Loyola University Maryland

The Annual Cosmos & Creation Conference

Cosmos and Creation

The 38th Annual Cosmos & Creation Conference was held virtually Friday, June 12 through Sunday, June 14, 2020.

Keynote Speaker

Philip Clayton
Ingraham Professor, Claremont School of Theology
To learn more, visit Dr. Clayton's website, https://www.philipclayton.net.

Friday, June 12, 2020 & Saturday, June 13, 2020

In What Sense is the World Spirit?

Topic Overview

The Abrahamic traditions all understand God to be not a material entity but Spirit. The passionate rejection of idols and idolatry, rooted in the Hebrew scriptures, reflects this opposition to physicalizing God, culminating in the vehement rejection of “pantheism.”

And yet God is present to and with all persons and things (Psalm 139); God is the One “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:29). The creedal creatio ex nihilo, and St. Thomas’s understanding of God as ipsum esse subsistens,  mean that nothing can have existence that is not of God in some way ― including materiality itself! Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians, each in their different ways, have struggled to affirm in what sense the material world around us, including our very own embodied existence, is actually in and of Spirit. 

As the preparatory readings for our conference show, theologians over the last 200 years have increasingly sought to highlight God’s presence in and intimate connections with the creation itself. Many describe themselves as “panentheists,” espousing the view that the world exists within the Divine, while, contra pantheism, God is also more than the world. The rapid growth of ecotheology among both laypersons and religious expresses the urgent desire to experience the spiritual dimensions of nature in its parts and as a whole. 

Of course, to view the world and God as “interfused” (Wordsworth) is not actually new. Mystics in all three of the Abrahamic traditions long ago spoke of the world as God’s body. In the language of paradox, poetry, and worship, they have pushed beyond traditional distinctions between God and world toward the vision of a final unity of the two. But what does it mean that the natural world would be suffused with Spirit, and that the transcendent God would be maximally immanent in the world?

Lecture 1:  Friday, June 12, 7 - 8 pm

“Scientists and Panpsychists: Thinking Beyond the Matter-Spirit Dichotomy in Recent Science, Philosophy, and Theology” 

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Lecture 2:  Saturday, June 13, 11 am - 12 pm

“Moving Beyond the Interventionist God: Science, the Divine Lure, and Human Freedom

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Dr. Clayton has provided the following readings relating to the topics:

Cosmos and Creation Reading 1 - Brierley (.pdf)

Cosmos and Creation Reading 2 - Clayton (.pdf)

Cosmos and Creation Reading 3 - Iqbal (.pdf)

Post-Luncheon Talk

Saturday, June 13, 1 - 2 pm

“Dark Universe”

Alexander Storrs
Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, Towson University 

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