__Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action: Twenty Years of Challenge and Progress_ _is a collection of thirteen essays assessing the scholarly contributions to the _Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action_ series, which is comprised of five volumes resulting from international research conferences co-sponsored by the Vatican Observatory and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences between 1991 and 2000. The overarching goal of the series is to advance the engagement of constructive theology with the natural sciences with special attention to the (...) theme of divine action and to investigate the philosophical and theological elements within science. This volume is divided into three sections: In Section One, contributors review the history of the series and the development of new research methodology and discuss philosophical issues raised by the laws of nature and the limits of science; in Section Two, authors provide philosophical analysis of specific issues in the series; and in Section Three, contributors offer theological analyses of specific issues. The five volumes in the series include: _Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature_ ; _Chaos and Complexity_ ; _Molecular and Evolutionary Biology_ ; _Neuroscience and the Person_ ; and _Quantum Mechanics _, and are distributed by University of Notre Dame Press. (shrink)
I gratefully acknowledge and respond here to four reviews of my recent book, Cosmology from Alpha to Omega. Nancey Murphy stresses the importance of showing consistency between Christian theology and natural science through a detailed examination of my recent model of their creative interaction. She suggests how this model can be enhanced by adopting Alasdair MacIntyre's understanding of tradition in order to adjudicate between competing ways of incorporating science into a wider worldview. She urges the inclusion of ethics in my (...) model and predicts that this would successfully challenge the competing naturalist tradition in contemporary society. John F. Haught weighs the alternatives of viewing divine action as objective versus subjective and of divine action at one level in nature or at all levels. He asks whether physics is fundamental to nature, arguing instead that metaphysics should be considered as fundamental. Michael Ruse assesses occasional versus universal divine action, the problems raised to divine action when it is related to quantum mechanics, and the way these relations exacerbate the challenge of natural theodicy. As an alternative he suggests viewing God as outside time and acting through unbroken natural law. Willem B. Drees discusses my use of the bridge metaphor for the relation between theology and science, the implications when science is inspired by theology, the role of contingency and necessity in the anthropic principle/many-worlds debate, and the challenge of cosmology to eschatology with the ensuing problem of theodicy. (shrink)
This essay is a brief assessment of the lasting impact of Michael Polanyi’s thought on the growing interdisciplinary field of “theology and science.” I note representative examples in the writing of Ian Barbour, Thomas Torrance, John Polkinghorne, Arthur Peacocke and John Haught, showing how Polanyi’s “personal knowledge,” as well as some other Polanyian themes, have been recognized and accepted.
Among the many scholarly surveys of historical and contemporary approaches to Christian eschatology, few treat the relation between eschatology and scientific cosmology. It is the purpose of this essay to do so. I begin with a brief summary of the importance of eschatology to contemporary Christian theology. Next, an overview is given of scientific cosmology, its earlier scenarios for the cosmic far future of “freeze or fry,” and, more recently the discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. These (...) predictions severely challenge those versions of Christian eschatology that are based on the bodily resurrection of Jesus and, by analogy, the transformation of the universe into the new creation. Several recent approaches to this challenge are outlined, including those of Denis Edwards, Jürgen Moltmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Ted Peters, John Polkinghorne, and my own. I conclude with some suggestions for future research in both theology and science. (shrink)
We contend that if efficiency and reliability are important factors in neural information processing then distributed, not localist, representations are “evolution's best bet.” We note that distributed codes are the most efficient method for representing information, and that this efficiency minimizes metabolic costs, providing adaptive advantage to an organism.