Thanks to a new grant awarded to the Center for Theology in the Natural Sciences, research into the “scientific warrants for and theological implications of” randomness, propensities and indeterminism in nature is being supported.
Called SATURN (Scientific and Theological Understandings of Randomness in Nature), the project is underwritten by a grant from Calvin College in Michigan, which received project funds through a major grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The $1.3 million project at Calvin College began in 2012 with plans to advance philosophical and theological understanding of randomness by funding eight to 10 research projects that address key issues in clarifying the nature of randomness and in relating randomness and divine providence.
CTNS has been awarded $200,000 by Calvin College. The new grant will allow for the study of the possibility of the discoveries in the natural sciences made over the past decade that point to indeterminism at many more levels in nature, ranging from macroscopic physical and biological processes of daily life, to the universe as a whole. For example, natural phenomena such as the self-organization of the rings of Saturn out of apparently random processes and gravitational interactions can be studied further.
CTNS’ SATURN project will look at whether there is increasing evidence for extending the indeterministic interpretation beyond the domain of subatomic physics to include other areas of nature that might in turn offer new theological insights regarding topics such as the relation between randomness, divine providence and God’s foreknowledge of future events, the relation between eternity and time, and God’s relation to suffering, disease, death and extinction.
According to CTNS, the study will encourage scientists to recognize that their research is consistent with their faith and that scientific labor can be a genuine form of religious vocation. Organizers say that the project will challenge those atheists who seek to misuse science to support a materialist agenda.
Participants include physicists Gerald Cleaver and George Ellis, historian Ted Davis, philosophers Alicia Juarrero and Nancey Murphy, theologians Niels Gregersen, Joshua Moritz, Alan Padgett, Ted Peters, and Kirk Wegter-McNelly, and theologian and physicist Robert Russell. The program runs from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015. There will be a conference in Berkeley in October 2014.