Theologians have perduring interests in the relationship between mind and body, human agency and freedom, the development of human virtues and vices, the unity or disunity of character, and numerous other topics on which sociologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, geneticists, and other scientists have published extensively. Yet recent science-engaged theological reflection on such topics in theological anthropology has been rare and, where it exists, rife with empirical claims that either make no reference to empirical studies or do so in a superficial manner that betrays a lack of knowledge of the relevant empirical fields. In our view, theology cannot be all it should be unless theologians and religious ethicists become more rigorously engaged with science. We are therefore applying for a two-year planning grant that will promote richer and more sustained engagements between theology and science.
We intend to: 1) review and analyze existing publications in theology and science, and the gaps in that literature; 2) assemble and consult with teams of senior and junior collaborators who are capable of making a difference to science-engaged theological research as mentors and scholars; 3) select ten scholars whose research is worthy of further development and support; 4) assist those scholars in planning strategic areas for their research; and 5) create an application for a large three-year grant that would make it possible for the co-investigators and our collaborators to pursue significant scholarship in science-engaged theology. In pursuing these goals we expect to facilitate collaboration among established and upcoming theologians capable of making noteworthy contributions to theology, in conversation with the natural and social sciences. A closely related ambition is to accelerate the intellectual advancement of a select group of scholars who are likely to exercise academic leadership in theology, religious ethics, and religious studies.