Monday, March 31, 2014

The Limitations of Reason in Discerning Teleology

Toward the end of his life, Jonathan Edwards wrote one of his most important works—The End for Which God Created the World.

The bare bones broad outline for this "dissertation" is as follows:

I. Explanation of Terms and General Positions
II. Chapter 1: What Reason Teaches in This Affair
III. Chapter 2: What Holy Scripture Teaches about the End for Which God Created the World 

The section explaining terms and the first chapter on reason display close, careful, and acute argumentation. That is, really tight, profound reasoning. Yet, at the beginning of chapter 2, Edwards (America's greatest philisophical mind) says this fitting word about the limits of reason:
Indeed, this affair seems properly to be an affair of divine revelation. In order to be determined what was aimed at or designed in the creating of the astonishing fabric of the universe which we behold, it becomes us to attend to and rely on what he has told us who was the architect that built it. He best knows his own heart, and what his own ends and designs were in the wonderful works which he has wrought.
—Jonathan Edwards, Ethical Writings (vol. 8 in the Works of Jonathan Edwards; ed. Paul Ramsey; New Haven: Yale University, 1989), 419.

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