and here: http://theologicalsharpening.blogspot.com/2009/02/is-natural-theology-compatible-with_18.html
I will mainly be expositing Bill Craig's contribution to the Five Views on Apologetics book published by Zondervan.
In this book Dr. Craig is defending the view called Classical Apologetics, to find out exactly how this differs from the other approaches it would be best to simply buy the book. But suffice it to say that one of the main tenents of Classical Apologetics is that it uses the system called Natural Theology, which generally defined is the project of philosophically defending Theism. But not necessarily Christian Theism, which is one of the reasons why it is not my favorite form of the defense of the faith, although I believe it to be very helpful, especially when dealing with atheism and skepticism.
The most important aspect of the way Dr. Craig couches his Christian Apologetic is in his definitions and distinctions between four things. The first two are the difference between Knowing and Showing the truth of something. The second two are the difference between Magisterial and Ministerial reason.
There is a plurality of opinions on these subjects among the Biola Philosophy professors. But Dr. Craig seems to be the most prolific of the Biola Professors in his use of apologetics, so I think that his views can be used as a sort of foil for Danny's criticism. So while not everything Dr. Craig says can also be said of all Christian Natural Theologians, he is a well known and popular advocate of what Danny is taking issue with.
When it comes to knowing the truth of something Dr. Craig defers to what has come to be known as Reformed Epistemology. This alone should dissipate some of the heat that has been generated between people like my friend, because this epistemology finds its roots in the theology of John Calvin, hence the name Reformed. This view of religious epistemology has been developed and championed by Alvin Plantinga, who considers himself broadly to be within the reformed theological tradition. In other words so far we are looking at "intramural" disagreements. Danny is a Calvinist, I am a Calvinist, Plantinga is a Calvinist, and Craig is a protestant and at least as Calvinistic as his epistemology.
Reformed Epistemology is essentially this: Under the proper circumstances while functioning properly our minds come to belief in God. In other words Theistic belief at the very least can be properly basic. This term essentially means that the belief is not based upon any other belief. Historically these kinds of beliefs have been called incorrigible or self-evident. A similar belief would be that of believing you are seeing a tree while being appeared to treely (in other words whenever you look at a tree you believe you are seeing a tree). But what about defeaters? That is to say what happens when Hume comes along and presents his skeptical arguments agaisnt your rationality in believing you are in fact seeing a tree? Well you could argue with Hume, or you could simply look back at the tree. Generally speaking your level of warrant concerning your belief in that tree will be higher than your warrant in believing that Hume's arguments prove anything. The strength of your warrant for believing in the tree automatically defeats Humean Skepticism. Of course this isn't the case for everybody. There are many people who are persuaded by Hume. I can't tell you what that feels like because Hume's arguments have only seemed troubling to me, but not in the slightest persuasive. In any case Plantinga thinks that this is how not only theistic belief can and does function for many people, but that Christian theism functions in this way. Craig's formulation is different. He believes that the basic belief you have in Christianity is caused not by simply functioning properly in the proper circumstances but that the Holy Spirit actively makes these beliefs evident to you. I don't think that this is a very important distinction because I believe both are in fact true. But suffice it to say that we believe the Christian need not engage in natural theology, rational discourse, or apologetics of any kind in order for him to personally and rationally believe in Christian theism.
Plantinga gives the following example to demonstrate how our intuitions concerning rationality essentially prove his epistemology's rationality (I can't remember all the details, but it is something similar to the following). A professor at a university goes on a walk one after noon. When returns to the university he finds that a letter with some unpleasant information was given to the Dean. It is addressed as being from the professor. They know exactly when the letter was delivered because it was slipped under the deans door while he was in his office. But the professor in question knows he was taking a walk at the exact time of the letter's delivery. Moreover he knows that he in fact did not write the letter, because he has no recollection of writing the letter. So he has good reason to believe that he in fact did not deliver the letter, and that he did not write the letter. But the another member of the faculty actually saw him deliver the letter to the Dean's office! The letter is even in his hand righting. But the professor in question has no history of mental illness, and there is no evidence that he blacked out. In other words his mind is functioning exactly the way it should, it is functioning properly. But all the evidence goes agaisnt his basic belief that he did not write or deliver the letter in question. Is he irrational in maintaing this belief? I think it seems obvious that he is in fact rational in maintaing this belief. Theistic belief therefore can be given the same kind of credence unless it can be proved that it is caused due to some malfunction in our minds.
But needless to say this is what myself, Plantinga, and Craig believe the foundation of theistic belief to be. We do not believe that Natural Theology, or science, or history, or even the Bible are the actual foundation of theistic belief. But that the way in which God created us to function, the way He created the world, and the testimony of the Holy Spirit are the ultimate grounding of the Christian's belief and faith in the truth of Christian theism. I am not sure but I think that Danny disagrees with this. I do not think that he should, because he is a Calvinist and holds to Sola Scriptura. This epistemology seems to be not only compatible with his theology but actually required and taught by the scriptures to some degree. There are lots of places in the scriptures that speak of the Holy Spirit's relation to our belief in the Christian God, as well as how God can be known from the world in at least a basic way.
But if Danny legitimately has a problem with this then of course we are no longer talking about an in house disagreement. Because his epistemology will no longer be reformed in this sense. But this of course does not settle the issue of showing the truth of something, or the magisterial and ministerial uses of reason. Which essentially means that I have not really touched on Natural Theology yet. But I will, God willing, continue this discussion soon.