Fortress Press

A Public God: Natural Theology Reconsidered

A Public God

Natural Theology Reconsidered

Neil Ormerod (Author)


Natural theology is a philosophical site that is hotly debated and controversial—it is claimed by Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelicals as a crucial vantage point for the intersection of theology, philosophy, science, and politics, while it is, simultaneously, strongly contested by some theologians, such as those influenced by Karl Barth, as well as some philosophers and scientists, especially of the new atheist variety. This volume steers through these troubled waters, arguing for reclamation of a natural theology that withstands the challenges from within and without the Christian tradition and accrues to a vital public and political witness. Drawing on Bernard Lonergan’s notions of intellectual and moral conversions and contemporary scientific findings, it engages with key assertions from the new atheists to highlight their tensions and inconsistencies, while putting forward a positive proposal for a form of natural theology that is public, contextual, and political; engaging in publically accountable discourse; drawing on our contemporary scientific and social context; and aware of the political ramifications of undertaking the project of natural theology.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451464696
  • eBook ISBN 9781451469837
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 160
  • Publication Date January 1, 2015


"An important and welcome contribution to the resurgence of interest in natural theology in recent years. Ormerod makes an excellent case for developing a natural theology that is publicly credible and accountable."
—Alister E. McGrath 
University of Oxford

"Professor Ormerod's book is timely, courageous, and bracing in its range of reference. Public discourse on religion has become hesitant and rarefied, just when, under the assaults of quasi-scientific forms of atheism, reference to God in the public domain has become timid and defensive. In the meantime, when the ability to speak of God as foundational to all intelligent, moral, and aesthetic discourse is notably diminished, an ominous superficiality pervades political and moral deliberations. When the cultural conversation no longer allows for what matters most, Ormerod calls on us not to leave the public sphere to the idols and demons of our time. Readers will welcome this book, and find insight, not only on God, but also on the conscience, personal and social, needed to combat evil in all of its forms. A Public God, maturing over many years, is definitely worth waiting for: a splendid achievement."
Anthony J. Kelly
Australian Catholic University 

"Written in a clear and fresh style, this welcome book argues for a natural theology that attends to the political consequences of religious belief. It draws on Bernard Lonergan to present God as known through publicly accessible reason."
Gerald O’Collins, SJ
Emeritus, The Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome

"Ormerod shows masterfully how the 'God' question often is dismissed as a topic of rational inquiry before the various possible answers to it have been considered on their own merits. Atheists reject natural theology as rationally futile because they restrict valid knowing to what occurs in the natural sciences or at least in secular investigations. Fideists reject it as religiously irrelevant because they restrict valid religious knowing to receiving divine revelation. But both restrictions are uncritical. Both are at odds with the valid knowing we experience ourselves doing when we are living at our best."
Michael Vertin
Emeritus, University of Toronto

"Neil Ormerod has once again taken complex issues and walked us through a careful argument, in this case for the reasonableness of belief in the existence of God. In typical fashion, he uses clear and concise prose to get down to the most basic issues involved in the public acknowledgement of God’s existence. His historical reviews—for example, of natural theology as an enterprise or of the intersection between religion and political arrangements—are combined with a careful analysis of our contemporary culture. The reader will not be disappointed when she invests in reading this book. It is easy to read, with a compellingly clear train of thought that carries one forward into a fascinating set of contemporary issues. This book should spawn serious examination of the public nature of discourse about God in our contemporary world."
Cynthia Crysdale
Sewanee: University of the South