Is God wholly separate from the material universe? The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean and professor of Patristics at St. Vladimir's Seminary, asks this question of his diverse, virtual audience in the highly trafficked blog, Big Questions Online(BQO). "The editors at BQO have asked a number of theologians, philosophers, and scientists to write a short essay on a 'Big Question,'" explained Fr. John. "When mine is posted on October 23, I will be logging on to the site for a week or so to answer questions posted by readers. It should be interesting to participate in this venue, given the literate and engaged readership of BQO."
Big Questions Online is a publication of the John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic trust which funds research across academic disciplines, and is often concerned with philosophical questions, and quests for life's purpose and meaning. Fr. John serves on the Board of Advisors for the Foundation, which is particularly known for fostering informed dialogue between scientists, philosophers, and theologians.
"We are so pleased that Father Behr accepted the invitation to participate," said Ansley Roan, consulting executive editor for Big Questions Online. "His expertise and knowledge allow him to bring important perspective to this fascinating question. We're excited to see how the discussion develops. It's a wonderful opportunity for our readers to ask questions and share their thoughts with him."
In his essay's introduction posted on October 23, Fr. John wrote, "The relationship between God and the material universe—the world in which we are born, live, and die, as embodied, material beings; and the universe beyond this world with our increasing awareness of its immensity and, correspondingly, our smallness—is truly a perennial 'Big Question.' What is the 'reality,'" he continued, "if there is such, of this material world that forms the horizon of our vision and our thinking? What meaning does the fact that we are material beings embody?"