October 1996
volume 8 (2)

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D. Gareth Jones
Pages: 98-100


The Virgin Birth of Christ

R. J. Berry
Pages: 101-110


The Bible describes Jesus as being born to Mary ‘by the power of the Holy Spirit’, implying (although not stating) that the Spirit was his father. This has been rejected by some as an unnecessary doctrine, separating Jesus from the rest of humankind and dependent on an intrinsically incredible miracle. Such an objection is wrong: some form of distinctiveness like a Virgin Birth is theologically required if Jesus is to be divine as well as human, and there are several mechanisms by which the virgin birth of a male child could occur. The reason for recognising these is not to suggest that God necessarily used any of them, but simply to point out that apparent scientific difficulty should not determine the acceptability of a theological concept.


Spacetime and Revelation

Lawrence Osborn
Pages: 111-123


This paper explores two contrasting understandings of time in relation to theology and contemporary physics. The process theory (or ‘common sense’ view) of time is widely used by theologians but has certain theological limitations. A rival stasis theory of time is suggested by certain interpreters of relativity theory. The paper highlights affinities between the latter theory and classical conceptions of eternity. A concluding section suggests that a more consistent use of trinitarian theology may permit a revised form of the process theory that avoids the limitations cited earlier.


‘Speak to the Earth and It Will Teach You’

Euan G. Nisbet
Pages: 125-144


In the garden of Eden, the monarchs were Adam and Eve: Hebrew monarchs were shepherds, and the task of the shepherd monarchs was to guard and protect their flock. Humanity has been given the skills and the challenge to set a measuring line to the Earth, to draw out Leviathan with a hook, even to reach the Pleiades if we can: but with this ability we now also face the challenge and responsibility to care for the garden. The geological record shows that catastrophes and sudden changes have taken place in the past, and illustrates the likely consequences of humanity’s present behaviour, while also giving us the evidence to understand the complexity of our planet. Creation groans: our actions across the planet are now on a scale that can radically change the operation of the whole biosphere in a way that is comparable to the sudden past catastrophes. Simultaneously, we are discovering new scientific knowledge, and growing in our understanding of the natural world. This is giving us the ability to manage the Earth, just as our unplanned actions impose change on the planet. Managing the atmosphere, determining climate and environment, sustaining the biosphere, are all tasks we can no longer avoid, as we already control the planet. Creation is not to be worshipped—creation spirituality is dangerous doctrine—but it is to be respected, for in understanding and maintaining the biosphere, humanity itself grows as an heir, jointly with the rest of life, of Noah’s covenant.



Pages: 164-164


Index to Vols 7 & 8

Index to Vols 7 & 8
Pages: 189-192



John Polkinghorne

John Polkinghorne
Pages: 163-163


Book reviews

View book reviews

Is There a God?

Richard Swinburne (J. C. Polkinghorne)
Pages: 165-165

The Physics of Immortality: modern cosmology, God, and the resurrection of the dead

Frank Tipler (E. J. Squires)
Pages: 166-168


Paul Davies (G. A. D. Briggs)
Pages: 168-169

The Day before Yesterday: Five Million Years of Human History

Colin Tudge (Gordon E. Barnes)
Pages: 169-170

The Promise of Nature: Ecology and Cosmic Purpose

John F. Haught (Lawrence Osborn)
Pages: 170-172

Alternative Medicine: Helpful or Harmful?

Robina Coker (Caroline Berry)
Pages: 172-172

The Grammar of Consciousness. An exploration of Tacit Knowing

Edward Moss (D. A. Booth)
Pages: 172-173

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea—Evolution and the Meanings of Life

Daniel C. Dennett (Denis Alexander)
Pages: 173-178

The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World

Amit Goswami (Lawrence Osborn)
Pages: 178-179

The Earth, Humanity and God

Colin A. Russell (P. C. Knox)
Pages: 179-181

Beliefs and Values in Science Education

Michael Poole (R. S. Luhman)
Pages: 181-182

The Sea of Faith

Don Cupitt (M. B. Roberts)
Pages: 182-184

After All

Don Cupitt (M. B. Roberts)
Pages: 182-184

Eternity and Time’s Flow

Robert Cummings Neville (John A. Mills)
Pages: 184-188


I. B. Cohen and R. S. Westfall (G. A. D. Briggs)
Pages: 188-188