- How does theology effectively contribute in an increasingly scientific and high-tech world?
- What progress could be accelerated by combining the greatest theological insights with the practical tools of the sciences?
- How can we use the findings of the psychological and behavioral sciences as tools in theological inquiry?
- How do we reduce the entry cost for theologians to incorporate relevant sciences into their work?
Advancing scholarship and field-building toward “theology that makes a difference.”
Why “Sciences-Engaged Theology”?
Theology is critical to framing and orienting human thriving, but how does theology best contribute in an increasingly scientific and high-tech world? The problems we encounter are complex and often unanticipated by previous generations of theological thinkers. Progress requires tried-and-true theological wisdom thoughtfully engaging discoveries from the sciences. New fields of study are needed at the interface of traditional areas of theology and contemporary scientific fields, and these will often require new collaborations. Strategic efforts are needed to develop relationships, trust, and mutually developed new methods of inquiry, scholarship, and contribution.
To accelerate progress, theological inquiry should use all of the relevant intellectual resources available, perhaps especially findings, theories, and methods from the sciences.
What is Sciences-Engaged Theology?
Sciences Engaged Theology is a portfolio of projects and programs designed to develop the talent pool of sciences-informed theologians and theologically-informed scientists and get them working on integrative projects. But it’s not only about the people. It’s also about the ideas. In some cases, new intellectual frameworks will help guide this integration. Theological inquiry will benefit from a greater range of scholarly tools and will, in turn, stimulate new areas of scientific research.
The aim of this initiative is not to create a new scientific sub-discipline within theology, but to see the sciences become common tools for doing theology broadly. Nevertheless, it may be tactical to demonstrate the utility of sciences-engaged theology through the development of specific emphases that may be regarded as subfields.
Within Sciences Engaged Theology we design projects to:
- Deepen the talent pool and increase the number of scholars equipped to do sciences-engaged theology.
- Demonstrate the utility of sciences-engaged theology.
- Develop field-building activities.
Featured project: TheoPsych Program: Bringing Theology to Mind
Working with multiple disciplines requires intentional focus, language, and framing. The TheoPsych project serves theologians, and is oriented strategically to serve them. This program brings psychological science topics and tools directly to theological areas of inquiry positioned within theological, rather than psychological, language. The aim of TheoPsych is to help theologians become aware and comfortable with areas of psychological science that may be useful for their work as theologians.
TheoPsych is a portfolio of activities with two parts.
- The first part provides in-depth residential training and opportunities for research grant funding to a selected group of theology faculty from around the world.
- The second part will provide online resources and networking opportunities generated by the training program.
In this way we focus both on developing ongoing relationships with theologians seeking to integrate psychological science to theological inquiry within academia, and provide tools more broadly to interested believers, ministry leaders, pastors, and theologians.
TheoPsych is focused on the theme of “On Human Natures” and can be thought of in three categories.
- The Created and Fallen Image of God – introducing psychological science topics pertaining to evolutionary psychology, human uniqueness, parenting, attachment, and developmental systems, as these relate to theological questions such as what it means to be imago Dei or to inherit a sin nature.
- Completely Human, Completely Divine – exploring the Incarnation and the Trinity by appealing to psychological science, including questions such as why Jesus Homo sapiens instead of Homo erectus and why it matters, learning from a divine human about how to be human, social learning biases, how the incarnation bridges conceptual gaps, and how could one be completely human but completely sinless.
- Restoring Human Nature – discussing psychological research concerning free will and moral responsibility, confession, repentance, and forgiveness, character strengths and virtues development, forming new habits, renewal of the conscious and non-conscious mind, gratitude, and grace.
500 years after the start of scientific revolution (1543) theologians use the sciences as a tool for doing theology that matters today.
Our aim is that by 2043 it is common for theology, particularly orthodox Christian theology, to accurately and constructively incorporate findings and theories from the sciences, particularly the human sciences.
A good initiative needs to know when it is successful. What would it mean for the Sciences Engaged Theology initiative to be declared a success and, hence, no longer needed?
- One-fourth of the articles published in the top 20 theology journals cite publications that were published in a science-discipline journal and/or were first-authored by scholars whose terminal degree or primary disciplinary affiliation is in a science field.
- One-tenth of the articles published in the top 20 theology journals are authored or co-authored by scholars whose terminal degree or primary disciplinary affiliation is in a science field.
- One-fifth of the presentations at American Academy of Religion annual meetings include in their abstracts or titles reference to a scientific theory, finding, or scholar.
- Four of the top 20 theology schools in the world consider science degrees as acceptable undergraduate preparation for their post-graduate degree programs.
Contribute to Sciences-Engaged Theology:
Our vision is big. Our hope is, whenever strategic and practical, to work with others to make this work happen.
Explore where you might fit by contacting us today.
 For this description human sciences is shorthand for the scientific branches of anthropology (biological, cognitive, evolutionary, physical), archaeology, cognitive sciences, economics, medicine, political science, psychology, and sociology; and the human-behavioral foci of the biological sciences (e.g., genetics, neuroscience). Scientific, here, means those areas of basic and applied intellectual inquiry that primarily center on the testing of causal and explanatory claims using quantifiable empirical evidence and provide explanations in terms of creaturely mechanisms. Creaturely mechanisms are the contingent, causal mechanisms that operate upon created aspects of the universe, not the necessary or un-created aspects.