Graduate Theological Union
God, Information, and the Sciences of Complexity
Part of CTNS' J. K. Russell Conference
Dr. Niels Henrik Gregersen, 2013 J. K. Russell Research Fellow in Religion and Science. Responses by: Joshua Moritz, Ted Peters, Oliver Putz and Robert Russell.
Dinner Board Room, Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, 2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley
Information and complexity have become central concepts of our contemporary scientific world-view. In which sense can we speak of information and complexity also as part of the nature of God? It will be argued that traditional Logos Christology already offers important resources for speaking of aspects of information as inherent to divine life. The divine Logos is “in God”, while being both the wellspring of information (the differentiating and structuring capacity in creation) and the incarnational embodiment of creaturely differences (from physical “differences that make a difference” to semantic information). Philosophical theology, however, has often maintained a strong distinction between the divine Logos and the logoi of creation. Accordingly, the inherited idea of divine simplicity has circumvented notions of complexity from being inner features of divine fecundity, creative richness, and capacity for communication. An argument will be developed for an alternative philosophical theology, inspired by central concerns of Trinitarian theology. To the Father is ascribed the role of the inner fecundity of ‘birthing’ the eternal Son, thus encompassing the overflow of divine essence and love; to the eternal Son is ascribed the role of the differentiating power of information (Logos), while the life-giving and communicative power is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. In this light, the notion of divine simplicity will have to be redefined as the divine self-identity in the midst of temporal flux. For not all that happens in the world of creation is conformal with divine life.
Niels Henrik Gregersen holds his PhD from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 1987. Having served at Aarhus University as Assistant Professor in Ethics and Philosophy of Religion 1986-1989, as Associate professor in Systematic Theology 1989-1999 and as Research Professor in Theology & Science 2000-2003, he was in 2004 appointed Professor of Systematic Theology at Copenhagen University. Since 2008 he has also been co-Director of The Centre of Naturalism & Christian Semantics, Copenhagen University.
Gregersen’s primary research fields are contemporary theology and science-and-religion. His list of publications contains more than 600 entries, including 4 books, 2 co-authored books and more than 15 edited or co-edited vols. Publications include Incarnation: On the Scope and Depth of Christology (Fortress Press, forthcoming 2013), Information and the Nature of Reality: From Physics to Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Naturalism and Christian Semantics (Copenhagen University, 2010), The Gift of Grace: The Future of Lutheran Theology (Fortress Press, 2005), From Complexity to Life: On the Emergence of Life and Meaning (Oxford University Press, 2003) and Design and Disorder: Perspectives from Science & Theology (T & T Clark, 2002).