A Comment on Humility Theology

A Comment on Humility Theology

The anthropic principle faces serious challenges from outside the disciplines of astronomy and physics. Many scholars in the humanities and social sciences fear that the anthropic principle will somehow legitimize false notions of human supremacy, justifying exploitation of the environment to the detriment of other species. Similarly, Christian scholars worry that the anthropic principle could inflate human ego to disastrous proportions, propelling humanity once again down the path toward Babel.

The warnings against exulting in the power of science, glorifying human knowledge, and exalting the human species have taken form as “humility theology.”1 Its proponents seek to underscore for research scientists, educators, political leaders, and others the limits on human understanding. Humility theology appropriately acknowledges that significant spiritual implications flow from advances in scientific research.

Most humility theologians pursue one or more of these laudable objectives: 1) debunk naturalists’ claims that physical reality is the only reality (or at least the only knowable reality); 2) refute Stephen Hawking’s assertion that scientists possess the means to discover the mind of God, to know and understand everything God knows and understands; and 3) promote religious values and practice.

As a Christian and a scientist, I readily share and support these objectives, yet with one significant reservation. Some humility theologians lean heavily toward religious pluralism, acquiescing to the notion that all (or most) religious truth claims are equally valid. On the basis of both logic and science, I do not. I cannot. To say that human knowledge is inadequate for drawing reasonable conclusions about the Creator’s identity would be false humility, not a Christian virtue. (See Kenneth Samples’ article, “Do All Religions Lead to God?” page 00.)

  1. John M. Templeton, The Humble Approach (New York: The Seabury Press, 1981). This is the first of many books and periodicals sponsored by John Templeton in the theme of humility theology.