HOME

 

 

    NEWS

INTERVIEWS

RESOURCES

ABOUT

View by:

 SUBJECT

 THEME

QUESTION

  TERM

 PERSON

   EVENT

A. God and Nature

The diversity of views regarding the meaning of “God” and the ‘God & nature’ problemmatic that characterize contemporary Christian theology is reflected in, and to some extent has been affected by, the past four decades of discussions about ‘theology and science’. The following is representative, but far from completeAgain I want to stress that this paper is meant as a brief overview of the field heavily restricted due to limitations on space. Nevertheless I hope it is somewhat representative of the broad range of...: neo-Thomism (eg., Michael Buckley, Ann Clifford, George Coyne, Ernan McMullin, Bill Stoeger, Steve Happel); dipolar theism (eg., John Polkinghorne, Tom Tracy); non-process panentheism (eg., Sallie McFague, Arthur Peacocke, Phil Clayton, Rosemary Radford Ruether); process panentheism (eg., Charles Hartshorne, Ian Barbour, Charles Birch, David Griffin, John B. Cobb, Jr., Marjorie Suchocki); Trinitarian theism (eg., Phil Hefner, Denis Edwards, Elizabeth Johnson, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jürgen Moltmann, Ted Peters, Tom Tracy); feminist theology (eg., Clifford, Johnson, McFague, Ruether, Suchocki); liberation theology (eg., Moltmann, Juan Luis Segundo); evangelical theology (eg., Nancey Murphy, William Craig, Walter Hearne, Howard van Till, Richard Bube); kenotic theology (eg., Murphy, Ellis, Peacocke, Polkinghorne, Barbour); British natural theology (Peacocke, Polkinghorne); theism/naturalism (eg., Willem B. Drees, Ralph Burhoe, Paul Davies).

The theological genre varies widely as well. Some scholars (e.g., George Ellis) directly challenge the assumptions of atheists who co-opt science to attack religion (e.g., Richard Dawkins, Stephen Weinberg) and who often seek to replace it with a new ‘science-based’ religion (e.g., Carl Sagan). Others revise the traditional ‘arguments for God’ in light of contemporary science, including the ontological argument (eg., Hartshorne), the cosmological argument (e.g., Craig) and the moral argument (e.g., Murphy and Ellis). Some introduce specific scientific issues into constructive theology. This includes i) scientific metaphors (eg., Happel on time and religious language, McFague on the world as God’s body), ii) scientific concepts (eg., Pannenberg on God as Spirit using the concept of field), iii) scientific theories such as relativity (eg., Polkinghorne regarding eternity and temporality), quantum mechanics (eg., Murphy and Tracy on divine action), chaos theory (eg., Polkinghorne, Edwards, and Niels Gregersen on divine action), and evolution / ecology (Hefner on theological anthropology, Ruether on Gaia/God); iv) key phenomena in nature, such as suffering and death in evolution (eg., Peacocke on Christology or Tracy on theodicy). Some introduce science-based worldviews into theology (eg., Barbour, McFague, Moltmann, and Ruether on nature as organic/ecological). Some focus on particular philosophical themes which arise in both theology and science: the world as temporal and relational surfaces in theology (e.g., Trinitarian, panentheist, natural, feminist and liberation theologies) and in science (e.g., evolutionary biology, ecology, special relativity and quantum physics).

Two examples illustrate the subtle way in which 20th century science both challenges and reshapes the ‘God & nature’ problemmatic. The first is the relation of the eternity of God to the temporality of creation and the challenge from special relativity to the assumption that creaturely time is marked by a universal, flowing present. The second is the relation of divine and natural causality often referred to as the problem of ‘divine action’, and the way a variety of scientific fields offers new possibilities for the world to be intrinsically open to divine action. Each example is present in both philosophical and systematic theology.

Contributed by: Dr. Robert Russell

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
Will ET End Religion?

Current Stats: topics: >2600, links: >300,000, video: 200 hours.