Fortress Press

The Sense of the Universe: Philosophical Explication of Theological Commitment in Modern Cosmology

The Sense of the Universe

Philosophical Explication of Theological Commitment in Modern Cosmology

Alexei V. Nesteruk (Author)


The Sense of the Universe deals with existential and phenomenological reflection upon modern cosmology with the aim to reveal hidden theological commitments in cosmology related to the mystery of human existence. The book proposes a new approach to the dialogue between science and theology based in a thorough philosophical analysis of acting forms of subjectivity involved in the study of the world and in religious experience. The uniqueness of this book is that it uses recent advances in phenomenological philosophy and philosophical theology in order to accentuate the existential meaning of cosmology as the discourse that ultimately explicates the human condition.

The objective of the book is not to make a comparative analysis of the cosmological scientific narrative and that of the Bible, or the Fathers of the Church (in what concerns the structure of the universe), but to reveal the presence of a hidden theological dimension in cosmology originating in the God-given ability of humanity to discern and disclose the sense of creation. The book contributes to the synthesis of appropriation and incorporation of modern philosophical ideas in Christian theology, in particular its Eastern Orthodox form.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451470383
  • eBook ISBN 9781451494174
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 545
  • Publication Date March 1, 2015


“In 1960, the physicist Eugene Wigner published a famous paper on the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the human understanding of physical reality. This fresh study by a scientist-theologian takes up similar ground, but it is far more philosophical and existential. Nesteruk demonstrates astonishing learning in science, philosophy, and theology in this new approach to an old subject. Unlike most work in science and religion, this book does not take up current physical theories but has a laser focus on human being itself, showing how the eyes of faith give us a deeper understanding into why we would do this kind of science at all. Using the tools of phenomenology and existentialism, he uncovers what is too often hidden: the open, questing being that is human, created in God’s image. I recommend this outstanding study to anyone who seeks to think deeply in new ways about faith and the meaning of our scientific quest.”
—Alan G. Padgett
Luther Seminary
The Sense of the Universe represents the project on phenomenological cosmology. His main stance is that the universe as a whole cannot be an object in the natural attitude of consciousness and is comprehended as a ‘saturated phenomenon,’ a concept developed by contemporary French philosopher Jean-Luc Marion. This concept allows one to respond to the question on the sense and origin of the universe not in terms of an objective foundation that could be discovered by theoretical thinking but rather to treat the universe as the ultimate existential background of this thinking. Correspondingly, the universe cannot be considered anymore as a phenomenon without human beings articulating it. Such an approach to cosmology opens a new avenue to its dialogue with theology by relating the articulation of the world with experience of the Divine in the one and same human subject.”
—Ruslan Loshakov
Luleå University of Technology
The Sense of the Universe by Alexei Nesteruk is a deep and well-structured book about science and theology that focuses in particular on a study on the philosophical foundations of cosmology. Nesteruk’s central tenet is that a phenomenological analysis of the foundations of physics reveals that in doing physics we also reveal the nature of our humanity. He sets out, in convincing detail, that such analysis of cosmology in particular can reveal the hidden psychological and spiritual aspirations that guide the study of the world. Nesteruk interprets ideas concerning the universe as a whole, and its origin, existentially as reflecting the basic anxieties of human existence in the vast cosmos. In this view, the study of cosmological is interpreted as an inevitable part of the teleology pertaining to all human acts. The universe as a whole, which is the inexhaustible context of the living experience, is then seen as ‘the infinite created unknowable’ which, from an epistemological point of view, is similar to that of the Divine. Nesteruk unfolds, through the analysis of ideas of the universe, a hidden theological commitment in cosmology related to the metaphysical and theological mystery of the human existence.”
—Chris Dewdney
University of Portsmouth
“The publication of Alexei Nesteruk’s The Sense of the Universe is an exciting event. It has all the brilliance of his first two books on cosmology and theology, but it is much more accessible to the general reader. He also adds to his solid grasp of ‘classic’ phenomenological philosophy, with further research into the work of more recent French thinkers such as Marion, Chrétien, and M. Henry. Those unfamiliar with Eastern Orthodox philosophy and theology will find here a stimulating and perhaps dazzling introduction to a mode of thinking that has always taken its bearings from lived experience, giving it not only an affinity with contemporary phenomenology but also (under the tutelage of a master physicist and mathematician such as Nesteruk) an impressive ability to illumine sacred elements within the very heart of scientific experience itself.”
Bruce Foltz
Eckerd College