The Impact of Theology on the Natural Sciences
The Impact of Theology on the Natural Sciences
The Idea of Contribution
Abstract and Keywords
Torrance's claim that it is Christian theology that has provided the basis for the emergence of the modern natural sciences is another example of the idea of contribution, entertained for various reasons in Christian traditions. Torrance holds that the Incarnation and especially the notion of the homoousion, as used by the Church Father Athanasius, negates any possibility of gaining trustworthy knowledge of God outside the incarnate Logos. Accordingly, he affirms the positive significance of the notion for epistemology both in theology and in the natural sciences. Not only these claims of the relevance of the homoousion for a correct epistemology but also those for a correct ontology of the creation would need more evidence to be convincing. Torrance's way of linking together the patristic understanding of space and time and Albert Einstein's relativity theory faces similar problems.
One of the most important themes in Torrance's theological enterprise is his claim that the natural sciences are basically indebted to theology as far as their proper understanding of reality and modes of thinking are concerned. In his opinion, the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, developed during the first Christian centuries and culminating in the Christological debates of the Nicene era and especially in the application of the concept of homoousion, meant that all subsequent scientific efforts were provided with a solid basis that replaced the former application of Hellenistic modes of conceiving the reality. In order to gain a deeper view of this feature in Torrance's thought, here called his idea of contribution, it is useful to take a broader look at theology‐science relations from this specific perspective of the contributive role of Christian theology.
I want to show that far from theology being based on natural science, the opposite, if anything, is nearer the truth!
Thomas Torrance, The Ground and Grammar of Theology 28
During the twentieth century, remarkable research has been done on the reasons that led to the development of Western science.1 One of its features is the suggestion that religious motivation, whatever its detailed content is thought to be, has been a major force behind those whose scientific work or whose favorable attitude and authority meant a remarkable leap in the rise of modern science. Another feature has been that, when applied, this religiously orientated idea of contribution readily reveals denominational preferences, with the implication that not only religious feeling in general but adherence to a particular confession produced fertile conditions for the emergence of science. This idea is not necessarily linked with Christianity, as is well illustrated in André Neher's study. He underscores the positive impact of Jewish religiosity and thinking on the rise of modern science.2 However, usually it is the Christian religion that is involved in this discussion. Sometimes the idea of an accentuated religious impact on science has been allied with outspoken nationalism, as in the case of the Frenchman Pierre Duhem, who held that the birth of modern science can be dated to the year 1277, when the bishop of Paris condemned more than two hundred previously authoritative articles on theology and natural science based on Aristotelian cosmology.3 What was at stake in this episode was the question of (p.29) God's sovereign omnipotence, which, the ecclesiastical authorities feared, was exposed to constant danger as a result of the Aristotelian view of causes inherent in matter, thereby leaving no significant room for God's purposive activity.4 Duhem's Roman Catholic convictions led him therefore to accredit his own country and confessional position with the honor of liberating scientific thinking from deterministic features, a view that is based, it seems, more on patriotism than on convincing historical evidence.5
The motivation behind the so‐called Merton thesis cannot be reduced so readily to the confessional appeal of its inaugurator, but it offers another example of how a religious position has been thought to affect the development of science. A national, that is, English, standpoint is emphasized by Robert K. Merton, an American sociologist (b. 1910), who maintains that post‐Reformation Puritanism created such an intellectual climate in England that it made a career in experimental science not only possible but also commendable, based on the Calvinist doctrine of election and its associate ethic. While an “intramundane asceticism” was encouraged, practical actions were dedicated to God and his honor, injecting a keen interest in everyday life and making this the realm in which God's election was to be acted out. The Merton thesis asserts that this “monastic” life without monastery led to both utilitarianism and empiricism.6 Merton's evidence for his thesis lies primarily in his analysis of the religious background of the members of the Royal Society in the first decades of its existence, an approach criticized, for example, for its narrow time span and for the original conception of science involved in his argumentation.7
Both Duhem and Merton connect their idea of contribution to a single event or a relatively short period of time, giving the impression that the reasons for the remarkable leap forward in Western science could be postulated by pointing to a carefully selected brief historical occurrence. In this respect Stanley L. Jaki, a Hungarian‐born Benedictine priest, represents an exception since he does not see any single historical phenomenon as a definitive beginning for the development of science but rather a whole era or longer period of time. Analyzing the appearance of early modern science in Western Christendom and its nonappearance in non‐Christian cultures, he makes the claim that a specific Judeo‐Christian doctrine, that of creation, provided the culture of the Christian West with the kind of intellectual climate that made the development of science possible in the first place.8 By the beginning of the thirteenth century, belief in the biblical doctrine of creation had been thoroughly integrated into Western civilization and had leavened it with valuable insights that could not but have a strongly positive bearing upon the emerging natural sciences.9 In this way Christianity was the necessary precondition of Western science.10
Jaki's argument has met with not only appreciation but also resistance. It has been pointed out that one cannot conclude in a historically plausible way from the fact that modern science originated in Christian Europe that Christian belief was the decisive factor in its development.11 David C. Lindberg, one of Jaki's critics, particularly from the historical standpoint, clearly maintains that it would be “crude distortion to maintain that Christianity offered major stimulus to scientific activity. But it would also be distortion to create the impression that there was no Christian involvement in natural philosophy or that the church retarded or crushed science.”12 Lindberg does not acknowledge any articulate idea of contribution but tries to find a balance between the two extremes of fierce denial and uncritical assertion of the contributive role of Christianity (p.30) with regard to the development of science. One might point out that Lindberg has replaced the idea of contribution of Jaki and Hooykaas with his idea of balance, the starting point of which is the conviction that a middle way between the two poles should be followed. However, this historically sound and certainly non‐apologetical approach cannot, in the ultimate analysis, provide any definite solution to the apparent problem detected by both Hooykaas and Jaki, namely, the appearance of empirical science exclusively in the Christian world. In spite of the danger of one‐sided and narrow apologetic tones, this question deserves proper attention. It should not be bypassed by commencing such a study with the fixed methodological premise that the challenge of the extremes cannot be taken seriously but a compromise must be found.
Thomas F. Torrance is one of those scholars who have found this “contribution approach” appealing, which is apparent in the fact that he has made further effort to reaffirm the relevance of this idea of contribution. Jaki's argument is crucial for the further reason that Torrance has reformulated it from his own standpoint, based on the centrality of the Incarnation and the concept of homoousion. This fact gives good reason for designating Torrance's view a modified creation argument, representing not only the doctrine of creation but also that of the Incarnation as the core of the idea of contribution. In other words, the doctrine of creation alone did not provide a sufficient basis for a favorable intellectual climate where scientific thinking could emerge, although, it has to be admitted, it formed the necessary basis for it. Torrance maintains that it was not until the creation was reflected upon in relation to the doctrine of the Incarnation that fertile soil for scientific development was found.13 Therefore the period of Nicene theology between the ecumenical councils of Nicea in 325 and Chalcedon in 451 is of utmost importance for Torrance and his argumentation.
In this connection it is useful to note that the patristic understanding of creation and the Incarnation has not always been the articulate heart of Torrance's idea of contribution. In writings published in the 1960s, patristic theology is not totally absent, but particular stress is laid upon Reformation theology.14 Torrance contrasts it with the theology of the Middle Ages and claims that the Reformation thought made it possible for empirical science to become liberated from the bondage of medieval scholasticism.15 But which branch of the Reformation is at issue here? The answer is the thought of John Calvin, which does not imply that Luther, for instance, had nothing to contribute in this respect.16 Calvin's contribution to the rise of science consists firstly of “mutual relation between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves.”17 Secondly, Calvin succeeded in formulating a new kind of questioning, interrogation.18 Thirdly, the problem of a sign and the thing signified found a solution in Calvin's view of the nature of theological language, which “is indicative, not descriptive, of God and it is to be understood only as we allow it to refer us beyond itself to God in His transcendent reality. It was by developing this view of the relation of language to being that Calvin became the father of modern biblical interpretation.”19 And finally, the Reformation is credited for reviving the biblical view of God as Creator and of the creation as being totally dependent on its divine Maker.20
The last point in particular refers to the later development that took place in Torrance's thought. The notion that at the Reformation a certain biblical belief or conception was revived anticipates his later view in which a strong emphasis upon the prominent role of John Calvin is replaced by ever‐increasing appreciation of patristic understanding and its contributive character. This feature is particularly evident in the writings published in the (p.31) 1970s and 1980s. While previously the Reformation and especially its Calvinist branch occupied in Torrance's thought a more central role as a major contributor to the rise of modern science, leaving patristic theology with only a minor status, the situation changed drastically. “I would not want to depreciate the impact of the Reformation, or of the Renaissance, upon the rise of modern science, for it was undoubtedly very considerable in this regard, although I believe that the roots of this influence go rather further back in the history of Christian thought.”21 But how far back in history? Definitely, until the patristic period of the Church, for “it would not be very difficult to show through an analysis of the history of thought that the classical approach to the objective intelligibility of the universe which lies behind all our Western science and culture developed together with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.”22 I would not claim that in Torrance's earlier thought there was no idea of the contribution of patristic theology or that, later, the contributive role of the Reformation totally vanished. The relation between these two contributive factors in Torrance's development is best described as a transformation in emphasis which has shifted patristic theology to a primary position while the Reformation contribution has not been neglected but rather removed to a secondary position.23
The shift in Torrance's thought from a denominational position to another one with wider credibility and less confessional apologetics is remarkable. It is a thoroughly ecumenically motivated occurrence in Torrance's thought, or in other words, a clear representation and result of his longtime contacts and activities in the ecumenical movement. This approach is certainly one which no longer confirms the idea of contribution of the Duhem‐Mertonian type but has been able to break down the barriers of denominationalism and confessionalism, leading to a wider understanding of the contributive role of the Christian faith. Therefore his idea of contribution must be seen as a serious effort to interrelate scientific thinking and the totality of Christian theology in a manner which at the same time seeks ingredients of ecumenical rapprochement.24
The success and validity of Torrance's modified creation argument rests on two premises, the first of which is naturally that Jaki's argument is sound and relevant. However, it is a question that does not belong to this discussion but must be studied elsewhere. It is sufficient to restate the point made earlier that any criticism of Jaki's view, which does not take seriously the problem of the emergence of science in the Christian world, and its nonemergence in the non‐Christian world cannot, accordingly, offer any definitive solution to it.25 This means that the possibility of the validity of Jaki's argument has not yet been demolished but continues to present an inspiring challenge. On this basis it seems agreeable to pay close attention to Torrance's modified creation argument, which to be successful requires as its second premise that the view of the contributive role of the doctrine of the Incarnation is justified. This original insight on the Incarnation as presented by Torrance determines the course of the subsequent discussion.
The Epistemological Contribution
The Negative Role of homoousion
As was shown above, Torrance's idea of contribution is based on the conviction that Christian theology has contributed substantially to the development of modern empirical science, not only implicitly through its general effect on Western culture but directly (p.32) and explicitly through some of its crucial doctrines. As was noted, in Torrance's opinion, especially the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, developed during the first Christian centuries and culminating in the Christological debates of the Nicene era and in its application of the term homoousion, meant that all subsequent scientific efforts were given a solid basis that replaced the former application of Hellenistic modes of conceiving reality.26 Thus Torrance creates a considerably strong tension between what he calls Christian and Hellenistic frames of mind. He describes vividly the explosive expansion of the Church and its proclamation from a peripheral state in Palestine to the center of the intellectual world of that time at the heart of Greco‐Roman civilization.27 The following discussion is a theological one, but precisely through such an approach the contribution of theology to the development of science, as seen by Torrance, takes shape.
The tension between Christianity and Hellenism is one of the most characteristic features of Torrance's understanding of the development of theology and science, a dichotomy in the history of ideas, as understood by Torrance, which repeats itself in various forms in later eras. Ideologically the confrontation of Christianity and Hellenism meant that Greek dualism had to face the Jewish worldview, based on the Bible, which in Torrance's opinion represented a nondualist, unitary conception of the universe. The concept of homoousion played a central role in this confrontation, so argues Torrance, by creating a quite new understanding of the relation between God and ourselves. The concept of homoousion as a vital epistemologically contributive factor in Torrance's thinking is therefore best analyzed by referring to both its negative and positive aspects as discernible in his thought.
The conflict between the Hebraic and Greek “frames of mind,” as expressed by Torrance, was one in which theology and mythology were engaged in a struggle for supremacy. The important point to note in order to understand Torrance's idea of contribution through the concept of homoousion is that the Hellenistic world was in the firm grip of mythological thinking, with the basic thought that the center of an epistemological process lies in the human mind, while Hebraic or theological thinking took God as its point of reference.28 In other words, for Torrance the Greek Fathers represented a genuine theological attitude (direction from God to the humans) in contradistinction to Hellenistic religious movements, in which human beings were given a central place in the relationships between them and deities (direction from the humans to God/gods).
The sharp dichotomy made by Torrance raises at least two questions. First of all, is his conception of the term mythology adequate, and secondly, can his claim concerning the nature of early Fathers' thinking be justified? The first question is easier to answer because, as we have seen, Torrance himself gives his own definition of what he means by the terms myth and mythology. He simply states his conviction that any religious thinking that takes as its starting point the human mind leads inevitably to mythology, the obverse of theology. Further light on Torrance's understanding of these terms is shed by his conversation with certain Bible exegetes, in particular Rudolf Bultmann, whose demythologizing program Torrance criticizes relentlessly.29 The way in which he analyzes Bultmann's position is highly revealing as to his own understanding of the nature of mythology. Torrance's interpretation of the German Bible scholar Bultmann is that the aim of myth is not to “present an objective picture of the world as it is, but to express man's understanding of himself in the world in which he lives.”30
(p.33) Torrance's reluctance to accept Bultmann's conception of myth is easy to understand. Of special importance is the view that in Bultmann's case myth is not allowed to represent objective reality but only men's and women's understanding of themselves. Torrance's evaluation of Bultmann seems to be based only on his demythologizing program, and he does not pay attention to those views of the German Bible scholar which are not, after all, so alien to Torrance's own intentions. Consider, for instance, the direction of communication in the God‐human relation as indicated by Bultmann in the following quotation reflecting on our readiness to listen to God: “The first condition for readiness is this: we must silence all other voices; everything we say to ourselves, everything other people say to us. For we want to say what God says to us. And if we take this seriously, there is room for but one voice.”31
In any case, Torrance's way of reading Bultmann reveals that, for him, myth and mythology are something quite implausible. This is not, however, the only way of defining myth and mythology. Contrary to the usual understanding of myth as something unhistorical and therefore also unreal, another view is put forward where emphasis is laid on the story it tells in its sociological context, and the importance of its contents is underscored.32 A direct stand on whether the events described in a myth really took place in history is avoided because this mode of approach is not considered fruitful.
Although Torrance cannot accept this kind of use of the term from his own point of view, his definition is undoubtedly sharp, and, above all, it illuminates his own arguments remarkably.33 With regard to the definition of the terms myth and mythology, Torrance makes his point quite clear: for him myth is not just a “technical” term by which we as humans try to understand nature and give meaning to our own position within it. Instead, acceptance of a myth means abandoning the things it contains and closing one's mind to objective reality. Therefore for Torrance, a myth does not lead to genuine knowledge but holds us captive in endless circles of our own self‐knowledge where the only reality under investigation is a projection of our own mind. Therefore his position vis‐à‐vis mythology is absolutely negative. This problem is closely connected with Torrance's view of realism, a theme that will be examined more widely in the next chapter. This also means that he cannot contribute to the theology‐science discussion, such as referring to the positive value of the term myth as a human effort to give meaning to the universe around him.34 Because a myth is centered on our human understanding of God/gods, of ourselves, and of the universe, Torrance cannot but exclude it methodologically from his efforts to establish connections with natural sciences.
It is certainly true that those theologians and philosophers who accept myth as a legitimate way of searching for meaning in the world have something important to contribute to the discussion between theology and the sciences. Their premises, therefore, do not lie in such an explicit theological understanding as is the case with Torrance. He wants to stand by his conviction as to the nature of a myth or a mythology in such an absolute manner that it can only confirm the impression that, seen in the light of his idea of contribution, Torrance is not interested in theology‐science discussions at any cost. Instead, he wants to demonstrate as emphatically as possible that it is theology which played the primary role in the development of Western scientific thinking. How fruitful this approach is for interdisciplinary relations is a matter of interest, and its success is best evaluated within the theology‐science dialogue itself. It is evident, however, that Torrance's own system needs this argument in which the negative side of the (p.34) epistemological contribution of early Christian theology to the rise of scientific thinking is emphasized: all mythology is absolutely rejected because it cannot provide us with real and genuine knowledge concerning the reality in which we live. It is human‐centered and therefore it cannot but remain a projection of our own inner mental processes. All this leads one to reason that Torrance cannot detach himself from the kind of interpretation of the terms myth or mythology that is represented by Rudolf Bultmann. In other words, he accepts the conceptual framework lying behind the demythologizing process as belonging to the basis of his own system. This cannot but result in a counterattack against all possible interpretations of myth or mythology, even those that attempt to see their positive value.
Torrance's argument rests on the conviction that the rejection of all Hellenistic mythology actually took place in the Early Church Fathers' theological doctrine of the Incarnation and especially in the concept of homoousion. Thus the second problem mentioned earlier comes to the fore: can Torrance's claim concerning the Hebraic mind‐set of the Early Church Fathers be justified? In other words, how strictly can we draw the dividing line between the Hebraic and Hellenistic mind‐sets or between the Fathers, especially the Alexandrian Fathers whom Torrance appreciates most,35 and other contemporary religious ideas entertained in the Mediterranean area? This question is considerably more difficult than the first one discussed above, because here Torrance has to leave historical accuracy and precision with regard to the history of thought in order to be able to present his ideas concerning theology‐science relations as clearly as possible.
Usually the relation between Hellenism and Christianity has been seen as a far more complicated matter than Torrance suggests. Alexandria as one of the intellectual centers of Antiquity has been characterized as a melting‐pot of diverse contemporary religious, philosophical, and other ideological trends. A very strong Judaistic movement found its place in the city, and there is therefore no need to neglect the argument of Hebraic influence on the development of Christian theology—one only has to remember the fact that the Greek Old Testament translation, the Septuagint, was produced there. But the important point to note is that what Torrance calls the Hebraic frame of mind did not live in a vacuum but was deeply affected by what Torrance calls the Hellenistic frame of mind.36 In other words, such a demarcation line between Hellenism and Hebraism as Torrance explicitly attempts to draw is not very credible but rather gives the impression of oversimplification and neglect of some very essential points in the subtle relationship between Hellenism and Christian theology. That the prevailing Hellenistic culture had a far greater influence upon the formation of Christian theology than is allowed by Torrance is evident even in the crucial term homoousion itself, which was originally used in diverse forms by Christian Gnostics in their accounts of the relation between God, the world, and human beings.37 The issue is a broad one to the extent that it cannot be included within the scope of this discussion. It is sufficient to point out Torrance's tendency of dealing with the matter, the aim of which must be seen in his willingness to argue for the supremacy and originality of Christian theology, or, in brief, of his idea of contribution.38
The concept of homoousion, expressing the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, was born in the situation previously described. This means that, according to Torrance, the term is a product of both theological thinking and the Hebraic frame of mind. Furthermore, this means that if God chose to reveal Himself in this reality of (p.35) space and time under its conditions by becoming incarnate in His Son Jesus Christ, who is homoousios with His Father, this is absolutely the only adequate way of acquiring knowledge of God. All other ways to the knowledge of God are thus strictly excluded because then this knowledge would not be in strict accordance with the “nature of things,” as Torrance argues, the nature revealed in the Incarnation.39 Torrance interprets the Greek Fathers' intentions, saying that “if we try to reach knowledge of God from some point outside of God, we cannot operate with any point in God by reference to which we can test or control our conceptions of him, but are inevitably flung back upon ourselves.”40
It is not difficult to notice the point in Torrance's emphasis on the exclusive character of God's self‐revelation in his incarnate Son. He is arguing that the Nicene Fathers and Athanasius in particular, with their application of the homoousion as an epistemological principle, ruled out all other channels of coming to a knowledge of God. It really should be remembered that, for Torrance, Athanasius is the prime example of a scientific theologian and that scientific methodology in his thought means simply thinking in strict accordance with what the nature of things really is.41 In theology this means concentrating on the Incarnation. But applying this “scientific method” in exercising “scientific theology,” as Torrance understands these terms, inevitably leads to the exclusion of all that is called natural theology.42
Torrance's reluctance to accept natural theology as it has been exercised in past centuries can be traced, in the first place, to his Barthian background and additionally to his philosophical standpoint in which he compares the premises of natural science to those of natural theology: in neither of them is God included.43 Whereas natural science tries to move “in an opposite direction to theology in accordance with the nature of its subject‐matter,” natural theology “starts from the same premises and the same phenomena as natural science and seeks to move toward God.”44 In Torrance's opinion, the actual problem lies in the fact that those who entertain natural theology have to use what Torrance calls “logical bridges” between this world and its Creator.45 Torrance thus confirms his basic theological structure according to which everything in theology hinges upon the movement from God to the humans, even knowledge of him. Outside of that vertical axis from above, there is no theologically valid knowledge of God. For Torrance, any movement from human beings to God inevitably leads to severe distortions.46 This pattern of thought is in strict accordance with Torrance's total theological system which in the orthodox Reformed manner underlines the absolute majesty and sovereignty of God even in epistemological issues. In fact, Torrance explicitly sets himself in line with Calvinistic tradition on this issue.47
Such an indebtedness to Calvin on the part of a Reformed theologian should not come as any surprise, and therefore Torrance's interpretation of the Reformer, although its justification is certainly not beyond dispute, does not bear further essential relevance for the present argumentation. It is sufficient to note that Torrance consciously sets himself in line with Calvinistic epistemology and especially the Reformer's conviction that true knowledge of God cannot be defined in terms of natural theology. More important and interesting, however, is Torrance's eagerness to find reasons for his reluctance with regard to natural theology, that is, for the negative aspect of his idea of contribution, as early as the theology of the Early Church. Although nowhere directly stated, Torrance wishes strongly to suggest that Arius and his followers, the opponents of Athanasius and other (p.36) Church Fathers who adhered to the concept of homoousion as the expression of the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, applied their own kind of natural theology.48 That is, as Torrance understands it, the Arians wanted to build “logical bridges” between this world and God, with a starting point in themselves and in what they were able to see and understand, a procedure in which the Son of God inevitably was left outside the realm of the divine indivisible essence. Torrance connects Arius closely with what he calls dualism, a “habit of mind” resulting in radical dichotomies and closed‐mindedness everywhere, and thus explains that Arius based his theology on this kind of dualistic thinking.49 A lengthier discussion of Arianism and dualism will be provided later, and for the moment it is sufficient only to point out that Torrance links together Arius, dualism, mythology, and natural theology.
Is, then, Torrance's claim, that for Athanasius the homoousion was an expression that excluded every hint of natural theology, justified? Richard Muller criticizes Torrance, maintaining that the “insight into the work of the Logos before and beyond the union with the flesh led Athanasius to develop a broad and positive view of the role of natural theology.”50 Here Muller refers to Athanasius's apologetic writings Contra Gentes and De Incarnatione and founds his argument on the claim that God's preexistent Word, Logos asarkos, through whom the universe was created and who dwells everywhere in the creation, gives human beings an idea, however vague, of God. This is what Muller understands by the phrase “natural theology.” For Muller, therefore, natural theology is something based on the activity of the Logos or the Word of God, and so he can argue, from his own premises, that Athanasius knew natural theology and applied it.
For Torrance, Athanasius's Contra Gentes offers a very different interpretation. He maintains that this apologetic work has been occasionally misunderstood when it has been interpreted in terms of traditional natural theology: “No attempt was made there to find a way of reaching God by logical reasoning, but rather to point out a way of communing with the regulative and providential activity of God in the rational order of the universe, in which our minds come under the force of truth of God as it bears upon us in its own self‐evidence and shines through to us in its own light.”51
This quotation affirms what was earlier presented as Torrance's view of what natural theology is: a human effort to reach God through logical inductions or deductions with the human being as the center of the epistemological process. For Torrance, Athanasius's theology of the Word is not representative of natural theology because the Word and his activity mean for him God's revelation always and everywhere. The Word is at the heart of what Torrance calls “positive theology.” Furthermore, this seems to suggest that Torrance does not draw any distinction between Logos asarkos and Logos in flesh, as does Muller. The contradiction between him and Torrance derives primarily from a differing understanding of what natural theology actually is, implying that Muller's criticism misses its mark. This does not mean, though, that Torrance's own interpretation of Athanasius was without its problems. A basic difficulty in his reading of the Church Father is the strictly expressed link that he draws between Athanasius, homoousion, and the rejection of an independent natural theology. In other words, what was Athanasius's own position with regard to what was later called “natural theology”? And further, is Torrance's use of his writings to back the epistemologically negative side of the idea of contribution justified?
First of all, it has to be noted that Athanasius did not use the concept of homoousion as consistently as one might think when reading Torrance's writings.52 This alone need (p.37) not, however, make Torrance's argument inadequate, for the idea of the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son is clearly apparent in all of Athanasius's works, despite direct mention of the term. A far more problematic account is Torrance's effort to see Athanasius as inimical toward any natural knowledge of God.53 The issue becomes apparently more complicated if Athanasius's own understanding is traced. In his early work De Incarnatione the Church Father argues that, since God knew the weakness of mankind, he had provided the works of creation whereby men could know God.54 In spite of this, humans had not taken God's revelation seriously but neglected it. While men did not look upward to God but downward to created beings, God Himself chose to descend from on high and assume human form in order to let these negligent men know Him in his earthly body.55 This is to say that, according to Athanasius, God has indeed bestowed, in principle, His creation with the actual possibility of knowledge concerning Himself, but that, due to the corruption of mankind, human beings are not able to reach this knowledge without His further assistance. Therefore the Word took humanity upon himself and descended to the same level as we humans.
Torrance seems to have interpreted Athanasius correctly in that he surely holds the Word of God as the basis of our knowledge of God. But equally evident is the fact that Athanasius considers this epistemological process something that took place before the Incarnation while the Word of God was the Agent in the act of the creation, thus enabling humankind to share in his knowledge of God.56 In this respect Muller's view, described earlier, in which he drew a distinction between Logos asarkos and Logos in the flesh is certainly adequate. For Muller, the activity of the Word not incarnate forms the basis of his understanding of natural theology, while Torrance, as much as he concentrates on the Word in his theology, can appreciate only the incarnate Son of God who is homoousios with the Father as the right way to a genuine knowledge of God. Turning to the Church Father, it should also be remembered that in Athanasius's thinking the homoousion is presupposed not only epistemologically but also primarily soteriologically: God became a human being, and Jesus Christ as a human being is homoousios with the Father because in that way God's image in humanity was renewed.57 Therefore, it appears that to relate correct epistemology strictly to the concept of homoousion and to give the Incarnation such an exclusive character with regard to the possibility of gaining knowledge of God through the creation, as held by Torrance, is a slight overinterpretation. Torrance's unconditional attitude is apparent in his claim that all our knowledge of God has its source in Jesus Christ the incarnated Logos.58
But whence the ambiguity in Torrance's thought? On the one hand, he seems to interpret Athanasius correctly in that he discerns the epistemological side in his usage of the term homoousion. But on the other hand, his reading is one‐sided in that he considers the Church Father as having categorically abandoned any appropriate knowledge of God through the creation strictly, unconditionally, and in principle. It should be noted first that the whole question of natural theology in Athanasius's thought is hardly anything else but an anachronism because natural theology as an intellectual enterprise in which we as humans try to move toward God with the help of our own reasoning did not appear in its articulate form before the Middle Ages.59 Torrance's Barthian background cannot be left without attention, either, because within it he continues Barth's arguments against natural theology, although in a modified form. This indicates that Torrance not only gives patristic answers to modern questions but offers modern solutions (p.38) to problems of the patristic era. The ambiguity in Torrance's thought would certainly disappear, or become less at least, if he did not set natural theology and revealed theology in such strict and uncompromising confrontation with each other. To follow Athanasius, the two modes of theology cannot be contradictory in themselves simply because both of them are based on the activity of the Word, and this means, to use Torrance's terminology, that what he sees as natural theology can also be understood as revealed, and that it is not necessary to think of it as anthropocentric: as described, it remains Word centered. Although the Incarnation brought a suitable way for humans to know God, the value of the creation as a source of such knowledge was not thereby diminished.60 Torrance appreciates this insight of Athanasius's, but he speaks of it not as a general revelation but as integrated natural theology.61 The situation could be quite different, then, if the notion of general revelation were appreciated more in Torrance's system. If the creation were considered as belonging to the realm of revelation, too, then there would be no need for Torrance to construct such a procedure for an integrated natural theology as he feels compelled to do.62
This gives us reason to argue that Torrance's point is most convincing when he emphasizes Athanasius's own position, that is, the necessity of the Incarnation for our correct knowledge of God. Far more arguable, however, is his application of Athanasius's position to reject what he calls natural theology, a scheme which is more Barthian than genuinely Athanasian. The fact is that natural theology, understood as deriving from general revelation, continues to present an inspiring challenge in the theology‐science dialogue so that its programmatic exclusion in the manner of Torrance seems quite risky.63
The Positive Role of homoousion
So far, we have followed only that line in Torrance's thought in which the negative aspect of the epistemological idea of contribution is apparent. It was suggested that Torrance's Reformed Barthian background makes him interpret Athanasius's view of the homoousion in an exclusive manner, rejecting all other means of attaining knowledge of God. In other words, Torrance explicitly prefers abandoning all knowledge of God whatsoever outside the scope of the homoousion, suggesting that beyond that concept every piece of knowledge is not only insufficient but also more or less untrue. This negative epistemological aspect of his idea of contribution is of vital importance for the later discussion of his thought concerning the relationship between theology and science. Just as essential, however, is the positive aspect he gives to the epistemological role of his idea of contribution.
There is a phrase which Torrance constantly uses in order to describe the epistemological process in scientific thinking and in which both the person who knows and the thing known are united. His idea of the disclosure model contains two remarkable points: first of all, it explains the nature of reality as something that is hidden or transcendent and that is to be disclosed in order that we might attain knowledge. But then there is the second aspect, the human “knower,” who wants to be in deeper epistemological touch with transcendent reality but in which he can succeed only indirectly through these “tools” or models.64 This kind of understanding is closely linked to Torrance's view of realism, an issue that will be examined with greater precision in the next chapter. At the moment it is sufficient to underline the substance of the phrase: a disclosure (p.39) model is a medium through which an independent reality can be grasped by the human mind when it is directed into contact with it.
As stated, Torrance holds that in a disclosure model both the objective and the subjective poles coincide. The objective pole is somehow transcendent and therefore needs to be revealed, and the subjective pole has to receive the disclosure in order to be true to the reality under investigation. The interesting point now is that a disclosure model is “forced upon us by the intrinsic intelligibility of some field as we inquire into it.”65 Torrance strongly suggests that this kind of model cannot be just a conventional construction with which we try to penetrate into our fields of study, but rather it is a model which bears in itself, even momentarily, an aspect of certainty precisely because it is imposed upon the human mind. This also suggests that this model is not primarily a description of human experience in the face of reality but rather of reality itself, which needs to be revealed to us in order that we might give it articulate expression. A disclosure model, then, is a product of reality itself. From this it may be concluded that a model can be attributed with the term disclosure only if reality is seen to be disclosing itself through it, or, in other words, if reality is considered as being able to reveal itself. The Christian notion of revelation has undoubtedly influenced Torrance's understanding of disclosure models to the extent that the question of the doctrine of the Incarnation and the concept of homoousion and their relation to Torrance's view of a disclosure model has to be paid further attention.66
It is now argued that according to Torrance a disclosure model is the most adequate way, within realism, to genuine knowledge, representing the means by which the gap between an independent reality and a human knower is bridged.67 As far as the idea of contribution is concerned, the question should now be asked whether Torrance sees the patristic term homoousion and the idea of consubstantiality as such a disclosure model which could also be applied in the natural sciences. If it were not a disclosure model that could be used in all sciences, then his idea of the contributive role of the homoousion would remain trivial, with solely a rhetorical or analogical significance at most. If, however, it is understood as a genuine disclosure model that has a substantial contribution to make to scientific thinking in general, then Torrance could consistently claim relevance for his idea. The problem is made quite ambiguous by the fact that Torrance does not directly give the homoousion the status of a disclosure model, which, as a matter of fact, could be expected to lie in the basic structure of his thinking when his view of the contributive role of the patristic term is remembered. An answer can be found by a closer glance at his usage of the phrase “disclosure model.”
In his older writings, such as Theological Science or God and Rationality, Torrance does apply the notion of disclosure models but with a rather reserved tone. Speaking about the natural sciences and mathematical representation of human understanding, he states that “we may treat that representation only as an explicatory model or a disclosure model through which we interpretatively apprehend the reality we are investigating and not as a descriptive formula or as the equivalent of some ontic structure in reality itself.”68 The attention is directed to Torrance's evaluation of the ability of a disclosure model to reveal reality to the human mind: it does not bear a one‐to‐one correspondence with reality but offers only an interpretative tool for grasping something of its inner structure. Torrance, in fact, denies such a strict correspondence between our modes of thought and reality because reality as such always transcends our ability to understand (p.40) it. The important point for the current argument is that in this connection Torrance is not suggesting any link with the homoousion. Slightly different is the tone in later writings, where a disclosure model is seen as “the cognitive instrument we use precisely in so far as it is appropriate” and as directing “us away from its own representation to the objective invariance we discern through it.”69 Torrance's reservation concerning the appropriateness of a disclosure model is maintained, but now it is given the explicit status of the cognitive instrument to be used, as far as it is in consonance with the reality investigated. Any direct reference to the homoousion as a disclosure model is still lacking, but now it is explicitly admitted that such a model offers, even though as a mere representation, access, however limited, to reality. A disclosure model, then, offers a human knower a way whereby he or she can enter into dialogue with the reality he or she is investigating with the reservation that such a model does not contain truth in itself or bear a strict correspondence with reality. It can be true or consistent with reality and with truth only insofar as it refers to them in an appropriate way. A relation of correspondence is replaced by a referential relation which deprives human constructions of any final validity but leaves the “door open” for reality itself to exercise its coercive influence upon the human mind.
The essential issue with regard to the homoousion is now the question whether this patristic term can be seen as a disclosure model in the sense Torrance gives it, that is, with a referential and interpretative but by no means final or self‐sufficient role as a product of the self‐revelation of reality. Torrance's view of the homoousion as the very nucleus of Christian theology both epistemologically and ontologically suggests that he considers this patristic term as having such absoluteness and centrality that it, at first glance, does not bear the characteristics of the disclosure model described above.70 In other words, the homoousion seems to be given a higher status in an epistemological process than that of a mere disclosure model, an impression that becomes evident as soon as one becomes acquainted with Torrance's thought. Accordingly, this means that the actual contribution of the homoousion to other disciplines remains on the analogical level, pointing to an epistemological similarity or parallel in the procedures of theology and the natural sciences. But this conception does not seem consistent with Torrance's intentions to underline not only some external parallels or analogies but, in the final analysis, connections between the disciplines. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that for him the homoousion has to bear such characteristics that it can be classified as a disclosure model also applicable in the realm of the natural sciences, as far as its substance is concerned. As was stated above, the difficulty lies in the fact that Torrance nowhere explicitly attributes the homoousion with the character of a disclosure model. However, in his writings a trend can be discerned in which it is possible to interpret the homoousion as representing a mode of a disclosure model. The most convincing evidence for this identification can be found in a statement where Torrance refers to the nature of the homoousion, saying that it is not “somehow sacrosanct and beyond reconsideration, for all theological terms and concepts fall short of the realities they intend.”71 In this case the homoousion fulfills the demands set by Torrance's definition of a disclosure model.72 It is not, in principle, an absolute and final concept, one that excludes critical reevaluation but one that remains open to further precision.
In the last sentence the words “in principle” should be emphasized because it seems evident that despite his willingness to consider the homoousion as an open concept leaving (p.41) room for critical questioning, in the ultimate analysis, Torrance is reluctant to suggest what kind of reevaluation there possibly could be with regard to the homoousion. Therefore one can claim that although the homoousion meets the requirements of a disclosure model as set by Torrance, they cannot ultimately be identified because of the normative character and status the patristic term has gained over the centuries. In other words, the homoousion is in essence more than a disclosure model—it is “a fundamental dogma, which once it comes to view becomes normative for all faithful theological statement, for it enables it to be made in true correspondence with its proper object and in consistent relations with other faithful statements.”73 Thus the homoousion is certainly an absolute concept which cannot, in practice, be altered or replaced or even given any deeper reevaluation without severely damaging the current self‐understanding of the Christian Church. This leads us to make the claim that in this respect Torrance's thought remains imprecise because, as was shown, on the one hand he considers it as a revisable concept but on the other he allows it as a normative authority.
It was argued earlier that in order to offer a real epistemological contribution, the homoousion has to be more than a mere indication of analogy between theology and the natural sciences, applicable in sciences only vaguely on the basis of a remote methodological similarity. Therefore it was further maintained that Torrance implicitly suggests that the homoousion is actually a disclosure model in the service of scientific thinking which seeks to gain a firmer grasp of the reality it is investigating. But due to the ambiguity detected in Torrance's thought in this respect, Torrance cannot, after all, consider the homoousion as a pure disclosure model, either. Something more is at issue. Rather, for him it is an authoritative and normative methodological tool which, as far as its actual substance is concerned, can be applicable in the realm of the natural sciences as well.74
The conception of norm and authority leads us to another important feature of Torrance's view of the positive epistemological aspect of his idea of contribution. The question is of the role of a human knower in the epistemological process and of the relationship between faith and reason. Torrance maintains that the process of formulation of the concept of homoousion, as well as the whole theological enterprise of the Church Fathers, took place under certain epistemological conditions in which faith played a crucial role, “not as a subjectively grounded but as an objectively grounded persuasion of mind.”75 For Torrance, then, faith provides the guarantee that objectivity is maintained and preserved and that under such circumstances can the human knower act in the only possible way, namely in submission to the authoritative objectivity he is investigating. Thereby true scientific thinking and faith are linked together extremely closely.76 This means further that faith is primarily something very rational and as such an unavoidable principle in all epistemology.77 He does not wish to become more involved deeply in the reason‐faith debate because he considers it an unfortunate artificial problem in epistemological discussion.78 In this sense, Torrance's appreciation of the role of faith seems to be in accordance not only with the classical theological trend, where faith is seen as a presupposition for knowledge and understanding, but also with his own Reformed tradition, in which the role of rationality is strongly emphasized.79
Torrance thus constructs a simultaneous coexistence of faith and reason in any epistemological process, suggesting that even the concept of homoousion is a direct result of (p.42) this kind of scientific approach, uniting the two elements. The crucial point is that in all scientific knowledge, theology included, the human mind conforms to the nature of things as they are in their inherent intelligibility.80 This means that Torrance would like to see faith as an essential part of the contribution that theology has made to the development of the sciences.81 But the problem now is, what exactly is he referring to when he underlines the relevance of faith so emphatically? Is it a general epistemic attitude, coarse and profane, that could be attributed to the work of any scientist who feels “awe” before his object of inquiry? Or is Torrance's faith explicitly religious in nature, or even Christian? Naturally, the work of the Early Church Fathers was Christian in character, but whether the faith that Torrance would like to see as a contribution to scientific thinking is Christian or merely secular is of the utmost importance. To find out the real nature of the faith element in Torrance's idea of contribution, it is necessary to further analyze his thought in this respect and reflect on his claims to the actual “revolutions” in science that he himself appreciates most.
Referring to one of his authorities in the field of philosophy of science, the physical chemist Michael Polanyi, Torrance claims that “belief has to do with the elemental interaction between persons and realities other than themselves, entailing a recognition of their independent reality and truth.”82 In this case belief is not necessarily religious, to say nothing of Christian, but only a very general frame of epistemological attitude in which the reliability of reality is taken for granted.83 With regard to the idea of contribution there is, however, another aspect to be taken into account, namely that Torrance is not content with stating the relevance of such a general frame of belief. His further argument tries to present evidence that the rise of the doctrine of the Incarnation with its principle of homoousion and recent developments in physics, with their relevance for ontology as well as epistemology, are due, not primarily to secular intellectual faith in general, but to religious and explicitly Judeo‐Christian theism.
Torrance's account of his fellow countryman James Clerk Maxwell, one of those whose works meant a significant breakthrough for physics, is informative in this respect. Namely, Torrance maintains that the old mechanistic conception of nature was overcome in Maxwell's scientific work because the scientist was deeply affected by his personal Christian belief.84 Thereby a direct connection between Christian devotion and scientific thinking is strongly emphasized, and Torrance presents the argument that the breakthrough and rise of modern science, as he understands it, is a direct contribution of scientists with a commitment to the Judeo‐Christian view of God.85 Torrance appreciates Maxwell's orthodox and emphatically Christological faith when he explains the significance of the fertile interaction between theological and scientific thinking he sees in the work of his fellow countryman.86 It has to be noted that Torrance does not see here any analogical connection between the theology of the Early Church with its concept of homoousion and the significant results of modern physical science. The question is not of remote parallels but, in fact, of an identical epistemological event where Christian conviction has a decisive role to play. Torrance does not even hesitate to remind us of Maxwell's explicit belief in Christ, thus confirming his claim that the homoousion has had a contributive role even in modern times. It is useful to emphasize that, in Torrance's opinion, through the Incarnation God does not directly give birth to science but, rather, the doctrine of God's Incarnation is fertile enough to produce a mental attitude that has aided in the development of scientific thinking.87 Historically, however, Torrance's evaluation (p.43) of the relevance of Maxwell's religious conviction is not without problems.88 Our concern is not, however, to penetrate deeper into Torrance's line of argument, while it is sufficient to demonstrate the pattern with which he constructs his argument to support his idea of contribution. With regard to Maxwell, this much can be said: in him Torrance easily finds an example to use as a confirmation of the idea of contribution. Maxwell's Christian conviction can be proved without difficulty, in whatever manner its significance is evaluated.
Greater problems, nevertheless, emerge when Torrance tries to do the same with the thought of Albert Einstein, who undeniably wrote a great deal about the religious task of a scientist. Einstein's understanding of what religious belief is was not quite similar to Torrance's interpretation of it.89 The physicist appreciated a religious attitude toward the universe, an attitude by which he understood a deep and humble wonder before the mysteries of the universe, but he distinguished it sharply from any hint of a belief in a personal god. According to him, such a belief is characterized by fear and expectations of a reward from a supreme Being. Einstein traced a great deal of evil discernible in the world to the way in which established religions have exercised their power. He held that belief in a personal god is an indication of naïveté, while a scientist, according to him, must have a general religious feeling that leads him to respect the harmony of natural laws and the deep intelligibility observable in them.90
Torrance is well aware that Einstein explicitly rejected any belief in a personal god, and he understands Einstein's approval of the view of God presented by Baruch Spinoza.91 However, what makes his point interesting is that he wishes to analyze Einstein's conviction in favor of his efforts to prove the validity of his idea of contribution. Torrance points out that a person who has “a realist understanding of natural law,” who refers to the “reliability of nature,” who sees a particular theory as “ ‘closer to the secrets of the Old One’, in so far as it penetrated into the inner truth and intelligibility of the universe,” and who even explicitly uses theistic terms, gives reasons to suggest that Einstein was not, after all, so far away from theistic belief.92 Torrance's point is that Spinoza's view of the relation of impersonal divinity to the universe was that of strict necessity, making it knowable through “logico‐deductive operations alone, but this is very far removed from the way Einstein understood the rational order of the universe.”93 Torrance agrees that Einstein's view of God, as the scientist explicitly and publicly expressed, contains certain inconsistencies with regard to theism because he could not take his distance from the Newtonian deistic understanding of God as “inertia, namely that something acts itself which cannot be acted upon,” leading to the conviction that in his absolute transcendence and majesty God cannot be affected by anything that comes from the outside of him.94 But, on the other hand, Torrance points out that the Jewish heritage or “frame of mind” helped Einstein appreciate Spinoza's “rejection of Cartesian and other forms of dualism, and his unitary conception of the universe with its inherent rational harmony.”95
There is no need to enter further into the problem of the nature of Albert Einstein's religious beliefs and Torrance's interpretation of them. The preceding discussion only provides confirmation of our argument that Torrance accredits the Judeo‐Christian view of the world and the concept of homoousion (what we discern with the senses is of the same essence with reality itself in its ontological depth) with a strong contributive role whereby faith and reason are united and the human knower is placed in his proper (p.44) position in the epistemological process, namely that of obedient submission. To give reasons for this argument Torrance needs Einstein and the above‐mentioned interpretation of his views on religion.
The Ontological Contribution
The Ontology of Creation
In the previous pages it was shown that in his idea of contribution Torrance considers the doctrine of the Incarnation and the concept of homoousion as epistemologically significant both in their negative and positive aspects. But the contribution of Christian theology to the later development of empirical science, according to him, is not only epistemological in character but is also of crucial importance with regard to the perception of the ontological nature of the universe. A convenient way of examining his idea of the ontological contribution of the homoousion is offered in his efforts to link the ontologies of God and the universe together through the doctrine of the Incarnation and the patristic concept of homoousion. It should be constantly recalled how Torrance gives the doctrine of the Incarnation primacy over that of creation so that the latter is interpreted by means of the former. When explaining the origin of the creation ex nihilo he states that “the birth of the creation hinges upon the homoousion.”96
This approach means that the ontology of the universe does not depend solely on the act of creation ex nihilo but, with an essential addition, on the Incarnation. The creation was carried out by the Word of God, who is eternally homoousios with the Father and who then became incarnate, assuming human form in space and time. The most striking consequence of this approach with regard to the ontology of the universe is that it is not seen from the standpoint of the Creator‐creation axis, the being of the universe deriving only from the fact of its createdness, but from the conviction that this Creator took human form upon himself. In fact, without the Son of God there would be no understanding of God as Creator.97 This is to suggest that creation alone is not a sufficient basis for an ontology of the universe but needs the contribution of Christology, the doctrine of the Word who became incarnate, in order to be relevant.
It should be remembered, however, that such a Christological ontology is not an original feature of Torrance's theology alone. In patristic times the Logos was seen as an ontological basis for the existence of the universe, and Torrance undoubtedly desires to continue this tradition. Athanasius himself, for example, saw no difficulty in holding that the incarnate Logos exercises the same power over the creation as in his preexistence.98 Torrance, nevertheless, goes further when drawing out the implications of this Christological ontology. He maintains that the doctrine of creation, seen through that of the Incarnation, has posited certain basic ideas concerning the ontological nature of the universe without which the development of empirical science would not have been possible.
Torrance deals with the basic ideas contributed by the theology of the Early Church by using a formula consisting of three factors. Two of them have to do with the ontological rationality and freedom of the universe, and in the third one the notion of contingency is introduced in a way that requires explanation.99 On the one hand, referring to the third factor, Torrance can occasionally speak of the “ordered unity” or “rational (p.45) unity” of the cosmos, while, on the other hand, in some other connections the notion of “contingency” takes the role of the third factor. (It has to be noted, however, that in Torrance's lists the aspect of rational unity or contingency is always mentioned first, rationality second, and freedom third. This suggests that the latter ones have to be viewed through the perspective of the first aspect, whether it is designated “ordered unity” or “contingency.”) But when the concepts of “ordered” or “rational unity” are preferred, Torrance attaches the attribute “contingent” to the first two factors, rationality and freedom, while in the second case, contingency as the third factor, they are used without such an attribute. In other words, Torrance uses two triplets to describe his idea of the ontological contribution of the theology of the Early Church to the rise of modern science. The first triplet, used in some earlier books, consists of the terms “contingent freedom”—“contingent rationality”—“ordered/rational unity.” The second triplet to be found in later literature consists of the concepts “freedom”—“rationality”—“contingency.”
This feature suggests that Torrance's thinking has developed in this respect, with the result that in the ontological side of his idea of contribution the notion of contingency has gained a more independent status. It is no longer considered a mere attribute defining the content of the further ideas of rationality and freedom of the universe but has in fact grown into an interpretative key concept with a distinct existence of its own. This reveals that contingency is seen as being so important that it deserves this new status as the main ontological contribution of the incarnational theology of the Early Church. Accordingly, the notion of the rational unity or ordered unity of the cosmos, formerly the very first and independent aspect, is placed in the context of the rationality of the universe referring thus to the objective and ontological pole of an epistemological process. Therefore it seems appropriate to analyze the three contributive aspects along the lines of the option giving contingency an independent and emphasized position and to view the notion of the ordered unity of the universe together with the notion of the rationality of the cosmos.
Torrance draws a sharp distinction between the Greek and the Christian ideas of contingency, granting the latter the role of the originator of a unique content for the concept, explaining that the Greek interpretation of contingency was “the polar antithesis to what is rational, the logically and causally necessary.”100 Due to the direct identity of the necessary and rational, contingency was defined as pure chance, irrational, and unintelligible and therefore as something to be despised and totally excluded from what was understood as rational knowledge. According to Torrance, this philosophical attitude contained two presuppositions, the first of which was plainly theological in that it constructed a necessary and timeless relationship between the world and God. Belief in God as Creator was thereby excluded, and eternal, immutable divine reasons were clamped upon the universe to form the basis for its intelligibility. The second presupposition had its origins in Greek dualism, which was drawn between intelligible and sensible, form and matter. In this distinction the form was given the role of the bearer of rationality, and therefore also of necessity, while matter was nothing more than “a sensible element which is only accidentally related to the necessary.”101
Torrance's main argument in this respect is that it was the incarnational theology of the Early Church that meant a radical shift in the notion of contingency. The ontological status of the universe was altered by the new understanding of contingency set forth by patristic Christian thinking. On this basis Torrance maintains that the possibility of (p.46) the emergence of empirical science was established only through the Christian interpretation of contingency, leading to the crucial conviction of the idea of contribution according to which the primary reasons for any development in the field of the natural sciences are characteristically theological, not philosophical.102
Two questions emerge from this ontological aspect of the idea of contribution with special respect to the notion of contingency. Firstly, how does Torrance relate contingency and necessity in his interpretation of patristic theology and its contributive effect? And secondly, how does he attempt to make this new notion of contingency the merit of incarnational theology? The question of the interrelation of contingency and necessity in patristic theology, as seen by Torrance, is due to the new view of the God‐world connection. While Greek thinking was unable to establish the priority of God over necessity, the latter grew into an overall system of divine reasons assuring the intelligibility of the universe. Contingency was then considered something inferior to necessity. Referring to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant as a regression back to this Greek notion, Torrance claims, “Since the contingent exists only in a series of causal connections between contingent events reaching back to what is unconditionally necessary, contingency is only a manifestation, at two or more removes, of necessity. This really represents a lapse back into the old Greek conception of contingency as having an in‐built relation to necessity.”103
Torrance's actual claim is, then, that the Christian theology of creation, seen through that of the Incarnation, reversed the order of necessity and contingency, depriving the former of its primary status and transferring it to the latter so that contingency is the basic ontological feature of the universe and perceptible necessities, for example, in the laws of nature, which derive their meaning and intelligibility only when they are submitted to this contingency.104
It is useful to point out that Torrance views the concept of contingency primarily as the counterpart of necessity.105 In this sense Greek patristic theology undoubtedly contributed a novelty, but it has been convincingly pointed out that its elaborate application occurred only a thousand years later when John Duns Scotus first radicalized the concept of contingency through the notion of synchronicity: p is contingent if –p is possible at the same time, implying that contingency as a whole is based on God's free will and his possibility of continuously choosing another alternative.106 This implies that dating the actual origin of the contingency, with fruitful effects on the development of science, to the patristic era has to operate with a slightly different interpretation of contingency than the one inherent in the notion of synchronic contingency.
The other question mentioned above has to do with Torrance's effort to link the doctrine of the Incarnation and the contribution of the basically contingent nature of ontology. It seems that for Torrance the creation is not sufficient to safeguard his argument in favor of his conception of the contingency. He admits that the view of the universe as created out of nothing has its roots in Jewish theology in which God as a sovereign and transcendent Being is “the source of all that is outside himself.”107 This is not, however, a sufficient reason for a contingency that would mean such a strong contribution as he supposes. It is also worth noting that for Torrance creatio ex nihilo is not a specifically Christian doctrine but has its origins in the religion of the Old Testament. Only the Incarnation can, in Torrance's opinion, provide such aspects or insights as to make contingency truly effective.108 The following analysis seeks an answer to the question of how (p.47) successfully Torrance can give reasons for his claim that the doctrine of the Incarnation was an original contribution on its own terms. The value of his modified creation argument depends largely on the prospective results. In other words, then, what is the original ingredient that only the Christian theology of the Incarnation could provide?
It seems evident that Torrance himself cannot give a very strong and convincing answer. He states that “it was Christian theology which radicalized and deepened the notion of contingence” by the fact that the very God who had created the universe took humanity upon himself, thus submitting himself to the conditions of contingency and thereby assuring that the created reality is real for himself, too.109 An ambiguity in Torrance's argumentation is to be found in precisely this respect: on the one hand, he maintains that it was the incarnational theology of the Early Church, through which the act of creation was viewed, that could make the contribution of a new ontological base of the universe in contingency. The doctrine of creation was not sufficient, as stated earlier. But, then, on the other hand, Torrance has difficulty in finding convincing arguments for this claim, so that he can only refer to a radicalizing or a deepening of the notion of contingency. The result is that Torrance cannot present too persuasive evidence for his view of the original contribution of Christian theology to the understanding of contingency as the basis for a new view of the ontology of the universe in distinction from the Greek understanding. If the Incarnation is just a catalyst in the process of formation of such an ontology, the creation as, originally, a Jewish doctrine must retain its primary role. It is conceivable that the Logos's entering the created reality as the Incarnate One implied the affirmation of the reality of the universe even for the Creator himself, but there remains the question of what is the connection between this reaffirmation and the idea of contingency or its radicalizing and deepening.110
A far more consistent approach is the purely theological position presented by Torrance. Here contingency is considered as seriously injured by a tendency hostile to being itself, a tendency that had to be removed in order that the creation could be saved.111 This implies in traditional terms that sin has corrupted the creation to the extent that God himself needed to take action in order to bring salvation to the universe. However, as was seen, Torrance is not content to draw mere soteriological implications from the Incarnation but wants to mold them into an interpretative basis to provide a foundation for his argument in favor of his idea of contribution. In other words, the Incarnation meant not only the reordering of the contingency of the universe onto the right path originally given to it by its Creator for its salvation but also, and even more strongly, the restoration of the contingency of the universe in such a unique way that it made empirical science possible.
To sum up the discussion so far, Torrance's understanding of the contributive role of the doctrine of the Incarnation with regard to the contingent character of the ontology of the universe has two aspects. The first has to do with the contingency‐necessity dichotomy. Torrance maintains that the incarnational theology of the Early Church substantially transformed the mutual interrelation of the two concepts by transferring the priority given to necessity by Greek thinking to contingency. Torrance's conviction could be formulated such that the Christian theology of the Incarnation made contingency a substantial feature of the ontology of the universe, and accordingly necessity was dropped to an inferior accidental position, while in Greek thought, according to Torrance's interpretation, just the opposite had been the case. In the new situation (p.48) necessity is realized through the “laws of nature,” which, however, have their ground in the contingent nature of the universe. So these laws cannot have an ultimate validity in themselves but only in the contingent ontology behind them. This reveals that Torrance cannot even implicitly escape using the substantial‐accidental dichotomy in his own interpretation of contingency, which could be supposed to be the case because of his reluctance to accept the matter‐form or form‐being dichotomy that, according to Torrance, “has become almost second nature to us.”112
The other problem was seen to lie in Torrance's way of interrelating creation and the Incarnation. It was maintained that he finds himself in difficulties when trying to define the actual positive contribution of the doctrine of the Incarnation when compared to that of creation. While the latter holds that creation was effected out of nothing, the former had nothing original to contribute to the ontological contingency of the universe which could be viewed as a necessary basis for the later development of empirical science, as Torrance claims with his idea of contribution. Therefore he is compelled to regard contingency as only radicalized or deepened through the Incarnation, a notion that hardly makes the contribution of the incarnational theology of the Early Church as significant with respect to the rise of the natural sciences as Torrance makes out. All this is to suggest the conclusion that, Torrance's idea of contribution presupposed, the actual contribution of the theology of the Early Church does not lie primarily in its original doctrine of the Incarnation but in the Old Testament view of God as the Creator who out of nothing brought forth the universe. The merit of the Early Church can be seen in its safeguarding and further refining of this doctrine for the purposes of the proclamation of the Church. The significance of the doctrine of the Incarnation should not, of course, be denied or its role underestimated. However, even Torrance cannot proffer adequate evidence for the claim that its contribution was highly unique for the development of later empirical science because the idea of the Logos becoming a human being does not lead so readily to the conviction that the contingency of the universe is thereby given something essentially new as compared to the doctrine of creation. In this respect his modified creation argument proves to be unconvincing.
Torrance has, however, better reasons for making his claim concerning the second aspect of the ontological side of his idea of contribution, which concentrates on the rationality or intelligibility of the contingent universe. The Incarnation of the Λόγος has such a close correspondence with the diverse logos philosophies of Antiquity, regarded as the basic principle of rationality, that Torrance's conviction with regard to the contributive role of the Incarnation in this respect seems more interesting than the previously described view of contingency.113
In accordance with his strong emphasis on rationality, Torrance relates the idea of the intelligibility or rationality of the universe to the doctrines of both creation and the Incarnation.114 The doctrine of creation meant that the universe was conceived as a grand harmonious system in which one specific order prevails.115 This rational unity or harmony is the feature of the whole world, not only of earthly phenomena, so that a scientist can trust in the intelligibility of any phenomenon even in the remotest corner of the universe. Torrance thus supposes a kind of rational monism in which any mode of intelligibility is denied which could not be, at least in principle, comprehensible in human terms. His notion of one, all‐pervading order leaves no room for any other kind of rational structure than the one a human being can now conceive of. It has to be (p.49) admitted that Torrance accepts variations (in his phrase concerning the “multi‐variable” order) on the phenomenal level of this order, but ontologically he can acknowledge only one order or rationality.116 From a theological point of view, the case could not, in any case, be very different from his interpretation since the view that God created everything has been here driven to its ultimate conclusion as far as the question of the intelligibility of the universe is concerned. This means that in Torrance's opinion the human being cannot be removed from his or her central universal position as the being who gives articulate expression to the intelligibilities of nature.117
If one wishes to seek a cosmological principle in Torrance's thought, it is his notion of the rationality of the universe that could be designated as such.118 It asserts that the cosmos bears the ontological character of being able to be known. But its createdness further implies that the universe is not self‐explanatory as if it contained the reasons for its existence.119 Its contingency upon God also includes its intelligibility, so that Torrance can speak of the contingent intelligibility or rationality of the universe.120 Just like the being of the universe, its created or contingent rationality, is totally dependent on God the Creator and his uncreated rationality.121 The question to be asked at this point is, how do these two modes of rationality, created and uncreated, relate to each other? Since God created the universe and gave it a rationality of its own, to what extent can there be seen an analogical correspondence between the two modes of rationality? Torrance maintains that “the intelligibility which he [God] has conferred upon the universe is not an extension or an emanation of his own but a creaturely intelligibility utterly contingent upon his own, yet somehow coordinated with it as the universal medium through which he may be known.”122 Torrance avoids using the term analogy in describing the two rationalities, implying thereby that no definite conclusions can be drawn from the intelligibility of the universe as to the nature of God's own rationality, which remains transcendent.123 Torrance's Barthian position is thus reaffirmed: there is no natural theology leading to God and no reliable knowledge of him, thus also excluding the possibility of any argument presented in favor of the existence of God. It is not impossible, however, to trace an implicit argument from intelligibility in Torrance's thought. As was shown, Torrance explicitly rejects any “logical bridges” from human beings to God or from the intelligibility of the creation to that of God, but in spite of this position the idea of a contingent intelligibility, if accepted in the form Torrance suggests, inevitably leads one to admit that this contingency must be referred to its originator, who is God. In other words, if the non‐self‐explanatory character of the universe is agreed upon, the existence of its transcendent origin has to be supposed as well.
Because Torrance denies an analogical correspondence between the two rationalities and because he, nevertheless, has to link them together in order to safeguard the conception of the creatureliness of the universe he makes use of the very vague term coordination. He does not provide any precise definition of what he understands by this concept, but from his thought it can be concluded that the notion of order is the common factor: the rationalities are coordinated so that there is a resemblance between them as to their tendency to avoid chaos and disorder. The two rationalities, then, can be viewed as being connected by a kind of umbilical cord through which rationality and order are channeled from the uncreated to the created side. This connection is essential; without it the created would lack any meaning. While the created rationality cannot correspond to the transcendent uncreated rationality, it can only refer to it as its ultimate basis and (p.50) ground. In other words, their relation is referential and open, not strictly defined as in one‐to‐one correspondence.
So far, the intelligibility or rationality of the universe has been reflected upon on the basis of Torrance's understanding of the doctrine of creation. The question concerning the relation of the doctrines of creation and the Incarnation also needs to be investigated in this connection. The idea of contribution asserts that while the doctrine of creation has given the universe a rationality that makes its structures knowable and intelligible, the doctrine of the Incarnation had a further positive impact upon this view. One ambiguity, however, bothers the reader in this respect. Torrance writes: “If in the Incarnation it was the Creator Logos of God, the one eternal uncreated Autologos (Aὐτολόγος) or Self‐Word, who became flesh in Jesus Christ, then all the logoi (λόγοι) or rational forms pervading the universe were thereby revealed to be created.”124
The same difficulty as in the case of the question of contingency is apparent here: the actual contribution of the doctrine of the Incarnation remains obscure. Torrance claims that the Incarnation of the Logos meant the revelation of the fact that all that exists is created. He implicitly states that the Incarnation disclosed the ultimate character of the rationality of the universe by revealing the createdness of “all rational forms” and their contingent nature as well. Thus the Incarnation brought not only the revelation of God but of the creation, too, or more precisely, its contingency and dependence on God. It is nevertheless difficult to see where the originality of the doctrine of the Incarnation lies in this respect because the Old Testament view of the one and only God as the transcendent Creator bore in itself the same idea of the createdness of the rationality of the universe.
In one sense, however, Torrance's argument does not sound so implausible. The claim about the doctrine of God's becoming a human being as a contributive factor to the view concerning the ontological rational nature of the universe would, indeed, make more sense if it were considered primarily as an indication of God's deep involvement with his creation and his willingness to sustain its created rationality by submitting himself to its conditions. In fact, this is what Torrance does when he says that “thus not only has God created the world out of nothing . . . but He has confirmed it and established its relation to Himself through the Incarnation of His Son within it.”125 The idea of the Incarnation as the confirmation of the created universe and its rationality seems more plausible than the view, in which the Incarnation meant the revelation of the createdness of the universe's rationalities. Thus the Incarnation could be seen as an act of God's deep solidarity in which the reality of created rationality was reaffirmed as relevant even for God himself, precisely as Torrance suggests. Despite this, one cannot avoid the impression that Torrance wants to link the doctrines of the Incarnation and creation so closely together in order to emphasize the contribution to the view of the ontological rationality of the cosmos, that, because of the lack of evidence, he is using the concept of confirmation. This cannot but imply that the doctrine of the Incarnation, compared to that of the creation, could not contribute anything strikingly original in this case either.126 Implicitly, then, Torrance has to admit that while the Logos was already active in the creation, the rationality of the universe can be claimed to have there its sufficient reason.127 This is not to say that the doctrine of the Incarnation had no radical uniqueness or contribution to make, because the notion of the incarnate God was certainly an essential intellectual newcomer in the Hellenistic world, precisely as Torrance maintains. (p.51) The argument proposed here is only to make the claim that he cannot present convincing evidence for his view that, compared to the creation, the Incarnation was a radical novelty from the standpoint of the idea of contribution. Or, in other words, Torrance's modified creation argument has not so far proved its plausibility.
The third factor in the ontological side of Torrance's idea of contribution is his insistence that the doctrine of the Incarnation set forth the notion of the freedom of the universe, an essential intellectual ingredient needed in empirical science. Torrance makes the assertion that the Christian view of the freedom of the creation, dependent upon God's own freedom, released Christians from any fatalistic beliefs in necessity or determinism which, according to him, were so characteristic of the pagan mind.128 Thus freedom is also closely linked with the notion of contingency as the opposite of necessity. In line with his idea of contingency, Torrance rejects any interpretation in which the exclusion of necessity or determinism is seen as having led to a worldview in which chance or arbitrariness was given a legitimate place. Instead, for him freedom in this sense means orderliness and consistency.129 From the standpoint of the sciences, as Torrance clarifies, this notion of the contingent freedom of the universe granted them the double conviction that they are free to investigate nature without having to fear any intrusion into the territory of divine powers, and secondly, that the cosmos itself, in its freedom, cannot be interpreted as an overall net of necessary causes and effects.130 Torrance gives reasons for this contribution of the theology of the Early Church by referring to God's love, which he sees as the solution to the inherent problem in his view of contingency as neither arbitrariness nor necessity: “The full concept of contingency of the creation carries with it the idea that God is related to the universe, neither arbitrarily nor necessarily, but through the freedom of his grace and will, when out of sheer love he created the universe and grounded it in his own transcendent Logos or Rationality.”131
This passage illuminates the fact that Torrance seeks reasons for the creation in God's grace and will and, ultimately, in his love, which is also the ground for the freedom of the universe. A question concerning the nature of this freedom is raised when Torrance's separate accounts of the issue are compared with each other. On the one hand, he claims that this freedom is granted to the creation as distinct from and limited by the transcendent freedom of God. The relation between the two freedoms, created and uncreated, is thus clear: God's freedom is the only ground for the freedom of the universe.132 On the other hand, however, Torrance can state that God “does not grudge his creation a genuine freedom any more than he grudges it a reality distinct from himself, but on the contrary grants it to share in an appropriate way in his own freedom.”133 As to this latter view, two questions emerge. First of all, is there not a shift in Torrance's thought when he does not see the freedom of the universe only as grounded upon or limited by God's own freedom but now, in the text lastly quoted, sees it as sharing or participating in God's own transcendent freedom? The second question concerns the mode of this participation, which Torrance calls “appropriate”: what is such an appropriate sharing in God's own freedom? The latter question remains unanswered because of the unclarity in Torrance's own use of the term. There is no hint in his discussion as to what might be the difference between appropriate and inappropriate in this connection. But the first question can be analyzed further.
It seems obvious that a certain development in Torrance's thought has taken place with regard to the ultimate nature of the freedom of the universe as an aspect of his idea (p.52) of contribution. The notion of participation has grown to occupy a basic role in his interpretation: in an earlier writing any such notion is omitted, and the thought of a limited freedom, bounded by the transcendent freedom of God, is preferred. Later, however, the interpretation of participation gains a more crucial position, while the idea of a limited freedom is not totally abandoned but intertwined with it.134 Ambiguity in Torrance's thought seems thus to be inevitable: how can he relate the limited freedom of the universe to God's own freedom with the concept of participation if, at the same time, the notion of differentiation is maintained?
Torrance's answer is Christological and based explicitly on the doctrine of the Incarnation: “The fact that he who freely created the universe has once and for all become incarnate within it, means that as the Creator God will freely to coexist with his creaturely children, and therefore that the continuing existence of the universe is ontologically bound to the crucified and risen Jesus and destined to partake in the consummation of God's eternal purpose in him. It also means that the whole universe is brought to share in the unlimited freedom of the Creator, although always in a differentiated way appropriate to its creaturely reality and contingent nature.”135
The patristic notion of participation as the mode of the relationship of human beings with God has here found its cosmological application with regard to the idea of the freedom of the creation. It is truly freedom as far as it shares in the freedom of God, although the former does not become the latter. Torrance wants to underscore his conviction that what is creaturely cannot be transformed into what is divine—the ultimate and absolute distinction is preserved, just as it is maintained in our salvation as we participate in the Triune life of God. This means, therefore, that Torrance directly applies the notion of θέωσις and θɛοΠοίησις as concepts used in the context of humankind's salvation, to his idea of the freedom of the universe.136 But the question has to be asked again, where does the actual contribution of the Incarnation lie with regard to the freedom of the universe? Certainly, by referring to patristic sources, Torrance can give reasons for the new ontological status of the creation brought by the act of God's becoming a human being. In spite of the notion of participation in connection with the freedom of the universe, Torrance cannot adequately clarify his point that the doctrine of the Incarnation contributed to the rise of empirical science by granting it its unconsciously applied background presuppositions.
The problem is identical with those discovered earlier in the discussion of Torrance's ideas of the contingency and rationality of the universe, although, it has to be admitted, his argument seems better reasoned in the last case of freedom. The basic trouble in all the three points can be claimed to be found in the connection made between the incarnate and the preexistent Logos. While the doctrine of creation asserts that God's Word was already active in the event of creation, giving the universe its ontological status as a contingent, rational, and free cosmos, it is not easy to find a legitimate place for the incarnate Word as having made an essential contribution in these three respects. Therefore, as was shown, Torrance has to use rather imprecise terms such as “radical” or “deepening” in order to underline the positive and original role he wishes to give to the Incarnation as a crucial Christian doctrine, not only from the point of theology itself but from that of the natural sciences, as well.
The difficulty thus described is not so articulate in another, though in this respect marginal, argument in which Torrance links the contributive role of the Incarnation (p.53) not primarily with the descent of the Logos but to the love of God. Torrance maintains that the Incarnation was an indication of God's love toward his creation and further that by becoming a human being himself God demonstrated its reality and worthiness.137 This appreciation shown by God to the creation through the Incarnation offers another approach to the idea of contribution as applied by Torrance that is even more fertile than the one based on the activity of the Logos, because now it becomes plain where the essential significance of the Incarnation lies, namely in the reality‐affirming love of God, who allows himself to become ontologically involved in the creation. While it is difficult to see the all‐important relevance of the Incarnation for the rise of empirical science through the three “masterful ideas,” as Torrance asserted, in comparison to the doctrine of creation, it is possible to give a more positive evaluation of the same idea of contribution if considered from the standpoint of God's inherent love toward his creation in the Incarnation as a reaffirmation of the reality of the universe. In other words, it is not too troublesome to think of the contribution of incarnational theology if it is seen as an act of God's appreciation of the universe thereby making scientific inquiry possible. The doctrine of the Logos is not, of course, totally absent from this line of Torrance's thought, either, but, compared with the more explicit approach previously described, the Logos itself now derives its meaning from the love of God and does not stay “alone” as if it were detached from the inner life of God.138
As a summary of the preceding discussion, it can be argued that, in spite of his willingness to posit a strong positive role for the Incarnation as an essential contributive factor for the development of the natural sciences, Torrance cannot present convincing evidence for his claim. The ideas of contingency, rationality, and freedom of the universe were shown to be based on the Judeo‐Christian doctrine of creation, as Torrance himself admits, but he cannot explain precisely in what way the Incarnation could add anything essential to these insights in order to display the contributive character in the way Torrance maintains. This mainly philosophical approach was demonstrated to have a parallel in Torrance's more theological standpoint where the love of God is considered the ultimate basis for the activity of the Logos, an approach with the hint of a promise to solve the problem described. It was argued that the contribution of the Incarnation could be more easily apprehensible if it were consistently linked, not primarily with the doctrine of the Logos but with the idea of the love of God, who by becoming a human being expressed his own appreciation of his creation, thus giving it worth and dignity of its own as well as the challenge to be investigated. This line of thought, however, does not occupy such a central position as does the approach based on the “three masterful ideas,” a fact that can be interpreted as demonstrating Torrance's willingness to express himself to a scientifically orientated audience and explain his idea of the contributive significance of the incarnational theology of the Early Church.
Space and Time
Closely related to Torrance's view of the ontology of the creation, his idea of contribution includes an important detail which is deserving of separate study. Referring his thought to modern natural science, it can be argued that the centrality of the doctrine of the Incarnation is the primary cause for the fact that Torrance does not concentrate on the problems of quantum physics but rather on the questions of space and time and, (p.54) accordingly, of Einstein's theories of relativity.139 This is due to his conviction, as suggested earlier, that God's exclusive self‐revelation took place in the concrete space and time of this temporal reality as his Son became incarnate to live under its conditions. Torrance claims that the Word became flesh in those structures of the universe that are also the proper field of investigation for the natural sciences. In other words, both theology and the natural sciences operate within the same medium, that of space and time, making efforts to express their distinct conclusions on the basis of what they have learned in it.140
For Torrance, space and time are not only a passive scene or stage where the human mind investigates nature—rather, they have a more active role as “bearers of contingent order and intelligibility in which all created realities share.”141 This is the most important point of contact with the ontology of creation described in the previous section. The contingent intelligibility, the substance, is realized in space and time, the form. Since order and intelligibility are, as it were, implanted into nature so that they are constantly to be found there, Torrance asserts, space and time provide the common ground for interaction and dialogue for both theology and the natural sciences as well as for their independent inquiries.142
Torrance holds that because space and time are created realities themselves, God does not exist in a spatial or temporal relation to the universe.143 In other words, he is neither in space nor in time although he is their Creator and therefore absolutely free with regard to them and not subject to their conditions and necessities. In this created space‐time medium, Torrance accredits us as humans with a religious task in every scientific investigation. He holds that it is our duty to read the “books of nature” because, without human involvement, nature would not be understood, as far as the natural sciences are concerned.144 As for theology, Torrance reminds us that God has decided to reveal himself in this universe where he has established a reciprocal community with human beings who are then able to discern God's Word in an intelligible manner particularly through the Holy Scriptures.145
Space and time are not, therefore, a neutral sphere where the natural sciences and theology can encounter one other. Torrance's conviction is that they have a specifically theological slant because of their createdness and the fact that God himself in his own being as the Son, who is homoousios with the Father, has entered this space and time.146 This suggests that for Torrance the religious task of human beings to provide the dumb nature with words that we can understand is not based on the task itself; in other words, it is not a duty to be carried out with an imprecise religious feeling of awe and wonder in the face of the mysteries of nature. In this respect he differs considerably from Albert Einstein, who did emphasize the religious nature of the scientific enterprise but did not link it to an explicit belief in a personal God.147 For Torrance, this religious task of human beings is basically grounded on the createdness of the universe and its confirmation in the Incarnation. Therefore he suggests that space and time also make natural scientists carry on an inquiry based not only on intuitive religious feeling but on a duty accredited to them by Christian faith.
Torrance is certainly making a very strong claim here, and he can be criticized for entertaining theological monism or even reductionism, turning natural scientists into theologians. This does not serve even Torrance's own explicit intentions, since he generally wishes to emphasize the distinctive nature and independent status of the two disciplines. This theological monism, however, seems an inevitable result of his premises (p.55) whereby he links the Logos, the rationality of the universe, and the creation so closely together, as was seen in the preceding pages, that all rational human enterprise is of necessity related to God. This is certainly a theological position that can be reasoned, as Torrance does, from the patristic theology of the Logos. However, the empirical effect of this approach depends wholly on the reception given to it on the part of the natural sciences, and there its positive evaluation remains obviously questionable especially due to Torrance's insistence on contingency as independence which is nevertheless dependent on its transcendent origin, that is, God.148
In Torrance's opinion, space and time are theologically characterized not only because of their createdness but also because of the Incarnation, as suggested above, in the act of God's becoming a human being under the creaturely conditions of space and time. The idea of contribution in his system makes the assertion that it was the incarnational theology of the Early Church that radically changed the contemporary view of the nature of space and time. The role of space in this respect turns out to be crucial in Torrance's thought. He makes use of a problem known in the philosophy of physics as that of the receptacle (absolute or container) versus relational view of space. In general terms, according to the receptacle notion, space is a container with strict boundaries or an empty place that needs to be filled.149 Objects existing in it are seen as independent subjects occupying their own location without direct connection with each other. The relational notion, on the other hand, holds that “all spatial and temporal assertions should be seen not as attributing features to space or time or space‐time, but rather as attributing some spatial, temporal, or spatiotemporal relations to material objects.”150
Torrance agrees with the general definition of the receptacle notion of space described above, but, with regard to the relational view, his interpretation bears a specifically theological character with his insistence on the centrality of the doctrine of the Incarnation. Therefore he modifies the relational notion of space in order to clarify his understanding of the nature of the Incarnation whereby the Son of God, homoousios with the Father, took human form and descended from heaven to become flesh under the conditions of space and time.151
Torrance rejects the absolute, container notion of space on theological grounds because it does not allow, in his opinion, the possibility of God's becoming incarnate under the conditions of space and time. He suggests, in other words, that the idea of the impossibility of any incarnation of the homoousion type is rooted in an inappropriate understanding of space.152 The decisive argument, however, put forward by Torrance in this respect is that it was the theology of the Early Church and especially the doctrine of the Incarnation that gave birth to the relational notion of space through the work of the Church Fathers, who felt compelled to rethink God's relation to space and time. The idea of contribution thus gives theology a further special role in two respects. First, it asserts that the incarnational theology of the Early Church in a remarkable way originated a novel understanding of space. Torrance traces the history of this view via Leibniz and Huygens back to Plato, whose philosophical impact on the theology of the Early Church in this respect he does not deny. Instead, he insists that the Church Fathers essentially transformed the primitive Platonic conception of the relational notion of space in order to make it more applicable in the interpretation of the Incarnation. Second, and also more interesting, Torrance claims that this relational view of space considerably anticipated the later emergence of the view of space expressed in the theory of relativity of Albert Einstein.153
(p.56) These two aspects of Torrance's idea of contribution with respect to space are best analyzed by asking how he actually defines the relational notion. It has already been shown that, in line with the history of physical thought, Torrance supposes the existence of two major views that are usually seen as exclusive alternatives and that he can agree with the generally accepted definition of the absolute or receptacle notion of space. On the other hand, Torrance sees the relationality of space as something that indicates the relation of space and time to that which it embraces or “includes.” This means that space always exists for something so that it never exists alone.154 On the other hand, however, it was already suggested that Torrance gives a highly theological account of the relational notion of space in order to secure a legitimate place for belief in the Incarnation of the homoousion type. But what is this theological interpretation like?
In the traditional interpretation of the relational view of space, as expressed by one of its most eminent proponents, Gottfried Leibniz, it is maintained that space cannot be conceived as any sort of material or stuff but, instead, as a plain system of relations between existents.155 The relationality of space is thus defined through a horizontal axis between the existents of this space. For Torrance this seems to be of minor importance, for his theological approach makes him emphasize the relationality of space through a vertical axis, namely as a relation between the creation and God. Referring to the Nicene theology, he explicitly claims that “Since space is regarded here from a central point in the creative and redemptive activity of God in Christ, the concept of space as infinite receptacle, or as infinite substance, or as extension conceived either as the essence of matter or as a necessity or our human apprehension, or certainly the concept of space as the first unmoved limit of the container, all fall away. And in their place emerges a concept of space in terms of the relations between God and the physical universe established in creation and Incarnation.”156
This understanding of space undoubtedly serves Torrance's theological intentions to seek for scientifically reasoned opportunities of grasping the possibility of the Incarnation. The crucial point in his relational notion of space lies in its unboundedness: while the receptacle notion bears in itself the idea of radical discontinuity or disruption between the creation and its Creator, the latter being situated far away from the realm of the former, the relational notion, as seen by Torrance, leaves the door open for God's dynamic activity in the universe by rejecting any limits or boundaries. The vertical relation between the creation and God therefore becomes the determining factor which essentially defines the relational notion of space, not the horizontal axis between existents.157
The second question concerning the contributive role of the incarnational theology of the Early Church with regard to the problem of space and time is related to Torrance's opinion that the relational notion of space described above anticipated in a considerable way the general theory of relativity, published by Albert Einstein in 1915. Torrance, in fact, gives the impression that there is a continuum between the contribution of the Early Church and the theory of Einstein.158 He states that the relational notion of space “was given its supreme expression in the space‐time of relativity theory when Einstein, following out a line of thought from four‐dimensional geometry, found he had to reject the notion of absolute space and time.”159
Torrance's argument concerning the contributive character of the incarnational theology of the Early Church is based, therefore, on the assumption that the theory of general relativity has in an eminent way brought to light the idea of a relational space (p.57) which was first formulated in a revolutionary way by the Nicene Fathers when they felt compelled to give rigorous consideration to the relationship between God and the world in the doctrine of the Incarnation and the Son's homoousion with the Father. This argument has, however, two major problems. The first has to do with Torrance's own understanding of what the receptacle notion of space involves. It was shown that for him it is primarily a theologically reasoned concept expressing his view that the relationality of space derives its character from its relation to God and not, as in the traditional form of the view, from relations between existents of space. Only if this premise is agreed upon can Torrance's argument proceed convincingly.
The other problem is no less evident. While Torrance holds that the relational notion of space has its brightest expression in Einstein's theory of general relativity, he assumes that the two are necessarily connected so that adhering to this theory leads one inevitably to presuppose the relational notion and to abandon the absolute notion. The case is not, however, so simple. Among philosophers of science the question of the relationship between the theory of general relativity and the absolute/relational notions of space has not been definitely settled.160 This proves that there is no inherent necessity in the theories of relativity to adhere to the relational notion only, but they also allow interpretations in which the absolute notion is presupposed.161 Torrance seems to neglect this fact in his opposition to the absolute notion of space and this makes his argument concerning the contributive character of the incarnational theology of the Early Church as an early pioneer of Einstein's theory of relativity, with regard to the concept of space, rather daring in that he consciously connects the relational notions held by the Church Fathers and Einstein.162
From this can be drawn the conclusion that Torrance defends the relational notion of space because it allows more weight for his theological argument in which the theme of openness is repeated in favor of the doctrine of the Incarnation. While absolute space shuts God out of the world so that he cannot enter into any serious intercourse with his creation, relational space with its limitlessness and openness upward permits this and makes it easier to conceive of the Incarnation. The problems of this approach were, however, seen as evident. First, the definition given by Torrance to the relational notion of space is not unproblematically in accordance with the generally accepted explanation and, second, he too hastily gives the theory of relativity the credit of being an undeniable exponent of the relational notion.
Although the question of time was tangentially referred to in the previous discussion, it deserves some separate consideration.163 It was shown that just as in the case of the ultimate nature of space, that of time is closely connected with the incarnational theology of the Early Church. Torrance holds that God's incarnate parousia, its actuality and reality, urged the Church Fathers to formulate and to apply relational modes to the understanding of space and time.164 But how does Torrance define this relationality? With regard to space, the starting point for the current analysis was found in Leibniz's philosophy and in his view that space is nothing else but “an order of coexistence.” In similar way he defines relational time: “Time is an order of succession . . . instants, consider'd without the things, are nothing at all; . . . they consist only in successive order of things.”165 At first glance, this is how Torrance too defines time—it does not stand alone as an absolute entity but always has a relation to things existing in time. Time is always time for something.166
(p.58) This “for something” was found to be a characteristic, though a minor one, of Torrance's understanding of space, too, but it was argued that the actual relationality of space in Torrance's thought is based on its openness toward and relation to God. Now the question has to be asked, does this apply to Torrance's view of time as well? He claims that “just as we think of our creaturely being as contingently grounded upon the eternal being of God, so we must think of our creaturely time as contingently grounded upon the eternal time of God.”167 This implies that, for Torrance, there is no time if it is not seen as grounded on God's eternal time, which gives it its constancy and reliability. While, on the other hand, he asserts that time is always for something, he can now, on the other hand, make a theological modification of it by insisting that God has a time for us and for our time.168 The idea of contingency as independent dependency is thus repeated here with the additional slant of temporality—what is created, as time is, is necessarily contingent in character, having its ground somewhere else but not in itself.169 The Incarnation, then, means that the eternal God has from his own time entered the created time of the universe, implying further that the relationality of time consists ultimately of the interrelations between these two times and not primarily between the existents in time.
Some consideration should be given to the question of why Torrance needs the assumption that God also has his own time. The answer is easily grasped from the passage cited. If there were no time in God's own life, created time would lack any value whatsoever. This line of thought is, however, difficult to conceive because could not God, as the Creator of time, and the positive value of created time be thought of without the idea of God's own time? In other words, it is hard to see the need for such an emphasis on God's temporality. A more fruitful answer seems to lie in Torrance's constant insistence upon the orderliness of the universe. If time as “an order of succession,” expressed in Leibnizian terms, is given the role of the bearer of order, it is evident that to avoid any idea of irregularity or disorder in God's own eternal life, a distinct kind of time has to be assumed as prevailing in it, too.170
A more important question is, however, can this mode of the relational notion of time be considered as an early anticipation of Einstein's theories of relativity as Torrance suggests?171 It seems that Torrance is right when he stresses the novel understanding of time in the theory of relativity, perhaps even more right than in his insistence upon the confirmation of relational notion of space in connection with it.172 In particular, the special theory of relativity has made a lasting contribution to the physical understanding of time, arising out of the apparent contradiction between the constant velocity of light and the common intuitive conception. While in the latter case, as a result of physical experiments, light has been observed to move at a constant velocity irrespective of the velocity of the source of that light, the common understanding assumes that if a light signal is emitted from a moving system, such as from the roof of a train, its total velocity is the sum of its own speed and the speed of its source. The special theory of relativity has proved this to be incorrect and has shown that the speed of light is always constant.173 This, however, does not necessarily lead as readily to such a relational view of time as Torrance suggests. What can be said with certainty of Einstein's relativistic concept of time is that it makes the notion of simultaneity questionable. Naturally this involves the conception that movement affects our understanding of time or particularly the time‐scales that are used to measure it, and in this respect the rejection of an (p.59) absolute understanding of time can be accredited to the theory of relativity. Thus time cannot be measured absolutely, according to a uniform scale valid everywhere, but only relatively, the relations between the existents taken into account. But the question remains, can Torrance make convincing use of Einstein's theory of relativity as evidence for his argument concerning the contribution of the incarnational theology of the Early Church with particular respect to the relational notion of time?
It has to be admitted, as explained, that the theory of special relativity remarkably transforms the classical and commonly applied understanding of time. Einstein's insights, however, do not contain such remarkable similarities to the patristic view of time, as described by Torrance, that this unreserved connection could be made. The theological definition of time as owing its existence to the eternal time of God, the former deriving its relationality from this relation to the latter, supports the claim in which, contrary to what Torrance maintains, he is himself adhering to a new, modified absolute notion of time, the time of God, as the controlling and all‐pervading duration that gives meaning and constancy to created time.174
To sum up the previous discussion of Torrance's idea of contribution, the following can be concluded. His modified creation argument, according to which the doctrine of creation alone was not a sufficient reason for the rise of empirical science but it needed the doctrine of the Incarnation for that purpose, was found to be questionable in its essential parts because Torrance fails to introduce convincing evidence for his claim. In the epistemological aspect, considered in both its negative and positive roles, it was found that Torrance interprets Athanasius's views of the new possibility of knowing God, granted to humankind through the Incarnation, along Barthian lines whereby any natural knowledge of God is programmatically rejected. As to the positive aspect, it was found that the homoousion in Torrance's thought is a strong interpretative model—not merely a “disclosure model,” to use Torrance's phraseology—which is practically settled and irreplaceable, contrary to Torrance's own explicit suggestions. As such it is offered to the service of the natural sciences, combining faith and knowledge. To be effective, this faith has to be, in the final analysis, Christian in character, allowing the mutual meeting of reality and its manifestation in the homoousion manner, where what is observed is seen as “of the same being” as reality beyond. Torrance gives reasons for this appraisal of the significance of personal Christian conviction by referring to James Clerk Maxwell and Albert Einstein. In the former case the connection between Christian faith and remarkable scientific enterprise is testified to, but when interpreting Einstein and the role of his religious insights Torrance's intentional approach was found to be questionable.
As to the ontological contribution made by the incarnational theology of the Early Church, the “three masterful ideas” of contingency, rationality, and freedom of the universe were analyzed. The main problem lies in Torrance's inability to give sufficient evidence that it was the doctrine of the Incarnation that could inject these ideas, which, in his opinion, were needed for the rise of modern empirical natural science. No less problematic was found his view of space and time and his claim that the doctrine of the Incarnation in a remarkable way anticipated the relational notion of space and time, which, according to Torrance, found its ultimate exponent in Einstein's theories of relativity. The similarities between Torrance's construction of the concept of space and time and that of the theory of relativity were found to be rather vague, thus implying that (p.60) such a close link between the patristic understanding and Einstein's views as Torrance would like to draw cannot ultimately be made.
As an overall evaluation of Torrance's idea of contribution, indicating his belief that it was the incarnational theology of the Early Church with the homoousion that contributed considerably to the rise of empirical science, it can be stated that to be credible this argument needs a much firmer evidential basis than Torrance is able to offer. This means that his modified creation argument does not work credibly. As a contribution to the discussion between theology and science this approach certainly has its advantages, as it offers interesting insights of common concern. But seen from the perspective presupposed by Torrance himself, namely that this precise Christian doctrine contributed to the development of natural science, his argument is, due to the lack of more convincing evidence, highly interesting and undeniably attractive to the Christian mind but far from persuasive and conclusive. Therefore his idea of contribution should preferably be seen as a suggestion, proposal, and invitation to reflect more fully on the impact of Christian theology on the natural sciences in the search for a common area of discussion rather than a fully settled, closed, and final starting point or basis for such an encounter between the sciences.
(1.) An excellent and impressive study in this field is Cohen, The Scientific Revolution.
(2.) Neher, Jewish Thought, e.g., 1–2.
(3.) Duhem, Medieval Cosmology, 4. See also Ariew, “Preface,” xxii–xxiii; and Cohen, Scientific Revolution, 52–53. Pierre Duhem (1861–1916) was a physical chemist as well as a historian and philosopher of science who, apart from his contribution argument, was of the opinion that metaphysics and religion have practically nothing in common with science, making all claims about their alleged conflicts unjustified. See Hiebert, “Modern Physics and Christian Faith,” 438–40.
(4.) Grant, “The Effect of the Condemnation of 1277,” 537–39; “Science and Theology in the Middle Ages,” 51–70; Lindberg, The Beginnings of Western Science, 234–40.
(5.) Cohen, Scientific Revolution, 53.
(6.) Merton, Social Theory, 628–42. The thesis was originally presented by Merton in 1938 in his dissertation, “Science, Technology and Society in Seventeenth Century England,” but it runs as a leading theme throughout Merton's scientific writings. Of the nature and the reception of the Merton thesis, see Cohen, Scientific Revolution, 314–21.
(7.) Merton, Social Theory, 637–39; Lindberg and Numbers, God and Nature, 4–5. This method, used by several pro‐religion historians of science, has been called the “headcounting” strategy. It has been pointed out that “scholarship on the question of Protestantism and science has become hopelessly mired because it started off in the wrong direction, counting heads, collecting Calvinist‐sounding quotations, and seeking parallels instead of connections.” Ashworth, “Catholicism and Early Modern Science,” 136. This criticism is targeted particularly at R. Hooykaas, a Dutch historian of science who has unhesitatingly applied the Merton thesis to his own investigations. Hooykaas, Religion, 98–114.
(8.) Jaki's argument is not quite original because it was formulated in the circles of the Royal Society, e.g., in 1934 by M. B. Foster. Polkinghorne, One World, 1, 99. Jaki's significance lies, therefore, in his attempts to use the argument in the present phase of theology‐science discussion and to find more support for it in the history of science.
(9.) Jaki, Science and Creation, viii. Hooykaas agrees with Jaki on essential points, e.g., when he states that the biblical worldview gave rise to a mechanistic world picture which replaced the earlier organic one, a distinction that belongs to the structure of Jaki's history of science. See Hooykaas, Religion, 13–16; and Jaki, Relevance of Physics, 1–137. Anthony M. Alioto gives quite a contrary picture of the contributive role of Christian theology in the rise of scientific thinking. After giving a rather unsympathetic impression of the contributive role of early Christianity, he refers to the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages as having entertained as its primary goal the salvation of humankind, not scientific enterprises as such. Alioto, A History of Western Science, 103–12. An intermediate position is proposed by F. Seitz (The Science Matrix, 23), who contends that “[b]y the time Rome adopted Christianity in the 4th century A.D. and formed what might be termed an orthodox Christian church, great changes in values had occurred, none of which gave great stimulus to the advancement of science.”
(10.) Lindberg, “Science and the Early Church,” 42. See also Nebelsick, Circles of God, xix.
(11.) See Lindberg and Numbers, God and Nature, 5.
(12.) Lindberg, “Science and the Early Church,” 40. See also Lindberg, The Beginnings of Western Science, 149–51.
(13.) DCO, 2–5, 23–25; GGT, 73; TF, 77.
(14.) Gary B. Deason (“The Protestant Reformation,” 221–40) makes a distinction between strong and weak interpretations of the relation between the Reformation and the rise of science, (p.174) claiming that exponents of strong interpretations are convinced of the direct impact of a certain theological doctrine or attitude upon the rise of science. The weaker alternative holds that while both remained independent of each other, Protestantism could offer few ingredients for scientific expansion. Deason himself maintains that “the strong interpretation is too strong and that the weak one can be strengthened,” and suggests an interpretation based on an indirect causal relation between the Reformation and the rise of science (221–22).
(15.) TS, 59.
(16.) GR, 31–39 (esp. 37).
(17.) Ibid., 31–32.
(18.) Ibid., 34. Torrance's analysis is based on the Scholastic understanding of questioning. An illuminating introduction to Thomas Aquinas's idea of questions is provided in Aertsen, Nature and Creature, 7–53.
(19.) Ibid., 37.
(20.) Ibid., 39.
(21.) Torrance, The Christian Frame of Mind (CFM), viii.
(22.) RST, 198–99. Crawford Knox also points strongly in this direction, although with a different tone and emphasis, in Changing Christian Paradigms, 11.
(23.) DCO, 91–92.
(24.) See, e.g., TRc, 14.
(25.) The answer to the problem can be found only partially in the realm of religion, as is shown by C. Floris Cohen (Scientific Revolution, 308–77) in his impressive study of the historiography of Western science.
(26.) TF, 7. This kind of idea of contribution has been criticized, e.g., by Alan Olding (Modern Biology and Natural Theology, 3–4), who argues against what he calls “purposive explanations.” Ian G. Barbour also feels critical of any overestimations of the scientific role of Christian understanding of the creation (Barbour, “Ways of Relating Science and Theology,” 34).
(27.) TF, 47.
(29.) Torrance, Divine Meaning (DM), 289–90; RST, 79; GGT, 36.
(30.) DM, 289.
(31.) Bultmann, Existence and Faith, 197. See also Robinson, “Barth or Bultmann?,” 275–90.
(32.) See, e.g., Hesse, “Physics, Philosophy, and Myth,” 198–99; and Sharpe, From Science to an Adequate Mythology, 13–27. Sharpe points out the difficulty in defining the term because of its great variety of usages. Sharpe's summary of the different qualities of a myth is informative. He defines a myth as having eight properties: First, a myth is a story, second, it usually involves “extra‐mundane beings” (human‐like, animal‐like, or object‐like), groups, or events. Third, myths usually take place in a different setting from our space and time, in transcendence. Fourth, myths offer an explanation as to the “origin and operation of this world.” Fifth, they are “models of behaviour,” and, sixth, they “have the peculiar status of being believed true.” Finally, they tend to be authoritative and associated with rituals.
(33.) J. Rebecca Lyman (Christology and Cosmology, 129) shows that Athanasius accused the Arians of entertaining “mythology” in their Christology, a feature that has undoubtedly influenced Torrance's way of using the concept.
(34.) This, in fact, is the approach adopted by Sharpe (From Science to an Adequate Mythology, 13): “We need a mythology adequate for our society, and that must be founded on the integration of secular‐scientific knowledge and that of the Christian religion in which neither is subordinated to the other.” It is worth noting, too, how closely Torrance links myth to a symbolic presentation of reality. See TheRe, 172.
(35.) TF, 37–39.
(36.) J. N. D. Kelly (Early Christian Doctrines, 7–8) explicitly says about Alexandria that “in earlier days it had produced the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, and in the Christian period it proved a highly sympathetic channel for introducing Hellenistic culture to the early Church.” See also Stead, “Greek Influence on Christian Thought,” 175–85.
(37.) See the authoritative presentation by Christopher Stead, Divine Substance, 190–222. See also Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 235. Torrance is not explicitly interested in the history of the concept, but his main concern is to argue that although the term had been in use before it was the best possible word to express and safeguard what the Nicene theologians had understood. Therefore he neglects the political side of the doctrinal debates and the undeniable role of the emperor as an influential backstage person in the development of the term. (For more historical accounts of the background to the controversy, see, e.g., Chadwick, Early Church, 116–51, Christie‐Murray, A History of Heresy, 45–55, Heick, A History of Christian Thought, 1:154–60; and Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 223–51. A historical account of Athanasius's life is provided, e.g., by Barnes, “The Career of Athananius,” 390–401; and Pettersen, Athanasius, 1–18.) On the other hand, Athanasius himself describes the efforts of the theologians of the Nicene era as an epistemological process and not totally without psychological considerations. Athanasius, “De Decretis,” 18–24 (445–60).
(38.) For an introduction to research on the relationship between Platonism and the Church Fathers, see Meijering, God Being History, 1–18. The view of Athanasius's alleged Hebraic “mode of mind” is discussed in Lyman, Christology and Cosmology, 130.
(39.) TF, 51; GGT, 108.
(40.) TF, 51.
(41.) Ibid., 19–20; DM, 179–80; McGrath, Thomas F. Torrance, 160–63.
(42.) An illuminating definition of natural theology is given by G. Smith (“Natural Theology,” 61): “There are two knowledges or theologies about God. First, there is the knowledge that He has of Himself. This knowledge is communicated in part to men only by faith in divine revelation and is caused only by grace. . . . Secondly, there is the knowledge or theology about God that men derive from their natural knowledge of things. This second theology has come to be called natural theology.”
(43.) GGT, 75–87; RST, 32–63. It is part of Torrance's theological enterprise to try to integrate natural theology with revealed theology, and thus he allows natural theology a legitimate place but only if submitted to what he calls “revealed theology.” Wolfgang Achtner states that, for Torrance, this integration means a double approach to natural theology. It must reflect the rational structures of the creation, on the one hand, and must be included in Christology, on the other. Achtner, Physik, Mystik und Christentum, 37. See also Polkinghorne, Science and Creation, 13–15. An excellent account of natural theology and its Barthian interpretation in Torrance's thought is presented by McGrath, Thomas F. Torrance, 174–94.
(44.) TS, 103.
(45.) Natural theology, which, according to Torrance, has flourished especially when dualism has prevailed, has tried to build these “logical bridges” in order “to give some rational support for faith.” Torrance, Reality and Evangelical Theology (RET), 32. An implicit reference to traditional apologetics is to be discerned here.
(46.) Torrance's emphasis on the direction from God to the humans in knowledge of God can be seen as an effort to give a reply to one of the sternest critics of natural theology, the philosopher David Hume (1711–76), Torrance's fellow countryman, who in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion affirms, through a fictitious role character, that “a person, seasoned with a just sense of the imperfections of natural reason, will fly to revealed truth with greatest avidity.” Hume, Dialogues, 130. Hume's critique in his Dialogues has as its actual target religious reasoning, where a kind of a priori knowledge of God and arguments for his existence, according to the “argument from design,” are applied. Christian D. Kettler (“The Vicarious Humanity (p.176) of Christ,” 124) maintains: “It is obvious that any concept of a religious a priori in humanity is anathema to Torrance.”
(47.) John Calvin's epistemological orientation is apparent as early as the very first chapters of his Institutes, where he explicitly examines our knowledge of God. Calvin, Institutio, I:II:1 (34). For Torrance's own comments on Calvin's epistemology, see HJC, 163. E. L. Allen (The Sovereignty of God, 12) considers “the assertion of divine sovereignty” to be the “authentic note of Calvinism,” quoting Karl Barth (from his book The Resurrection of the Dead, p. 103): “What is at stake in Christianity is the rule of God and nothing else.”
(48.) TF, 51.
(49.) DM, 188; GGT, 76.
(50.) Muller, “The Barth Legacy,” 687.
(51.) GGT, 76.
(52.) In his most important anti‐Arian work, Contra Arianos, Athanasius applies the term only once, although, let it be admitted, the idea “from the substance” appears constantly. Stead, Divine Substance, 235–36. Stead also contends that Athanasius “uses the term homoousios perhaps 150 times in his genuine works; but many of these instances are mere reports of the opinions of others, and less than half of them really illuminate his own usage” (260). For another study of Athanasius's application of the term, see Bienert, “Logos‐Christologie,” 412–19, where it is maintained that for the Church Father the concept means a frontier between our understanding and God's being and, though not literally biblical, it safeguards the biblical belief in salvation within the reach of human beings.
(53.) J. Rebecca Lyman's interpretation comes close to Torrance's when she claims that “the eternal and incarnate son, who was the essential image of the Father, was the only guide able to reveal and embody divine truth for fallen humanity.” Lyman, Christology and Cosmology, 129. Lyman's references to Athanasius's writings do not, however, provide the reader with ample evidence to make this exclusive claim.
(54.) Athanasius, De Incarnatione, 11–12 (158–65).
(55.) Ibid., 14 (166–69).
(56.) Alvyn Pettersen (Athanasius, 37–52) reminds us that Athanasius saw God as revealing himself through four channels, namely “a human's soul, created in God's image and likeness, a harmonious creation, the Old Testament Scriptures, and Christ” (39).
(57.) Athanasius, De Incarnatione, 16 (172–73).
(58.) DM, 230, 385.
(59.) For example, Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 1:12:12 (84), points out that our natural cognition can know whether God exists but not who he is. Increasingly, from the time of Isaac Newton, natural theology became highly rationalistic to the extent that any revealed knowledge of God, as apparent in Athanasius's theology, was considered unnecessary.
(60.) Pettersen, Athanasius, 50. “The principal issue here is not God's self‐revelation, but man's appreciation of God's self‐revelation” (51).
(61.) GGT, 90–91.
(62.) An effort to construct Torrance's “integrated natural theology” is made by Achtner, Physik, Mystik und Christentum, 34–41. On pages 29–35, Achtner analyzes Torrance's indebtedness to Karl Barth and his Christocentrism in relation to natural theology. He states that Christology holds a key position with regard to natural theology, so that it is not legitimate to search knowledge of God as Creator without Christology (32). Achtner gives no answer to the question concerning the difference between natural and revealed theologies in Torrance's thought: if natural theology is also Christologically based, what is the point in calling it natural theology? See also Barth, Evangelical Theology, 24; and Hunsinger, Karl Barth, 76–81; as well as GGT, 94, where Torrance explains his wish to develop Barthian natural theology in order to give it a positive place in his system as subjected to revealed theology.
(63.) For the role of natural theology in modern theology‐science discussions, see, e.g., W. Norris Clarke, “Is a Natural Theology Still Possible Today?,” 103–23; and Gingerich, “Is There a Role for Natural Theology Today?,” 29–48. A succinct description of some of the problems related to natural theology is Murphy, “Postmodern Apologetics,” 105–20. Discussions on arguments for the existence of God from a natural theological perspective are given in the essay by Emerton, “Arguments for the Existence of God,” 72–86; and in the debates in Craig and Smith, Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology. An ultimate conclusion from the possibilities of natural knowledge of God is reached by Paul Davies (God and the New Physics, ix, 229), who holds that “science offers a surer path to God than religion.”
(64.) GGT, 125, 161–62; GR, 95; TCFK, 274–75; TS, 318.
(65.) GGT, 125.
(66.) One of the problems Ian Barbour finds in religious disclosure models is that they tend to be self‐authenticating, resulting in the ambiguous situation where there are no commonly acceptable criteria by which their effect and truthfulness with respect to reality could be evaluated. Barbour, Myths, Models and Paradigms, 64. See also Barbour, Religion in an Age of Science, 41–51. For the role of models in revelational theology, see Dahlfert, Theology and Philosophy, 197–203; and in the interaction between science and theology, see Case‐Winters, “The Question of God,” 351–75.
(67.) Spjuth (Creation, Contingency and Divine Presence, 101) reflects Torrance's view of the relation between reality and human beings, referring to the contradiction between objectivism and subjectivism, or realism and skepticism, by pointing out that in this discussion Torrance relies on the traditional realist position that emphasizes the role of intuition as the bridge between object and subject.
(68.) GR, 95. (Italics mine.) See also TS, 318.
(69.) TCFK, 275. The opposite of the disclosure model is what Torrance calls “a picturing model,” where strict one‐to‐one correspondence between a scientific statement and reality is presupposed. RST, 162. It is also worth noting that Torrance does not favor any theoretical models which, in his opinion, are products of human a priori conceptions. GGT, 125. See Achtner, Physik, Mystik und Christentum, 41–42.
(70.) GGT, 160.
(71.) Torrance, “Introduction,” in The Incarnation: Ecumenical Studies in the Nicene‐Constantinopolitan Creed A.D. 381 (INC), xiii.
(72.) See GGT, 126–27, where he refers to the Chalcedonian Christological formula as a disclosure model. It has to be admitted that the issue underscored by Torrance deals with the interrelation of the human and divine natures in Christ rather than his being homoousios with the Father.
(73.) Theology in Reconstruction (TRs), 33; DM, 378.
(74.) GGT, 162–63.
(75.) TF, 19.
(76.) Ibid. The intellectualism of Torrance's conception of faith has been underscored by Gray, “Theology as Science,” 382.
(77.) TS, 33. See also ibid., 132.
(78.) For example, in ibid., 33, n. 2. Torrance explicitly rejects any antithesis between faith and reason, claiming that faith is a reasonable attitude toward its divine Object. A good glance at contemporary Anglo‐Saxon reflection on the issue is Richard Swinburne's book Faith and Reason.
(79.) See, e.g., Calvin, Institutio, I:VII:5, and III:VII:2 (60, 506); and Barth, Evangelical Theology, 99. Philip Clayton (Explanation from Physics to Theology, 9–14) gives a short but informative account of the history of the faith‐reason debate, pointing out that in the Early Church it was Tertullian who attempted to make a radical separation between faith and reason and to (p.178) assign the primacy to the former. This fideism found another influential representative in John Calvin, who submitted reason to faith or rationality to divine revelation. A contrary position is named rationalism, where faith is subordinated, as happened in the philosophies of Locke, Kant, and Hegel. Clayton reminds us that the controversy has embodied itself in the view of faith seeking understanding, which has a long line of adherents, from Clement of Alexandria, through Augustine as its most explicit exponent, to Anselm of Canterbury.
(80.) TF, 20.
(81.) Following Torrance's line of thought, Iain Paul (Science and Theology in Einstein's Perspective, 16) holds that if “scientific faith motivates research, it does so by fostering trust in the reliability of the universe.” Note the phrase scientific faith, which is another modification of the idea, entertained strongly by Torrance, e.g., in “The Framework of Belief” (FB), that every scientific activity is based on belief. See also Torrance's article “Scientists Commemorating Third Centenary of Newton's Principia” (SC), 105–12.
(82.) FB, 12. It is, indeed, one of Polanyi's major claims that in scientific activity belief is always involved. See, e.g., Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, 160–61. A lengthy discussion of Polanyi and a brief analysis of Torrance's relation to his thought is provided by Simmons, “The Semantics of God,” 123–57. A more profound approach to this relation has been achieved by Morrison (“The Self‐Given Knowledge of God,” 114–20), who says that Torrance uses both Einstein's and Polanyi's thought to show that “the sciences have been throwing off the ‘myth of induction’ for the scientific method” (114).
(83.) Torrance seems to use the concepts belief and faith interchangeably, although a slight difference can be discerned in his application of the terms, since belief refers mostly to the fiducial attitude in the specifically scientific sphere, whereas faith has mainly to do with theology. The actual content of the phrases remains, nevertheless, identical.
(84.) TCFK, 219.
(85.) Stanley Jaki (Science and Creation, viii), whose argument Torrance modifies in his own idea of contribution, maintains that scientific enterprise could not properly develop until faith in a rational Creator permeated the whole Western culture, as was the case from the start of the Middle Ages. Torrance cannot agree with Jaki in his appreciation of the science of the High Middle Ages as the inaugural phase of the contribution of Christian belief to scientific, creative thinking because for him this phase lies further in the past, in the Early Church and its efforts to formulate its understanding of the Triune God. TF, 47–52. It is also worth noting that Torrance draws a parallel between the Jewish nation as the mediator of God's revelation and Jewish scientists as mediators of the new understanding of science. MC, 21.
(86.) TCFK, 219. Note the idea of the knowledge of God through Jesus Christ, implying both the negative and positive aspects of his idea of contribution.
(87.) See also Jaki, “Theological Aspects,” 149–66.
(88.) That the role of religious conviction in Maxwell's scientific thought can be viewed quite dissimilarly is evident when a comparison is made between the scholars Hendry and Tolstoy. See Hendry, James Clerk Maxwell, 119; and Tolstoy, James Clerk Maxwell, 58–61.
(89.) Torrance's articulate interpretation of Einstein's religious thought is published in his article “Einstein and God” (EG).
(90.) Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, 36–40. To show the interrelatedness of science and religion in Einstein's thought, a short quotation from him is sufficient: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, 46. Einstein appreciated those religious “geniuses” who were often condemned as heretics (38). For a further discussion of Einstein's attitude toward religion, see Lawhead, “Religion, Relativity, and Common Sense,” 37–45. On the Jewish impact upon Einstein's humanism, see Tal, “Jewish and Universal Social Ethics,” 297–318.
(91.) Torrance, Christian Theology and Scientific Culture (CTSC), 58–59; EG, 7–8. Einstein's affection for Spinoza is seen, for example, in Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, 38, 44–45. Spinoza's metaphysics involves the idea of a pantheistic view of divinity and monism, according to which there is only one substance in its infinity. See Copleston, A History of Philosophy, 4: 214–29, 244.
(92.) CTSC, 58.
(93.) Ibid., 59.
(94.) Ibid., 59–60.
(95.) EG, 12.
(96.) TF, 109.
(97.) Ibid., 76. Athanasius indeed makes a clear distinction between the two attributes of God, preferring the concept of Father to that of Creator: “.” Athanasius, “Contra Arianos,” I:34 (81–82).
(98.) Athanasius, De Incarnatione, 17 (174–77). E. P. Meijering has shown the close link between the Logos and the universe by pointing out that Athanasius considered the activity of the incarnate Logos in a human body as taking place as if the world, too, were a body. See Meijering, Orthodoxy and Platonism in Athanasius, 51.
(99.) DCO, 2–5; GGT, 52–60. See also TF, 98–109.
(100.) DCO, 29–30. According to Achtner (Physik, Mystik und Christentum, 109), the Greeks viewed contingency not only as the opposite of what is necessary or rational but also as universal and timeless.
(101.) DCO, 30. This Aristotelian distinction was later approved by Catholic Scholasticism, as is evident in Thomas Aquinas's theology: “Sic igitur contingentia, prout sunt contingentia, cognoscuntur directe quidem sensu, indirecte autem ab intellectu: rationes autem universales et necessariae contingentium cognoscuntur per intellectum.” Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I:86:3 (618).
(102.) DCO, 31–32.
(103.) Ibid., 43.
(104.) Ibid., 38. Also worth mentioning is Torrance's view that “chance and random events inevitably yield necessary patterns, for behind all chance there is ineluctable necessity” (31). This means that for Torrance “nothing in God's creation happens by mere chance” (CFM, 5). Another example of how chance and necessity are treated in connection with the theology‐science debate is given by John Polkinghorne (Science and Christian Belief, 77): “I have suggested that from a theological point of view the roles of chance and necessity should be seen as reflections of the twin gifts of freedom and reliability, bestowed on his creation by One who is both loving and faithful.” The dissimilarity is evident: while Torrance wants to reject chance totally, Polkinghorne is ready to give it an accepted position.
(105.) Knuuttila, Modalities in Medieval Philosophy, 1–44; Knuuttila, “Nomic Necessities,” 222–30.
(106.) Knuuttila, Modalities in Medieval Philosophy, 138–54. See also Vos Jaczn., Veldhuis, Looman‐Graaskamp, Dekker, and den Bok, Contingency and Freedom, 23–28, and Lindberg, The Beginnings of Western Science, 240–44. For Scotus's role in the wider context of Scottish pre‐Reformation philosophy and theology, see Broadie, The Shadow of Scotus, 1–34.
(107.) DCO, 32.
(108.) Ibid., 33; TF, 101–2.
(109.) DCO, 33.
(110.) Torrance's efforts to connect creation and redemption is analyzed by Roland Spjuth, who, surprisingly enough, sees a remarkable overlap in the thought of Torrance and some modern Catholic theologians. Spjuth, Creation, Contingency and Divine Presence, 72.
(111.) TF, 102. Torrance refers to Athanasius's writings, in which the reason for the Incarnation is defined along similar lines.
(112.) GGT, 95.
(113.) The Stoics had a developed philosophy of logos with strong religious nuances. They held that the supreme Logos, or God, contained an inferior type of “seminal logos” as the active ingredient by which all beings are generated. It was further maintained that in us our soul is our logos, which was divided into the ‘immanent logos’ and the ‘expressed logos,’ the former referring to our reason per se and the latter to the expression of his reason. A closer resemblance to the Christian Logos doctrine can be discerned in the thought of the Jewish thinker Philo, who took his ideas concerning the Logos mainly from the Stoics and regarded this principle of rationality “as intermediary between God and the universe” with a double role as “God's agent in creation” and as “the means by which the mind apprehends God.” Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 10, 18–19.
(114.) Roland Spjuth (Creation, Contingency and Divine Presence, 99) proceeds to make the claim that Torrance's “argumentation becomes highly rationalistic.”
(115.) DCO, 3; GGT, 52–53; McGrath, Thomas F. Torrance, 220–28.
(116.) This interpretation is further supported by the fact that Torrance feels disinterested in the challenging insights of those cosmologies which suggest the existence of other possible universes such as “mother” and “child” cosmoses, the first giving birth and an independent existence to the latter with an order and space‐time structure of its own. See Davies, The Mind of God, 70–72 and Drees, Beyond the Big Bang, 46–47.
(117.) GGT, 6; TS, 298.
(118.) It should, however, be remembered that Torrance himself explicitly rejects any notion of the divine Logos as an immanent cosmological principle. TF, 103.
(119.) DCO, vii, 36. It is precisely here that Torrance departs from Aristotle, for example, who also considered the universe to be a rational whole. As was seen earlier, Torrance holds that contingency as the guarantor of the non‐self‐explanatory character of the cosmos eliminates all kinds of inherent necessities in nature. Aristotelian causes made the world consistent and rational but not unnecessary, since it was regarded as necessarily including its own reasons. This is another repetition of Torrance's argument, according to which the real difference made by early Christian theology in relation to the philosophy of Greek antiquity lies in the idea of contingency. On Aristotle as the First Scientist, see Alioto, A History of Western Science, 54–71. For Torrance's interpretation of Aristotle, see CFM, 31, 43; DCO, 5–6, 30–31, 69; and GGT, 46, 64.
(120.) GGT, 53–56.
(121.) DCO, 3. See Richardson, “Trinitarian Reality,” 8–9.
(122.) RST, 24.
(123.) Ibid. Willem B. Drees (Beyond the Big Bang, 109) points out that there are several cosmologies that try to argue from the intelligibility of the creation toward God, and he comments on them, saying that “the further development of the argument from intelligibility in the world to a divine intellect is certainly beyond science.”
(124.) TF, 103.
(125.) GR, 112.
(126.) An interesting parallel to this difficulty in finding a decisive and fundamental role for the Incarnation is to be found in John B. Zizioulas's analysis of Origen's theology in Being and Communion, 77.
(127.) See Heller, “Scientific Rationality and Christian Logos,” 149, where Heller affirms thus very plainly, but not without problems, that the rationality of the world was not truly established until the Word became flesh and gave meaning to the creation by changing his transcendence to immanence, immanence identical with God's rationality.
(128.) DCO, 4.
(129.) Ibid., 5.
(130.) John Polkinghorne (Science and Christian Belief, 79) formulates a similar idea as follows: “The point is that we are considering possibilities that arise from the intrinsically open character of physical processes, not from transient patches of current human ignorance. . . . God's gift of ‘freedom’ to his creation is conveyed by his respect for the integrity of these processes.” Compare this with Torrance's view that some of the Church Fathers saw that, in its relation to the freedom of God, nature is not perfect or self‐sufficient but, rather, bears the characteristics of openness, spontaneity, and freedom. TF, 108. It should be remembered that, as was shown, Torrance excludes the possibility of chance, which cannot, therefore, be seen as an indication of the freedom of the universe.
(131.) TF, 105.
(132.) DCO, 4–5.
(133.) TF, 105.
(134.) See DCO, 4–5, as an earlier, and TF, 105, as a later, writing.
(135.) Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God (CDG), 217.
(136.) CDG, 95–96; TF, 139.
(137.) TF, 109.
(138.) Along similar lines, Zizioulas (Being and Communion, 96–97) explains the transformation of the Logos from a cosmological explanation in Origen's theology to the doctrine of the Incarnation, as evident in Maximus the Confessor's thought. On this basis, he considers the significance of the Incarnation more explicitly than does Torrance: “The incarnate Christ is so identical to the ultimate will of God's love, that the meaning of created being and the purpose of history are simply the incarnate Christ” (97).
(139.) DCO, 14.
(140.) RET, 30.
(142.) GGT, 6.
(143.) Torrance, Space, Time and Incarnation (STI), 2.
(144.) GGT, 5–6. The idea of the “two books” of nature and Scripture has become well known, especially through the ideas of Francis Bacon (1561–1626), whom R. Hooykaas calls “the herald of modern science.” Hooykaas, Religion, 40, 63. Wolfgang Achtner claims that the appeal to the analogy of the two books occurs especially within the Scottish Reformed tradition. Achtner, Physik, Mystik und Christentum, 9. The Scottish roots of some remarkable natural scientists give him reason to present this argument. See also Peacocke, Creation and the World of Science, 1–49.
(145.) GGT, 6. For Torrance, this community of reciprocity refers specifically to Israel as the chosen people of God. See MC, 32, where the stress is given to the Incarnation as the culmination of the reciprocal community between God and Israel. Torrance speaks of the triad God–world–human being as the framework of dialogue between us and God, on the one hand, and nature, on the other. RET, 30. Kurt Richardson (“Trinitarian Reality,” viii) holds that this triad is one of Torrance's key structures, the parts of which should be constantly kept in mind when one of them is given more precise consideration than the others. It seems obvious that among Torrance scholars this three‐part concept leads easily to a temptation to interpret it as some kind of analogy of the Trinity. The two‐book view is, however, a more fruitful approach to searching for the background of this concept in Torrance's thought.
(146.) GGT, 1–2.
(147.) Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, 40.
(148.) See DCO, 83.
(149.) See Smart, Problems of Space and Time, 5. Torrance traces the origins of the receptacle notion back to the ancient Greeks (STI, 4–10), as does Max Jammer in his article “The Concept of Space in Antiquity,” 27–42.
(150.) Sklar, Space, Time, and Spacetime, 167.
(151.) STI, 14.
(152.) See Torrance's account of the Reformed‐Lutheran controversy with regard to the notion finitum capax infiniti in STI, 62–63. Torrance's view of the ecumenical relations between the Reformed Church and the Lutherans, seen as a problem of spatial concepts, is analyzed in chapter 5.
(153.) STI, 57–59.
(154.) Torrance, Space, Time and Resurrection (STR), 130.
(155.) Smart, Problems of Space and Time, 6. Leibniz himself was of the opinion that these relations exist between indivisible “monads” so that space is only “an order of coexistences.” It is also worth noting that Leibniz makes a sharp distinction between space and place. Leibniz, “The Relational Theory,” 89–92. Torrance refers briefly to Leibniz, but he finds the original roots of the relational notion as early as Plato's Timaeus. STI, 58.
(156.) DM, 371 (italics mine).
(157.) DCO, 79. That such a strongly theological interpretation is possible in the first place results partly from the elusive character of the concept of relational space‐time. John Earman (World Enough and Space‐Time, 12) points out that there are at least two reasons for this: firstly, “there is no relationist counterpart to Newton's Scholium, the locus classicus of absolutism,” because even Leibniz's definition cannot offer any coherent description of relationality; and secondly, “there are almost as many versions of relationism as there are relationists.”
(158.) DCO, 11.
(159.) STI, 58. For the history of the origin of the special theory, see Pais, “Subtle Is the Lord . . . ,” 111–37; and of the general theory, see the essays in Howard and Stachel, Einstein and the History of General Relativity.
(160.) A good description of this discussion is given in Smart, Problems of Space and Time, 15–17.
(161.) Sklar, Space, Time, and Spacetime, 67. A point of consideration is also provided by John Earman, who quite uncompromisingly reminds us that “relativity theory not only does not vindicate relationism but actually proves to be inimical to relationism” (World Enough and Space‐Time, 174).
(162.) One of the most far‐reaching implications of the theory of relativity is the idea of the continuous field of space‐time, where space and time are considered as belonging essentially and inseparably together so that they cannot be regarded as totally independent elements. Space and time are thus deeply interlocked so that there is no space without time, or vice versa. The German Hermann Minkowski (1864–1909) became famous for his construction of a space‐time that was later found to be in line with the theory of special relativity. See Sklar, Space, Time, and Spacetime, 56–59. Torrance seems to be well aware of the novel character of space‐time to the degree that he readily makes use of it in his theological argumentation, for instance, in DCO, 79. This understanding of space‐time reveals that Torrance attaches to it the same feature of openness from above as he does to the relational notion of space‐time. See especially DM, 371; and STR, 184–90. But apart from this, Torrance has not given very much further thought to other possible and interesting implications of relativistic space‐time. Such insights can be found, for example, in Davies, God and the New Physics, 199–217; and Stoeger, “Key Developments in Physics,” 189–94.
(163.) A brief but illuminating discussion of time from the standpoint of theology‐science dialogue is in Polkinghorne, Science and Providence, 77–99.
(164.) TF, 104.
(165.) Leibniz, “The Relational Theory,” 89. See also Popper, Realism and the Aim of Science, 77–78.
(166.) STR, 130. For Torrance's view of the role of time in scientific and historical research, see his article “Time in Scientific and Historical Research” (TSHR), 292–97; and TS, 312–77.
(167.) CDG, 241.
(169.) The interesting insight presented by Torrance is that God has his own time. God's life in eternity is thus not timeless, although it does not have any beginning or end. CDG, 241. As Torrance does, Augustine also thinks that time is something created. However, the Church Father does not admit that God's eternal being could have anything to do with created time. Augustine, Confessions, XI:14 (267). See also Sorabji, Time, Creation and the Continuum, 98–136, in which an authoritative analysis is offered of the history of the concept of eternity with its relation to time; Sheldon‐Williams, “The Greek Christian Platonist Tradition,” 477–83; and DCO, 134–42.
(170.) DCO, 134–42.
(171.) STI, 58.
(172.) “Thus time, as a concept unequivocally determined by phenomena, was first deposed from its high seat. Neither Einstein nor Lorentz made any attack on the concept of space.” Minkowski, “Space and Time,” 304.
(173.) An illuminating discussion of time from the perspective of the new physics is provided by Paul Davies, who has reflected on the effect of Einstein's theory of relativity on the understanding of time in his book About Time, 32–33, 146–62.
(174.) For an insightful discussion of time in relation to personality, a subject that comes close to Torrance's interests through the concept of hypostasis, see Emmanuel Levinas, Time, 51–55.