The Sense of the Universe

The Sense of the Universe: Philosophical Explication of Theological Commitment in Modern Cosmology

Alexei V. Nesteruk
Copyright Date: 2015
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9m0sq9
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  • Book Info
    The Sense of the Universe
    Book Description:

    The Sense of the Universe deals with existential and phenomenological reflection upon modern cosmology with the aim to reveal hidden theological commitments in cosmology related to the mystery of human existence. The book proposes a new approach to the dialogue between science and theology based in a thorough philosophical analysis of acting forms of subjectivity involved in the study of the world and in religious experience. The uniqueness of this book is that it uses recent advances in phenomenological philosophy and philosophical theology in order to accentuate the existential meaning of cosmology as the discourse that ultimately explicates the human condition. The objective of the book is not to make a comparative analysis of the cosmological scientific narrative and that of the Bible, or the Fathers of the Church (in what concerns the structure of the universe), but to reveal the presence of a hidden theological dimension in cosmology originating in the God-given ability of humanity to discern and disclose the sense of creation. The book contributes to the synthesis of appropriation and incorporation of modern philosophical ideas in Christian theology, in particular its Eastern Orthodox form.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-9417-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Thinking of The Universe and Theological Commitment
    (pp. 1-86)

    This book is not about cosmology as physical research and it is not concerned with the popular interpretations of fashionable cosmological theories. Nor is it aboutmeta-cosmology, that is, a metaphysical extension of cosmology, which lags behind cosmological theories and ideas in order to use them as a testing ground for known philosophical ideas. This book is on the sense of modern cosmological ideas as they originate in the being of humanity and the way that ideas about the universe are related to the philosophical and theological mystery of the human condition in the universe. Thus this book positions itself...

  5. 1 The Universe and Humanity Cosmology and Anthropology as Two Parts of the Book of Being
    (pp. 87-118)

    Contemporary physical cosmology is a well-established and vast enterprise that includes astronomical observations, space programs, research institutions, and funding strategies. Cosmology develops fast: numerous conferences, workshops, and public lectures are held constantly, resulting in further publications of collective volumes, and numerous new studies, academic and popular, appear daily on the Internet and in bookstores. Apart from physical scientists, cosmology attracts historians and philosophers of science, as well as millions of those who adore science and trust its final word on the nature of things. This is a dynamic set of enquiries about the world around us that constitutes an integral...

  6. 2 Cosmology and Existential Phenomenology Study of the Universe at the Crossroads of the Natural and Human Sciences
    (pp. 119-198)

    If cosmology, as a product of human activity, pretends to deal with the universe in its totality, assuming this totality in the natural attitude of mind as omni-spatiality and omni-temporality, it must exercise bravery in combination with a healthy skepticism in making pronouncements about the whole, by being only a tiny part of this whole. In spite of the fact that the philosophical mind, that is, a critical mind, accounts for its own incomprehensibility of this totality on the grounds of the finitude of humanity, this finitude is at the same time counterweighted by its alleged infinitude. For example, Kant,...

  7. 3 Constituting the Universe Transcendental Delimiters and Apophaticism in Cosmology
    (pp. 199-254)

    In this chapter we analyze the general epistemological conditions for knowability and explicability of the universe as a whole. Both knowability and explicability imply an anthropological dimension in cosmology, for both these requirements have human origin: to speculate about the universe one must experience its presence through the instantaneous synthesis associated with conscious life. It is argued that the cosmological principle acts as reduction of this synthesis to a mental spatial uniformity of the universe. However, the contingent facticity of the cosmological principle leads to the necessity of its explication in terms of generative steps required to grasp the sense...

  8. 4 The Universe as a Construct Epistemic Beliefs and Coherence of Explanation
    (pp. 255-304)

    Our intention now is to provide a concise and symbolic (graphical) description of the universe as a whole in order to explicate an epistemological meaning of such a description, in particular its dependence upon some irreducible beliefs that make this description possible. To do this we need to give a brief overview of the major methodological presumption in cosmology, namely the cosmological principle.¹ Since we cannot empirically verify the statistics of distribution of matter from other locations in space we have to speculate on the overall distribution of matter in the universe, appealing to philosophical and hence physically untestable assumptions....

  9. 5 The Origin of the Universe and Event of Birth Phenomenological Parallels
    (pp. 305-348)

    It is a matter of common understanding nowadays that with all respect to the grandiose achievements of modern science and cosmology in particular, scientific discourse in general, being efficient in interpreting the most nonhuman aspects of reality, feels helpless in advancing the understanding of the mystery of human persons who are those agencies that make the universe palpable and act as its voice. This hidden predicament lies in the fact that cosmology is being constructed from within thenatural attitudethat alienates its subject matter, by making its object (the universe) devoid of any references to human subjectivity, thus removing...

  10. 6 Cosmology and Teleology Purposiveness in the Study of the Universe
    (pp. 349-402)

    In this chapter we continue to investigate the delimiters in cosmological research that originate in the structure of the human knower—in particular, how the purposiveness of human actions cascades toward the purposiveness of cosmological research. Purposiveness of research is not purposiveness related to the alleged object of this research, that is, the universe. In this sense we are not dealing with a traditional teleology, which would imply the assertion in the purposiveness of the universe’s evolution. We rather deal, as we could say together with Kant, with a “formal” purposiveness of cosmology which, because of the specificity of its...

  11. 7 The Universe as a Saturated Phenomenon Christian Concept of Creation in View of Modern Cosmology and Philosophy
    (pp. 403-474)

    One of the tasks of the dialogue between theology and science is to elucidate in the modern scientific and philosophical context the sense of what is meant by creation of the world out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo). As is often argued in current discussions on the theme, the adequate theological appropriation of the scientific approach to the study of the natural universe is possible only if nature and the universe are treated not as an “environment” for physical and biological existence, but as creation. This implies not only a dispassionate study of the universe which is contingent upon God,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 475-480)

    The objective of this book was to reformulate the sense of mediation between theology and cosmology, by explicating a simple truth that both, theology and cosmology, are products of one and the same human subjectivity, so that no intrinsic existential contradiction between two types of experience (that is, of God and the universe) is possible. Correspondingly, it was argued that theology and cosmology are intertwined in the sense that each of them functions in the conditions of the implicit influence of the other. Indeed, for theology to be possible at all one needs theologians, that is, embodied human persons. Hence...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 481-510)
  14. Glossary Terms
    (pp. 511-522)
  15. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 523-544)
  16. Index of Scripture Passages
    (pp. 545-545)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 546-546)