The creative power of the future: Wolfhart Pannenberg, modern science, and the metaphysics of divine action

Andrew Jacobs, Fordham University


The relationship between theology and science has been an intense and often well-publicized debate over the last several centuries. At the center of this discussion has been the relationship between the religious belief in an active God and the scientific assumption of a self-sufficient universe. A review of the contemporary literature in the science-theology dialogue reveals that new models of objectively special divine action are being developed in ways that are consonant with modern science. Several of these models will become an important part of this dissertation, as they form the ground-level engagement with science on the question of God's action in the world. However, as will become clear in the course of this project, there is still the need for a comprehensive metaphysical scheme within which to integrate this plurality of theological models. It is the thesis of this dissertation that Wolfhart Pannenberg's engagement with the natural sciences provides a helpful way to address the problems that still face theology in its attempt to develop a scientifically consonant theory of divine action. I will focus particularly on two points in his thought. First, I will explore the function of Pannenberg's eschatological ontology in his contention that the world as a whole and in all its parts is contingent. Following my argument that this ontology can be used as a ‘fundamental cosmology,’ I will then explore the convergence of scientific field language and Pannenberg's doctrine of the spirit. In all of this, I will point towards a theological metaphysics that serves as an inclusive hypothesis for understanding the relationship between the various ‘ground-level’ models of God's action in the world.

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Recommended Citation

Jacobs, Andrew, "The creative power of the future: Wolfhart Pannenberg, modern science, and the metaphysics of divine action" (2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3377046.