ESCHATOLOGY AND SCIENTIFIC COSMOLOGY: FROM DEADLOCK TO INTERACTION

Authors

  • Robert John Russell

    1. Robert John Russell is the Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science in Residence, the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), Berkeley, California, and the Founder and Director of The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS). He can be contacted at 21 Windward Hill, Oakland, CA 94618, USA; e-mail: rrussell@ctns.org.
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Abstract

Abstract Among the many scholarly surveys of historical and contemporary approaches to Christian eschatology, few treat the relation between eschatology and scientific cosmology. It is the purpose of this essay to do so. I begin with a brief summary of the importance of eschatology to contemporary Christian theology. Next, an overview is given of scientific cosmology, its earlier scenarios for the cosmic far future of “freeze or fry,” and, more recently the discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. These predictions severely challenge those versions of Christian eschatology that are based on the bodily resurrection of Jesus and, by analogy, the transformation of the universe into the new creation. Several recent approaches to this challenge are outlined, including those of Denis Edwards, Jürgen Moltmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Ted Peters, John Polkinghorne, and my own. I conclude with some suggestions for future research in both theology and science.

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