Russell starts with basic concepts in a Christian theology of divine action, including miracles. He focuses on the challenge posed by Hume to the concept of “miracle” as a violation of the laws of nature and its devastating consequences for theology in the 18th – 20th century theology. He then describes a new way to achieve a theory of divine action in which God’s action makes an objective difference in the processes of nature without in any way being a violation of, or intervention into, these processes: “NIODA” (non-interventionist objective divine action). NIODA, in turn, requires that there be genuine openness (“ontological indeterminism”) at some level in nature. Russell briefly describes several candidates before turning to quantum mechanics (QM). He argues that QM offers a promising approach for NIODA and in addition, when coupled with “theistic evolution”, it allows Christian theology to view God as acting in, with and through the biological evolution of life without recourse to Intelligent Design and in a response back against claims that evolution supports atheism.
Robert J. Russell is Founder and Director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) and the Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. He is a leading researcher and spokesperson for the growing international body of theologians and scientists committed to a positive dialogue and creative mutual interaction between these fields. He most recent book is Time in Eternity: Pannenberg, Physics and Eschatology in Creative Mutual Interaction (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012). He has co-edited a six volume CTNS/Vatican Observatory series on scientific perspectives on divine action and the first in the new series on scientific perspectives on the problem of natural evil. He is a founding co-editor of the scholarly journal Theology and Science which CTNS members internationally receive. Dr. Russell is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Santa Cruz (1978) and an M.A. in Theology and an M. Div. from Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley (1972).