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The Relevance of Tillich for the Theology and Science Dialogue

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This paper explores the relevance of the theology of Paul Tillich for the contemporary dialogue with the natural sciences. The focus is on his Systematic Theology, volume I. First I discuss the general relevance of Tillich's methodology (namely, the method of correlation) for that dialogue, stressing that a genuine dialogue requires cognitive input from both sides and that both sides find “value added” according to their own criteria (or what I call the method of “mutual creative interaction”). Then I move specifically to a Tillichian theological analysis of twentieth-century theoretical science and its empirical discoveries, including Big Bang, inflationary, and quantum cosmologies, quantum physics, thermodynamics, chaos and complexity, and molecular and evolutionary biology, suggesting how they relate to such Tillichian themes as finitude and the categories of being and knowing (time, space, causality, and substance) and to Tillich's understanding of such symbols as God, freedom and destiny, creation, and estrangement. In doing so, my intention is to provide a point of departure for further extended analyses of Tillich's theology in relation to contemporary natural science.

Keywords: Big Bang cosmology; God; categories of being and knowing; chaos and complexity; creation; estrangement; freedom and destiny; inflationary and quantum cosmologies; method of correlation; method of creative mutual interaction; molecular and evolutionary biology; natural science; quantumphysics; spacetime; systematic theology; thermodynamics

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Graduate Theological Union

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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