If you survey the “proofs for God’s existence” in the contemporary philosophy of religion, you will see that they are derivatives of arguments like Aquinas’s Five Ways. There is an unmoved mover. There is a moral governor. There is an uncaused cause. Or, perhaps you will find those using arguments from the Transcendentalists and Vedantists amount to saying “all is God.” Either way, the opponent is the materialist. The materialist says, “all is material, and matter has existed without beginning.” These are two propositions that are very easy to prove to be false. And I think that has been a problem for those doing natural theology. It gives us two problems:

Problem 1

It gives the non-materialists a false sense of victory. They seem to think that if materialism is false, theism is true. But of course, there are other options. This narrow vision of the options also made students think that if someone is arguing against materialism, then that person is “on my team” of theists. That might be true, but not in virtue of simply arguing against materialists. It also sometimes applies to other views like Open Theism. The Classical Theist thinks that if Aristotle, an apologist for Greek Dualism (matter had no beginning), can help show Open Theism is false, then Aristotle gets us to God. No, there are other options. This gives us the second problem:

Problem 2

These “theistic arguments” are usually anything but theistic. They are consistent with a number of other options. The problem is that “God” has been left so poorly defined that anything non-material is said to be “God.” But theism teaches that God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in being, wisdom, power, holiness, goodness, justice, and truth. There are three parts to that definition. First, God is not material. God is incorporeal. Second, the incommunicable attributes. Only God is infinite, eternal, and unchanging. We are not God, and we will never be God. Third, the properties of God that we can share, although in a finite, temporal, and changing way.

In theism, God is the Creator. He gave existence to all that is not God. This is summarized as “the heavens and the earth.” Scripture begins affirming the clear difference between God and the creation. God had no beginning, and the creation had a beginning (in the beginning). General revelation also teaches this truth for all to see.

And yes, I had a Reformed Christian Intellectual tell me that if God created or merely moved eternal things around it is all the same. That’s the problem. This “thinker” has no discernment between eternal (without beginning) and temporal (with beginning). And so an argument that shows there is something non-material and eternal is “good enough.”

But “non-material and eternal” are consistent with Vedanta and consistent with Greek Dualism (both matter and spirit exist, and both have existed without beginning). An argument that gets us here is badly underperforming. We need much more to get to theism. And we have much more in clear general revelation.

Problem 3

I’m going to throw in a third problem (I only promised 2, this is a freebie). “Intellectuals” doing “natural theology” who are content with unmoved movers and Greek Dualism do not know God or their highest good. They sully the name of “natural theology.” God, as defined in Problem 2 above, is knowable from general revelation. We are held responsible to know God. And our highest good is to know God as He has revealed Himself in all of his works of creation and providence. The person who is content with an “unmoved mover” does not know God in this way. They often resort to extolling the otherworldy “beatific vision” where they will see their unmoved mover at death. But they have ignored their Creator in life.

Weak opponents can make weak preparation. It is not hard to show that materialism is false. But that hasn’t gotten us to theism. We can and should get to theism. Require your philosophers of religion to produce what they claim. Their current arguments are overextended: they claim to prove God is real but come far short.