Re: Origin or Formation

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Sat Apr 07 2001 - 10:23:28 EDT

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    You said:

    > I've recently been reading a book by physicist
    > Lee Smolin, entitled *The Life of the Cosmos*. (The general concept, in
    > one form or another, called "multiverse," has also been discussed by
    > John Wheeler, Andre Linde, Martin Rees, Victor Stenger, Nick Bostrom,
    > and others.) The idea is that what we commonly call the origin of the
    > universe could just as surely (or unsurely, if you will) be thought of
    > as the *formation* of the universe, using the "origin" versus
    > "formation" conceptualization that you have referred to.

    If I understand correctly, these are all theories about the possibilities of
    one form of 'something' (perhaps a non-material form, like 'the vacuum
    state') self-transforming into 'something else' (perhaps a material
    universe; perhaps a multiplicity of diverse universes). If that is the case,
    they are all theories about the formation/transformation of some entity that
    already has being (as contrasted to an authentic nothing, which has neither
    potentialities for being something nor capabilities for transforming its
    nothingness into any form of something). This is an arena for some
    interesting, if a bit speculative, scientific theorizing.

    > Of course, there is nothing in this that is inherently antithetical to
    > creation, though it can (and has) been interpreted that way. It *is*
    > a very non-traditional way of perceiving creation, and I'm not familiar
    > with any theologians who have pondered the multiverse concept from a
    > theological perspective, other than to automatically attack it as being
    > an "origin" issue that is not and cannot be a "formation" issue that
    > science can investigate.

    I think we're on the same page here. One of the basic questions addressed by
    the Judeo-Christian _doctrine_ of creation is, "What (or Who) is the
    _origin_ (in the fundamental sense of 'source of being') of the something
    that now exists?"

    Whether the something that now exists is a single universe or a multiplicity
    of universes that formed by transformation from some primeval and even more
    fundamental state of being is a question about the formational history of
    the 'something' to which the Creator gave being. The _doctrine_ of creation
    deals with the question of ultimate origin (source of being). What the
    sciences deal with are _portraits_ of the universe's formational history
    (what-happened-and-when stories). These scientific theories do not at all
    negate the _doctrine_ of creation, but they do, of course, differ from those
    familiar _portraits_ of the universe's formational history generated by
    literalizing the metaphors of ancient revered text.

    Howard Van Till

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