Aquinas and Contemporary Cosmology: Creation and Beginnings

Chapter
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 395)

Abstract

Discussions in the Middle Ages about creation and the temporal beginning of the world involved sophisticated analyses in theology, metaphysics, and natural philosophy. Mediaeval insights on this subject, especially Thomas Aquinas' defense of the intelligibility of an eternal, created universe, can help to clarify reflections about the philosophical and theological implications of contemporary cosmological theories: from the “singularity” of the Big Bang, to “quantum tunneling from nothing,” to multiverse scenarios. Thomas’ insights help us to see the value of Georges Lemaître’s insistence that his cosmological reflections must be kept separate from an analysis of creation. This essay will look at different senses of “beginning” and examine the claim that creation, in its fundamental meaning, tells us nothing about whether there is a temporal beginning to the universe. Multiverse models, like that recently proposed by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, may challenge certain views of a Grand Designer, but not of a Creator.

Keywords

Black Hole Large Hadron Collider Theological Reflection Stephen Hawking Islamic Philosophy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Baldner, S. E., & Carroll, W. E. (1997). Aquinas on creation. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.Google Scholar
  2. Burrell, D. (2003). Aquinas’s appropriation of Liber de causis to articulate the creator as cause-of-being. In O. P. Fergus Kerr (Ed.), Contemplating Aquinas: On the varieties of unterpretation (pp. 75–83). London: SCM Press.Google Scholar
  3. Glanz, J. (2001). On the verge of re-creating creation. The New York Times, 28 Jan 2001.Google Scholar
  4. Greene, B. (2011). The hidden reality: Parallel universes and the deep laws of the cosmos. New York: Knopf.MATHGoogle Scholar
  5. Guth, A. (1997). The inflationary universe: The quest for a new theory of cosmic origins (p. 12). Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.Google Scholar
  6. Hawking, S. (1988). A brief history of time. New York: Bantam Books. x.Google Scholar
  7. Hawking, S., & Mlodinow, L. (2010a). The grand design. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  8. Hawking, S., & Mlodinow, L. (2010b). The grand design (p. 134). New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  9. Hawking, S., & Mlodinow, L. (2010c). The grand design (p. 180). New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  10. Hawking, S., & Mlodinow, L. (2010d). The grand design (pp. 8–9). New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  11. Hawking, S., & Mlodinow, L. (2010e). The grand design (p. 5). New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  12. Higgins, A., & Borenstein, S. (2010). Atom smasher will help revealthe beginning.’ Associated Press, 30 Mar 2010.Google Scholar
  13. Hir, P. L. (2010). Big Bang en Sous-sol. In Le Monde, 30 mars 2010.Google Scholar
  14. Isham, C. (1993). Quantum theories of the creation of the universe. In R. J. Russell, N. Murphy, & C. J. Isham (Eds.), Quantum cosmology and the laws of nature (p. 53). Vatican City: Vatican Observatory Publications.Google Scholar
  15. Lambert, D. (2000a). Un atome d’univers (p. 278). Bruxelles: Lessius.Google Scholar
  16. Lambert, D. (2000b). Un atome d’univers (p. 41). Bruxelles: Lessius.Google Scholar
  17. Penrose, R. (2011). Cycles of time. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  18. Smolin, L. (2001). Three roads to quantum gravity (p. 17). New York: Basic Books.MATHGoogle Scholar
  19. Vilenkin, A. (1983). Birth of inflationary universes. Physical Review D, 27(12), 2851.MathSciNetADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Thomas Aquinas Fellow in Theology and ScienceUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations