From: George Murphy (email@example.com)
Date: Sun Sep 07 2003 - 06:50:18 EDT
Howard J. Van Till wrote:
> >From: George Murphy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > Cosmologists would normally say that with any sort of cyclic model like the
> > recent one of Steinhardt & Turok, our "world" (or "universe") has always
> > existed in the
> > sense that there has been some continuity of matter/energy or something
> > from one cycle
> > to another. This is really no more than is done in saying that our
> > world/universe is the
> > same one that passed through a fireball stage ~14 x 10^9 years ago. This
> would be
> > distinguished from the various ideas of parallel worlds such as Everett &c.
> > So which scenario does Griffin have in mind? If it's the first type then
> it's a
> > stretch to contrast his picture with the idea that "our world" has existed
> > eternally.
> > In an important sense it has. Even if our world is periodically returned
> > to a chaotic
> > condition of some sort, there is still something that persists between cycles.
> Thanks for the commentary. Your question points to the need for Griffin to
> be in closer contact with cosmologists so that some of his theological
> concerns (rooted in theology's long interaction with the Greek philosophical
> tradition) could be informed by what is happening in cosmological theorizing
> today. As I recall, Griffin has in mind something different from a cyclic
> model -- more like a radical, God-devised transformation from "something" to
> "something else," without the same kind of continuity that cyclic models
> [skip a bit]
> > Perhaps my claim that there must be a continuity of _something_ between
> > & thus that we must speak of the same world existing, will be challenged.
> > But consider
> > the alternative. If there is absolutely no continuity between cycles then
> > at the end of
> > a cycle the previous world must cease to exist, & the new world must be
> created ex
> > nihilo. & Griffin doesn't want that.
> Right. That's why I used the word "transformation" as an alternative to
> "creation ex nihilo."
Trans-form means literally to change the form of something - with the
implication that "something" remains.
Griffin wants to have it both ways, to reject both creatio ex nihilo and the
eternity of our world. & quite apart from my own theological position, I don't see how
you can do both in a meaningful way.
But I'd also add that focusing on the question of whether or not our world (or
the WORLD) has had a temporal beginning deflects attention from the basic theological
question. As we touched on in discussing Aquinas, it would be possible (not worrying
for a moment about biblical texts) to say that the universe has always existed in
eternal dependence on God alone, & call that creatio ex nihilo. But process theology
(unless it's radically reworked) can't do that. For process thought individual
phenomena are not determined by God alone, & that certainly must be true for
the entire universe. The rejection of creatio ex nihilo goes deeper than a denial that
the universe had a beginning of time.
George L. Murphy
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