Christian Eschatology and the Physical Universe

Overview

"Does matter matter? The scientific picture of the end of the physical universe has undergone dramatic changes since the turn of the 21st century, with its future characterized by accelerated expansion and futility. Yet Christian theology has been largely silent on this, despite the interest in eschatology in popular culture and in theology itself. What can Christian theology learn from and contribute to the scientific picture of the future of the universe? Can the biblical narratives of creation and new creation have a fruitful dialogue with

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Overview

"Does matter matter? The scientific picture of the end of the physical universe has undergone dramatic changes since the turn of the 21st century, with its future characterized by accelerated expansion and futility. Yet Christian theology has been largely silent on this, despite the interest in eschatology in popular culture and in theology itself. What can Christian theology learn from and contribute to the scientific picture of the future of the universe? Can the biblical narratives of creation and new creation have a fruitful dialogue with scientific discoveries?" David Wilkinson shows what a fruitful dialogue this can be. Critiquing the folk eschatology of the Left Behind series, the misguided faith of the scientific optimists and the lack of scientific engagement of the theologians of hope, Wilkinson argues for a rediscovery of the theological theme of new creation and the centrality of bodily resurrection. Far from the destruction of this present universe, God's purposes are to be seen in a transformation of space, time, matter and relationships. The consequences for a robust engagement of Christian eschatology with questions of the physical future are to be seen in how Christians should think not just about the physical universe but the future of animals, belief in the soul, care of the environment, the science religion debate and how God acts in the universe.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780567045461
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 7/13/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,212,587
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

David Wilkinson is currently Wesley Research Lecturer in Theology and Science at the University of Durham. From September 2006 he will be Principal of St Johns College, University of Durham. He is the author of numerous popular books on relationship between science and religion and has appeared on both radio and television. He regularly lectures in the UK and US.

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Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter 1 Visions of the End 1

1.1 The end of the world in science and pop culture 1

1.2 Eschatology working overtime 2

1.3 Left behind or burnt up? The new fundamentalism 3

1.4 The future in the dialogue of science and religion 5

Chapter 2 Ending in Futility: The Future Pessimism of Science 7

2.1 Environmental catastrophe 7

2.2 Comet or asteroid impact 8

2.3 The death of the Sun 9

2.4 The áDoomsday Argument' 10

2.5 The end of the Universe 12

2.6 The future of life in the future of the Universe 16

Chapter 3 The Limited Universal Responses of the Theologians of Hope 23

3.1 A Universe of no value or interest 24

3.2 Moltmann's limited universal eschatology 28

3.3 Pannenberg and the physics of immortality 37

3.4 The scientist-theologians 48

3.5 What does the theological future hold? 52

Chapter 4 Cosmological Hope in the Eschatologies of the Bible 53

4.1 áHeaven' 60

4.2 Isaiah 11.1-9 61

4.3 Isaiah 65.17-25 62

4.4 1 Thessalonians 4.13-5.11 64

4.5 2 Peter 3.10-13 67

4.6 Revelation 21.1-8 72

4.7 Romans 8.18-30 76

4.8 New creation and this creation 85

Chapter 5 Reclaiming the Resurrection in Its Cosmological Setting 89

5.1 Colossians 1.15-20 91

5.2 1 Corinthians 15 92

5.3 The Gospels 101

5.4 Resurrection and the future of the Universe 103

5.5 Continuity, discontinuity and transformation 111

Chapter 6 Space-time in Creation and New Creation 115

6.1 The shaping of time in contemporary culture 116

6.2 The shaping of space-time in the Universe 117

6.3 The arrow of time 119

6.4 Imagining space-time at the beginning of creation 121

6.5 Space-time, eternity and God 124

6.6 The nature of space-time in the new creation 129

6.7 Continuity and discountinuity in the space-time of new creation 133

Chapter 7 The Future of Matter 137

7.1 Matter in the creation: scientific insights 137

7.2 Transforming water into wine 140

7.3 The matter of the soul 141

7.4 Feminist theology and the importance of the body 146

7.5 Sacrament, body and world 149

7.6 áRadically different'? Polkinghorne and the future of matter 152

7.7 Is that the end of the matter? 156

Chapter 8 Fruitful Interaction: Working Out the Relationship of Creation and New Creation 159

8.1 New creation and the biological world 159

8.2 Openness theology in an accelerating Universe 170

8.3 Acting in hope 177

Chapter 9 Conclusion 185

Appendix A Note on Millennium Theology 189

Bibliography 191

Index of Biblical References 225

Modern Author Index 229

Subject Index 237

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