Recently, the catholic theologian Paul Allen (Concordia University, Montreal, Canada) published a great book on theological method, titled Theological Method: A Guide for the Perplexed (T&T Clark 2012). For many, theological method indeed is something to be perplexed about. Is there really something like a theological method? Many atheists even argue that theology has no place at a university, because it has no method.
Allen apparently argues to the contrary. He gives a historical overview of how the development of theological method, describing key figures, both catholic and protestant. He shows how theological method has developed in a continous dialogue with developments within philosophy, science, and the wider culture.
So, to give readers an impression of what the book is about, I asked Paul some questions about his new book, about theological method, the relation between science and religion, and whether an atheist can be a theologian…
A while ago I read Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists (which for some reason was published in Dutch several months before the English edition). I was not too enthusiastic about the book (to put it mildly – and I did put it mildly in the review that I wrote). But then again, I’m no Terry Eagleton.
In the British journalThe Guardian, Eagleton published a short but brilliant review of De Botton’s book. Eagleton writes in his characteristic style, very readable, humorous, ironic, and with a conclusion that I found right on the mark:
What the book does, in short, is hijack other people’s beliefs, empty them of content and redeploy them in the name of moral order, social consensus and aesthetic pleasure. It is an astonishingly impudent enterprise. It is also strikingly unoriginal.
Finally, I already feared that the book would never see the light of day! Fortunately, I just found out that the Blackwell Companion to Science and Religion, edited by J.B. Stump and Alan Padgett, is on it’s way to being published.
According to Amazon.com the book will be out in June 2012 (but look below at the Addendum). With a bit of luck the publisher is able to get the book out sooner. The book is already available for pre-ordering.
My contribution to the book is a chapter on the work of Arthur Peacocke.
The description on Amazon’s website states:
A cutting-edge survey of contemporary thought at the intersection of science and Christianity.
- Provides a cutting-edge survey of the central ideas at play at the intersection of science and Christianity through 54 original articles by world-leading scholars and rising stars in the discipline
- Focuses on Christianity’s interaction with Science to offer a fine-grained analysis of issues such as multiverse theories in cosmology, convergence in evolution, Intelligent Design, natural theology, human consciousness, artificial intelligence, free will, miracles, and the Trinity, amongst many others
- Addresses major historical developments in the relationship between science and Christianity, including Christian patristics, the scientific revolution, the reception of Darwin, and twentieth century fundamentalism
- Divided into 9 Parts: Historical Episodes; Methodology; Natural Theology; Cosmology & Physics; Evolution; The Human Sciences; Christian Bioethics; Metaphysical Implications; The Mind; Theology; and Significant Figures of the 20thCentury
- Includes diverse perspectives and broadens the conversation from the Anglocentric tradition
Addendum, 27 January 2012: I just received a notification of the editors that the Companion has been proofed and indexed and is now off into typesetting and printing. Although Amazon.com mentions June as the publication date, Blackwell expects the book to come out already in April.