Sigmund Freud regards religious belief as illusions. For Freud, religion is the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity (Psycho Heresy Awareness Ministries). As a psychologist, Freud defends his opinion by explaining that religion is the source of mental problems. In his view, religion and religious beliefs are but man’s response to fear and longing (Gardner, Howard). He set man who is in need of something as an example. Man has his own urgent and strong desire that needs fulfillment. A man then finds somebody whom he feels has the capability of fulfilling such desires. He said that man, in these moments act like a child who is so helpless that he desires to have a father who is all-powerful, protective and loving. Because man feels helpless, he then depends on somebody he thinks is the most powerful and able and that is God. Further, he stressed that belief in God was delusionary and therefore evil.
In his book, Totem and Taboo, Freud explained the emergence of man’s belief in God in an example of a horde, the father of which was killed by his own children because of their envy to their father’s access to women in the tribe. The story goes on to say that the children cannot still fulfill their desire even after the death of their father due to competition existing among them. In other words, the Freud is trying to point out that religion emerge out of frustration and guilt. In his view, religion is a matter of man’s way for the fulfillment of his wishes. In the case of the children, they have recognized their need for forgiveness of the evil they have done to their father and that they need security for the fear that they feel. The source of such needs, according to Freud was invented by man as God. Freud concluded that religion is a childish delusion and atheism is a grown-up realism (Holt, Tim 2003).