Cosmogony

.. ot know anything about God or the creation of the universe. The acknowledgement of different religious viewpoints, the establishment of the agnostic position, and the use of the empiricist principle, are new ideas used in the argument for the origin of the universe. The 18th century Enlightenment values are highly evident in Hume’s text. It is obvious how the 13th century argument presented by Aquinas has changed in order to accommodate the new viewpoints available in the 18th century.

Through the analysis of Hume’s work, and put in comparison with earlier views, the development of the argument for the origin of the universe is easily identifiable. John F. Haught in Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation, further develops the cosmogonical argument. In the text, Haught discusses to great extent, the relationship between the scientific and the theological communities. Similarly to David Hume’s dialogue approach, Haught employs four different viewpoints in which science and religion can be related.

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These can be identified as Conflict, Contrast, Contact, and Confirmation. “Conflict- the conviction that science and religion are fundamentally irreconcilable; Contrast- the claim that there can be no genuine conflict since religion and science are each responding to radically different questions Contact- an approach that looks for dialogue, interaction, and possible “consonance” between Science and religion Confirmation- the ways in which religion supports and nourishes the entire scientific enterprises. (Haught, p.9) Employing these four viewpoints, Haught discusses our current 20th century views on cosmogony. Perhaps the largest part of Haught’s argument comes from the “Big Bang Theory.” The big bang is hypothesized to be the cosmic explosion that marked the origin of the universe and the beginning of time. Haught acknowledges the big bang as a possible cause of the universe and moves even further to state that the big bang would justify the biblical idea of divine creation as depicted in Genesis. (Haught, p.101) However, similarly to Hume, Haught also acknowledges the possibility that the universe may not have come into existence at all.

He states, “Perhaps the universe always was and always will be.” (Haught, p.101) This point of view would seriously challenge large portions of Christian doctrine. Haught employs the four relations in order to clarify and mediate between the two extreme views of cosmogony. The conflict argument states that “it is not at all self-evident that just because the universe had a beginning it also had to have a creatorEthe cosmos may have had a beginning, but it could have burst into existence spontaneously, without any cause.” (Haught, p.106) Haught brings up the possibility of nothing having existed prior to the big bang. The idea of a spontaneous explosion creating the universe is not characteristic of either Aquinas’ or Hume’s eras. Furthermore, Haught’s explanation puts the purpose of our existence into question. If the universe is a product of a Creator than we exist for the purpose of carrying out the Creators expectations. This is similar to how a clock maker puts every single gear and spring into a specific position in order for the clock to run. However, if we are merely a result of a random cosmic explosion than we are all products of a gigantic cosmic accident. Haught concludes the Conflict position by stating that although the big bang theory seems to smooth over religious/scientific conflicts, the constant changing nature of science discredits the validity of the relation.

(Haught, p.109) Again it is obvious that 20th century science and observations has contributed in the development of the cosmogonical argument. Haught, in demonstrating the Contrast relationship, brings up the idea that the “big bang physics provides no new ammunition for theology.” (Haught, p.109) He goes on further to say that “creation is not about chronological beginnings so much as it is about the world’s being grounded continuously in the graciousness of God.” (Haught, p.111) Haught discusses the idea that the big bang actually has no basis for a theological proof and that it has entirely nothing to do with creation itself. Instead, we exist in a universe that is solely dependent on God and that above the importance of creation itself we should show gratitude for our existence. Without the knowledge of the big bang or other scientific evidences, this idea on the nature of the universe could not be conceived. Thus we can say that Haught’s Contrast relationship is a product of 20th century thinking and that it further puts the argument of cosmogony into development.

Haught’s Contact relationship, however, differs slightly from that of the Contrast and Conflict relationships. The Contact relationship states that “Although we do not wish to base our faith directly on the scientific ideas, our reserve does not mean that the big bang cosmology is theologically irrelevant.” (Haught, p.114) Haught states here that the big bang, although not the sole aspect of creation, is still a large piece of the cosmogonical puzzle. He also brings up the idea that according to scientist the “big bang is not over and done with. It is still happening.” (Haught, p.117) It is the idea that the universe is in constant creation by God, and that although the big bang may have been the beginning, it can not be defined as creation itself. This is yet another demonstration of a scientific bullet in a theological gun.

Once again, this development of the cosmogonical argument accurately reflects the time period it was conceived in. Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, and John Haught all posses their own ideas and beliefs on the origination of the universe. Their arguments reflect the knowledge and logic of each person’s era. The cosmogonical argument is constantly in development as the world changes in terms of the knowledge at hand. With Aquinas we see a linear and logical argument, with an absence of scientific foundation.

Hume develops three different arguments with the empiricist principle at hand. Haught, similarly to Hume, uses different viewpoints in order to convey his opinions on the originating cause of the universe. He incorporates the big bang theory with the theological argument of Genesis. As history progresses, our knowledge of the world progresses, and thus our views on cosmogony progress. This development of the cosmogonical argument can be easily traced through the works of Aquinas, Hume, and Haught. Undoubtedly, new discoveries in our near future will lead us to new insights on the origin of the universe.

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