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Creative Tension

Essays on Science and Religion

Michael Heller

The voice of a renowned professor of philosophy in Poland, who is also a Roman Catholic priest, is introduced to the United States in this collection of his provocative essays on the interplay of science and religion. Michael Heller progressively outlines systematic steps that might lead to a peaceful coexistence of these traditionally separate fields of study. Some essays have their roots in the author's work in physics and cosmology, while others present his theories on the language of God, creation, and transcendence, inspired by his work in the applications of so-called noncommutative geometry, an emerging field of study.

The book is organized into four sections, each preceded by a brief introduction explaining the order of the essays and their internal logic.

  • Part one deals with methodology, evaluates the theological interpretation of scientific theories, and proposes a program for a "theology of science."
  • Part two looks at the interaction of science and religion from a historical perspective. Topics include the evolution of ideas connected with the place of man in the Universe and the evolution of matter, among others.
  • Part three concentrates on the "creation and science" quandary, including the big bang theory and the role of probability and chance in science, well as their impact on theological questions.
  • Part four looks for vestiges of transcendence in contemporary science.

Creative Tension joins the Templeton library of resources contributing to the growing global dialogue on science and religion.

Foreword / vii

Preface / xi

PART ONE. FROM THE METHODOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE / 1

1. THE ABUSE OF COSMOLOGY / 3

2. ON THEOLOGICAL INTERPRETATIONS OF PHYSICAL CREATION THEORIES / 10

3. THE SCIENTIFIC IMAGE OF THE WORLD / 22

4. A PROGRAM FOR THEOLOGY OF SCIENCE / 29

PART TWO. FROM THE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE / 33

5. FROM THE PRIVILEGED MARGIN TO AN AVERAGE CENTER / 35

6. SCIENTIFIC RATIONALITY AND CHRISTIAN LOGOS / 47

7. TEILHARD’S VISION OF THE WORLD AND MODERN COSMOLOGY / 58

8. LEMAÎTRE—PRIEST AND SCIENTIST / 70

PART THREE. THE WORK OF CREATION / 75

9. COSMOLOGICAL SINGULARITY AND THE CREATION OF

THE UNIVERSE / 79

10. GENERALIZATIONS: FROM QUANTUM MECHANICS TO GOD / 100

11. CHAOS, PROBABILITY, AND THE COMPREHENSIBILITY

OF THE WORLD / 127

PART FOUR. TRANSCENDING SCIENCE / 145

12. “ILLICIT JUMPS”—THE LOGIC OF CREATION / 147

13. SCIENCE AND FAITH IN INTERACTION / 153

14. SCIENCE AND TRANSCENDENCE / 162

Acknowledgments / 173

APPENDIX: Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and Its Work for  Science and Religion / 175

Index / 179