traditions shape, and are shaped by, culture as they seek to respond to
fundamental questions about the meaning and purpose of life. Today more than ever, these questions are
being catalyzed by the discoveries of science and the new scientific
perspective on the universe.
Fortunately, we live in a special period in which these great scientific
discoveries and the enduring wisdom, truth and values of the diverse religious
traditions are together finding ways to enter into a new relationship of
genuine respect and mutually critical dialogue. This conference and its proceedings offer a remarkable
opportunity to strengthen this relationship and advance the dialogue. In the process, it can make an important contribution
to the public awareness that the options for science and religion are not
restricted to unmitigated conflict or sterile isolation.
Arguments in support of this dialogue, though, are not
widely known outside the specialized scholarly field of science and religion, though they have been
rigorously developed by four decades of such scholarship. It will be important then, to include an
initial section summarizing some of these key methodological arguments, and I
will take this opportunity to offer a new approach that might facilitate the
dialogue. The bulk of this short paper
will then be a brief analysis of the extensive discussions of God and
cosmology when the scientific model was the standard Big Bang cosmology. I will then turn to very recent discussions
of this question in the context of its replacement, inflationary and quantum
cosmologies. The closing section points
to future directions for the dialogue.
I would add that I am speaking from the perspective of a Protestant
theologian with a background in physics, and I am grateful that other voices
representing other religious traditions and perspectives included are included
in this volume.
Contributed by: Dr. Robert Russell