Picking up an overnight (and very good) thread once more, just a few minor points:
Let me be picky about this, to move the theology of nature (rather than natural theology) on. “Jesus is so much greater than the gospel. Amen?”
That statement would be iffy, because we know Jesus through the gospel, and the gospel is his work. But not his whole work, since nature is too, and we know him, though to a lesser extent, through it.
Eddie will answer this, but one place to start is Aquinas’s Five Ways. It addresses the matters that materialists tend to take for granted because they have inherited the debased version of the Baconian theology of nature.
For example, one good critique of the ID design argument used by Thomists is that ID uses empirical argumentation for design, which (as you in particular know) may be overturned. But the Fifth Way says that the very fact that even simple things in our world tend towards specific ends gives grounds for belief in God: my take on that here, and a piece on the “Third Way” that moves on to summarise the “Five Ways” is here. No empirical knowledge is necessary, other than living in the world.
Lastly, on the discussion about “individual” v “corporate” theology, since my own name came up I’ll sketch my position. Steeping myself in Bible long before I started reading theology widely, I came to realise that most flashes of insight I had turned out to be what Augustine or someone said centuries before.
Conversely, if I found an idea contradicted by most of the tradition - or even completely unmentioned - I had grounds to think I may have it wrong. Yet the effort of thinking afresh - especially in new contexts like deep time or the “post-scientific” age (anyone like that usage? ) - was worthwhile, as often one still found in the tradition the seeds leading to similar arguments.
For example, Irenaeus, within a young earth understanding, separates the divine goals in creating mankind in Gen 1 from the higher purpose of calling Adam into Eden - exatly what many of our understandings of Genealogical Adam imply.
One huge advantage of a grounding in historical theology is that it cuts through the spirit of the age: classical teaching on providence casts a spotlight on how much the modern denial of universal providence depends on the cultural infiltration of Epicureanism.
But Eddie is absolutely right - Christ’s project was the Kingdom, and its human aspect the Church - he did not come to create inspired individuals.