Friday, September 26, 2008

Science, Human Nature, and God

I understand that the John Templeton Foundation will again be discussing Human Nature and its interface with science this November at Baylor University.

Because some brands of theological apology for the faith has always tried to interface with scientific understandings, this is an important meeting. That is not to say that theological reflection has not been contextualized faith , as well, but a scienctifically grounded faith is one that is based on fact, as presently known and is not some "pie in the sky" art form with no credibility within the Academy.

Why are theologians seeking a theological answer to today's postmodern challenge to the faith? Postmodernity undermines all universal rationale and individualizes faith to the extent that there is no coherency. Because the individual is today's solution to the universal, what is universal to human nature?

Because this approach to theology is based in naturalism, human nature must be understood within the framework of evolution. How is human nature different from an animal nature, or is it? What is it that makes human nature become different from an animal? What is a universal in human nature? And is/are the universal(s) to be affirmed, re-directed, re-formed and how? These are questions that the Church on the side of naturalism (Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Wesleyan) must struggle to answer, for their understanding as nature as graced, or perfected by grace, is at stake.

Luther's understanding of the tension between faith and reason has been suggested as an answer. A wall between faith and reason becomes the result, where the Academy is devoid of integration and the Church and State are separate spheres! This position does not give the Christian academian a reasoned faith within a particular discipline. I am passionate about this, as I find that it is mandantory that reason is addressed in postmodernity! Reason is the universal in our postmodern world.

I am not suggesting that postmodernity does not have something to say to us, and that it's assessments of reason's absoluteness is at issue. Each individual, yes, will understand their faith differently, but must find the community in which they fit. These communities should be based around the disiciplines. Each community of faith in the Academy has something to offer in the discourse of God. The differences that must be allowed within the discourse must be a full and open one, so that all views can be heard and taken into account, for our views are broadened and our understanding challenged when we allow all of these differences. This is the University!

So, is understanding human nature as a universal the best approach to coming to resolve postmodernity's critique? Or is understanding difference, the key to universals? Is it about science or Ethics? Or both?

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