Open Theology and Science

By | April 9, 2008

The next four days I’ll be at an “Open Theology and Science” conference at Azusa Pacific University in California.

While there, I’ll be reading a paper entitled “The Fourfold Openness of the Future” in which I distinguish between four different ways in which the future may be thought of as “open” – causal, ontic, alethic, and epistemic – and argue that if the future is causally open (i.e., universal determinism is false) then it has to be open in the other three respects as well. If this is right, then the options for theists reduce to two: (1) theological determinism, according to which the future is open in none of those four respects, or (2) a version of open theism according to which the future is open in all of those four respects.

I’ll also be participating in a Q&A panel in which I’ll be briefly (2-3 minutes) responding to a recent criticism of open theism by Jonathan Kvanvig.

5 thoughts on “Open Theology and Science

  1. jprapp

    Alan – enjoy!

    If possible and interested – please post any notes on Collins’ use of metrics (any mathematical measures) as evidence shoring up his propositions relative to “miracles.” I’m not interested in his findings nor holdings: just the metrics.

    It’d be more than fun to conspire survey-feedback interrogatories on the crowd at the conference: where sociometrics of “hidden beliefs” in theology might establish enough of a cascade of inference-capturing devices held by “open” theologians that a real practical theology could emerge (or, result) instead of the no-praxis praxis we pretty much have here in the U.S. Hartshorne at least formulated scalars as metrics for birdsong. But, that was an aesthetic metric! I hope the chirping at the conference is at least as pleasing. But, I’d really like to know Collins’ bridge of measure (not mechanics: measure) between genome and miracle.



  2. Alan Rhoda

    Hi Jim,

    I don’t really follow what you’re saying. Perhaps you can provide more context.

    And do you mean Robin Collins or Francis Collins?



  3. jprapp

    Alan – like whether any of the empirical scientist (Francis Collins and company) talked about the various kinds of maths they use (recursion analysis, Bayesian, frequency studies, etc) and how/whether the scientists feel these metrics lend to inferences toward God. For example, Collins on a radio show invoked Eugene Wigner’s essay on the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences, and, Collins made a vague reference to somehow overcoming Wigner’s conclusion (Wigner: we don’t know why math works – it’s unreasonable) so that Collins drew inferences from the effectiveness of math to faith in God. Collins did not fill in the inferential steps. For another example, I know some social scientists interested in Bayesian metrics to explore subjective beliefs as torque for action, and working back from the subjectives, to do further surveys on theological inputs. For another example, European empirical theology has a long pedigree in using maths for data-fit-to-theological axioms in social welfare and medicine type questions. I’m wondering whether any of these questions of the maths got any play, or even passing reference?

    I’m not asking about hifalutin proof ala Aquinas based on ontology and so on.

    At a slightly greater level of refinement, I noticed how Francis Collins has characterized himself as “evangelical;” then simultaneously and expressly retreated from allying with some of the “political” and “theological” baggage of evangelicals. I have never heard him identity his evangelical caveats or say why he holds them. I’ve wondered whether Collins reserved space and gave himself fudge room to identify with an evangelicalized “open theology” because of his mastery of all the maths in the genome project and across both medical and biological sciences more generally, that is, whether the maths required to chase down all empirical contingencies in his “language of God” – make him feel that open theology is a better fit for his professional discipline to his faith because of open theology’s sensitivity to contingency in general. The level of generality in connecting faith to science in his speeches has been frustratingly vague (high generality). I just wondered whether he tightened down this vague “love-fest” language of generalities by narrower and tighter references to working with contingencies and maths?

    Also, were there any representatives of a charismatic/Pentecostal flavor there?



  4. University

    We have a few college students online from college of Azusa-Pacific-University and we love your blog postings,
    so well add your rss or news feed for them, Thanks and please post us and leave a comment back and well link to you. Thanks Jen ,
    Blog Manager,Azusa Pacific University

  5. clovis simard

    La bible est-elle mathématique ?

    Description : Mon Blog, présente le développement mathématique de la conscience c'est-à-dire la présentation de la théorie du Fermaton.La liste des questions mathématiques les plus importantes pour le siècle à venir, le No-18 sur la liste de Smale est; Quelles sont les limites de l'intelligence tant qu'humaine et artificielle.


    Voir la page: De van gogh Ă  Thom.

    Clovis Simard


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