Fr Peter Wyg

Catholic Priest/PhD Student @ Diocese of East Anglia/Durham University
131 karmaJoined Pursuing a doctoral degree (e.g. PhD)Working (0-5 years)


I've really enjoyed following this. Thanks so much for engaging here. 

The only thing I'd add is that I see the translation into species-level freedom-to fail as an extension of the individual agent's relationship to providence. We've tended away from talking about how individuals can fail to live up to God's hope for their salvation, despite providence. This is true at a practical level, (people of profound faith checking both ways before crossing the street) , before we even begin to look at sin.  The history theology is rich in proposals for reconciling this for the individual, so to the extent to which we have learnt to live in that tension, including the apparent capriciousness of miracles,  I am optimistic about  this hard-case. I would recommend the publications from the Divine Action Project ( which have given me confidence that there is a way forward. 

I'd just reiterate that the discovery of anthropogenic existential risks indeed has massive implications for theology which need to be worked out, a process that will take many hands but  I do not see this as fatal. The core of the Christian faith is the revelation of a means of salvation, but which is a path fraught with opportunities for failure, and a oath we have always had to make a concerted effort to walk.

So glad to see this come up. I used to 'intern' at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences when I was training to be a priest in Rome and was a fly-on-the-wall for that very workshop.

In hindsight,  my time there was a big part of me ending up doing this sort of thing, getting used to talking about the big questions. It's a great place! 

Thank you for sharing your response. You make some great points for me to think about. 


The only thing I'd add is that, writing to a Catholic theological audience, you have to really work quite hard to justify saying anything new, especially if you want to gain traction in more conservative circles. I guess ultimately it's a rhetorical thing: Newman's idea of the development of dogma is a generally accepted framework for legitimising novel ideas, and I believe is applicable in this case in a softer use, as an example of how, in light of new knowledge outside of theology, maintaining dogmatic principles can lead to some surprising implications.