A Place for God?

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Had I been able to read Larry Witham’s book before I delivered the Gifford Lectures at St. Andrews, I would have been able to make my argument more compelling by locating the story I told in relation to Witham’s account of addressing the challenges of science. Witham has managed the impossible: to tell a coherent …

Biology Meets Theology

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Genes, Genesis and God: Values and Their Origins in Natural and Human history. By Holmes Rolston. Cambridge University Press, Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy. By Michael Ruse. Prometheus. Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action Series (Vol. 3). Edited by Robert J Russell, William Stoeger and Francisco Ayala. When conservative …

Chapter 1: Dualism  in  

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The dizzying advances in molecular biology blur the former distinctions between man, animal, plant and mineral; and the recent "reductions" of mind to brain are fruits of the methodological imperative to explain the animate and mental in terms of the inanimate and the unconscious.

Chapter 1: Introduction  in  

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Three themes -- the diverse functions of language, the role of models and the role of paradigms -- combine to support the position of critical realism which the author defends in both science and religion.

Chapter 1: The New Consciousness  in  

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The important frontiers of the future are spiritual, psychological and social, not technical and industrial. This vision of the world stands in strong contrast to supernaturalistic dualism and materialistic atheism.

Chapter 10: The Cosmic Adventure  in  

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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 11: Science and Religious Symbolism  in  

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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.

Chapter 12: Christianity and the Cosmos  in  

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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 2: A New Way of Living  in  

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The first ethical principle is that we should treat subjects as ends in themselves and not merely as means to our own ends. Compassion must be extended to all creatures who share the Earth with us. And we also have a responsibility to the non-animate world.

Chapter 2: Models and Paradigms  in  

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This chapter examines some parallels between the methods of science and those of religion: the interaction of data and theory (or experience and interpretation); the historical character of the interpretive community; the use of models; and the influence of paradigms or programs.

Chapter 2: Physical Reality  in  

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There is no decisive line of demarcation in the universe that segregates experience on the one side from insensitive objects on the other. Rather, the universe is ultimately and pervasively made up of "units of experience." Following Whitehead, the author avoids the dualism that puts nature in one arena and subjective experience in another.

Chapter 2: Scientific Materialism  in  

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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 2: Symbol and Myth  in  

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Religious models are in relation to other forms of religious language -- particularly symbols, images, myths, metaphors, parables and analogies.. The author discusses these religious forms, some of which have no parallel in science.

Chapter 2: Whitehead and the Philosophy of Science by Ann Plamondon and Response by Bernard Rensch  in  

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Metaphysics has an essential role in the philosophy of science -- that of the understanding and the grounding of scientific concepts and methodology. That is, the fundamental concepts of a metaphysical system should give an analysis of the foundational concepts of the sciences in such a way that these concepts themselves provide a grounding -- a general logic -- of the methodology of the sciences.

Chapter 2. Panpsychism and Science by Sewall Wright  in  

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In addition to the necessarily deterministic and probabilistic interpretations of the material world of science, there is the primary but private knowledge which each of us has of his own stream of consciousness, more or less continually directed toward the finding of an acceptable course through the difficulties of the external world by means of voluntary actions.

Chapter 3: Mind in Nature  in  

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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 3: Models in Science  in  

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Models have a variety of uses in science: They serve diverse functions, some practical and some theoretical. They are taken seriously but not literally. They are not pictures of reality or useful functions. They are partial and inadequate ways of imagining what is not.

Chapter 3: Perception  in  

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When "perception" is limited to the material presented to our minds by the five senses we are by no means dealing yet in a fundamental way with the reality of the world. Perception may be understood as having two poles, primary and secondary. With primary perception there is a pervasive and vague feeling of the influence of the world upon our being and becoming. Secondary perception deals with spatially clear and distinct objects of sense perception.

Chapter 3: Physics and Psychics: The Place of Mind in Nature by Charles Hartshorne  in  

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Since physics and chemistry have demonstrated how limited in penetration our mere sense perceptions are, how radically they fail to disclose what is really there in nature, it follows that the entire traditional foundation for both materialism and dualism has been destroyed by the advance of knowledge. All concrete or physical things (a) are minds of some high or low kind, or (b) are composed of minds. However, only active singulars are individually sentient.

Chapter 3: Similarities and Differences  in  

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How might we respond to the challenge of religious pluralism today? (1) the character of historical inquiry, (2) whether objectivity is possible if it is recognized that all knowledge is historically and culturally conditioned and (3) can we accept relativism if we abandon absolute claims.

Chapter 3: The World is to be Saved  in  

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The transition to an ecologically sustainable society requires reduced consumption of goods, the efficient recycling of materials, a move away from the use of fossil fuels to the use of renewable sources of energy, zero global population growth, a reduced standard of living for the rich, an increased standard of living for the poor and an appeal to quality of life instead of materialism.

Chapter 4: Emergence  in  

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Beginning with the conviction that the inanimate world of subatomic particles and molecules described by physics and chemistry constitutes the basic construction material of the plant, the animal organism and the human brain, many scientific thinkers have questioned the "reality" of any other realm than that accessible to physics and chemistry. These reductionist methods contradict the most basic elements of simple logic. Can an essentially careless universe produce beings whose most admirable attribute is their propensity to care? Can a radically impersonal arranging and rearranging of molecules produce persons? Can a non-purposive movement of matter eventuate in beings whose very vitality depends upon their being animated by purpose?

Chapter 4: Emergence in Evolution: (Response to Birch and Dobzhansky) by Ann Plamondon  in  

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In materialistic philosophy, "higher order" is an aggregate, and it cannot be said to be of greater complexity than its constituents. But the author proposes that in evolutionary development the higher-level order must have been contained in some sense in the lower-level constituent(s). Thus when higher levels of order exhibit properties not belonging to their lower-level constituents, the correct inference is not that something has been added to the lower-level constituents but, rather, that they exhibit different properties when they organize the higher-level order.

Chapter 4: Free Will in a Hierarchic Context by Arthur Koestler, Responses by Charles Hartshorne and Bernhard Rensch  in  

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The degrees of freedom in the hierarchy increase with ascending order, and each upward shift of attention to higher levels, each handing over of decision to higher echelons, is accompanied by the experience of free choice. But is it merely a subjective experience? The author thinks not, since freedom cannot be defined in absolute, only in relative, terms, as freedom from some specific constraint.

Chapter 4: Matter and Life  in  

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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 4: Order and Change  in  

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The two hardest tasks of all for humanity seem to be: 1) the international political and economic one of managing the world, and 2) reforming religion. These two areas illustrate the need to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.

Chapter 4: Physics and Metaphysics  in  

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Twentieth-century physics has some important epistemological implications and some modest metaphysical ones. The downfall of classical realism is described. In its place, some interpreters have defended instrumentalism, but the author advocates a critical realism.

Chapter 5: Astronomy and Creation  in  

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Within a theistic framework it is not surprising that there is intelligent life on earth; we can see here the work of a purposeful Creator. Theistic belief makes sense of this datum and a variety of other kinds of human experience, even if it offers no conclusive proof. We still ask: Why is there anything at all? Why are things the way they are?

Chapter 5: Complementary Models  in  

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Possible parallels exist between the role of models in twentieth century physics and religious thought. Can one continue to employ two very different models within either science or religion? Can an electron be thought of as both a wave and a particle? Can one use both personal and impersonal models of Ultimate Reality? An extended discussion includes Paul Tillich’s use of personal and impersonal symbols.

Chapter 5: Human Response to Change  in  

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Human beings can change, though their response to change varies greatly from one person to another. On a grand scale societies have responded to change in major ways, but large cultural changes require a deliberate reorientation in consciousness at the grassroots level.

Chapter 5: Purpose  in  

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From the very limited vantage point that each of us occupies within the emerging universe, discord often seems to be dominant over harmony. We are often even inclined to take our individual experiences of tragedy as the key to the whole universe. However, the aesthetic model of cosmic purpose suggests that our own experiences may be lacking in perspective. There is perhaps a perspective on the universe that we do not ourselves have, but which would be able to unify into an aesthetic whole even those contradictions and absurdities that we deem most insurmountable. The author thinks the word "God" may in part be understood as pointing to such a perspective.

Chapter 6: At-One-Ment  in  

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We are estranged in four ways: from self; from others, from nature and from God. The restoration of a right relationship which has been corrupted is salvation or healing. It is the meaning of atonement.

Chapter 6: Chance and God  in  

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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 6: Concluding Editorial Comments by John B. Cobb, Jr.  in  

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From the sixteenth through the eighteenth century, philosophy and science developed in close connection. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries they have become quite separate. The disciplines of cosmology and philosophy of nature have fallen between the stools. Alfred North Whitehead is the major twentieth-century exception to this breakdown of an ancient and fruitful relation. C.H. Waddington believes that scientific thought is "just about now beginning to catch up with the first phase of Whitehead’s thought," and that science will proceed in the general direction Whitehead moved in his later work. The editors believe that the advance of science can be facilitated by an ongoing discussion with Whitehead’s philosophy of nature, and hope that more philosophers and scientists will join in the discussion.

Chapter 6: Evolution and Continuing Creation  in  

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The contingency of existence and of boundary conditions is consistent with the meaning of ex nihilo, while the contingency of laws and of events is consistent with the idea of continuing creation. Theism does provide grounds for the combination of contingent order and intelligibility that the scientific enterprise presupposes, though these are limit-questions that do not arise in the daily work of the scientist.

Chapter 6: Paradigms in Science  in  

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All data are theory-laden. Comprehensive theories are highly resistant to falsification, and there are no rules for choice between research programmes. Three assertions are essential for objectivity in science: 1. Rival theories are incommensurable; 2. Observation exerts some control over theories; 3. There are criteria of assessment independent of particular research programmes.

Chapter 7: Adventure  in  

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Had God not lured the world on to the creation of beings with the capacity for conscious, rational self-determination, the distinctively human forms of evil on our planet would not occur. We risk suffering that we might have a shot at intense enjoyment.

Chapter 7: Human Nature.  in  

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What biology and the biblical tradition have to say about human nature. The basic question is whether evolutionary biology and biblical religion are consistent in their views of human nature.

Chapter 7: Paradigms in Religion  in  

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A discussion of the influence of theory on observation, the debate over the falsifiability of religious beliefs compared with falsifiability in science, the role of commitment to religious paradigms, the problem of transcendence and the status of metaphysics, and the criteria of assessment and their limitations.

Chapter 8: Beauty  in  

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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 8: Process Thought  in  

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Process philosophy has developed a systematic metaphysics that is consistent with the evolutionary, many-leveled view of nature. Here are developed ways in which Whitehead applies various categories to diverse entities in the world -- from particles to persons -- and an evaluation of the adequacy of process philosophy from the viewpoint of science.

Chapter 8: The Christian Paradigm  in  

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The author discusses several models of God, particularly two which have recently been developed under the influence of philosophical thought -- the agent model and the process model.

Chapter 9: Conclusions  in  

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The author suggests implications of critical realism for the academic study of religion and for the encounter of world religions, as well as for personal religious faith.

Chapter 9: God And Nature  in  

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Ways in which God’s action in the natural order is currently portrayed and an evaluation of these interpretations in the light of previous conclusions, including an exploration of several answers to these questions within the Christian tradition.

Chapter 9: Permanence and Perishing  in  

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In God’s 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: 1: The Problem of Nature and Purpose  in  

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It is difficult to understand those philosophers who hold that the individual’s 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.

Conclusion  in  

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We would be overburdening science’s limited methodological possibilities were we to expect it to set forth any statements concerning natures purpose. In addition, we tend to carry around ridiculously outworn pictures of nature that resist not only teleological interpretations but even the insights of contemporary science.

Crisis in Science and Spirit

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In both cases realism and even honesty were overshadowed by our desire for unbridled movement onward in a quest for success and publicity. Neither Baby Fae’s parents nor the public were adequately informed of the double-barreled danger of host-graft rejection and organ destruction from medication. Neither Schroeder nor the public were adequately informed of the …

Darwin, the Scientific Creationist

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Three basic positions on the relationship between science and theology have emerged in the modern era. Antitheological scientism is at one pole and antiscientific creationism is at the other. An outstanding example of one who held the former position is French philosopher Auguste Comte, who lived in the early 19th century. History shows, he claimed, …

God in Evolution

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While controversies over evolution continue to arise in some sectors of American Christianity, most mainline Christians have made their peace with Darwin. We may not grasp all the nuances of the scientific debate, but we have concluded that evolutionary theory is good science and therefore must be compatible with good theology. Darwin’s name doesn’t send …

Introduction  in  

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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.

Introduction  in  

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This book represents a challenge to the orthodox cosmography that underlies current thought -- that nature is inherently recalcitrant to purpose of any sort.

Introduction  in  

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The thesis of this book is that there is a credible alternative to the materialistic worldview and a credible alternative to the traditional concept of God.

Mind in Nature: the Interface of Science and Philosophy

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(ENTIRE BOOK) A collection of essays by prominent physicists, biologists, geneticists, zoologists, philosophers and other thinkers about the relationship between science and philosophy, particularly the teleological versus the mechanistic explanation of the universe. Special emphasis is given to the writings of Alfred North Whitehead and Process Theology. Contributors include John Cobb, Jr., Theodosius Dobzhansky, Charles Hartshorne, and Arthur Koestler.

Myths and Metaphors

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Janet Martin Soskice of Cambridge University has been at the forefront of a theological movement (largely inspired by Karl Barth) that asserts a renewed confidence in the intelligibility of theology. Her book Metaphor and Religious Language (Oxford University Press) argues for taking biblical metaphors seriously and for not translating them into some other idiom. She …

Nature and Purpose

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(ENTIRE BOOK) The author deals with the question: Do we carry out our projects on a stage that is blind, neutral and indifferent? Or do we have the "backing of the universe"? His answer is based Whitehead's analysis. On one hand, religion represents, in a mythic and symbolic way, some of the qualitative data given to us in primary perception (intuition). Science, on the other hand, seeks to express correlations among the objects sensed through secondary perception (observation). Neither necessarily contradicts the other.

Preface  in  

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The conceptual framework of this book is influenced especially by the writings of Alfred North Whitehead, Michael Polanyi and their followers. My purpose, however, is not primarily to give an exposition of their thought, but rather to address central issues in science and religion. I have at times employed the ideas and terminology of these …

Preface  in  

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These papers come from a conference held in Bellagio, Italy in June, 1974. The hope underlying the conference was that, if aspects of Whitehead’s form of process philosophy were effectively communicated to scientists who in turn could help philosophers understand the nature of their current problems, both philosophers and scientists would benefit. Although communication between the two communities is far from easy, this volume suggests that it is possible and that, when it occurs, it is mutually fructifying.

Preface  in  

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What is the place of religion in an age of science? How can one believe in God today? What view of God is consistent with the scientific understanding of the world? My goals are to explore the place of religion in an age of science and to present an interpretation of Christianity that is responsive to both the historical tradition and contemporary science.

Preface  in  

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Whitehead, Hartshorne and Cobb have shown the author the connection between science and compassion for human nature.

References  in  

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References Adams, Chris (1989 September 11) ‘AIDS and changing realities’ Christianity arid Crisis pp. 257-9. Anon, (1991) ‘Measuring human development’ South Letter of the South Centre. 11 18-9. Barr, James (1975) Fundamentalism. London: SCM Press, Barr, James (1984) Escaping from Fundamentalism. London: SCM Press. Bartlett, Robert (1991) ‘Witch hunting’ New York Review of Books 38 …

Regaining Compassion for Humanity and Nature

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(ENTIRE BOOK) Only the rebirth of compassion -- for ourselves, for each other, for the planet -- has the power to enrich and heal our ecologically fragile world reeling from human greed and exploitation. The author brings together science and process theology to make the connections.

Religion in an Age of Science

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(ENTIRE BOOK) An excellent and readable summary of the role of religion in an age of science. Barbour's Gifford Lectures -- the expression of a lifetime of scholarship and deep personal conviction and insight -- including a clear and helpful analysis of process theology.

Science under Siege

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Chris Mooney has written a stinging indictment of the Republican Party’s attitudes toward science, focusing particularly on the manipulative and dismissive thinking and policies of the current administration. Even if only a part of what he says is true, he documents an appalling state of affairs. Although in terms of scientific know-how and capability the …

Science: From the Womb of Religion

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In the late 1960s, when Sir John Templeton laid the groundwork for a prize for progress in religion, esteem for religion took on a euphoria which invited dreams reminiscent at times of psychedelic delirium. The logic that led from the honest-to-God religion through a recycled process theology to the death-of-God religious studies unfolded itself with …

The Debate on Intelligent Design

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Intelligent design is the theory that the universe is too complex a place to be accounted for by an appeal to natural selection and the random processes of evolution. Some kind of overarching intellect must have been at work in the design of the natural order. In principle, intelligent design is religion-neutral. The intelligent designer …

The Fall and Rise of Creationism

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Creationist bills demanding equal time for a “creation model” of origins have been submitted to legislatures in more than 30 states. State boards of education, among them those in Texas and California. have been pressured to mandate as acceptable textbooks that include creationist materials. Local boards of education have also been targeted by creationists for …

What Caused the Big Bang?

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This book critically explores answers to the big question, What produced our universe around fifteen billion years ago in a Big Bang? It critiques contemporary atheistic cosmologies, including Steady State, Oscillationism, Big Fizz, Big Divide, and Big Accident, that affirm the eternity and self-sufficiency of the universe without God. This study defends and revises Process Theology and arguments for God's existence from the universe's life-supporting order and contingent existence.