April 2020
volume 32 (1)

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Paul Ewart
Pages: 3-4


Natural Law - 'God's Law in our Hearts'

Pages: 5-28


Human beings possess a sense of basic morality that is found to be similar in many cultures. It has often been termed 'Natural Law', and St Paul in his Epistles referred to even the gentiles as having 'God's Law in their hearts'. C. S. Lewis gave a broad basic justification for the existence of Natural Law, emphasising that a society that loses this will experience moral decay. The standard western presentation of the subject was given in the thirteenth century by Thomas Aquinas, and is used as the basis for our present discussion, amplified by some recent teachings of Pope John Paul II. There are two major challenges to these ideas. One concerns the objective validity of moral law of any kind. An examination of this question leads to the familiar conclusion that God's authority is required as a basis for absolute moral values and obligations. The second major challenge comes from the modern scientific picture of human beings emerging from an amoral animal kingdom - but we are moral beings. The issues that arise here are discussed with reference to evolutionary theory, palaeontology and anthropology. It is suggested that the key questions are resolved best if God acted directly in human history at some point in time, perhaps at the Middle/Upper Palaeolithic transition. Some implications of Natural Law in human affairs are finally examined.


The Robot's Redemption: the Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Salvation of the Cosmos

Pages: 29-44


A view of creation as fallen prior to the fall of humanity implies that the non-human portion of the cosmos can exercise freedom of a kind, having in some sense strayed from its original holiness, while, at the experiential level, the reality of innocent suffering wrought by inanimate forces is difficult to reconcile with the will of a benign deity. Against this backdrop, the present paper proposes that artificial decision-making agents would represent a new phase in non-human creation's response to the divine. While these impersonal moral agents may lack any consciousness of God, their ability to select between options in a calculated manner could implicitly accept or reject grace along the lines envisaged by Karl Rahner, who views the fundamental option for or against God as played out in relation to decisions made in relation to created things and persons, not requiring explicit consciousness of the Creator.


We are probably not Sims

Pages: 45-62


In this article, I discuss the current state of the debate around the simulation hypothesis, the idea that the world we inhabit is a computer simulation in or within another universe. Considering recent work from a range of authors, I suggest that statistical arguments in favour of a simulated world are naive and fail to account either for Ockham’s Razor or for alternative existential possibilities besides base reality and a simulation. Most significantly, I observe that it would be computationally impossible in our own universe to simulate a similar cosmos at fine granularity. This implies substantial differences in size and information content between simulating and simulated universes. I argue that this makes serious analysis of the simulation argument extremely difficult. I suggest that Christian theology has no reason to reinvent itself to accommodate simulism; the two should be viewed as mutually exclusive world-views. Further, I note that the existence of a human soul or spirit, or indeed any non-reductionist explanation of human consciousness, could undermine the assumption of substrate independence that simulism requires.


Can Faith Be Empirical?

Pages: 63-82


It is sometimes said that religious belief and empiricism are different or even incompatible ways of believing. However, William James and notable twentieth-century philosophers representing Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity have argued that there is a high degree of compatibility between religious faith and empiricism. Their analyses suggest that there are three characteristics of empiricism - that an empiricist bases his beliefs on past experience, that he seeks to test his beliefs in future experience, and that he holds his beliefs with a degree of tentativeness in case future experience should uncover evidence against them. The epistemological insights of these philosophers, along with Augustine, show that Christian theology is consistent with empiricism. Indeed, reliance on faith fails to distinguish Christianity from science, and Christian theology is even to a significant extent both verifiable and falsifiable.


Book reviews

View book reviews

Astrotheology: Science and Theology Meet Extraterrestrial Life

David Wilkinson (Ted Peters (ed.)) (Martinez Hewlett) (Joshua M. Moritz) (Robert John Russell)
Pages: 83-84

Is there purpose in Biology?

Simon Kolstoe (Denis Alexander)
Pages: 84-85

Prayer, Middle Knowledge and Divine-Human Interaction

Peter May (Kyle D. DiRoberts)
Pages: 85-87

Huxley's Church and Maxwell's demon: From Theistic Science to Naturalistic Science

Nathan Bossoh (Matthew Stanley)
Pages: 87-88

The Warfare between Science and Religion: The Idea that Wouldn’t Die

James Hannam (Jeff Hardin (ed.)) (Ronald L. Numbers (ed.)) (Ronald A. Binzley (ed.))
Pages: 88-90

The Myth of an Anti-Science Church: Galileo, Darwin, Teilhard, Hawking, Dawkins

John Hedley Brooke (Gerard Verschuuren)
Pages: 90-91

Cambridge Elements: The Design Argument AND Cambridge Elements: Cosmological Arguments

Peter Bussey (Michael Almeida) (Elliott Sober)
Pages: 92-94

God, Evolution, and Animal Suffering: Theodicy without a Fall

Tim Middleton (Bethany N. Sollereder)
Pages: 96-97

A Climate of Desire: Reconsidering Sex, Christianity, and How We Respond to Climate Change

Meric Srokosz (Eduardo Sasso)
Pages: 97-98

Dimensions of Faith: Understanding Faith through the Lens of Science and Religion

Paul Roberts (Steve Donaldson)
Pages: 98-100

God's Good Earth: The Case for an Unfallen Creation

Nathan R. James (Jon Garvey)
Pages: 101-102

Can Science Explain Everything?

Ruth M. Bancewicz (John C. Lennox)
Pages: 102-103

Mad or God? Jesus: The Healthiest Mind of All

Claire Wilson (Pablo Martinez) (Andrew Sims)
Pages: 103-104

Modern Technology and The Human Future. A Christian Appraisal

Matthias Gallé (Craig M. Gay)
Pages: 104-105

Blueprint - How DNA makes us who we are

Denis Alexander (Robert Plomin)
Pages: 94-95