Catholic Theological Society of America

Catholic Theological Society of America

Call For Papers

Theology and Natural Sciences Topic Session

Administrative Team:

J. Matthew Ashley, University of Notre Dame (Convener)
Celia Deane-Drummond, University of Notre Dame
Gloria Schaab, Barry University

Theme: "Science as a Context or Resource for pursuing Christian Unity"

The theology and natural sciences topic group invites proposals on theology and the natural sciences that are relevant to the 2014 conference theme from the perspective of two different possible approaches. The first considers the relevance of the dialogue between science and theology in the historical relations (and conflicts) between the Christian Churches that emerged from the Reformation. During this period the dialogue between science and Christian faith often took different courses in different Christian churches because of differing theological positions within those churches on (among other things) the relationship between faith and reason and the interpretation of Scripture. Moreover, at times additional tensions were introduced into exploring the conflicts and possible dissonances between the natural science and Christian faith because of polemics between the different churches. Participants in this dialogue were not only frequently in conversation with one another, but often understood their participation in the dialogue to transcend their differences on matters of faith and mores. Some participants even understood science to provide a (or even the) crucial element for adjudicating disagreements on theologically controversial issues, or went so far as to propose the “religion of reason” (or “natural religion”) as the only consensus position on matters of faith supported by science. Proposals that move in this direction might consider individual episodes in this history, compare episodes from early modernity with more recent ones or consider the ways that involvement in the science-faith dialogue had an impact on a particular theologian’s understanding of the challenges and possibilities inherent to ecumenical dialogue.

Second, we invite proposals that critically introduce contributions from recent evolutionary accounts given of the origins and course of conflict between groups (or reconciliation of conflict). A great deal of recent work in evolutionary theory in general, and evolutionary psychology in particular has explored the thesis that dynamics of cooperation and conflict between groups can be understood using evolutionary mechanisms, extending these models in order to explain the role of differences in culture (including religious differences). A proposal that moves in this direction might explore the contributions of such models for understanding ecumenical dialogue, surface and critique shortcomings of these models, or both.

As always, while proposals that are relevant to the conference theme in these two ways are particularly welcome, the administrative team will consider positively proposals that look at the possible interfaces between the topic group’s focus and the conference theme in another way, or proposal topics that fall more generally under the theme of theology and the natural sciences.

Proposals should be no more than 250 words in length.  Be sure to include the name and institution of all participants, along with the authors’ contact information. Please give a title to each proposed presentation. Each proposal should also include a 100 word précis suitable for use on the online program. Finally, it is very important that the proposal mention whether or not A. V. equipment will be needed – e. g. a digital projector. All proposals should be submitted by e-mail to the convener, Matthew Ashley, Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame ( by September 1, 2013. The other members of the Theology and Natural Sciences administrative team that will consider the proposals are Celia Deane-Drummond, University of Notre Dame, and Gloria Schaab, Barry University.

Please remember that CTSA guidelines require that those making proposals ordinarily be associate or full members in good standing with their dues paid up.  Anyone with an associate or full membership application on file can also submit a proposal if they expect to be accepted for membership in the upcoming June convention.  In addition, please bear in mind that normally no person should have more than one speaking role at the convention, and that there can be no more than three presenters at a given session.

Notification of acceptance of proposals will be made by the administrative team by September 14, 2013.