William Carroll, Aquinas Fellow, Blackfriars College, Oxford, gives a talk for the Ian Ramsay Seminar Series on 10th March, 2011.
The publication last September of The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow has been the occasion for renewed discussion of the relationship between developments in cosmology and the doctrine of creation. Whether one speaks of quantum tunneling from nothing or some version of a multiverse hypothesis it seems easy to conclude, as Hawking and Mlodinow do, that "it is not necessary to invoke God . . . to set the Universe going." Confusion abounds in discussions about the explanatory domain of cosmology and what it means for God to create. The analysis of Thomas Aquinas concerning what, in principle, the natural sciences tell us about the world and the philosophical and theological understanding(s) of creation remains an anchor of intelligibility. In particular, Thomas' recognition that creation does not necessarily entail a temporally finite universe can help us to see that whatever kind of universe (or multiverse) there is, it is dependent upon a Creator for its existence.