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2. From Theology to Physics

To see the genuinely interactive, but asymmetrical, nature of the relations I am proposing, I will suggest at least three paths by which theology can influence physics. (6): Theology provided some key historical assumptions which underlay scientific methodology, such as the contingency and rationality of nature.For example, to view nature as created ex nihilo implies that the universe is contingent and rational, and these views provide two of the fundamental philosophical assumptions on which modern science is...Note that other assumptions, though grounded in the ex nihilo tradition, were not carried over into the scientific conception of nature, such as goodness and purpose (i.e., axiology and teleology); it would be interesting to re-examine these assumptions in contemporary science.For subtle discussions of a spectrum of positions on the adequacy of science to account for nature, the possibility of wider perspectives, and the historical judgments made on these questions, see for...(7) Theological theories can act as sources of inspiration in the scientific ‘context of discovery’. Examples include the influences of religion on the pioneers of quantum theory, including Planck, Einstein, Bohr and SchrödingerJ. L. Heilbron, The Dilemmas of an Upright Man: Max Planck as Spokesman for German Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986); Peter A. Degen, "Einstein's Weltanschauung and Its Spinozistic...; the influence of religious beliefs in cosmologyFor an extremely careful and recent account of the extra-scientific factors at play in cosmological debates in this century, including the implicit role of religion, see Kragh, Cosmology and Controversy....; the consequences of a Whiteheadian approach to scienceSee Charles and John B. Cobb Birch, Jr., The Liberation of Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); Ian G. Barbour, Religion in an Age of Science, Gifford Lectures; 1989-1990. (San Francisco:...or a commitment to temporal irreversibility as foundational in physicsIlya Prigogine, From Being to Becoming: Time and Complexity in the Physical Sciences (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1980).. Finally (8), theological theories could offer ‘selection rules’ which might serve as one of various criteria of theory choice in physics:In a similar way, John Barrow uses the Anthropic Principle, not as an argument for design, but as a way of allowing biology to place constraints on physics (i.e., conditions that are required if the evolution...if one considers a theological theory as true, then one can delineate what conditions must obtain within physics for the possibility of its being true. These conditions can then serve as reasons for pursuing a particular scientific program.

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Contributed by: Dr. Robert Russell

Topic Sets Available

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Genetic Engineering and Food

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

Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics
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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
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Questions that Shape Our Future
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Science and Suffering

Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (CTNS/Vatican Series)

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