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Physics, Philosophy, and Theology: A Quest for Common Understanding

Robert John Russell, William R. Stoeger, SJ, and George V. Coyne, S.J., editors.

PPT coverThe contents of Physics, Philosophy, and Theology are wide-ranging but unified. The first part treats historical and contemporary relations in science and religion, biblical theology on creation, Newton's thought and the roots of modern atheism, the search for a natural theology, and the possible ways in which science and theology confront one another. In the second section the ways of knowing peculiar to the various disciplines and the implications for philosophical realism are investigated. In the last section a very creative and imaginative approach is taken to some of the most prominent areas of contemporary physics and cosmology in exploring whether they are open to revealing to us something of the reality of God and the relationship of God to the Universe and to us as we search for meaning within that Universe.

A special feature of the book is the presentation of a message by Pope John Paul II calling, in a way that is unique in the history of Papal discourses, for dialogue among the communities in quest of an understanding of the human situation in light of the most recent advances in physics and cosmology.  The Pope addresses some of the principal concerns which theologians should explore with respect to recent research in such fields as quantum physics, cosmology, particle physics, etc., and he asks that theologians, philosophers, and scientists alike would deepen their awareness of one another’s perspectives on issues of common concern.  The contents of the book are wide-ranging by unified.  The first part treats historical and contemporary relations in science and religion, biblical theology on creation, Newton’s thought and the roots of modern atheism, the search for a natural theology, and the possible ways in which science and theology confront one another.  In the second section the ways of knowing peculiar to the various disciplines and the implications for philosophical realism are investigated.  In the last section a very creative and imaginative approach is taken to some of the most prominent areas of contemporary physics and cosmology in exploring whether they are open to revealing to us something of the reality of God and the relationship of God to the Universe and to us as we search for meaning within that Universe.

Contributors include: John Paul II, Ian Barbour, Michael Buckley, S.J., W. Norris Clarke, S.J., Richard Clifford, S.J., Michael Heller, Ernan McMullin, Olaf Pedersen, Mary Hesse, Nicholas Lash, Janet Martin Soskice, C.J. Isham, John Leslie, Sallie McFague, Ted Peters, John Polkinghorne, Robert John Russell, William Stoeger, S.J., and Frank Tipler.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface by George V. Coyne, S.J.
  2. Message from His Holiness Pope John Paul II
  3. List of Participants
  4. Historical and Contemporary Relations in Science and Religion
    1. I.G. Barbour: Ways of Relating Science and Theology
    2. E. McMullin: Natural Science and Belief in a Creator: Historical Notes
    3. M.J. Buckley, S.J.: The Newtonian Settlement and the Origins of Atheism
    4. W.N. Clarke, S.J.: Is a Natural Theology Still Possible Today?
    5. O. Pedersen: Christian Belief and the Fascination of Science
    6. M. Heller: Scientific Rationality and  Christian Logos
    7. R.J. Clifford, S.J.: Creation in the Hebrew Bible
  5. Epistemology and Methodology\
    1. J. Soskice: Knowledge and Experience in Science and Religion: Can We Be Realists?
    2. M.B. Hesse: Physics, Philosophy, and Myth
    3. N. Lash: Observation, Revelation, and the Posterity of Noah
  6. Contemporary Physics and Cosmology in Philosophical and Theological Perspective
    1. W.R. Stoeger, S.J.: Contemporary Cosmology and Its Implications for the Science-Religion Dialogue
    2. S. McFague: Models of God for an Ecological, Evolutionary Era: God as Mother of the Universe
    3. T. Peters: On Creating the Cosmos
    4. J. Leslie: How to Draw Conclusions from a Fine-Tuned Universe
    5. F.J. Tipler: The Omega Point Theory: A Model of an Evolving God
    6. J. Polkinghorne: The Quantum World
    7. R.J. Russell: Quantum Physics in Philosophical and Theological Perspective
    8. C.J. Isham: Creation of the Universe as a Quant


To read chapter summaries from the later joint Vatican Observatory series on scientific and theological perspectives on divine action, click here.

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