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1. From Physics to Theology

There are at least five ways or ‘paths’ by which theoretical physics can affect constructive theology; in the first four, physics acts as data for theology. (1) Physical theories can act as data which place constraints on theology. For example a theology of divine action should not violate special relativity. (2) Physical theories can act as data either to be ‘explained’ by theology or as the basis for a theological constructive argument. For example, t=0 in Big Bang cosmology may be incorporated within the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Such an ‘explanation’ can serve to confirm the theological theory, but the theological explanation should be considered a part of theology and not of science. (3) Theories in physics, after philosophical analysis, can act indirectly as data in theology. For example, the philosophical contingency of the Big Bang universe can serve as evidence for the existence of God. (4) Theories in physics can also act indirectly as theological data when they are incorporated into a fully-articulated philosophy of nature, such as temporality or non-separability when incorporated in process philosophy. Finally, (5) theories in physics can function heuristically in the theological context of discovery, by providing conceptual, experiential, practical, moral, or aesthetic inspiration.

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Contributed by: Dr. Robert Russell

Topic Sets Available

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