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Ward, Keith. “God as a Principle of Cosmological Explanation."

In his paper Keith Ward moves ‘both ways’ between theology and cosmology. He begins with a summary of the traditional doctrine of creation: God is a non-spatio-temporal being, transcending all that is created, including spacetime, although immanent to all creation as its omnipresent Creator. Divine eternity is thus timeless, for God has neither internal nor external temporal relations. The act of creation is one of non-temporal causation. Whether there was a first moment is irrelevant to the doctrine.

Ward admits that this view of God is congruent with the block universe interpretation of special relativity, but he is highly critical of it. Ward maintains that the doctrine of creation does not entail a timeless God. Although God transcends spacetime as its cause, God is nevertheless temporal, since “. . . by creating spacetime, God creates new temporal relations in the Divine being itself.” Allowing God to have temporal relations makes it possible for God to act in new ways, make new decisions and bring into being in time an infinite number of new things. The inclusion of divine contingency along with divine necessity enriches the concept of omnipotence.

Ward distinguishes his view of God from that of process theism. He maintains God’s omnipotence and still affirms free will by appealing to divine self-limitation. The advantage over Whitehead is that God’s omnipotence will “ensure that all the evil caused by the misuse of creaturely freedom will be ordered to good . . .”

Ward then relates nomological models, which are dominant in physics and involve general principles and ultimate brute facts, to axiological models, which arise in the social sciences and describe the free realization of ultimate values. A nomological model realizes an aesthetic value, since the laws of nature are elegant and simple. An axiological model is ultimately factual, since values arise out of the natural capacities of sentient beings as described by physics and evolutionary biology. This inter-relationship is central to the Christian claim that “. . . goodness is rooted in the nature of things, and is not some sort of arbitrary decision or purely subjective expression of feeling.”

Quantum cosmologists attempt to offer a secular explanation of ultimate brute facts, but this minimizes the importance of freedom, creativity, and the realization of values. Theism can offer a comparable explanation of nature, but its advantage lies in its combination of nomological and axiological explanations. Theism is thus “the best possible intelligible explanation of the universe” and “the completion of that search for intelligibility which characterizes the scientific enterprise.” He urges that we reconstruct the doctrine of creation in terms of creative emergence, i.e., the novel realization of intrinsic values grounded in the divine nature and emerging through the cooperative acts of rational creatures.

Modern cosmology “sets the notion of Divine action in its broadest and most all- embracing context.” The laws of nature realize God’s purposes, understood as potentialities in the structure of reality and not interferences from an alien power. Miracles are “transformations of the physical to disclose its spiritual foundation and goal . . .” Thus theism “can be seen as an implication of the scientific attitude itself, and the pursuit of scientific understanding may be seen as converging upon the religious quest for self-transforming knowledge of God . . .”

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