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Unlocking Divine Action: Contemporary Science and Thomas Aquinas Hardcover – September 11, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“This book treats a hot topic in the area of science and religion. Dodds makes an important contribution by laying out the neglected Thomistic view that envisages God’s causality as transcending the causality of natural causes. For those interested in discussions concerning divine action, this book is a must.”―Marie I. George, professor of philosophy, St. John’s University

About the Author

MICHAEL J. DODDS, O.P., is professor of philosophy and theology at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. He is author of The Unchanging God of Love: Thomas Aquinas and Contemporary Theology on Divine Immutability (CUA Press), and coauthor of The Seeker's Guide to Seven Life-Changing Virtues and Happily Ever After Begins Here and Now: Living the Beatitudes Today.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: The Catholic University of America Press (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813219892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813219899
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert D. LaRocca on October 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Dodds latest book is a worthwhile read - if nothing else it presents an excellent test on how metaphysical doctrines ought to be employed to disentangle knotty issues between theological claims and natural science. But "Unlocking Divine Action" presents even more than that. Dodds incises to the heart of the ongoing antimony between traditional theistic theology and modern science by indicating the univocism assumed and demanded by the latter. With this in mind, Dodds is disinterested in "making room" for God's action in the finite world. No sequestered provision is made for God's action because God's action transcends our world.

Instead, Dodds demonstrates how contemporary scientific theory harkens to a thomistic causal metaphysic which is more robust and wide-ranging than modern Newtonian models. With this causal metaphysic in hand, Dodds shows how efficient, material, formal, and final causes can be evidenced in the world of science, and then utilized analogically when describing God's transcendent action as the cause of being.

I wholeheartedly recommend "Unlocking Divine Action" especially for a Christian readership interested in philosophy, theology, or the physical sciences. The way Dodds weaves together these orders of knowledge into a coherent picture is enlightening, even encouraging!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mariusz on May 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read Dodds' book twice and I think it is currently the best position not only summarizing but also developing a Thomistic approach to the theology of divine action in the context of contemporary science and its narration. It is an outcome of over 15 years of Professor Dodds' studies and research on the topic. The bibliography he offers at the end of the book is an amazing resource for those who are about to begin their journey in theology/science debate.

Dodds shows the damaging effect of the constriction of the language of causality in modernity, and rejecting of final and formal causation in particular. Moreover, even material and efficient causes were reformulated in terms of reductionist agenda of the scientific age and we ended up with causation understood in terms of physical reactions of pushing and pooling, amenable for a mathematical description. This change affected theology of divine action which began to think about God's activity in univocal terms (at the same level with the causation of creatures), and triggered a quest in search of the so-called "causal joint" between God and creatures.

What stands behind all attempts of modern theology to solve this problem (interventionism, deism, liberal theology, process theology, panentheism, theology of divine limitation) is a rejection of Thomistic categories of causation and divine action which were based on 4 causes of Aristotle, and Aquinas' distinctions of primary/instrumental, primary/secondary, univocal/equivocal causation, and his concept of analogy in theology.

Dodds shows how the recent advances in science (quantum mechanics, chaos theory, emergence, evolution, new cosmology) open the way to a more robust theory of causation.
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