God and modern cosmologies

Author: Enrique Moros
Published in: Scripta Theologica 38 - 3 (2006), 1103-1108. review of the work: Francisco José Soler Gil (ed.), Dios y las cosmologías modernas, BAC, Madrid 2005, ISBN: 84-7914-795-4. XXXIX + 371pp.
Publication date: 2006

This book offers what its degree scroll states. However, it should be noted that what is decisive is the copulative conjunction: it does not simply deal with God, nor is it a specialised book on contemporary physics, but in these pages the articulation between the Supreme Being and the latest developments in physical cosmology is explored in depth. For this reason, the copulative conjunction must be understood not as a mere juxtaposition between different realities but as an in-depth research on the paths that exist or can be constructed between them. It belongs, therefore, in its own right to the sphere of classical natural theology and its inspiration arises from the most complete exercise of the Philosophy of nature and metaphysics that Christians were able to develop from their flourishing in classical Greece and from their own experience staff. There is, however, one detail of degree scroll that could be improved and that is the adjective 'modern' that qualifies cosmologies, because what we are talking about is properly speaking of contemporary cosmologies.

The publisher has written a long and enlightening introduction to the collection of articles in the book. Significantly, his first section alludes to the wall of separation between science and theology that has been erected in recent centuries, a wall that is both a failure of human intelligence and an embarrassment to the creative thinking of believers. The author proposes to linger at the intersection between science and theology, to stop at that frontier terrain where both fields of knowledge overlap, because they are accessed from different routes, and where trade can flourish between both territories of human knowledge and with it their mutual enrichment and, at final, of the human being himself. This knowledge of limits and frontiers, which looks at the infinite because it is immensely interested in the finite, is what has been called metaphysics since Aristotle.

In view of the withdrawal of this intersection that we suffer from in Spanish culture -although it is not a peculiar characteristic of ours, but one that we unfortunately share with the rest of continental European thought- the need and opportunity of these pages does not require further explanation. That is why publisher has turned its gaze to the philosophical field of language English and, apart from its own contribution, gathers a significant amount of the best results that, in our strict contemporaneity, are taking place right now. It is still necessary to mention the excellent translation work he has carried out: the result is a smooth and smooth Spanish which makes for an even pleasant reading at times despite the inescapable dryness elsewhere.

The publisher is well aware of the limits of this work, but also of the balance to be drawn: "This book does not constitute a single work, but the various authors pursue different objectives. Nevertheless, several thesis and conclusions can be drawn from it, all of which point in the same direction, namely that of the superiority of the theistic approach over naturalism in accounting for the models and data of contemporary physical cosmology" (XXXII).

There is yet another aspect that deserves to be emphasised: the boldness of purpose of publisher. This boldness is perfectly expressed at the end of his introduction: "I trust that the arguments presented throughout the book will help to show that, in the difficult question of the origin and mode of being of the universe, the theistic approach constitutes that human tradition which is best and most difficult to refute. And I hope that this result may move the reader to embark on theism and risk the journey of life in it. It is worth it" (XXXIV) These words reveal the temperament of a thoroughbred thinker, confident in reason and trusting with a great soul in its possibilities for guiding human life.

William E. Carroll develops a research on the relationship between St. Thomas Aquinas and contemporary cosmology. These pages insist on the distinction of knowledge in the face of diverse speculations, especially on the part of some scientists. "Thomas Aquinas would have no difficulty in accepting the current cosmology, even with all its recent variations, while affirming the doctrine of creation from nothing. And he would, of course, distinguish between the advances in the natural sciences and the philosophical and theological reflections on these advances" (18).

Robin Collins provides article graduate "The evidence for fine-tuning". It provides an elaborate formulation of what is meant by fine-tuning, which is very important for the argument of design. A parameter of physics is understood to be finely tuned as the claim that the set of values r of that parameter that allows life is very small compared to some non-arbitrarily chosen set R of 'possible' values in the theory" (22). Fine-tuning admits Degrees and, moreover, it can be one-way or two-way (increase or decrease of the parameter in question). He then gives six examples of fine-tuning and, finally, discusses some misleading examples given in the literature.

William Lane Craig's article is entitled "Naturalism and Cosmology", and is taken from his discussion with J.P. Moreland on naturalism. He reviews the various speculations about contemporary cosmology and ends by offering a cosmological argument for the existence of God, based on the necessary temporal origin of the universe: "Everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence. The universe began to exist. Therefore the universe possesses a cause of its existence... If the universe possesses a cause of its existence, then there is a Creator of the universe, who is staff and uncaused, and who, apart from the universe, exists without beginning, without change, immaterial, without time, without space, and enormously powerful... Consequently, there is a Creator of the universe... And this, as Thomas Aquinas laconically emphasised, is the one whom everyone calls 'God'" (93). This is the argument about which the publisher presents the most doubts, both in the introduction and in the epilogue, that he has written about the theistic arguments against a new cosmological model , i.e. about how a new cosmological model would influence the arguments presented.

To William Demski we owe the following article: "The randomness of holes". It constitutes a whole discussion on the meaning of probability in order to formulate the argument of design. The picture of Arthur Rubinstein as an accomplished pianist or as a lucky impostor is very illuminating. He concludes: "The limitation of probabilistic resources enriches our knowledge of the world by enabling us to detect design where it would otherwise escape us. At the same time, the limitation of probabilistic resources protects us from the unwarranted reliance on natural causes that unlimited probabilistic resources seem invariably to generate. In a word: limited probabilistic outcomes eliminate the randomness of the gaps" (127).

The next two articles are due to Michael Heller. The first is entitled: "Cosmological Singularity and the Creation of the Universe". The breath that drives his reflections is aptly expressed at the beginning: "One must go a little deeper towards a mathematical definition of the initial singularity - the geometrical counterpart of the Big Bang - and the conditions of its existence, for only then can one correctly decipher its physical content and its philosophical (or theological) significance" (131). He underlines the difference and conjunction between cosmology and Philosophy, their continuities and at the same time their discontinuities. He ends by vindicating a timeless image of God in the face of Whiteheadian reflections.

The second is entitled: "Chaos, probability, and the comprehensibility of the world", and it is worth transcribing its conclusion: "Modern developments in science have discovered two kinds of elements (in the Greek sense of the word) shaping the structure of the universe. The cosmic elements (integrability, analyticity, calculability, predictability) and the chaotic elements (probability, randomness, unpredictability, and various stochastic properties). I think that in this chapter I have argued convincingly in favour of the thesis that chaotic elements are in fact as 'mathematical' as cosmic ones, and if cosmic elements raise the question of why the world is mathematical, the same is true of chaotic elements. In this view, cosmos and chaos are not antagonistic forces but, rather, two components of the same Logos immanent in the structure of the universe. Einstein's question, 'why is the world so comprehensible' is a profound, and not yet well understood, theological question" (174).

To Ted Peters we owe the following article graduate "God as the future of cosmic creativity". In these pages the articulation between science and God leans towards God in search of what qualities he should be endowed with in view of the new scientific results. He proposes understanding God as source of cosmic creativity on the basis of five thesis or ideas such as integrating totality, the emergence of novelty, creation from the future, creation as integration into totality, and the understanding of God's faithfulness expressed through laws. These pages are the ones that have given me the most perplexity. Firstly, their connection with the themes and style of the other articles in the book is not readily apparent. Secondly, its starting point is confusing, it is not clear whether it speaks from what God must be theologically or what he must be if we take into account the latest scientific developments. Thirdly, it is not clear enough to separate the creatural and theological levels of his views. As a result, the result is confusing.

John Polkinghorne develops the topic "Physics and metaphysics from a Trinitarian perspective". It is not necessary to point out the author's prestige as a physicist, therefore his conclusions are more valuable: "I meeting a satisfactory Degree of consonance between my scientific knowledge and the ideas of my Christian faith; a harmony between my experiences as a physicist and my experience as an Anglican member of the clergy . In my view, religion and scientific culture can live in a friendly and complementary relationship. Trinitarian metaphysics is our best candidate for a Theory of Everything" (220-1). What I am not sure about is the philosophical adequacy of his arguments and of the very concept of 'Theory of Everything'.

The publisher has written the following article and has graduate: "Physical cosmology as a support for natural theology". In essence it consists of the formulation of a cosmological argument to demonstrate the existence of God, which is called the 'Gregorian way' in honour of St. Gregory Nazianzen. The core of the argument is that contemporary cosmology assumes that the universe is an object, "not a self-sufficient entity, but that it refers to another, independent of it, and which constitutes its efficient cause" (230). In this way the same development of cosmology refutes the usual objections to cosmological arguments from Hume and Kant.

William R. Stoeger writes about "what contemporary cosmology and theology have to say to each other". There is much that would be worth noting in these pages, but we will limit ourselves to summarising the reasons why theology and cosmology should be in dialogue. "A first and most important reason is simply that a deeper self-awareness of each discipline with respect to its own areas of power and weakness, its own sphere of skill, and its own limits, only develops with (and in the face of) the growth of the competencies of the other disciplines... A second reason is.... that they are independent, as disciplines, not having been produced in a vacuum, but within a common culture... A third reason... [is] that most people are continually trying to integrate the different aspects and perspectives of our lives into an intelligible whole... A fourth reason... is that both Philosophy and theology are radically interdisciplinary... Finally, a fifth reason... is that cosmology and the other sciences raise important questions of a philosophical and/or theological nature, which they cannot answer" (274-9).

The following article is by Richard Swinburne and is entitled "The argument for the existence of God from fine-tuning reconsidered". His conclusion is "that while it is significantly probable that there is a universe finely tuned for human bodies or 'particulate bodies' if there is a God, it is by no means probable that there is such a universe if there is no God. Therefore, the 'fine-tuning' contributes significantly to a cumulative test of God's existence" (306).

The last article is entitled "Did God create the universe out of nothing" and is signed by Mark William Worthing. All its pages are a plea for the need to distinguish the creation out of nothing that interests theology from the question of origins that is the main topic of scientific cosmology. In itself it is a notice on the tendency to an approximate and insufficiently precise translation of concepts from one field of knowledge to another, in the style, for example, of what Ted Peters does and which has already been commented on.

Finally, it is worth transcribing the balance sheet that publisher draws from the full run through of these pages, because it is clear and explicit enough, in addition, of course, to its full justice. "Some of the main results... are: the naturalistic attempt to offer a model of the universe that contains a 'closed' and merely physical explanation of its own existence does not work and cannot surely work... The naturalistic attempt to interpret as a mere appearance the order and design of the cosmos through the hypothesis of the multiverse does not succeed in questioning the mathematical rationality of the universe that requires an explanation. Nor does it succeed in eliminating the hint of purpose that we find ourselves in a world capable of containing beings capable of moral action... nor can it eliminate the objectuality of the universe (or of the multiverse) and, with it, the legitimacy of the question of its cause. The mathematical rationality of the universe, and the fact that the cosmos possesses the appropriate characteristics for the existence in it of intelligent beings capable of moral action... is coherent with the idea of a God staff creator and structurer of the world. And this God could account not only for the characteristics and rationality of the cosmos, but above all for the very existence of the universe" (XXXIII).