Creation and cosmology: fruitful interactions between science and religion


Date Thursday September 12th 2002
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

In this lecture I will suggest several fruitful ways in which science and religion can interact. In our culture, it is all too frequently assumed that science is intrinsically atheistic or that science and religion are totally independent of each other. I’ll start with a few quick counters to the ‘science = atheism’ claim, then move directly into the fascinating story of twentieth century cosmology. Here we’ll discover that scientists such as Einstein and Hoyle drew upon ‘extra-scientific’ arguments and motivations both in constructing Big Bang and steady state cosmologies and in arguing for their validity. These arguments and motivations are, in fact, basically philosophical and religious, suggesting that science cannot be totally isolated from such broader cultural concerns. I’ll end with a brief survey of how theologians have responded to these developments in science, taking us to the frontiers of ‘science and religion’ today.


Robert John Russell is the Professor of Theology and Science in Residence at The Graduate Theological Union (GTU), Berkeley and Director of The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS). He founded CTNS and began teaching at the GTU in 1981. He is the general editor for a series of research publications on scientific perspectives on divine action (CTNS and the Vatican Observatory), covering Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature, Chaos and Complexity, Evolutionary and Molecular Biology, Neuroscience and the Person and Quantum Mechanics. He is the Co-editor of Physics, Philosophy and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding (1988) and founding editor of the CTNS Bulletin (to become the Journal of Theology and Science, 2003). Russell serves as the principal investigator for the CTNS program: Science and the Spiritual Quest. Russell received the B.S from Stanford University in 1968 (physics major, minor in religion, music), the M.S. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1970 (physics), M.Div./M.A. in 1972 from the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley (honors), and the Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1978 (physics). He was ordained to the ministry in higher education, United Church of Christ/Congregational in 1978 and was an assistant Professor of Physics at Carleton College during 1978-81.

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