A New Hope: Wolfhart Pannenberg and the Natural Sciences on Time
Theology and historiography often see the future as a realm open to new experiences and unexpected events. Yet for classical physics, the future was the result of the universe’s predictable development. Given enough information about current states, we could use the laws of nature to uncover the universe’s future. Modern space-time theory, with its picture of an invariant four-dimensional universe, only makes this problem more acute. Room for radically novel events, for miracles and new hope seems to have disappeared. It is this hope for something new that the German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg seeks to preserve in his controversial work on time.
To defend God’s supernatural freedoms and to escape natural determinism, Pannenberg invokes a medieval understanding of the unsurpassable and absolute power of God, using God’s potentia absoluta to reverse time’s flow and express absolute authority over creation’s progress. Time and all its contents are utterly subjected under the free will of a divine “all-determining reality”.
But is this tenable for modern understandings of God and the universe? Or does it lead to theological difficulties and promote an arms race between the laws of nature and the rule of God? In this volume, Stephen Lakkis offers an analysis and critique of Pannenberg’s approach and suggests a different way forward.
Professor Stephen Lakkis holds a doctorate in Theology from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and is a former Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. He currently teaches systematic theology at the Tainan Theological College, and is Director of the international and interdisciplinary Center for Public Theology, Taiwan.
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