Many people seem to think that eschatology and science have little or nothing in common, and that each speaks to a different realm of human reality. According to John Polkinghorne and Michael Welker, in the introduction to The End of the World and the Ends of God
, the following three clichés about science and theology have contributed to this:
- Theology deals with realities unseen, science deals with visible reality;
- Theology deals with feelings, science deals with facts;
- Theology deals--at best--with personal certainty, science deals with objective truths
This book is a convincing argument that the traditional view of the relationship between science and theology (and eschatology) is wrong. In fact, it argues that eschatology is one of the most suitable intersections between science and theology because "it will help clarify and cultivate the difference between truth claims in both fields." It also "enables us to formulate eschatological truth claims in the face of the finitude of the world." In addition, a dialogue between science and theology about eschatology "challenges us to work on the clear differentiation between the sustenance of the world and the new creation: to differentiate between infinity and eternity, between the mere totality of times and the eschatological fullness, and between different types of hope related to one or the other."
This compilation features essays by heavyweights in theology, science and eschatology, including John Polkinghorne, Michael Welker, William R. Stoeger, Hans Weder, Walter Brueggemann, Jürgen Moltmann, and others (for a full listing of contributors, click here
). Part one looks at eschatology in the natural sciences, focusing on the inevitable (according to science) natural catastrophes and the hope that Christianity offers against them. In part two, the focus is on eschatology in the cultural sciences and ethics, with a particular emphasis on the shaping of eschatological thought. The third part looks at eschatology in the biblical traditions, and themes of the end-time. Part four examines eschatology in theology and spirituality, focusing on hope and eternal life.
This is not light reading, by any standard. It is truly thought provoking and insightful. Grasping its message of hope will take some effort, but the result will be amazing, causing you to continue to give an answer for the hope you have.
The dialogue between science and theology has grown to mammoth proportions over the past decade. These two disciplines search continually to discover their common ground. Each discipline is anxious to warrant its own truth claims concerning the nature of reality and the nature of God. In order to be fruitful, such dialogue, argue the authors of this collection, should focus on one subject. In this volume, 16 scientists and theologians contend that eschatology provides a common concern for both theology and the sciences. Eschatology, they claim, will help clarify and cultivate the differences between truth claims in both fields. Moreover, a focus on eschatology offers an opportunity to examine the reasons people can be hopeful and optimistic even in the face of physical death and the finitude of the universe. Included in this provocative collection are essays on eschatology and the natural sciences, eschatology in cultural sciences and ethics, eschatology in the biblical tradition, and eschatology and theology. John Polkinghorne is the president of Queens College, Cambridge and the author of Reason and Reality (Trinity) and Serious Talk: Science and Religion in Dialogue (Trinity). Michael Welker teaches at the University of Heidelberg. Contributors to the volume include William R. Stoeger, S.J., Steward Observatory, The University of Arizona; Detlef Linke, Bonn University; Fraser Watts, Queens College, Cambridge; Larry Bouchard, University of Virginia; William Schweiker, University of Chicago; Janet Soskice, Jesus College, Cambridge; Christoph Schwobel, Heidelberg; Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary; Patrick D. Miller, Princeton Theological Seminary; Donald H. Juel, Princeton Theological Seminary; Hans Weder, University of Zurich; Gerhard Sauter, University of Bonn, Germany; Kathryn Tanner, University of Chicago; Jurgen Moltmann, University of Tubingen; and Miroslav Volf, Yale University. For: Seminarians; clergy; graduate students; general audience>
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