Volume 3: Science and Ultimate Reality


The companion volume to Science and Religious Anthropology, Science and Ultimate Reality is the last volume of the Religious Philosophy series to appear. Science and Ultimate Reality focuses on the theme of ultimate reality in connection with the natural sciences, especially fundamental physics and fundamental biology. The book shows how the sciences can constrain such theological debates without determining their outcome; the effect of the sciences is to shift plausibility conditions.

Theistic and non-theistic religions alike contain ancient debates within over the nature of ultimate reality. On the one side we find the argument that ultimate reality is a lot like a person with awareness, memories, plans, and powers to act. On the other side we find arguments that ultimate reality transcends personal being and indeed every kind of being; it is beyond being, or the ground of being. The book defends the latter view against the former view. In most contexts, the God-as-person view is more popular. But the sciences tend, on the whole, I think, to favor the ultimate-reality-as-ground-of-being view. This battle has important implications for practical religious life and personal piety, as well as for doctrinal debates and interreligious dialogue.

The strategy of the book is to demonstrate that a particular type of ground-of-being theism is compatible both with a particular kind of religious naturalism and with some understandings of ultimacy articulated in non-theistic religions. This compatibility then confers upon ground-of-being theism plausibility advantages in relation to the sciences, and these advantages combine with the more abstract metaphysical advantages of ground-of-being theism to make the ground-of-being theism understanding of ultimate reality preferable to its formidable competitors, including personal theism and process theis.