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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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The Science and Religion Dialogue: Past and Future


The Science and Theology Dialogue has been well established in Heidelberg since 1958. Located above Heidelberg’s famous castle, the Research Center of Protestant Churches in Germany, the FEST, has cultivated this dialogue in consultations, workshops and publications. Its current topics are interdisciplinary anthropology, concepts of nature and questions of bioethics. In 1987, the year the John Templeton Foundation was established, one of the FEST’s members, Professor Jürgen Hübner, biologist and theologian, published a book of more than 500 pages titled The Dialogue between Theology and the Natural Sciences: A Bibliographical Report.1 Today, it would probably need ten volumes of similar size to provide an update of the bibliography.

My own serious interest in this dialogue dates back to a multi-year project at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, the CTI, in the early 1990s, designed by its former director, Daniel Hardy. I had the privilege to meet international colleagues who had been engaged in the Science and Religion Dialogue for quite some time. From this group of longtime dialogue partners, I am most happy to welcome today the distinguished colleagues John Polkinghorne and Janet Soskice from Cambridge, UK, John Headley Brooke from Oxford and Durham, William Schweiker and Kathryn Tanner from, respectively, the University of Chicago and the Yale Divinity School, Wentzel van Huyssteen from Princeton, Ted Peters and Robert Russell from Berkeley, Owen Gingrich from Harvard, Willem Drees from Leiden and Niels Gregersen from Copenhagen.

When we first met, several...

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