Many scientists regard mass and energy as the primary currency of nature. In recent years, however, the concept of information has gained importance. In this book, eminent scientists, philosophers, and theologians chart various aspects of information, from quantum information to biological and digital information, in order to understand how nature works. Beginning with a historical treatment of the topic, the book also examines physical and biological approaches to information, and the philosophical, theological, and ethical implications.
This article explores the relations between the idea of deep incarnation and scientific ideas of an informational universe, in which mass, energy, and information belong together. It is argued that the cosmic Christologies developed in the vein of Cappadocian theology (fourth century) and the Franciscan theologian Bonaventure (thirteenth century) can be interpreted as precursors of an informational worldview by consistently blending “formative” and “material” aspects of creativity. Reversely, contemporary sciences of information can enlarge the scope of the contemporary view of (...) deep incarnation. I propose three hypotheses for showing how and why. First, mass, energy, and information have an equal causal importance for explaining reality. Second, just as transformation presupposes communication, so communication presupposes information. Third, contemporary science can elucidate seminal concerns of the idea of deep incarnation, insofar as informational structures pave the way for information capture, communication, and transformation. At the level of organismic life, new features of embodied cognition and emotion come up, important for understanding the organismic depth of the concrete incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth. (shrink)
The organic unity between the head and the vital arms of the octopus is proposed as a metaphor for science and religion as an academic field. While the specific object of the field is to pursue second-order reflections on existing and possible relations between sciences and religions, it is argued that several aspects of realism and normativity are constitutive to the field. The vital arms of the field are related to engagements with distinctive scientific theories, specialized philosophy of science, representative (...) theological proposals, and the input from the study of world religions. (shrink)
The neo-Darwinian paradigm, focusing on natural selection of genes responsible for differential adaption, provides the foundation for explaining evolutionary processes. The modern synthesis is broader, however, focusing on organisms rather than on gene transmissions per se. Yet, strands of current biology argue for further supplementation of Darwinian theory, pointing to nonbiotic drivers of evolutionary development, for example, self-organization of physical structures, and the interaction between individual organisms, groups of organisms, and their nonbiotic environments. According to niche construction theory, when organisms (...) and groups develop, they not only adapt to their environments but modify their environments, creating new habitats for later generations. Insofar as ecological niches persist beyond the lifecycle of individual organisms, an ecological inheritance system exists alongside genetic inheritance. Such ecological structures may even facilitate the development of a cultural inheritance system, as we see in humans. The article discusses theological perspectives of such new developments within holistic biology. (shrink)
The dialogue between science and theology is no longer confined to discussing theology, physics and biology, but, as these essays make clear, sociology, psychology & neuroscience are now open for discussions between theologians and scientists.
Systems theory is proposed as a major resource for reconceptualizing a Christian theology of creation. Section I outlines the principles of the theory of autopoietic systems and discusses in particular Manfred Eigen's and Stuart Kauffman's differing views of the emergence of life. Section II shows how biblical texts conceive of God's “blessing” as a divine installment and reshaping of spatio‐temporal fields for creaturely self‐productivity. On this double basis, Section III undertakes a constructive attempt to formulate a theology of self‐productivity within (...) a Trinitarian framework. The unity of divine self‐consistency and capacity for self‐relativization is seen as the clue for understanding how God not only sustains the world in general but also influences particular processes by changing the overall probability pattern of evolving systems. (shrink)
Historically the concept of risk is rooted in Renaissance lifestyles, in which autonomous agents such as sailors, warriors, and tradesmen ventured upon dangerous enterprises. Thus, the concept of risk inseparably combines objective reality (nature) and social construction (culture): Risk = Danger + Venture. Mathematical probability theory was constructed in this social climate in order to provide a quantitative risk assessment in the face of indeterminate futures. Thus we have the famous formula: Risk = Probability (of events) × the Size (of (...) future harms). Because the concept of harm is always observer relative, however, risk assessment cannot be purely quantitative. This leads to the question, What are the general conditions under which risks can be accepted? There is, after all, a difference between incurring a risk and bearing the costs of risks selected for by other agencies. Against this background, contours of a theology of risk emerge. If God creates a self-organizing world of relatively autonomous agents, and if self-organization is favored by cooperative networks of autopoietic processes, then the theological hypothesis of a risk-taking God is at least initially plausible. Moreover, according to the Christian idea of incarnation, God is not only taking a risk but is also bearing the risks implied by the openness of creation. I thus argue for a twofold divine kenosis---in creation as well as in redemption. I discuss some objections to this view, including the serious counterargument that risk taking on behalf of others remains, even for God, a morally dubious task. What are the conditions under which the notion of a risk-taking God can be affirmed without leaving us with the picture of God as an arbitrary, cosmic tyrant? And what are the practical implications for the ways in which human agents of faith, hope, and love can learn to cope with the risks of everyday life and of political decisions? (shrink)
This article presents in broad outline the theological concept of deep incarnation and brings it into dialogue with correlative ideas of deep history and deep sociality. It will be argued that neither Christology, nor evolution, can be properly understood from a chronocentric perspective. Evolution is not only about development but also about the exploration of ecospace. Likewise, a contemporary Christology should explicate incarnation as a divine assumption of the full ecospace of the material world of creation. It will then be (...) argued that an interactionist view of deep history is preferable to the evolutionary cognitive theory of religion. Against this background, the paper will explore Jesus of Nazareth's role in the context of post-axial mentalities. (shrink)
Replying to the variegated responses by theologian Langdon Gilkey, philosophers Richard McClelland and Robert Deltete, and biologist Rudolf B. Brun, I emphasize three elements of my theological use of autopoietic theory: (1) Autopoietic systems are less than self‐constitutive, since they do not create themselves from scratch, but more than self‐organizing, since they are capable of producing new elements inside the local system. Correspondingly, the theological importance of autopoietic theory is not found within the doctrine of a creation out of nothing (...) but within the doctrine of non‐uniform continuous creation. (2) Locating the concept of autopoiesis within third‐generation systems theory, I underline the pluriform character of type‐different systems; the possibility of giving a full causal account from the purview of any privileged single systems (including physics) is thus denied. (3) I distinguish between two complementary roles of theology in the dialogue between science and religion: whereas theology1 offers a participatory second‐order description of the internal meaning of particular traditions of faith, theology2 provides a third‐order inquiry into the external coherence between religious and nonreligious worlds of meaning. Theology2, however, always presupposes the internal descriptions of theology1. On this basis, my use of autopoietic theory is related to the theologies of creation and providence of Paul Tillich and Langdon Gilkey; likewise, I discuss various theological strategies for relating a theology of creation to standard interpretations of evolution. (shrink)