SET Foundations aims to acquaint theologians and philosophers of religion with insights from philosophy of science on topics such as causation, explanation, laws of nature, natural kinds, representation, complex modeling, and evidence. Although these issues naturally intersect with theological questions, there has been very little engagement between general philosophy of science and theology.
Rather than emphasize specific scientific theories or theses, this project will explore general questions regarding the aims and methods of scientific practice: How do scientific explanations work? How do scientists use models? How do causal concepts vary across different domains of scientific inquiry? What are scientific “laws” and do all scientific theories employ them? How do we determine what counts as “good” science?
We do not intend to privilege any style or tradition of theology or philosophy. We hope scholars will integrate philosophy of science into their preferred approach. We view scientific engagement as one aspect of a rich and complex theological methodology, to be appropriately paired with historical, social and textual analysis.
We believe that expanding theologians’ knowledge of philosophy of science will set foundations for science-engaged theology in two ways. First, it will help scholars develop a nuanced picture of the scientific landscape. As a result, if and when scientific theses come to bear on theological questions, theologians will have a host of conceptual resources to unpack and contextualize these claims. Second, many conceptual models developed in philosophy of science have yet to be applied to topics in philosophy of religion and theology. These unbroached templates of thought may prove useful in constructing new approaches to theological topics.