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Science and Divine Action

We introduce the question of how God might be thought to act in the world science describes by considering how the great Newton would have thought of God’s action. After An Introduction to Divine Action: Isaac Newton’s God we show how this thinking could lead to a God of the gaps model.

Crucial to many modern attempts to discuss providence is a sense that God works with the interplay between law and chance. We list different types of attempt in A classification of theories of divine action. This leads to a discussion of ‘the causal joint’ - how precisely do God’s purposes intersect with the causal chains we recognise from the world of science?

In order to look deeper into the issues raised by some of the most promising models we next consider Peacocke and Polkinghorne compared. Part of the comparison concerns the question of miracle and the all-important issue for Christians of the resurrection of Jesus.

Resources: Of the voluminous literature on the subject we particularly recommend Keith Ward’s 1990 study Divine Action.London: Collins, 1990. Ward sets out a contemporary philosophical base from which to explore the subject. An interesting exercise is to compare Ward’s 1990 position with his more process-influenced...The exploration has been taken forward by four collections of essays deriving from the Vatican Observatory Conferences of 1991, 1993, 1995, and 1997, edited by R.J.Russell with others, published by the Vatican State Observatory, and entitled Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature (1993), Chaos and Complexity (1995) and Evolution and Molecular Biology (1999), and Neuroscience and the Human Person,The volume on Neuroscience is not yet published (Nov 1999). Evolution and Molecular Biology and Neuroscience and the Human Person are both co-published by the Vatican State Observatory and CTNS at Berkeley,...each with the sub-title Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action. The first of these is especially important for its discussion of God and the early universe, the second for its engagement with questions of providence. The third contains among other things a valuable updating of Arthur Peacocke’s position.We thank Drs Peacocke and Russell for sight of pre-publication versions of their contributions.

For reasons of space we confine this discussion to the Christian tradition, but the reader is invited to reflect on the shape the discussion of divine action might have taken in respect of other religions.On some recent thinking on the Hebrew doctrine of God see Ward, Religion and Creation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996:3-36. On Islam and science see God, Humanity and the Cosmos, Ch.9. On the contributions...

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

Topic Sets Available

AAAS Report on Stem-Cells

AstroTheology: Religious Reflections on Extraterrestrial Life Forms

Agency: Human, Robotic and Divine
Becoming Human: Brain, Mind, Emergence
Big Bang Cosmology and Theology (GHC)
Cosmic Questions CD-ROM Preview...
Cosmic Questions Interviews

Cosmos and Creator
Creativity, Spirituality and Computing Technologies
CTNS Content Home
Darwin: A Friend to Religion?
Demystifying Information Technology
Divine Action (GHC)
Dreams and Dreaming: Neuroscientific and Religious Visions'
E. Coli at the No Free Lunchroom
Engaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: An Adventure in Astro-Ethics
Evangelical Atheism: a response to Richard Dawkins
Ecology and Christian Theology
Evolution: What Should We Teach Our Children in Our Schools?
Evolution and Providence
Evolution and Creation Survey
Evolution and Theology (GHC)
Evolution, Creation, and Semiotics

The Expelled Controversy
Faith and Reason: An Introduction
Faith in the Future: Religion, Aging, and Healthcare in the 21st Century

Francisco Ayala on Evolution

From Christian Passions to Scientific Emotions
Genetic Engineering and Food

Genetics and Ethics
Genetic Technologies - the Radical Revision of Human Existence and the Natural World

Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics
Getting Mind out of Meat
God and Creation: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology
God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion
God the Spirit - and Natural Science
Historical Examples of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)
History of Creationism
Intelligent Design Coming Clean

Issues for the Millennium: Cloning and Genetic Technologies
Jean Vanier of L'Arche
Nano-Technology and Nano-ethics
Natural Science and Christian Theology - A Select Bibliography
Neuroscience and the Soul
Outlines of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)

Perspectives on Evolution

Physics and Theology
Quantum Mechanics and Theology (GHC)
Questions that Shape Our Future
Reductionism (GHC)
Reintroducing Teleology Into Science
Science and Suffering

Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (CTNS/Vatican Series)

Space Exploration and Positive Stewardship

Stem-Cell Debate: Ethical Questions
Stem-Cell Ethics: A Theological Brief

Stem-Cell Questions
Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design...
Theology and Science: Current Issues and Future Directions
Unscientific America: How science illiteracy threatens our future
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Current Stats: topics: >2600, links: >300,000, video: 200 hours.