Contingent Reality as Participation
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In this essay, I refer to contingency as a crucial, but complex and multi-faceted notion at the modern intersection of science, culture and religious world-views. Every notion of human understanding, including any view of modernity itself, is understood as a contingent product of time and chance. This applies to religious world-views as well, which in modernity are understood as contingent choices from an ever-widening variety of spiritual options. At the same time, religious views basically try to cope with contingencies of reality by relating them to ultimate categories. Thus the notion of contingency links different discourses about the range and limits of knowledge, about significance and purpose and about ultimate and relative validity. In this essay, therefore, I distinguish between different aspects of contingency and explain their significance within third-person, first-person, and second-person perspectives on reality. Finally, I argue for the interrelatedness of all three perspectives and the importance of second-person approaches for the dialogue between science and religion, especially with regard to contingency and divine action.