This talk drew on the cosmology of Prof. Robert John Russell, a physicist and an ordained United Church of Christ minister. He is the founder and director of the Center for Theology and Natural Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94704, which manages the Templeton science and religion course program. (http://www.ctns.org)
Ninety people attended my talk with more on the waiting list. After Ken Konkle's kind introduction, I gave a 40 minute presentation with vugraphs that included some awesome Hubble photographs of galaxies 12 billion light year away. These galaxies were formed shortly after the "big bang" beginning of our universe about 15 billion years ago. I showed a vugraph with the Prof. Russell’s picture and the following quote from his article "Forty Years in Space: How the Heavens have changed" published in the Nov/Dec 1998 issue of "Ad Astra:" "We shall not stay forever on this planet…..And awaiting us in the future of our future, and journeying with us along the path, will be that same God-our immanent, closest friend and our final home."
There were two questions at the end:
Since God created everything, how to we understand the reason for cancer cells?
Whitehead's philosophy is appropriate for answering this.
"God is the ground of novelty and order, yet he allows for freedom in humans and spontaneity in nature."
Cancer results from too much spontaneity in nature. The cells just grow wild. Yet spontaneity is the source of creativity we see in the evolutionary process. Death is the price we pay for our freedom, our complexity, our individuality. Single cells don't really die. One cell just becomes two. Whitehead believes in a loving God, who gives both us and nature the freedom to make mistakes. Yet God is not disinterested. God suffers with us. In our Christian tradition we believe that God cared enough send us his Son to show us how to over come suffering and death. The power of God's love the stronger than that of death.
Do you see any relationship between big bang theory and our faith in the resurrection?
The quick answer to this question is: "At least we have witnesses to the resurrection." We need to have faith in the truth of the scientists is who propose the big bang just as we need to have faith in the disciples. The disciples never tried to explain the resurrection but the resurrection explains what happened to them. The worldly wisdom of the Roman Empire was: "Kill leader and the moment dies." The Jewish historian Josephus said: "Jesus was the leader of marginal moment in a marginal province of Roman Empire." Paradoxically, the resurrection marked the beginning of the Christian movement which the Roman Empire embraced 300 years later. The resurrection is a symbol of the power of the Divine overcoming that of death.