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The Multiverse and Participatory Metaphysics



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Boulding, Jamie Timothy 


This dissertation brings a new philosophical perspective to an important topic in the contemporary theology and science dialogue, specifically the theological reception of multiverse thought in modern cosmology. In light of recent cosmological speculation about the plausibility of a ‘multiverse,’ a cosmic ensemble in which our own universe is just one of many, theological responses have largely focused on the question of whether such a multiverse might be an alternative to divine design (or might itself be compatible with divine design). However, this approach neglects the fundamental metaphysical issues entailed in the multiverse proposal, including its entanglement of the one and the many (a paradox which has itself been a central concern of theological reflection), as well as its intimations of cosmic multiplicity, diversity, and infinity. In this dissertation I provide the first systematic theological engagement with these metaphysical implications. My approach is to draw on ancient and medieval resources (neglected not only in multiverse discussions but also in the theology and science field more generally) to show that the concept of metaphysical participation provides a particularly fertile ground on which theology can engage constructively with multiverse thought. To that end, I focus specifically on the participatory thought of Plato, Aquinas, and Nicholas of Cusa, each of whom seek to understand how a physical cosmos of complexity and immensity might share in divine existence of unity and simplicity. I bring their insights into interaction with a diverse range of contemporary theological, philosophical, and scientific figures to demonstrate that a participatory account of the relationship between God and creation argues for greater continuity between theology and the multiverse proposal in modern cosmology.





Davison, Andrew


Theology and science, multiverse, metaphysics, plato, aquinas, nicholas of cusa, cosmology, philosophical theology


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion