A lecture by Dr. William E. Carroll (Blackfriars, Oxford)
Co-sponsored by the Baylor Philosophy Department
Free and open to the public
Contemporary cosmological theories, from the "singularity" of the Big Bang, to "quantum tunneling from nothing" to various "multiverse" scenarios, have been the source of wide-ranging speculations about the creation of the universe. Some thinkers see in the "Big Bang" support for, if not confirmation of, the traditional doctrine of creation out-of nothing. Others who argue for an eternal series of "big bangs" or view time itself as an emergent property in an already existing cosmos, or who think that science itself can account for the coming into existence of the world out of a primal "nothing," conclude that cosmology now shows us that references to a Creator are irrelevant. Most of the discussion about what cosmology tells us about creation suffers from a fundamental error about the connection between the universe's being created and its having a temporal beginning. This is an error of beginnings, which is the beginning of many other errors. It was the genius of Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) to point out this error and to offer a sophisticated discussion about the relationship among cosmology, philosophy, and theology concerning the ultimate origin of the universe. Thomas's analysis can continue to disentangle confusion in contemporary discussions about cosmology and creation.
Dr. William E. Carroll is Research Fellow in the Aquinas Institute at Blackfriars Hall at Oxford University. His specialty is the relationship among the natural sciences, philosophy, and theology, with an emphasis on Thomas Aquinas’s understanding of the doctrine of creation. He is the author of works and articles including Creation and Science: Has Science Eliminated God? and (with Steven Baldner) Aquinas on Creation.