ESSSAT-News 9:2

From ESSSAT-News 9:2 (September 1999)

Dear ESSSAT-members,

in this issue you will find news from the council meeting and the meeting of the organising committee for ECST VIII in Lyon. You will read about main speakers and learn about seven 100,000$ projects in our field. And as usual, there is a presentation of new books with my request to you for information on events, book announcements or reviews, and other items of interest for our members.

With best wishes

Antje Jackelén


Ulf Görman reelected
 – At the council meeting in Lund on June 19-20 Ulf Görman was re-elected president for a second three-year-term (1999-2002). The council expressed its deep gratitude for the work Ulf has done as president of ESSSAT, especially in terms of long-term planning. Ulf declared himself honoured and assured the council of his will to carry on his work in the same direction.

 – Membership numbers have been quite stable around 150-160 for the last years. A certain increase is desirable. Ask others to join ESSSAT!

Eighth European Conference on Science and Theology (ECST VIII) in Lyon, April 14-19, 2000

The organising committee for ECST VIII met on June 18-19 in Lund. Preparations for the conference proceed as planned. A second invitation including further information as well as posters will be sent out in the near future. So far more than 100 outlines have been received by the scientific programme officer, Dr. Hubert Meisinger. Authors will be notified of the acceptance of their outlines. Complete papers are due for 31 January, 2000. Main speakers will be

  • John D. Barrow, Cambridge, astronomer, well known from his book together with F.J. Tipler on the cosmic anthropic principle
  • Christoph Theobald SJ, Paris, theologian. He has worked on the epistemology of theology, is an expert on (Roman catholic) modernism, part of the interdisciplinary association “Faith in a Scientific Culture” and member of the board of Concilium.
  • John Hedley Brooke, Lancaster, historian of science. Newly appointed Professor of Science and Religion (Andreas Idreos Chair) in Oxford. Author of “Science and Religion” (1991) and together with Geoffrey Cantor “Reconstructing Nature. The Engagement of Science and Religion” (1998).
  • Isabelle Stengers, Belgium, chemist and philosopher. She has worked and co-authored books together with Ilya Prigogine.
  • Niels Henrik Gregersen, Aarhus, theologian. He has worked on chaos-theory and its significance to theology and philosophy. Editor (together with J.W. van Huyssteen) of “Rethinking Theology and Science. Six models for the Current Dialogue” (1998).

Other items on the conference programme: debate on “Sin and Death: Natural Order or Divine Disorder?”, a multi-media presentation, query time, cultural events.

 – Seven contributions have been submitted. Of these are two from Great Britain and two from the Netherlands, and one each from Belgium, the Czech Republic and Germany. The jury consists of three persons and is chaired by Jacqui Stewart.

News about the ESSSAT Publications
 – We are happy to announce that we are now catching up on some years of delay in the publication of the ESSSAT Yearbooks. During spring 1999 two volumes of the Studies in Science and Theology (vols. 5 and 6) have been published by Labor & Fides: Geneva, and have been distributed to ESSSAT members. The title is The Interplay between Scientific and Theological Worldviews Part I and II. We express our gratitude especially to Niels Henrik Gregersen, Christoph Wassermann, Helmut Reich and Ulf Görman for their work in completing these volumes. In the meantime, we have decided to stop our collaboration with Labor & Fides and find new channels of publication. Even if we have been satisfied with the standard of the volumes so far, we find that the publication process has been too long, the costs too high, and the promotion not sufficiently effective. From now on we will have two different series of publications. Soon we are launching the first issue of a new series called Issues in Science and Theology. The series will be published simultaneously by T &T Clark: Edinburgh (for Europe and overseas) and William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, Michigan (for the American market). Since our last conference, we have negotiated a long-term contract with these two major publishing houses, and we are convinced that we will have a significantly stronger international profile in our future publications. Issues in Science and Theology are meant to be individual volumes able to sell on the market. They will be topic-centered and exclusively in English. The first volume (editors: Niels Henrik Gregersen, Willem B. Drees, Ulf Görman) will appear March 2000, before ECST VIII. We will continue to publish the Studies in Science and Theology (SSTh), but only every second year. This series will now be published with Aarhus University. The next volume, scheduled to be out December this year, will have the title, Studies in Science and Theology vol 7. Yearbook of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology 1998/99. Members will receive SSTh for membership in odd years and Issues in Science and Theology for membership in even years.

(N H Gregersen and A Jackelén)

Conference 2002
 – The council has considered a proposal suggesting the Catholic University of Nijmegen as conference location. The newly founded Heyendaal Institute, an interdisciplinary institute for theology, sciences and culture, might serve as a hosting institute. It was decided to introduce this proposal to the General Assembly in Lyon.

ESSSAT archives
 – The council approved to keep the ESSSAT archives at the Department of Theology and Religious Studies in Lund. The documents are kept in fire-proof condition and held accessible through the library of the department. Materials have been received from Christoph Wassermann and Nicole Schmitz-Moormann.

EC money for ESSSAT?
 – The council has discussed the possibilities of ESSSAT to obtain money through the Fifth Framework Programme of the European Community. In order to look into these or other options of applying for research grants a committe consisting of Wil Derkse, Lodovico Galleni, Ulf Görman and Jacqui Stewart was appointed. They will both take a pragmatic approach looking into ways of raising money and assume the ideological or philosophical task of discussing which kind of public and social relevance ESSSAT should be aiming at. Please feel free to contact any of them with tips, ideas or proposals.

News from Europe

CTNS Science and Religion Course Program in Europe
 – As reported earlier, the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) in Berkeley, California, has taken over the Science and Religion Course program funded by the John Templeton Foundation. In close cooperation with ESSSAT efforts have been made to find models which suit the European context. A European Advisory Board is being formed. The ESSSAT council appointed Ulf Görman and Lodovico Galleni official representatives of the board. Other members so far are Wim Drees, Halina Grzymala-Mosczynska and Laurence Freeman. The board will be convened by Antje Jackelén who has accepted to become regional director for Europe of the CTNS SRC program. In cooperation with the board she will work with local colloquia, resource development such as translation projects, networking and handling of grants. This project seems to be a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our field in close cooperation with others who feel the importance of the science and religion discourse.

News from elsewhere

Templeton awards for writing books
 – Seven $100,000 grants for research and writing on the constructive engagement of science and religion have been awarded by the Templeton foundation. Out of almost 400 submissions the following projects/proposed book titles were selected:

Being as Communion: The Science and Metaphysics of Information; by William Dembski, Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Scicne and Culture, Irving, Texas

Darwin and Design: Science, Philosophy, and Religion; by Michael Ruse, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Golem, God and Man: Divine and Human in an Age of Biotechnology; by Noah J. Efron, Bar Ilan University, Israel

The Emergence of Spirit: God Beyond Theism and Physicalism; by Philip Clayton, California State University

The Self-Organization of Meaning: A New Paradigm for Science and Religion; by David J. Krieger, Institute for Communication Research, Meggen, Switzerland

Theology and the Sciences of Complexity; by Niels Henrik Gregersen, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Time in Eternity: Theology and Science in Mutual Interaction; by Robert J. Russell, CTNS, Berkeley, CA

Warm congratulations especially to ESSSAT members Bob Russell and Niels Henrik Gregersen, our vice president for publications!

New name
 – The Chicago Center for Religion and Science has changed its name to ZYGON CENTER FOR RELGION AND SCIENCE. The new name is meant to emphasize the Center’s identification with the international and interfaith discussion on science and theology. It is a manifestation of the common history of the Center and the journal Zygon. The name change also signals the launching of a 5-year plan for the Zygon Center which will, in large measure be built around the international interfaith perspective

Books etc.
 – Once again: please, send me information and reviews concerning books which may be of interest to our members. Anything from a few lines to a more extensive presentation will do!

The abstracts of the International Scientific Conference “Health: Its Essence, Diagnostic and Strategies for Improving” which was held in Krynica Górska, Poland, May 10-12, 1999, have been published. Some contributions are in English, the majority is in Polish and Russian with short English summaries. Ed. Politechnika Radomska. ISBN 83-88001-35-3.

Review of Theological Literature is the name of a new journal which actually is a quarterly selection from Theologische Literaturzeitung, one of the oldest journals in the fields of theology, biblical and religious studies. RTL presents, in English translation, full-length peer reviews of the most important European works in these areas. Executive editor: David E. Orton, deo Publishing. ISSN 1389-0972.

Manfred Büttner and Frank Richter (eds.) Beziehungen zwischen Religion (Geisteshaltung) und wissenschaftlicher Umwelt (Theologie, Naturwissenschaft und Musikwissenschaft). Eine Standortbestimmung. Festschrift zum zehnjährigen Bestehen der Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Religion/Umwelt-Forschung und des 75. Geburtstages von Manfred Büttner. Peter Lang. 1999, ISBN 3-631-35289-1. ca 400 pp. DM 108. The volume contains contributions by more than 20 authors on various topics bearing upon phenomenology of religion; science, technology and theology; and music and religion.

Colin E. Gunton: The Triune Creator. A Historical and Systematic Study. (Edinburgh Studies in Constructive Theology) Eerdmans 1998. x + 246 pp. ISBN 08028-4575-4. $25.00. Focusing on the Christian Doctrine of Creation, Gunton considers the history of philosophy and science and its impact on different aspects of a theology of creation. He argues that early in the development of the doctrine serious mistakes were made that have led to highly problematic outcomes, such as the divorce of theology from science. His final chapter is on eschatology and ethics. For a critical appraisal of tendencies in Christian theology which regard a certain doctine of trinity as methodological principle for all theological reflection (as Gunton tends to do) confer Richard M Fermer: The Limits of Trinitarian Theology in NZSTh 1999:2, pp 158-186.

Stanley L. Jaki. Means to Message. A Treatise on Truth. Eerdmans 1999. v + 233 pp. ISBN 0-8028-4651-3. $22.00. Jaki (OSB) claims that any consistent philosophical message must be steeped in a realist epistemology that is fully open to metaphysics. He focuses on the philosophical priority of the means over the message. Some of the themes he discusses: science, free will, causality, purpose, mind, ethics, universe. A contribution which contrasts much of postmodern discourse.

Jeffrey G. Sobosan. Romancing the Universe. Theology, Science, and Cosmology. Eerdmans 1999. xi + 212 pp. ISBN 0-8028-4648-3. $16.00. Sobosan, professor of theology at the University of Portland, Oregon, advocates a new symmetry which allows theology to incorporate science into its doctrines while refusing to diminish the contribution theology can make to science. Rather informal and personal in style, this book meditates on myth, science and theology weaving cosmology into his love affair with the night sky. A book for general readers with exhaustive notes, bibliography and index.

M. James C. Crabbe (ed.). From Soul to Self. Routledge 1999.xi + 158 pp. ISBN 0-415-17118-0. £12.99. Contributors: M. J. C. Crabbe, biochemist, Susan Greenfield, pharmocologist (on soul, brain and mind), Anthony Kenny, philosopher (on body, soul, and intellect in Aquinas), Gary Matthews, philosopher (Augustine and Descartes on the souls of animals), Peter Rivière, social anthropologist (Shamanism and the unconfined soul), Richard Sorabji, philosopher (Soul and self in ancient philosophy), Galen Strawson, philosopher (The sense of the self), Kallistos Ware, theologian (The soul in Greek Christianity). With references and a select bibliography. Ideas of the soul and of our sense of ourselves are discussed from different viewpoints – mainly philosophical and historical, but also in a substantial contribution on neuroscience. Would be a suitable follow-up of the subject of our Durham conference.

Scott B. Rae and Paul M. Cox. Bioethics. A Christian Approach in a Pluralistic Age. Eerdmans. 1999. x + 326 pp. ISBN 0-8028-4595-9. £15.99 $24.00. This is the first volume of a new series called Critical Issues in Bioethics ed. by Dennis Hollinger and Francis J. Beckwith. Its purpose is to bring Christian perspectives into dialogue with other perspectives that are particularly influential today. This volume addresses the field of bioethics broadly distinguishing religious from secular approaches to bioethics. Subsequent books will focus on particular topics such as end-of-life or genetic issues. The authors, both scholars of biblical studies and Christian ethics at Talbot school of Theology in California, conclude by presenting “Christian Bioethics in a Secular Culture” and offering a model for bioethical decision making based on case studies. This approach may seem unfamiliar to much of European discourse in science and religion.

J. Wentzel van Huyssteen. The Shaping of Rationality. Toward Interdisciplinarity in Theology and Science. Eerdmans. 1999. xi + 303 pp. ISBN 0-8028-3868-5. $35.00 (hardcover).Taking seriously the postmodern challenge to rationality van Huyssteen pursues the possibility that shared rational resources may actually be identified for the sciences, for theology, and for other forms of inquiry. To him, theology is of interdisciplinary nature and has a cross-contextual task. His move beyond the absolutism of foundationalism and the relativism of nonfoundationalism to a postfoundationalist notion of rationality reveals important epistemological overlaps between natural scientific and nonnatural scientific models of reflection. The result is a postfoundationalist fusion of hermeneutics and epistemology which urges on the exploration of shared epistemic resources in different modes of knowledge, and in the different domains of our lives. A highly recommendable book.