First United Methodist Church of Arroyo Grande

Is God Expanding, Too?

So, the universe is expanding. More importantly, our understanding of the universe is expanding. Is God expanding, too? Is our understanding of God expanding, too?

Jamie Foster (along with significant collaboration and encouragement from his Dad) developed this course for the lay person (of both science and religion) to explore the interface between science and religion using the issues of creation and the universe as the medium. It is an exploratory journey for all involved (don't count on definitive "answers"). We grapple with what we know, or with what we think we know, regarding the creation of the universe and its fundamental laws (of physics), and with what God has to do with that. And we look broadly at how science and religion relate. Participants go away with some marvelous thoughts, ideas, and questions to ponder. The course requires a minimum of 8 hours, 10-12 is more comfortable. If it's divided into multiple sessions, they should not be more than a week apart. Weekly sessions over a month or so is ideal. This course is currently not scheduled.

1. Introduction: how the course will be conducted, review/expand this outline, distribute materials.
Has our understanding or concept of God been keeping pace with science’s understanding of our world?
How do you describe God today?

2. Getting a grip on the universe via color slides, including an exposure to cosmological issues.
Some of the WOW! facts of the bigger world in which we live, and the tiny world of which it’s made.
Drawing the universe on 2 sheets of paper.

3. Detailed tracing of the evolution of man’s understanding of the origins and structure of the universe from Egyptians, Sumerians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Euclid, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Einstein...

4. The Big Bang: An overview of theoretical physics and astrophysics as its relates to our universe from Time=0, or, put another way, what we seem to know about how the world ticks and the laws of nature.

5. Discussion of the evolution of our understanding of God, and how theologians view creation.

6. Blending science and religion, particularly regarding cosmological and laws-of-nature issues:
Does religion take into account what science knows? Should it? Vice versa?
Does science tell us anything about freedom, evil and suffering, religious intolerance, or predestination?
What are the "theories" and "data" of religion, and what are the "traditions" and "judgments" of science?
What role does revelation play, either on the road to Damascus (Paul) or Bowes Moor (Fred Hoyle)?
Does the universe need a Creator? Does design imply a Designer?
How do the methodologies of science and of religion compare and contrast?
How can we know something without knowing everything?
What does it mean to be both observer and participant?

7. What does it mean for something to "exist?"
How do we have faith, but not blind faith?
Just how rational is the universe?
How do super colliders research religion?
Is the universe intelligent or intelligible?
Can beauty be a guide to truth?
Does God play dice? Are they loaded?

8. How do you describe God now?


This nebula in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan) shows the expanding blastwave from a supernova which occurred about 15,000 years ago and lies about 2,500 light years away. The blast is moving from left to right, and more recently impacted a denser cloud of interstellar gas, heating the gas up and causing it to glow.