We are excited to report that the Rutgers Center for the Philosophy of Religion was recently awarded a $1,031,088 John Templeton Foundation Grant to support a three-year project (September 2019-August 2022) entitled “Science-Engaged Philosophical Theology: God, Time, and Creation.”
Though there has been a trend in many areas of philosophy towards greater engagement with the empirical sciences, this trend has not taken as firm a hold in the philosophy of religion as it has in other sub-areas of philosophy, despite the clear relevance of such empirical research to certain important topics in the philosophy of religion. The aim of this project is to foster capacity for and support such scientifically-engaged research in the philosophy of religion.
The research projects and summer seminars supported by the grant will focus on the following two questions in particular:
- How do competing scientific theories about the nature of time and the structure of the spacetime manifold comport with different theological conceptions of God’s relationship to time and God’s plans for creation?
- Is there evidence that the universe is fine-tuned? If so, does this support divine creation? What epistemological and theological assumptions are needed for fine-tuning arguments to work?
The project involves two main components. First, we brought two postdoctoral fellows, Brad Saad and Daniel Berntson, to Rutgers. They joined Rutgers Professors Dean Zimmerman and Brian Leftow in running a research group for faculty and graduate students at Rutgers and nearby partner institutions. During the term of the grant, the postdoctoral fellows, Zimmerman, and Leftow will produce papers and books exemplifying engagement with science in the service of theological reflection
Second, we ran two summer seminars for established senior and junior philosophy of religion researchers. At these seminars, these players in the field of philosophy of religion received training from several leading philosophers of physics and two philosophically astute scientists. The first summer seminar, God and the Spacetime Manifold, took place in the summer of 2022. The second summer seminar, Fine-Tuning Arguments and their Theological Presuppositions, took place in the summer of 2023.