Eschatology and Cosmology – Part II

To continue the thread:

Western theologians, in spite of their Christological and Trinitarian beliefs, often revert to philosophical unitarianism when they discuss creation and providence. Barth pointed out that classical Reformed and Lutheran ideas of providence were vitiated by the fact that the deity who preserved, accompanied, and governed creatures in those theologies did not have the distinctive features of the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ. This tendency to be content with a general theism, rather than a distinctively Christian belief, poses dangers for dialogue between science and Christian theology, including theological assessment of quantum theory, because such dialogue must consider creation and providence. [from Does the Trinity Play Dice?]

This is a major beef of mine with many contemporary Christian apologists. In a pluralistic context, apologists commit a gross error if they think proving God equates to proving Christianity (and that’s bracketing for a moment the issue of to what extent anything can be proved). If Deists or Atheists are your only dialogue partners fair enough. But that world is back in the past. One of my first introductions to spirituality was via Fritjov Capra’s “The Tao of Physics“, an influential New Age text back in the 90s. The name should say it all.

But things get even more interesting when you consider quantum cosmology and, in particular, the many-worlds interpretation.

A many-worlds interpretation would raise serious theological questions. We would need to consider, for example, Barth’s concept of evil as the “nothingness” which God has not chosen. Such a concept is meaningful for a single universe, but its significance in a many-worlds picture is unclear. For instance, there would be some branches in which Hitler won, and others, such as ours, in which he did not. Which branch represents the will of God? Which expresses the nothingness which God does not choose? [from Does the Trinity Play Dice?]

The ‘many worlds’ hypothesis lays down a major challenge for a religion like Christianity that is so rooted in a specific event of history: the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Far more so that for religions like Hinduism or Buddhism which indeed posit a pleathora of alternate universal cycles. This demands a thoughtful response.

7 thoughts on “Eschatology and Cosmology – Part II

  1. Matt, this post demonstrates yet another blindspot in evangelical apologetics. We continue to respond to the waning Modernist agenda as it relates to cosmology and remain ignorant of the challenges of religious pluralism in this regard. My hope is that evangelicals can wake up from their Enlightenment preferences long enough to expand their horizons as it relates to apologetic and cultural engagement.


  2. Yes, well it’s interesting to note that the Genesis text was written as an apologetic against polytheism rather than atheism. In some respects post-modernism calls us back to a use of the text which is far more in keeping with its original intent than what creation scientists do with it.


  3. Hi Matt,
    I staggered across your blog from a link and thought your comments here where interesting. I am Christian and also a BSc student (not physicist however).
    But would like to comment concerning the many-world’s hypothesis as far as I understood it, it is completely and utterly scientifically unverifiable. As such it falls in to the category of metaphysics. Many-worlds Hypothesis has been posed as an explanation for the apparent unlikelihood of our universe developing (a problem which most (all?) Christians would seek to explain in other ways) and also to explain the unusual actions of quantum particles. But as the other “universe” as such is exactly that “other” it means that it cannot observed.
    So I guess my crux is while it is interesting speculation and in my opinion would be very damaging to the Christian faith it is a speculation on how are Universe acts. And as speculation that is antithecal to our faith I would personally wait for strong evidence (if that’s even possible, I suggest and suspect not) before crediting it as a problem in need of solution.
    However thanks for an interesting blog, I may post and read here more regularly in about 7 months when I return from Africa and the resultant difficulties of internet access.


  4. Steve, I agree. The many-worlds hypothesis is as yet an unproven interpretation. One interpretation amongst many. Yet it appears to be the dominant interpretation in the physics community and that calls for a response. Notably, pointing out to them that are delving into metaphysical speculation as you observe. Personally I prefer interpretations that explore reverse causation, but ultimately its scientific insight rather than theology that will win the arguement amongst physicists. The challenge is encouraging physicists to await stronger evidence and engage in public dialogue.


  5. Well it seems that Many worlds hypothesis misses the point in my opinion in respect to answering the important questions. Many worlds hypothesis attempts to answer why our universe is finally tuned seemingly the most difficult of all questions, but however it still does not deal with ontological beginnings. As for which theory has scientific consensus I doubt many scientist would be putting there name to any of the possibilities very definitively as they all lack evidence and I’m dubious to whether MWH is even able to have credible evidence.


  6. I would suggest that manifest reality is a beginningless and endless multi-dimensional play of changes which is also full of space-time paradoxes and which inevitably confounds all attempts of the (inherently reductionist) left brained mind to define/understand it.
    How do “you” even begin to define what “you” are?
    Where do “you” begin and end?
    Ultimately you would have to take into account quite literally everything past present and future to account for your seeming presence here!
    This photographic art is an address to this issus.


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