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The Cosmic Adventure: Science, Religion and the Quest for Purpose by John F. Haught

John F. Haught, who received the Ph.D. from Catholic University, is professor of theology at Georgetown University. He has written extensively on religion and science. His books include The Revelation of God in History; What is God?, The Cosmic Adventure, Nature and Propose, and Religion and Self-Acceptance. Published by Paulist Press, New York/Ramsey, 1984. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


Our universe is not without purpose and there is absolutely nothing in the scientific approach that contradicts the essence of a religious interpretation of reality. Instead there is much in scientific discovery and speculation that may help us to understand religion in a new and adventurous way.

Chapter: 1: The Problem of Nature and Purpose
It is difficult to understand those philosophers who hold that the individualís life can have meaning even if the universe as a whole is void of purpose. In order to entertain the hypothesis that there is cosmic purpose one must assume that nature and mind are somehow interwoven.

Chapter 2: Scientific Materialism
The spirit of dualistic mythology separating subjectivity from objectivity continues to pressure us into the assumption that acts of consciousness are not part of the continuum of occurrences that constitute the world of nature.

Chapter 3: Mind in Nature
Through both the memory and the anticipatory pole of the notion of physical reality, a cosmic aim or purpose may be envisaged as insinuating itself into the interior workings of the universe.

Chapter 4: Matter and Life
Science formulates the laws binding one component to another without explicit consideration of the overall sequence of cosmic components or events. Perhaps our universe is closer to an embodiment of "intelligence" than we have been accustomed to think.

Chapter 5: Non-Energetic Causation and Cosmic Purpose
Extraneous causation is a legitimate notion. It is not a vitalistic ploy but instead an indispensable explanatory idea, though not one capable of scientific verification.

Chapter 6: Chance and God
Arguments for the "chance" hypothesis as well as that of "design." The issue of chance and purpose brings us to the question of the plausibility of hierarchical thinking. Would the fact of chance rule out the religious vision that the cosmos abides within the caring and ultimately meaningful environment of a loving God?

Chapter 7: Purpose and Natureís Hierarchy
The possibility of purpose in the universe may be understood in terms of a hierarchical conception of the cosmos.

Chapter 8: Beauty
An aesthetic perspective on the cosmos is better able to support the religious view that all is ultimately cared for than are the usually employed ethical criteria for evaluating things.

Chapter 9: Permanence and Perishing
In Godís feeling of the world the uniqueness and individuality of each aspect of reality is preserved as such. The universality of the aesthetic purposiveness of the cosmos does not diminish the value of each individual occasion by allowing it to be dissolved into the totality.

Chapter 10: The Cosmic Adventure
The notion of evil is related to the fact that our universe is not only a process in which everything perishes but a process in which novelty is continually entering onto the cosmic scene, causing the breakdown of previous orderly arrangements and bringing about suffering.

Chapter 12: Christianity and the Cosmos
In fostering the necessity of human bonding in the image of the "body of Christ" or "the people of God," Christianity promotes the preparation of a base suitable for a deeper incarnation of God in the cosmos. For this reason being a Christian is an acceptable way of endorsing and fostering the scientific discoveries of modernity.

Chapter 11: Science and Religious Symbolism
The complementarity of science and religion may be formulated in terms of our hierarchical conception. Science is a mode of knowing adequate to grasp what lies below consciousness in the hierarchy. Religion, on the other hand, complements science by relating us to fields, dimensions or levels that lie above, or deeper than, consciousness in the cosmic hierarchy.

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