That branch of philosophy which investigates what human reason unaided by Revelation can tell us concerning God; distinguished from dogmatic theology which treats of the science of God in the light of Revelation.
This science endeavors:
- To demonstrate the existence of God from the visible things of the world through such principles as those of finality and causality:
"For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal Power also and Divinity" (Romans 1).
- To establish something about the Divine attributes.
Since effects resemble causes we can affirm of God certain perfections possessed by creatures, such as Truth, Love, Beauty.
Since the effect differs from the cause and does not necessarily exhaust the perfections of the cause, we negate of God the imperfections found in creatures.
Since God is infinite, we exalt in Him to an infinite degree, the perfections found in creatures.
- To tell us something about God's relation to the world.
God is related to us as an object is related to a science, e.g., life can exist without biology, and matter without physics.
We are related to God as a science is related to its object, e.g., zoology cannot exist without animals nor botany without plants.
- To throw some light on the action of Divine Providence, conservation, and the problem of evil.
New Catholic Dictionary