Chapter

Physics and Astronomy in a Catholic Framework

William R. Stoeger

in Teaching the Tradition

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199795307
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932894 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199795307.003.0018
Physics and Astronomy in a Catholic Framework

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Literalism for interpreting the Bible and causal reductionism for the sciences are failed endeavors. Causal reductionism reduces everything to the basic elements of matter. This turns spiritual experiences into chemical events. Both reductionism and determinism are unsupported by data. Sciences and religion have different presuppositions, emphases, methods, and questions they pose. Like theology, sciences cannot prove their foundational approach. The sciences cannot handle one-time events such as an individual person in relationship. The “laws of nature” handle only a small segment of nature. God endowed creation with intrinsic dynamisms and with relative autonomy. Contingency means all depends on God, and, from a science perspective, chance exists. Nature is structured hierarchically; bodies and things have subsystems. Entities also have relationality: how they function depends on what they are interacting with. Nature also has directionality. The Big Bang was a condition (not an event) when all four physical forces were concentrated in a single superforce. This condition cannot be studied by physicists since the temperatures are too high. Physicists can never explain creation, that is, moving from absolutely nothing to something. Physicists may be able to show how the universe moved from some sort of vacuum to the Big Bang state.

Keywords: scientism; physics; astronomy; Bible; presuppositions; truth; hierarchical; relationality; directionality; Big Bang

Chapter.  9682 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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