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 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. In particular, we will focus on the following two questions:
1. 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?
2. 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 components. First, we will run two summer seminars for established senior and junior philosophy of religion researchers. At these seminars, these key players in the field of philosophy of religion will receive training from several leading philosophers of physics and two philosophically astute scientists. Second, we will bring two postdoctoral fellows to Rutgers who will join Dean Zimmerman and Brian Leftow in running a regularly meeting research group for faculty and graduate students at Rutgers and neighboring high-profile 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. And within a few years, the other participants in the project will go on to produce a body of work that demonstrates the potential for deeper insights when theology and science interact, shifting the field of philosophy of religion as a whole in a decidedly more science-engaged direction.