Divine and Contingent Order


Thomas F. Torrance, “Divine and Contingent Order,” in The Sciences and Theology in the Twentieth Century, ed. Arthur R. Peacocke (Notre Dame:  University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), 81-97; #1981-407.


Torrance, Thomas F. "Divine and Contingent Order." In The Sciences and Theology in the Twentieth Century, 81-97. Edited by Arthur R. Peacocke. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981; #1981-407.

Publication life cycle / General notes

Papers from the Oxford International Symposium, held at Christ Church College in Sept. 1979. A significantly revised version of this essay appeared as Chapter 3 of Divine and Contingent Order, #1981-385: "Theological and Scientific World Views." See TFT’s comments in Mary Hesse, “Retrospect,” #1981-407b; pp. 302-303.

Revision status

1981; not 1982.

Colyer Categories

“The universe is contingent for it does not exist of necessity: it might not have been at all and might very well have been different from what it is. Yet in coming to be, the universe is characterised by an open-structured order which partakes of contingence.” (p. 85)

“…the contingent nature of the universe challenges science to reckon with it no longer as a negligible factor in rigorous scientific understanding and interpretation of the natural order… the orderly connections which it seeks to trace within the universe cannot be followed through scientifically to any final end, for they break off at the limits of space and time, but that nevertheless… they refer our thought meta-scientifically… to an ultimate intelligible ground on which all orderly connections within the universe must depend…
   The problem of natural science… [is that it] runs the risk of lapsing into an empiricist rationalism in which contingence is abjured and genuine empirical science is pushed aside.” (pp. 85-86, 87)