Ward, Keith. God as a Principle of Cosmological Explanation."
In his paper Keith Ward
moves both ways between theology and cosmology. He begins with a summary of the traditional doctrine of
creation: God is a non-spatio-temporal
being, transcending all that is created, including spacetime, although immanent
to all creation as its omnipresent Creator.
Divine eternity is thus timeless, for God has neither internal nor
external temporal relations. The act of
creation is one of non-temporal causation.
Whether there was a first moment is irrelevant to the doctrine.
Ward admits that this view
of God is congruent with the block universe interpretation of special
relativity, but he is highly critical of it.
Ward maintains that the doctrine of creation does not entail a timeless
God. Although God transcends spacetime
as its cause, God is nevertheless temporal, since . . . by creating spacetime,
God creates new temporal relations in the Divine being itself. Allowing God to have temporal relations
makes it possible for God to act in new ways, make new decisions and bring into
being in time an infinite number of new things. The inclusion of divine contingency along with divine necessity
enriches the concept of omnipotence.
Ward distinguishes his view
of God from that of process theism. He
maintains Gods omnipotence and still affirms free will by appealing to divine
self-limitation. The advantage over
Whitehead is that Gods omnipotence will ensure that all the evil caused by
the misuse of creaturely freedom will be ordered to good . . .
Ward then relates
nomological models, which are dominant in physics and involve general
principles and ultimate brute facts, to axiological models, which arise in the
social sciences and describe the free realization of ultimate values. A nomological model realizes an aesthetic
value, since the laws of nature are elegant and simple. An axiological model is ultimately factual,
since values arise out of the natural capacities of sentient beings as
described by physics and evolutionary biology.
This inter-relationship is central to the Christian claim that . . .
goodness is rooted in the nature of things, and is not some sort of arbitrary
decision or purely subjective expression of feeling.
Quantum cosmologists attempt
to offer a secular explanation of ultimate brute facts, but this minimizes the
importance of freedom, creativity, and the realization of values. Theism can offer a comparable explanation of
nature, but its advantage lies in its combination of nomological and
axiological explanations. Theism is
thus the best possible intelligible explanation of the universe and the
completion of that search for intelligibility which characterizes the
scientific enterprise. He urges that
we reconstruct the doctrine of creation in terms of creative emergence, i.e.,
the novel realization of intrinsic values grounded in the divine nature and
emerging through the cooperative acts of rational creatures.
Modern cosmology sets the
notion of Divine action in its broadest and most all- embracing context. The laws of nature realize Gods purposes,
understood as potentialities in the structure of reality and not interferences
from an alien power. Miracles are
transformations of the physical to disclose its spiritual foundation and goal
. . . Thus theism can be seen as an
implication of the scientific attitude itself, and the pursuit of scientific
understanding may be seen as converging upon the religious quest for
self-transforming knowledge of God . . .
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