Friday, June 12, 2009

Can the Bible tell us if the universe began as a quantum vacuum fluctuation?

I really like Walter Brueggemann's commentary on Genesis, first introduced to me by Ben Myers, and some of the comments below were heavily influenced by Ben (but I take full responsibility!).

Bruegemann suggests that Abraham is called to trust in a God who can:
"violate religious conventions (cf., 18:16-32) shatter normal definitions of reality (18:14), and bring about newness (21:1-7).... There are in the Bible three primary ways of speaking of such radical, unextrapolated newness:
(a) creation out of nothing,
(b) resurrection of the dead, and
(c) justification by grace through faith (cf. Rom. 4:17).''
[Brueggemann, Genesis, p. 111]

This brings me to make the point that the doctrine of creation ex-nihilo is primarily a theological statement, rather than a statement of the nature, timing, or mechanism of the creation act. The doctrine was formulated in response to Gnostic views that God was constrained to work with existing materials. But, the God of Abraham is not constrained in any way, neither in the manner in which he created, nor in his ability to give an heir to a barren couple, nor the ability to make a great nation from some nomads, nor to raise from the dead.

Hence, it is not clear to me why some interested in the dialogue between science and theology are so concerned with constraints that the doctrine may (or may not) put on scientific views about the beginning of the universe. [e.g., Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration]

1 comment:

  1. I think one should be careful in driving too big a wedge between theology and science. Does God not act in nature, use nature and create nature? Surely the theology and science must touch one another somewhere? I think that our understanding of nature should be constraint by what the Bible reveals (where ever the two may meet).
    Also, just a clarification, when you talk about God not being constrained, are you talking about not being constrained as far as his actions towards the natural world?