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Each of the papers in this session responds to the Templeton-funded “After Science and Religion” project, which sought “to rethink the foundations of Science–Religion Discourse” in the wake of Peter Harrison’s landmark historical study, The Territories of Science and Religion (2015). Harrison urges us not to think of science and religion as natural kinds, but rather as historical “territories” with shifting, overlapping boundaries. His anti-essentialist thesis puts the very existence of a field of science and religion in question—hence, “After Science and Religion.” This session brings a discussion of the “afterlife” of Science and Religion to the AAR. Attending to the overlap between the territories of science and religion suggests some relationship, wherein science is always situated within some broader worldview. The question is whether this worldview is compatible with religious worldviews—whether Science and Religion have a future together—or whether alternative categories are necessary.
Science and religion are not natural kinds, but they are constructs of our pragmatic and secular life-world. Their future looks good as long as the life-world upon which they depend persists. This short paper explores what might bring that life-world to an end, and then imagines what a resurrected Western Christian faith undergirding a new natural philosophy might look like, after science and religion have died.
The ‘After Science and Religion’ project has included notably criticisms of the influence of a scientific mindset on Western intellectual culture, alongside a deflationary sense of the role of attention to natural science for theology. Here, I argue that the same metaphysical framework that is in play in these criticisms (broadly scholastic, and with particular sympathy for the Radical Orthodoxy school) points rather in the other direction (on account of its metaphysical and epistemological realism), and that the natural sciences – as they are actually practiced, and not as they are presented in rather a decontextualized fashion – could be more of an ally than an enemy in getting beyond the reality that these ‘After Science and Religion’ authors see as denuded, and have criticized.
What makes for the appearance of incompatibility between science and religion? Some contributors to the “After Science and Religion” project attribute incompatibility to scientists’ assumption of naturalism. In this paper, I argue that the appearance of incompatibility actually stems from upstream theological assumptions about the meaning of the Christian doctrine of creation. In particular, an overemphasis on creaturely participation in God as the consequence of creation can lead to a view that finds non-participatory outlooks, such as naturalism, totally incompatible with theism. I offer an alternative reading of creation as a corrective, which emphasizes the difference between creatures and Creator. Keeping this difference in view creates room for the study of the natural world apart from explicit reference to God, and for a theological reason: the “ever greater dissimilarity” between Creator and creature warrants a mode of explanation that seeks to understand creatures as different than God.
This paper discusses the relationship between the field of science & religion and what has come to be known as “science-engaged theology,” with a particular emphasis on the methodological debates and “turf wars” that inevitably arise in such disciplinary evolution. It is argued that while science-engaged theology’s emphasis on disciplinary and thematic specificity has been a productive advance within the more general area of science & religion, ongoing methodological debates about the “correct” way to conduct such research continue to prove unhelpful. The paper claims that future progress in science & religion and science-engaged theology will be dependent on an expansive and inclusive posture amongst scholars, such that a variety of methods and commitments are seen as necessary for the overall organismic flourishing of the science & religion research area.
Many of the contributors to the “After Science & Religion” project suggest that the methodological naturalism of scientific practice inevitably entails metaphysical naturalism. Ironically, these authors agree with Christian physicalists, members of the Science & Religion field, who maintain that the successes of neuroscience render the soul obsolete. This paper offers a theological interpretation of the successes of neuroscience that draws on both the theory of the incomprehensibility of the human being developed by Gregory of Nyssa and recent work in the philosophy of scientific models. This reinterpretation of neuroscientific success allows theologians to value neuroscientific models that rely on the mind-brain identity thesis without dismissing traditional beliefs in a separable soul. This paper models a more local approach to “Science & Religion” that focuses on particular concerns arising from particular sciences in the context of a particular theological tradition.
This paper looks at the identity of the science-and-religion discipline and asks where the present concerns about essentialism are taking us. I look critically at the After project's concerns about scientism and methodological naturalism, and suggest that a constructive way forward might be to start thinking about the disciplinary identifier of 'theology of science': a cousin to history of science and philosophy of science, both of which disciplines are fully essentialist in name if not in practice.
This paper evaluates the philosophical conclusions that Harrison draws from his anti-essentialist philosophy in the two volumes associated with the “After Science and Religion Project.” While I agree with Harrison’s criticisms concerning early scholarship in science and religion and value his historical scholarship, this article raises questions about the philosophical conclusions that Harrison draws from the history of science. I worry that Harrison’s project is too skeptical towards the categories “science” and “religion” and places too much emphasis on naturalism being incompatible with Christian theology. One can accept the lessons of anti-essentialism—above all, how meanings of terms shift over time—and still use the terms “science” and “religion” in responsible ways. I defend the basic impulse of most scholars in science and religion who promote dialogue; a complete rethinking of its intellectual foundations is unnecessary, much less is science and religion “dead,” as Radical Orthodox theologian John Milbank and “After Science and Religion” project participant has recently proclaimed.
This session features a roundtable discussion reflecting on the theological legacies of two recently passed modern Orthodox theologians and metropolitans: Kallistos Ware and John Zizioulas. Six participants will offer brief opening remarks engaging one or both theologian from their own areas of theological and ecumenical expertise before turning to a moderated discussion on the theological legacies of Ware and Zizioulas. The roundtable features remarks from: Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Paul Ladouceur, Sarah Livick-Moses, Aristotle Papanikolaou, Alexis Torrance, and Anastacia Wooden.