Strict Naturalism and Christianity: Attempt at Drafting an Updated Theology of Nature

Zygon 42 (3):701-714 (2007)

Abstract

. In the first part of this essay I sketch a view on cosmogenesis from the perspective of modern science, emphasizing, first, that the laws of nature are outcomes of the history of nature, not imposed on nature from outside of nature; and, second, that the universe, including human beings, is the result of a single, natural process. It consistently brings forth novelty through a probabilistic sequence of syntheses. Consequently, the new emerges from the unification of elements that were previously unified. This universal creative process is both probabilistic and nonlinear. It is probabilistic because each creative event occurs within a cohort of also possible events. It is nonlinear because the new has qualities that its elements in isolation do not possess. I refer to this model of understanding cosmogenesis as strict naturalism. In the second part of the essay I argue that deistic and theistic models of cosmogenesis cannot cope with strict naturalism because they exclude teleology and supernatural interference in the creative process. In contrast to deism and theism, I show that Christianity is capable of integrating strict naturalism. To do that I focus on the Christian notion of incarnation. At the center of this reflection is the attempt to increase the understanding of Christian faith that only the Word of God creates

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