April 2012
volume 24 (1)

  Previous   Next  


Guest Editorial: Science and theology in the non-Western world

Ross McKenzie
Pages: 2-4


Aquinas and Contemporary Cosmology: Creation and Beginnings

William E. Carroll
Pages: 5-18


Discussions in the Middle Ages about creation and the temporal beginning of the world involved sophisticated analyses in theology, metaphysics and natural philosophy. Medieval insights on this subject, especially Thomas Aquinas’s defence of the intelligibility of an eternal, created universe, can help to clarify reflections about the philosophical and theological implications of contemporary cosmological theories: from the ‘singularity’ of the Big Bang, to ‘quantum tunnelling from nothing’, to multiverse scenarios. This paper looks at different senses of ‘beginning’ and argues that creation, in its fundamental, philosophical meaning, tells us nothing about whether there is a temporal beginning to the universe. Multiverse models, like that recently proposed by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, may challenge certain views of a Grand Designer, but not of a Creator.


John Polkinghorne on Divine Action: a Coherent Theological Evolution

Ignacio Silva
Pages: 19-30


I examine John Polkinghorne's account of how God acts in the world, focusing on how his ideas developed with the consideration of the notion of kenosis, and how this development was not a rejection of his previous ideas, but on the contrary a fulfilling of his own personal philosophical and theological insights. Polkinghorne's thought can be distinguished in three different periods:1) divine action as input of active information (1988-2000/2001);2) Polkinghorne's reception of the notion of kenosis (2000-2004);3) Polkinghorne's 'thought experiment' approach to his ideas on divine action (2004- ). Finally, I consider the question of internal coherence of this theological development, focusing on the transition from the first to the second period, which I believe to be the most significant.


Divine Action - Some Comments

John Polkinghorne
Pages: 31-32


The Emergent, Self-explaining Universe of Paul Davies - a Summary and Christian Response

Paul Himes
Pages: 33-53


Physicist Paul Davies has emerged as one of the most popular scientists of the twenty-first century, despite his critique of the scientific establishment and its perceived failure to account for the origins and rational nature of the universe. Davies argues that the scientific consensus on cosmology rests on faith, both in its failure to provide an ultimate explanation for the origin of the universe and in its blind acceptance of its rational laws. As an alternative, Davies postulates an 'emergent' universe which contains the cause of its own existence and which renders unnecessary any sort of a personal deity. Yet Davies's alternative falls short of providing a satisfactory cosmic explanation. Davies himself cannot adequately account for the principle of backward causation which creates his universe, and thus his paradigm still relies on a transcendent principle that remains unexplained. Furthermore, Davies's objections against a personal god can be answered on philosophical grounds. Thus Davies's hypothesis does not provide a superior alternative to the Christian view of God.


Do Many Worlds Make Light Work?

John Turl
Pages: 55-79


In the light of the lessons of history following the work of such scientists as Copernicus and Darwin, Christian scientists may be wary of condemning scientific theories as unscriptural or unchristian. Nevertheless it is not inconceivable that, as physics becomes entwined with cosmology, some physical theories or metatheories will eventually conflict with some key Christian doctrines. Multiverse theories are no longer merely the stuff of science fiction but are regarded by some physicists as logical extensions of viable theories and by others as fanciful speculation. Whereas attention so far has focused on their ability to solve the fine-tuning problem, this article examines some of the theological implications should one or more of them be considered valid.


Book reviews

View book reviews

Quantum Leap: How John Polkinghorne found God in Science and Religion

Dean Nelson Karl Giberson (Michael Poole)
Pages: 87-88

The Polkinghorne Reader

Thomas Jay Oord (ed.) (Peter Mc Carthy)
Pages: 88-89

A Sceptic's Guide to Atheism

Peter S. Williams (Ken Mickleson)
Pages: 89-91

Biblical Prophets and Contemporary Environmental Ethics: Re-Reading Amos, Hosea, and First Isaiah

Hilary Marlow (Cherryl Hunt)
Pages: 91-92

Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies

David Bentley Hart (Rodney Holder)
Pages: 92-93

The Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion

Peter Harrison (ed.) (Jeremy Law)
Pages: 93-95

Science and Religion: Understanding the Issues

Nancy Morvillo (John Weaver)
Pages: 95-96