October 2023
volume 35 (2)

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Articles

Table of Contents

contents
Pages: 91-92

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A Christian perspective on the place of nuclear energy in achieving net zero and national security

Robert S Dutch
Pages: 94-117

Abstract

We need energy. But what are potential solutions to achieving net zero? This paper presents a Christian perspective and overview of nuclear energy in the UK, and other countries, within the context of government policies to achieve net-zero emissions while ensuring national security. The growth of renewables is well-known but nuclear energy’s positive contribution is often unrecognised in our energy mix for producing electricity. Nuclear provides clean, low-carbon baseload electricity and has its place alongside variable renewables in tackling climate change. Besides large reactors, small modular reactors (SMRs) are being considered within energy strategies. Beyond electricity generation, future nuclear plants offer cogeneration. Furthermore, nuclear plants do not create the air pollution associated with fossil-fuel emissions. This paper encourages people to become more informed about the place of nuclear energy by looking at an evidence-based approach and encourages discussion in an open, honest, and respectful way about its merits in protecting people and our planet.

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Galilei and Kepler on the Mathematical Beauty of the World as a Divine Gift

Alessandro Giostra
Pages: 118-128

Abstract

The Scientific Revolution transformed the teleological view of the universe into a quantitative vision in which measurements play a key role in our understanding of nature. The contribution offered by Christian theology for achieving that new approach is well evidenced: the major protagonists of the modern scientific revolution, indeed, considered the universe to be a mathematical structure as the outcome of divine creation. Humans, in turn, are provided by God with mathematical archetypes for understanding the inner nature of the world, as an integral part of revelation. This paper focuses on the ideas expressed by Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler on the geometrical harmony of creation as a divine gift.

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Editorial: Articles in Honour of Alister McGrath

Ravi Scott Jain
Pages: 129-131

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Why Write Theology Books? A Reflection on Authorial Collaboration with Alister McGrath

Joanna Collicutt McGrath
Pages: 132-139

Abstract

This article is a personal reflection on the process of collaboration between the author and Alister McGrath on a number of writing projects in the area of science and religion and natural theology. It sets out a biographical context, describes some of the projects in detail, and explores the motives and principles behind McGrath’s writing. It concludes that these principles should be intentionally employed by those who write for publication in these areas.

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Conditional to What? Achieving Immortality in a Technological World

Stephen Goundrey-Smith
Pages: 140-148

Abstract

Humanity has long sought immortality - but now, with the prospect of life extending medical enhancement technologies, immortality is closer than it ever has been previously. Or is it? And at what price? This paper brings together two important strands of Alister McGrath’s teaching and research – the history of systematic theology, and the science-religion dialogue. In this paper, I discuss the Christian doctrine of conditional immortality in relation to the prospects of technocentric immortality achieved through proposed radical transhumanist technologies. Drawing on the work of Brent Waters and Juraj Odorjak, I highlight the points of divergence between technocentric immortality and a recognisably Christian eschatology and, in relation to conditional immortality, I explain why the achievement of technocentric immortality is both theologically problematic and a futile objective in relation to the spiritual health of the Christian believer. I conclude by describing the implications of the doctrine of conditional immortality for the prospect of human enhancement, and vice versa, thus providing a preliminary worked example of the interaction of science and theology envisaged by Professor McGrath in A Scientific Theology.

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Never in the Shallow End

Mike Parsons
Pages: 149-157

Abstract

The report, by Nick Spencer and Hannah Waite of Theos, ‘Science and Religion: Moving away from the shallow end’, was published in May 2022 It makes a number of interesting observations, based on both quantitative and qualitative research, as to how the debate about the relationship between science and religion has changed over the last fifteen years. The report title draws on the humorous observation that in swimming pools all the noise comes from the shallow end. The debate certainly has been ‘noisy’ at times and their report outlines areas where serious discussion has moved into deeper waters and with recognition of multiple ways of approaching formerly contentious issues. Alister McGrath’s work over many years illustrates this concern for discussion and not confrontation, along with a concern for an inference to the best explanation as the way forward. In particular his taking up of Mary Midgley’s suggestion of ‘multiple maps of meaning’ has significant resonances with Spencer and Waite’s outline of the ‘areas of deeper concern’, key areas in the science and religion debate, and the evidence from their expert interviews. This paper considers these areas in the light of the deeper, ultimate decisive questions that all human beings need to ask of themselves, as referred to by McGrath in his approving use of the work of José Ortega y Gasset. It observes that McGrath, throughout his writings and verbal presentation, never inhabited the shallow end of discussions. The paper then considers what insights these considerations might have in the Christian tradition for a more grounded missiology in the twenty first century.

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Science and Theology as Abductive Responses to Reality

Ravi Scott Jain
Pages: 158-165

Abstract

This essay will address three of McGrath’s specific contributions to the field of science and religion which have helped lay foundations for this discourse. First, he insists that in both science and theology ‘ontology determines epistemology’. ‘The way things are’ should determine how we seek to know those things. Second, McGrath seeks to retrieve natural theology from its Barthian exile. Natural theology, according to McGrath, does not consist in trying to prove God without reference to revelation. Instead, natural theology shows that God’s revelation comports with human reason; it consists in seeing nature as creation. This point then leads to a third observation about one of McGrath’s signature lines of reasoning: the importance of abduction in both theology and science. The fruitfulness of “seeing as” is a sort of abductive argument. The essay concludes with further comments about the relevance of abduction for McGrath’s vision of natural theology. Together these themes emphasize McGrath’s analysis of the abductive aspects of science and theology as responses to reality.

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The place of a scientific theology among theological disciplines

Humberto Schubert Coelho
Pages: 166-173

Abstract

The demand for a scientific theology arose from the progressive decline of dogmatic theology throughout the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries. A variety of natural theologies emerged, intended to purge theology from its supernatural religious traces and language, to achieve the ‘purest form’ of a rational theology independent from cultural additions, such as Christology and the role of institutions such as the church. This movement produced at least two distinct reactions in the transition to the Nineteenth century: romanticism and systematic theology. Romantics reacted to the dryness of natural theology by emphasizing the supernatural and the narrow limits of human understanding, sometimes degenerating into irrationalism. Systematic theology, heavily inspired by German Idealism, tried to rehabilitate core theological concepts into a new, more respectable fashion. Friedrich Schleiermacher is a key name for both movements, and his theories are representative of the problems encountered by these enterprises. Later, under the influence of modern traditionalists such as Karl Barth and John Henry Newman, systematic theology stepped back to give space to a renewed dogmatic theology, which would take the basic and original claims of Christian revelation more seriously. The rehabilitation of a more traditional theology, however, created a renewed demand for the accommodation of theology to contemporary scientific knowledge. Alister McGrath’s Scientific Theology is among the most significant efforts in that direction.

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Revisioning ‘Wissenschaft’: Mining Alister McGrath’s development of ‘Pictures’ and ‘Imagination’ for the General Philosophy of Science

Michael Borowski
Pages: 174-181

Abstract

While there seems to be a need to reconceptualize ‘Science’, little has been offered on how to do so. In this essay, McGrath’s more recent work is mined by asking how this work could support such a reconceptualization. It is argued that McGrath has increasingly made use of concepts such as ‘pictures’ and ‘imagination’ as means to conceptualize an alternative way of perceiving (and practicing) science, and in which a broader understanding of science – Wissenschaft – can hence be revisioned.

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Book reviews

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Magisteria

Nicholas Spencer (James Hannam)
Pages: 182-183


The Origin of Humanity and Evolution: Science and Scripture in Conversation

Andrew Ter Ern Loke (Graeme Finlay)
Pages: 183-184


At The Margins: A Life in Biomedical Science, Faith, and Ethical Dilemmas

D. Gareth Jones (John Wyatt)
Pages: 184-185


Three Views on Christianity and Science

Michael Ruse, Alister E. McGrath, Bruce L. Gordon (Christina Biggs)
Pages: 185-186


Bioethics for Nurses: A Christian Moral Vision

Alisha N Mack and Charles C Camosy (Gareth Jones)
Pages: 186-188


The End of the Law? Law, Theology, and Neuroscience

David W. Opderbeck (Meric Srokosz)
Pages: 188-189


What About Evolution? A biologist, pastor, and theologian answer your questions

April Maskiewicz Cordero, Douglas Estes, Telford Work (Ruth M. Bancewicz)
Pages: 189-190


Thriving with Stone Age Minds: Evolutionary Psychology, Christian Faith, and the Quest for Human Flourishing

Justin L. Barrett with Pamela Ebstyne King (Thomas Ludwig)
Pages: 190-192


Religion and the Technological Future: An Introduction to Biohacking, Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism

Calvin Mercer and Tracy J Trothen (Gareth Jones)
Pages: 192-193


The Robot Will See You Now: Artificial Intelligence and The Christian Faith

John Wyatt and Stephen N. Williams (Editors), Justin Welby (Forward) (Brian Monahan)
Pages: 193-195


From Extraterrestrials to Animal Minds: Six myths of evolution

Simon Conway Morris (Graham Budd)
Pages: 196-198


The Cambridge Companion to Christianity and the Environment

A. J. B. Hampton and D. Hedley editors (Dave Bookless)
Pages: 198-199


Eastern Orthodoxy and the Science-Theology Dialogue

Christopher Knight (Alexei Nesteruk)
Pages: 199-200


Beyond the Evolution vs. Science Debate

Lamoureux Denis O. (Neil Laing)
Pages: 201-202


Theology and Science in the Thought of Ian Barbour: A Thomistic Evaluation for the Catholic Doctrine of Creation

Joseph R. Laracy (Ricardo Lozano Cruz)
Pages: 202-203


The Cerulean Soul: A relational theology of depression

Peter J. Bellini (Angharad Gray)
Pages: 203-204