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The Science and Religion Dialogue

Past and Future

Michael Welker

This book documents the conference on The Science and Religion Dialogue: Past and Future, held at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, October 25-29, 2012. The conference commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sir John Templeton and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the John Templeton Foundation. It brought together about 60 active participants, all of them prominent scholars from many countries and many academic fields. Most of them have been engaged in the Science and Religion Dialogue for the last two or three decades. This book reports on multi-year international and interdisciplinary research projects at leading institutions. The contributions start with presentations by Hans Joas, Martin Nowak and John Polkinghorne and range from Astronomy, Mathematics, Physics and Biology to Philosophical Theology and Religious Ethics. Special topics of the dialogue between Science and Religion are also dealt with, such as Eschatology and Anthropology; Cosmology, Creation, and Redemption; Evolutionary Biology and the Spirit; and The Role of Thought Experiments in Science and Theology.
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A Postfoundationalist Approach to Theology and Science

Introduction: The Task of Public Theology


I have always, first in my earliest work on methodology, then later in my work on epistemology, rationality and hermeneutics, and finally in my more recent work in theology, science, and theological anthropology, seen my own work as fundamentally defined by its interdisciplinary nature: a theology on a journey, if you will, to find its public voice. In this sense I have argued quite specifically for a public theology: a theology that can and should claim the right to a democratic presence in the interdisciplinary, political and cross-contextual conversation that constitutes our public discourse, including the discourse in the secular academy.1 In this form of public inquiry I see the church, or rather specifically, contextualized churches, as the natural context, but not the only context for theological inquiry.2

More specifically, I have argued that our interdisciplinary reflection and the specialized forms of knowing it presupposes in reasoning strategies like theology and the sciences, differ from other ways of knowing and every day knowing only in degree and emphasis. All our knowing is grounded in embodied, interpreted experience and is accountable to many layers of interpreted experience, and the adequacy of this accountability is subject to rational justification as justification through interpersonal expertise. These problem solving judgments apply to both theology and the sciences as we use the same kinds of interpretative and evaluative procedures to, broadly, understand nature, humans, and the social historical, and religious aspects of our lives. And in this fact is found the...

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