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The Myth of Religious Neutrality: How Beliefs Underlie Scholarship

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This presentation will argue that all theories of science and philosophy presuppose something as divine and are in that sense religiously regulated. The divinity belief presupposed internally regulates theories in that the interpretation of the nature of their postulated entities varies relative to the nature of the divinity presupposed. This sort of internal regulation is not just socio-cultural influence, but arises from the very activity of theory formation and so is universal and unavoidable. The influence of religious belief is thus deeper and more pervasive than the prevailing view that theories need only be externally harmonized with particular religious tenets.

Case studies of the most influential theories in various disciplines will illustrate how such theory-regulation works. Finally, principles will be offered to show how this same sort of regulation can be brought to theories when the controlling presupposition is belief in the Christian God. These will draw on the model of a uniquely Christian-theistic philosophy and science developed by the Dutch Calvinist philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977).

Roy Clouser is professor emeritus of philosophy and religion at The College of New Jersey. He holds a BA from Gordon College, a BD from Reformed Episcopal Seminary, and an MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Along the way to the PhD he studied with Paul Tillich at Harvard Graduate School and with Herman Dooyeweerd at the Free University of Amsterdam. In 1997 he won one of the Templeton Awards for his course in science and religion. He is the author of The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Beliefs (University of Notre Dame Press, revised edition 2005), Knowing with the Heart: Religious Experience and Belief in God (InterVarsity Press, 1999), and numerous articles.

This seminar is being held in association with the West Yorkshire School of Christian Studies (WYSOCS) and the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics (KLICE). Prof Clouser’s tour of the UK is being sponsored by WYSOCS and Leeds Metropolitan University.

This talk is part of the CHAS (Christians in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences) series.

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