Science-engaged theology

Partners and collaborators

School of Divinity, University of St Andrews


Adam Willows' project (2017-18)

In describing morality, thinkers like Aquinas and Kant have often pointed to reason: moral opinions are opinions about independent facts, and we arrive at them by reasoning about those facts. Conversely, many modern scientists from various disciplines favour the sentimentalist view that moral opinions are grounded in our feelings or attitudes.

My project aims to show that essential rationalist commitments are not at odds with work in the sciences, but rationalists must take on board work on the nature of cognition and the role of emotion in moral action. The theological and moral significance of human rationality can be affirmed without diminishing the importance of emotion in moral action.

Mentor: Professor Mark Wynn

Jamie Boulding’s project (2018-19)

In Christian theology, there is a rich scriptural and philosophical imago Dei tradition in which humans are held to occupy a special status in creation as a consequence of being made in God’s image. Recent scientific developments raise questions about human distinctiveness, suggesting the need for scientifically-engaged theology to reconsider the notion.

In my project, I will seek to demonstrate that an emphasis on bodily specificity is the most promising approach to preserving human distinctiveness in a scientific age. In particular, I will draw on insights from historical theological resources, as well as new scientific fields such as embodied and extended cognition, to suggest that intelligence is significantly shaped by our bodily personhood.

I will suggest that this approach can help to secure human distinctiveness in the context of key issues in the theology and science dialogue, including exobiology and transhumanism.

 Mentor: Professor Mark Wynn