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The Science and Religion Dialogue

Past and Future

Michael Welker

This book documents the conference on The Science and Religion Dialogue: Past and Future, held at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, October 25-29, 2012. The conference commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sir John Templeton and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the John Templeton Foundation. It brought together about 60 active participants, all of them prominent scholars from many countries and many academic fields. Most of them have been engaged in the Science and Religion Dialogue for the last two or three decades. This book reports on multi-year international and interdisciplinary research projects at leading institutions. The contributions start with presentations by Hans Joas, Martin Nowak and John Polkinghorne and range from Astronomy, Mathematics, Physics and Biology to Philosophical Theology and Religious Ethics. Special topics of the dialogue between Science and Religion are also dealt with, such as Eschatology and Anthropology; Cosmology, Creation, and Redemption; Evolutionary Biology and the Spirit; and The Role of Thought Experiments in Science and Theology.
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Science and Redemption: The Future of Creation

Retroactive Ontology


At the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) in Berkeley, California, we look for both consonance and dissonance between scientific claims and theological claims. My colleague and friend, Robert John Russell, has on repeated occasions demonstrated the consonance between Big Bang cosmology and the biblical account of creation; and he has shown the dissonance between the biblical prophecy of a new creation and physical cosmology.1 On the one hand, what natural science tells us about the origin of the universe seems consonant with Christian and Jewish theologies of creation, even creation out of nothing, creatio ex nihilo. On the other hand, scientific prognostications of the future of the universe which ends in either a freeze or fry scenario – either a collapse to a hot center or an everlasting expansion into frozen equilibrium – flatly contradict the New Testament promise of a renewal of all things in the new creation. We must take on board both consonance and dissonance when pressing our agenda: creative mutual interaction between science and theology, or CMI for short.

In what follows we will give our attention to the dissonance: the future of creation. The dissonance in this case is not due to what Ian Barbour calls the “Independence” model of the relationship between science and religion,2 or due to what I call the “Two Language” model.3 The dissonance regarding the future of the universe is not due to a model, according to which science and theology speak different languages...

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