The Idealist View of Divine Action in Nature

Edward Epsen* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Theologies of divine action in nature have sought to maximize traction with the sciences to secure their credibility. While varying in significant ways, all extant proposals share a commitment to physical realism, the claim that (at least some) physical entities and facts are both mind-independent and ontologically basic within creation. However, I will argue that this metaphysical commitment undermines the body of scientific knowledge to which theologians wish to be responsive. Is there an alternative? Building on the work of Howard Robinson, I will show that there is a coherent account of mind's place in nature that denies physical realism. Such an account would enable a theological description of God's sustaining and governing action in nature through the ontological mediation of minds and laws causally constraining their sensations. Furthermore, this proposal yields a positive research program that makes essential use of the contributions of the natural sciences to understand the nature of embodiment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)924-947
Number of pages24
Issue number4
Early online date29 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • conceptualism
  • divine action
  • idealism
  • laws of nature
  • phenomenalism
  • qualia
  • realism
  • reduction
  • supervenience


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