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Creative Tension: Essays on Science and Religion [Paperback]

By Michael Heller (Author)
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Overview
The voice of a renowned professor of philosophy in Poland, who is also a Roman Catholic priest, is introduced to the United States in this collection of his provocative essays on the interplay of science and religion. Michael Heller progressively outlines systematic steps that might lead to a peaceful coexistence of these traditionally separate fields of study. Some essays have their roots in the author's work in physics and cosmology, while others present his theories on the language of God, creation, and transcendence, inspired by his work in the applications of so-called noncommutative geometry, an emerging field of study. The book is organized into four sections, each preceded by a brief introduction explaining the order of the essays and their internal logic. Part One deals with methodology, evaluates the theological interpretation of scientific theories, and proposes a program for a "theology of science." Part Two looks at the interaction of science and religion from a historical perspective. Topics include the evolution of ideas connected with the place of man in the Universe and the evolution of matter, among others. Part Three concentrates on the "creation and science" quandary, including the Big Bang theory and the role of probability and chance in science, as well as their impact on theological questions. Part Four looks for vestiges of transcendence in contemporary science. Creative Tension joins the Templeton library of resources contributing to the growing global dialogue on science and religion.

Publishers Description

The voice of a renowned professor of philosophy in Poland, who is also a Roman Catholic priest, is introduced to the United States in this collection of his provocative essays on the interplay of science and religion. Michael Heller progressively outlines systematic steps that might lead to a peaceful coexistence of these traditionally separate fields of study. Some essays have their roots in the author's work in physics and cosmology, while others present his theories on the language of God, creation, and transcendence, inspired by his work in the applications of so-called noncommutative geometry, an emerging field of study.The book is organized into four sections, each preceded by a brief introduction explaining the order of the essays and their internal logic.Part one deals with methodology, evaluates the theological interpretation of scientific theories, and proposes a program for a "theology of science."Part two looks at the interaction of science and religion from a historical perspective. Topics include the evolution of ideas connected with the place of man in the Universe and the evolution of matter, among others.Part three concentrates on the "creation and science" quandary, including the big bang theory and the role of probability and chance in science, well as their impact on theological questions.Part four looks for vestiges of transcendence in contemporary science."Creative Tension" joins the Templeton library of resources contributing to the growing global dialogue on science and religion.

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Item Specifications...


Studio: Templeton Foundation Press
Pages   176
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.24" Width: 5.96" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.11 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2003
Publisher   Templeton Foundation Press
ISBN  1932031340  
ISBN13  9781932031348  


Availability  0 units.


More About Michael Heller


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Michael Heller is professor of philosophy at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow, Poland, and an adjunct member of the Vatican Observatory staff. He is an ordained Roman Catholic priest, and has earned a master's degree in philosophy and a PhD in cosmology. His current research is in relativistic cosmology and the application of noncommutative geometry to physics andcosmology.

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Michael Heller currently resides in the state of New York. Michael Heller has an academic affiliation as follows - New York University.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Science & Religion
4Books > Subjects > Science > Essays & Commentary
5Books > Subjects > Science > General
6Books > Subjects > Science > History & Philosophy > Science


Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > Science, Faith & Evolution



Reviews - What do customers think about Creative Tension: Essays on Science and Religion?

Avoiding "methodological anarchy" enables true encounter  May 17, 2008
*Creative Tension* (CT) is the first of Fr. Michael Heller's books that I have read. I doubt it will be his last. CT begins a bit slowly and vaguely for my tastes, but by the second section (on certain perspectives in the history of science), Heller presents interesting details on the actual medieval view of humanity's place in the cosmos, as opposed to the stereotyped view that Kepler overthrew medieval geocentrism. Far from it. In fact, the medieval view of Earth was, as Heller cites C.S. Lewis, "anthropoperipheral". What Kepler did accomplish was the mathematization of our galaxy, which ultimately led to the idealized displacement of man from the mathematical world. Interestingly, Heller notes how, while the medieval cosmology was anthropomorphic but anthropoperipheral, the modern cosmology is more anthropocentric in terms of man's formalized investigations being the very substance of cosmic order. (One is reminded of A. Guth's quip that we can form universes out of thin air.)

The section I found most challenging, and most interesting, was that concerning Fr. Heller's area of expertise, namely, working towards integrating general relativity and quantum gravitation by way of noncommutative geometry. While Heller is merciful for boneheads like me, and kept the exposition of this new field of mathematics at a very lay level, I did appreciate learning that noncommutative geometry renders points, and the time in which they are traversed, meaningless, which, in turn, renders the talk (à la Hawking, Hartle, et al.) of fundamental singularities meaningless. Once we cross the Planck threshold (i.e., above 1 x 10^-33 cm, 1 x10^93 g/cm^3, 1 x 10^-44 sec), we are able to work with points in Poincaré fields, but beneath that threshold, the proto-singularity is atemporal and aspacial, terms that certainly render the Augustinian and Thomistic views of creation as timeless more palatable for modern theology (as against the objections by process theologians that timelessness renders God inactive and static). Noncommutative geometry allow for dynamic progression, but not in classical or even quantum terms.

The care with which Heller delineates noncommutative geometry is driven by his explicit differentiation, in the spirit of St. Thomas, between creation qua ontological dependency and the cosmos's beginning qua empirically analyzable event. It is precisely this care in delineating the methodological boundaries between science and theology that avoids what Fr. Heller calls "methodological anarchy". In their proper bounds, science cannot ground or refute theology, while theology cannot simply refute, nor vampirize, science. A key point Fr. Heller makes is that, because science cannot go beyond itself, it is the privilege and task of theology to see science in a larger metaphysical, and indeed moral, perspective, "from the outside" as it were.

The moral privilege of theology in allowing science to find a home in the complete metaphysical cosmos ties in with a crucial point Fr. Heller makes, namely, that rationality is a moral choice, because it is a free choice. As the empirical method cannot account for, much less ground, itself, rationality amounts to a free, moral "faith in reason" (as Popper called in *The Open Society*). Hence, Heller calls the Greeks' logical ethos their moral code. (You can see how potent this insight is during a conversation, on [...], involving Fr. Heller and R. Dawkins: when Heller asked Dawkins whether he believed in rationality, Dawkins said of course, and when asked why, he replied, because it works, at which point Fr. Heller smiled. If rationality is "right" because it works, how do we know it works? Because it is self-evident? No. Because it works? In what terms? Etc.)

The basic message Heller has for theologians is twofold. First, take the science seriously, not only in terms of "going along with" the current "scientific world-image", in order to avoid complete communication failures, but also in terms of true competence in the field one wants to examine. Second, while science cannot "explain" or "prove" religion, it can teach by analogy. For example, if we can fathom atemporal, aspacial dynamics via noncommutative geometry, can we not also gain further insight into the aspacial, atemporal God? And if we can see the failure of ordinary language in increasingly rarified sciences, can we not also take more seriously the nuances of "God-talk"?

CT is a fine primer for Fr. Heller work, but the interested reader really will want more, as apparently can be found in his other woks in the past couple decades. I was disappointed to see Fr. Heller did not cite Fr. Stanley Jaki's work, as Jaki argues for much the same methodological strictures on the "impassable divide" between theology proper and science. Related books of interest would be A. Nesteruk's *Light from the East* and pretty much anything by T.F. Torrance and Wolfgang Smith.
 

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