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God and the Cosmos

What is the relationship between God and the cosmos?

This is an early page that treated on this issue. But now (from 14 September 2004) there is another page that might it be better to read, which discusses the philosophical implications of the idea of Creation as found in the Creation-Fall-Redemption ground motive. This page starts from Vollenhoven's specifically Christian questions but is of more general philosophical interest.

In "Isagoge Philosophiae" by Dirk Vollenhoven p. 10 Q.IIIT we find the following helpful outline of an argument [arrived in an email list, and I suspect it has errors in translation or spelling]:

III. The third question which we as Christian revelation believers ask Scripture is: 'What is the boundary which marks off that which is created from the Creator?' One should understand 'boundary' as something such that one can say 'everything which stands on that side of this boundary is God and everything which lays on this side is created.' To acknowledge the law as boundary between God and cosmos is a requirement of the fear of the Lord, which is of significance for much more than exclusively for science, but which also may not be lacking in it either if science is not to lead to [original had: leade] putative or pseudo-knowledge, that is to say, to error rather than to genuine knowledge.
[End of quote from Vollenhoven; I have added comments and notes in [square brackets]. AB.]

But I have received the following response from David Ferguson, and he tells me that most of it is from Spiers:

In examining the various philosophical systems we must ask, do they recognize the boundary between God and the Cosmos and take fully into account the consequences of this recognition? All non-biblical philosophy can be classified according to the answer that it gives to this primary question. Vollenhoven developed the following system of classification.

There are philosophers who deny and philosophers who affirm the existence of a boundary between God and the cosmos. We call the former monists and the latter dualists. This main division does not tell us all we wish to know. It makes a difference whether or not a monist denies the existence of god or the existence of the world. If he does not wish to deny either the world or God, then as a monist he must either place God in the cosmos or resolve the cosmos in God. Consequently there are four kinds of monism.

Dualists also differ among themselves. Anyone who does not honour the boundary as God has prescribed it in His Word either places the line of demarcation too high or too low. In the first instance a part of the Divine Being is ascribed to the world of created things, and in the second something created is deified. There are as clearly appears, two types of dualism: partial cosmism which places a part of the Divine Being in the Cosmos, (e.g., Modernism which denies the Deity of the Son and the Holy Spirit), and partial theism which places a portion of the cosmos in God by drawing the boundary line between God and the cosmos through the cosmos. The cosmos is divided into a higher and a lower sphere. The higher part is elevated above the lower one and is deified. God must share His Sovereignty with a portion of the creation. Partial theism has found adherents among Christians in all ages. The Roman Catholic doctrine of the worship of Mary (Mariolatry) , and of transubstantiation (the change of essence of the bread and wine in communion), and the Lutheran doctrine of the deification of Christs human nature during His ascension are partial theistic, as is the idea that the soul of man is a divine element which is higher than the body. The idea that reason belongs to a higher order, since God is absolute reason, is also an expression of partial theism. And the error of antinomianism which places the Christian above the law is a further example of its influence.

All of these trends and theories do not do justice to the sovereignty of God, who is the Only and Real One. Christian philosophy may not unite with any such view. It must for the sake of truth avoid synthesis and bear in mind the antithesis between Christian and non-Christian thought.

The Christian philosophy does not wish to define its viewpoint as theism. The conception, that theism is the correct middle way between pantheism and deism, is very well known, but there are serious objections to this traditional formula.

The terms deism and pantheism are not Sufficient to describe the many views which do not recognize or which incorrectly comprehend the boundary between God and the cosmos. Moreover truth is not achieved by steering a middle course between two errors. And from a philosophical point of view the term theism is inadequate to indicate the philosophical conception which is based on the Bible.

The above is extracted from Introduction to Christian Philosophy by Spiers.

It occurred to me on reading your piece on Vollenhoven that Frank Tipplers Omega Point Theory would be a good example of pan-cosmism. According to Tippler information technology will progress to the point that it transcends space and time and takes on the role of God, even going so far as to create the universe by emanation. Therefore in order to bring God into existence and guarantee eternal life for ourselves we have to put loads of money into building particle accelerators. This might sound wacky but attendees at Omega point conferences have included Anthony Flew and Wolfhart Pannenberg who developed an Omega Point Christology.

This is part of The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.

Copyright (c) 2004 Andrew Basden and also David Ferguson and Spiers. But you may use this material subject to conditions.

Number of visitors to these pages: Counter. Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 23 October 1999. Last updated: 7 February 2001 copyright, email. 14 April 2003 added Ferguson's response. 12 August 2004 .nav and small changes in response to David Ferguson. 14 September 2004 link to creator.html.