Contingency. Thematic issue of Philosophy, Theology and the Sciences

Contingency in the Cosmos and the Contingency of the Cosmos

Contingency in the Cosmos and the Contingency of the Cosmos: Two Theological Approaches

by Willem B. Drees, Tilburg University

published in Philosophy, Theology and the Sciences 2 (2, 2015): 158-177; see, doi 10.1628/219597715X14369486568374

Contingency in reality may be epistemic, due to incomplete knowledge or the intersection of unrelated causal trajectories. In quantum physics, it appears to be ontological. More fundamental and interesting is the limit‑question ‘why is there something rather than nothing,’ pointing out the contingency of existence. Contingency in existence provides a context for a proposal to conceive of special divine action as determining quantum states that, physically speaking, seem to be indeterminate. Such a proposal, as defended by Robert J. Russell, avoids some of the problems associated with miraculous interventions, but might face problems if more deterministic programs in physics are successful. The contingency of existence is independent of science, and might be appreciated if one assumes a different view of God, not as an actor in nature but as the Author of nature.

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