Friday, July 21, 2006

Penultimate post on Küng’s Der Anfang

Concluding remarks on Der Anfang Aller Dinge Pt 2 of 3

Words of criticism and praise.

Throughout this journey across such a wide scope of subject matter, Küng’s argumentation has consistently been a tour de force of erudition, boldness, and immense learning and familiarity with the most recent developments in numerous branches of scientific study and theology. Particularly helpful for me was Küng’s comparison of the dynamic between evolution as chance, and God’s activity within it, with the tension between human works as truly human, yet also the outworking of God’s grace (cf. e.g. 1 Cor 15:10: ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them - though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me’).

However, his work will not convince all, especially dyed-in-the-wool atheists and fundamentalists who have little time for the complimentary model Küng has pursued throughout. Nevertheless, even those sympathetic with Küng’s overall project will perhaps stumble on a number of (usually minor) issues, even though almost all of them are not original to or the focus of this monograph. Those points of contention that are not original to, but nevertheless occasionally voiced in Der Anfang aller Dinge, and which were hardly central to the argument of the book, but which will rightly continue to generate critical debate, include

  • his pessimism regarding the existence of extraterrestrial life (cf. this light hearted post)
  • his confidence in the relevance of an Ur-Ethos for interreligious ethical discussion,
  • his thesis concerning miracles, especially as compared to his less problematic treatment in On Being a Christian (discussed here, here and here)
  • his precise understanding of salvation in the world religions,
  • his assessment of the meaning of the resurrection of Christ,
  • and his ‘spirit’ theology which some will dismiss as simply heterodox.
Whatever disagreements some may have with Küng on such matters, Der Anfang aller Dinge is a work that all interested in the relationship between science and religion will be obliged to engage with.


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