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Breaking New Ground in Science and Religion

Over the past several decades the field of science and religion has produced a rich body of scholarship concerning the different purposes, methods and epistemologies of these two areas and their modes of interaction. Scholars have also addressed a range of more specific topics such as divine action, the meanings of evolution, fine-tuning, and varied elements of human nature. As productive as it has been, we at the John Templeton Foundation believe the science-religion dialogue has yet to investigate the full range of possibilities. In particular, it has largely been carried out from a perspective that is theistic (usually Christian), Western, methodologically focused, concerned primarily with the physical sciences, and has often been pitched at an introductory level. We believe that there is value in more work, particularly advanced research, which engages other scientific fields, more of the world’s religions, a wider spectrum of cultural foundations, and a greater breadth of specific topics.

With this initiative, the Templeton Foundation is seeking research and writing projects that will break new ground and push the science and religion dialogue in fresh directions. We encourage proposals for projects that move beyond the current dialogue along one or more of the dimensions noted above.

The following are just a few representative “Big Questions” that could serve as appropriate foci of projects proposed under this funding priority*:

  1. What does the long-running science and religion dialogue, thus far mostly in Christian contexts, have to offer other religious or cultural contexts – and vice versa?
  2. What are some fruitful science and religion ideas coming out of branches of science not often engaged in this work – chemistry, geology, anthropology, complex systems, computer science, and genetics for example?
  3. Similarly, are there religious or theological ideas that can benefit big questions research in the sciences – research on origins questions or the study of humans, virtues, the mind, or health?
  4. To complement methodological investigations, are there resources in cognitive science, sociology or the study of culture that help us better understand the science and religion dynamic?

In addition to research and writing projects, we are seeking proposals for innovative and cost-effective plans for disseminating relevant science and religion research to audiences beyond the community of scholars working in science and religion—e.g., to the general public, journalists, religious leaders, college students, high school students, scholars in fields that do not usually engage in science and religion dialogue (perhaps via publications in these fields’ journals), and more besides.

Budget range and term

We are accepting proposals for up to $200,000 and up to three years, although our expectation is that many of the winning proposals will be or one- or two-year projects in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.** A typical model is to seek course buyouts or sabbatical supplements for writing projects, but empirical research is also eligible. Collaborations among scholars from different fields, traditions, or geographic regions, and projects involving younger scholars, are encouraged.

*Please note that this list is not intended to be exhaustive, but is only a representative sample of topics that could break new ground for science and religion. However, generally the Foundation does not support projects with a focus on bioethics or on questions about the environment and sustainability. As such, we discourage proposals in these areas.

**This range includes 15% overhead, the maximum allowable percentage of indirect costs allowed by the Foundation.