Phil is Ingraham Professor of Theology, Claremont School of Theology; professor of Philosophy and Religion, Claremont Graduate University; and Visiting Professor of Science and Religion, Harvard Divinity School. Philip is the author or editor of numerous works on science, philosophy, metaphysics and theology, including Mind and Emergence; The Re-Emergence of Emergence (with Paul Davies); The Problem of God in Modern Thought; and In Whom We live and Move and Have Our Being: Panentheistic Reflections on God’s Presence in a Scientific World. He is Principal Investigator of the international “Science and the Spiritual Quest” project at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Here, to consider Divine action in the world without doing violence to science, Philip calls for a new theory of causation: “Physical science, it appears, leaves no place for divine action. Modern science presupposes that the universe is a closed physical system, that interactions are regular and lawlike, that all causal histories can be traced, and that anomalies will ultimately have physical explanations. But traditional assertions of God acting in the world conflict with all four of these conditions: they presuppose that the universe is open, that God acts from time to time according to his purposes, that the ultimate source and explanation of these actions is the divine will, and that no earthly account would ever suffice to explain God’s intentions. Moreover, one must worry about equivocation: the meanings of the word “cause” used of a chemical catalyst and of God’s upholding the universe appear to diverge so widely that perhaps the same notion should not be used to express both claims. Only if we can give some broader account of what causal features chemicals and providence share in common can we make sense of Jewish, Christian and Muslim claims for divine action in the world. The problem of divine agency therefore stands on center court for theists today. Christians and Muslims, in particular, have traditionally been committed to a robust account of the actions of Allah or God within the natural order. But how can we attribute events to the causal activity of God when science appears to fully explain each event that occurs within the natural world? What conceptual resources might allow believers to acknowledge the power of science without reducing the divine to a “God of the [few remaining] gaps”? I assume — as one can hardly deny — that science has been massively successful in explaining events in the natural world. We cannot give just any account about what causes chemical and physical events; well-attested scientific explanations are not just ‘one story among the rest.’ This is not to deny that scientific theories have a preliminary status, that they are open to change and some of them will be falsified. Still, the fact that a given theory will possibly be revised in the future does not mean that it stands on the same level as any other account of the phenomena in the present… The challenge we have been exploring requires theologians to do some fundamental rethinking on the topic of divine action, since the inherited tools and concepts are no longer adequate to make sense of divine action in an age of science. To put it bluntly, the theologian seems to be faced with a forced choice between two alternatives: either God acts as the Divine Architect only, creating a finely tuned machine and leaving it to function in a consistent manner expressive of its Designer; or God becomes the Divine Repairman, whose imperfect building of the machine in the first place requires him, like a refrigerator repairman, to return from time to time to fix up errors he made the first time around. Though perhaps not impossible, it is certainly difficult to develop an alternative perspective that allows one to speak of a ‘different but equal’ causal system, alongside the network of scientific explanations, that is equally constitutive of physical events in the world….The challenge that we philosophers and theologians are faced with is nothing less than to sketch a new theory of causation. I have suggested that the resources for this new theory lie in concepts already employed by scientists in various fields: entanglement phenomena in quantum mechanics, mental causes in psychology, information theory and epigenesis in biology, and the structure of emergence that appears again and again as one climbs the ladder of complexity in the natural world…It has been said that we today lack what the medieval Islamic and Christian philosophers had: a unitary theory of causation. The required theory must be comprehensive enough to do justice to the strength of scientific causal explanations and be able to integrate them, together with mental and divine causation, into a single causal account of the world.”
- Is God Perfect? (Philip Clayton)
- Is Evil Necessary in God's World? (Philip Clayton)
- Does God have Traits? (Philip Clayton)
- Arguing God with Analytic Philosophy? (Philip Clayton)
- How Should We Think About God's Existence? (Philip Clayton)
- How does Metaphysics Reveal Reality? (Philip Clayton)
- Authentication and Conflict in Religious Belief? (Philip Clayton)
- Is God a "Person"? (Philip Clayton)
- Does God Intervene in the World? (Philip Clayton)
- Why is Emergence Significant? (Philip Clayton)
- Novel Visions of God (Philip Clayton)
- Is There Life After Death? (Philip Clayton)
- Why a Mind-Body Problem? (Philip Clayton)
- Why is Science & Theology so Fascinating? (Philip Clayton)
- How can Emergence Explain Reality? (Philip Clayton)
Can Religion Be Explained Without God?
Most people believe that God exists and religion is God’™s revelation. But some claim that religion needs nothing supernatural; that religion, without God, can flourish because personal psychology and group sociology drive religion.
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