THE FAR-FUTURE UNIVERSE: Eschatology from a Cosmic Perspective

George Francis Rayner Ellis, Editor . Templeton Foundation $39.95 (408p) ISBN 978-1-890151-90-4

How might religious descriptions of an afterlife, the age to come or eternity be interpreted in terms of current scientific knowledge and speculation about the long-term future of humanity and the universe? This collection brings together theologians, philosophers and scientists (most of them physicists) to discuss the significance of cosmic time-scales which, for the future as well as the past, seem to dwarf the human horizon. Several of the best-known writers on such topics, including John Barrow, Paul Davies, Robert John Russell and Freeman Dyson, are represented here—the latter by both his 1979 paper "Time Without End" and a new response to recent critics. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann, aiming to "turn the subject upside down," contributes an authoritative but innovative discussion of the themes and implications of Christian eschatology for the future of the universe. Anthologies produced from conference proceedings—this time co-sponsored by the Templeton Foundation and the Vatican Observatory—are not unusual in the theology-and-science field. But this collection is stronger than most due to the quality of the individual pieces and the fairly well-defined topic. One limitation of this format is that most essays reflect the contributors' initial perspectives, rather than any ensuing exchange of ideas or clarification of terms. Readers interested in how different viewpoints might cohere or conflict will largely have to tie the loose ends together themselves. Still, this is a valuable contribution to the growing literature on theology and science. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
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