Re: Eternity of the world and big bang

Murphy (
Thu, 18 Sep 1997 11:48:28 -0400

Ted Davis wrote:

> Why do I believe Aquinas was mistaken? Because of the history of CEN as a
> doctrine. Here I advise interested parties to examine the essay by Ted
> Peters in Robert J. Russell, et al (eds), Physics, Philosophy, and Theology
> (Notre Dame). Peters shows that CEN arose out of Jewish theological
> reasoning on the moral supremacy of God and the inconsistencies of drawing
> other conclusions from this about the origin of all things. Christians
> affirmed this because they had directly experienced the power of God in the
> resurrection: a God who can reorder matter to give Christ a glorified body
> must have ultimate power over matter, must indeed have given matter the
> properties and forms that it has; must, in other words, have created it.

The connections seem fairly explicit in Rom.4 - God "justifies
the ungodly" (5), "gives life to the dead and calls into existence the
things that do not exist" (17).
> Thus, I urge caution on both sides. While we mustn't ever cannonize ANY
> scientific theory, we must also hold to the witness of the resurrection and
> its corollary, CEN. Unlike Thomas, we shouldn't say that dependence rather
> than origination is the real meaning of the doctrine of creation. Instead,
> we should affirm BOTH parts of this essential truth, and wait for the day
> when speculative minds are prepared to admit that "virtual vacuums", "high
> states of entropy," or whatever they prefer to call conceptual entities of
> this sort, ain't "nothing" -- that which is not any thing -- and that the
> universe "began" in a very real sense, whether or not we can define its
> moment of "beginning" in a formal sense.

Yeah but ...
Both scientific cosmology and evolution encourage us to think of
origination in terms of providence, rather than of providence as simply
keeping going what has been originated. I.e., just as we try to
explain the past _scientifically_ by extrapolating present scientific
laws into the past, we ought to try to deal with the past
_theologically_ by extrapolating the doctrine of providence iinto the
A lot of Xns balk at this because God's providential activity is
hidden, & they want something which is _not_ hidden, which shows the
necessity of God. But God does not wear his heart on his sleeve. God
is willing to be considered unnecessary.
No, I don't think science can answer _all_ the questions. But
my own _theological_ guess is what science can't explain is why certain
mathematical patterns are actualized. This does not mean, of course,
that God's activity is limited to - as one of my grad school friends put
it - "writing down the big differential equation" 15 billion years ago!

George L. Murphy