Individual Scholars
Pursuing Big Questions

JTF Supported Books

JTF Supported Books

Individual Scholars Pursuing Big Questions

Dr. Alister E. McGrath, Harris-Manchester College, University of Oxford
The Paley Project in Science and Religion
Named after the famous English natural theologian, the project addresses the spiritual implications of our growing
understanding of nature. Are there pathways which lead from the natural sciences to God? The core concept is the development of a new form of ‘natural theology’ as an intellectually viable intermediary between science and religion. A major focus is the identification of potential ‘anthropic’ phenomena in the natural world beyond the well-investigated domain of cosmology. Some kind of ‘fine-tuning’ may be identified in other areas, including chemistry, biochemistry, and neuroscience. The outcomes will include an international conference on natural theology at Oxford in the summer of 2008, the proceedings of which will be published, and a major academic work, to be written by the principal investigator, developing the project themes.

Dr. Robin Alan Collins, Professor of Philosophy, Messiah College
Book Project: The Well-Tempered Universe: God, Cosmic Fine-tuning, and the Laws of Nature
Dr. Collins will complete a book that develops a rigorous argument from the evidence of fine-tuning
and the beauty and elegance of the laws of nature to reach the conclusion that the universe is structured towards the realization of aesthetic and ethical values, either as a result of divine intention or some other deep principle at the heart of reality. A secondary goal is to publish a condensed version of this argument for the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. The book will look at the evidence for fine-tuning and the beauty of the laws of nature, along with alternative accounts of these features, such as the so-called multiverse hypothesis according to which there is a vast number of universes in which the laws of physics are different from universe to universe. The primary audience will be professional philosophers, with the secondary audience scientists, graduate and undergraduate philosophy students, and professionals in other fields.

Dr. W. Hugh Woodin, University of California, Berkeley
Explanations of Infinity in Math and Logic
Set Theory is that area of mathematics which deals exclusively with the infinite. It is
here that the notions of the relative size of infinity are formalized and studied. Thus Set Theory is, in essence, the mathematical study of infinity. This proposal is concerned with the question: Is our conception of Set Theory a conception of a genuine non-physical reality? The now numerous examples of formally insoluble problems have been cited as evidence that the answer is “no.” But there are recent discoveries on the role of infinity within the universe of sets that strongly indicate that the answer is “yes.” The focus of this program is the “next step,” made feasible by recent discoveries concerning the role of infinity in the universe of sets (particularly, large cardinals) which, for the first time, suggest it may be possible to find the missing axioms which would provide convincing evidence for a realm of infinite sets which transcends not only the physical universe we find ourselves in, but also any variation of it we can imagine.

Dr. Lydia Jaeger
Laws of Nature and
Religious Presuppositions
Despite the common use of the expression “law of nature,” there is a long-standing philosophical debate whether laws of nature could exist independently of a divine or human mind. This research project concentrates on the role played by religious presuppositions in the current debate: the extent to which religious faith (broadly understood) influences
the choices made by different thinkers in elaborating their conception of natural order. The core research is a close examination of some important figures in the contemporary
debate. The next step will be to work out the possible links between their religious convictions and the view each holds on laws of nature. This research is part of a larger quest in the contemporary philosophy of science; investigation of the concept of scientific law could determine the dependence of philosophical options on the individual’s world view, with specific reference to the role played by religious presuppositions.

Professor Robert Bellah, Ph.D., Elliott Professor, Emeritus
Religious Evolution Research
This project on religious evolution aims to use the insights of biological and cultural evolution to understand the development of religion from as early as the Paleolithic Era, continuing down through tribal, archaic, historic and modern societies. The work supported by the Templeton grant involves the next phase of religion’s evolution, what Karl Jaspers called the Axial Age. All across the old world in the first millennium BC there
developed religions that transcended the archaic fusion of divinity and kingship and declared the possibility that ordinary human beings could relate directly to a transcendent reality. Cases will include Greece, ancient China, and ancient India. Professor Bellah will present his findings in a book to be published by the University of Chicago Press under the title The Evolution of Religion: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age.

Dr. Nidhal Guessoum, American University of Sharjah
A Trilingual Book Project of Dialogue Between “Classical Islam,” Modern Science and Western Thought
The goal of this project is to produce a book on “Science and Islam,” comparing and fusing viewpoints from classical and modern sources, both Muslim and Western. This book will present to the public classical and modern works by Muslim thinkers on important topics in the field of science and religion. It will also publicize to the Muslim audience
the contemporary discourse on such subjects as the Anthropic Principle, the Argument from Design, Evolution, Cosmology, Quantum Mechanics, Chaos, and Divine Action. Published in English, French, and Arabic, this book will reach Muslims and non-Muslims in the Anglo-Saxon, francophone, and Arab worlds. Although based on rigorous scholarship, it will be written for the educated, non-specialist reader. The third year will be spent on a marketing campaign to publicize the book. This project will also disseminate its work through articles, websites, television and radio, and talks at universities and research centers.

Dr. Edward B. Davis, Professor of the History of Science, Messiah College
The Relevance of History to the Modern Dialogue of Science and Religion
This program will not only draw upon Dr. Davis’ expertise in the history of Christianity and science, but also extend into theology, philosophy of science, and world
view. His key contribution will be to challenge the core assumptions of the liberal Protestant approach to theology and science today. Dr. Davis argues that some of the most respected thinkers in the modern dialogue, like the Protestant modernists of the 1920s, have accepted the essence of Andrew Dickson White’s historically bankrupt “warfare” thesis of science and religion, believing theology must completely discard miracles and other aspects of divine transcendence in order to be fully “scientific.” Yet scholarship does not warrant the full-blown doctrinal reformulation that is popular in some influential circles. Dr. Davis will seek to make a strategic difference to how the academic world and the larger culture view religion and science.

Dr. Jeffery Schloss, Distinguished Professor & Chair of Biology, Westmont College
Evolution, Religion, and Life’s Big Questions: Beyond the ‘Or’ Wars
After a century and a half of living with Darwin, it remains the case that in scholarly and popular,
scientific and religious domains, a substantial amount of the most prominent discourse ranges from indifferent to suspicious to virulently antagonistic towards an agenda of consonance. Through a series of books, articles, public talks, and conferences, Dr. Schloss will be engaging evolutionary with theological perspectives on life’s biggest questions, in so doing building bridges across both fractured intellectual disciplines and divided cultural constituencies.

Professor Thomas Jay Oord, Ph.D., Northwest Nazarene University
Publishing Three Volumes in Science and Religion Scholarship
This grant provides a sabbatical release for Dr. Oord to complete three major publishing projects on
science and religion. The first is a monograph entitled, A Turn to Love: The Love, Science, and Theology Symbiosis, the second an edited volume with the title, Open God, Open World: Open Theology at the Interface with Science, and the third an anthology entitled, Altruism: Readings in Theology and Science.

Young Bin Moon, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Theology, Seoul Women’s University
Science, Philosophy, and Theology of Mediation: A Constructive Conceptualization of God-World-Human Interaction in the Age of Information Media
In view of the advent of the age of information media, this two-year research project aims to discover a
fresh understanding of God-world-human interaction, calling particular attention to “mediation” in close connection with “information,” which can be termed “info-mediation.” This requires an extensive study of “mediation” from multidisciplinary perspectives, such as science (physics, biology, cognitive science, and information science), media studies, and philosophy, in dialogue with religious studies and theology. The goal is to construct a rigorous groundwork for the science, philosophy and theology of mediation. The most important outcome will be publication of books on the Science and Theology of Mediation in both English and Korean, articles, non-academic books and articles primarily for parish ministers and lay leaders, as well as public lectures and the development of new academic courses.