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Oxford Templeton Latin America Scholars

César Julio Navarro Coba

Universidad de Panamá / Panama

The interaction of Science and Religion in Education The main purpose of this investigation is to find out what kind(s) of relationship exist between the ways in which secondary-school students with faith backgrounds think about the interaction on science and religion and their motivation in pursuing scientific careers. Science education is now a major international…

César Julio Navarro Coba

The interaction of Science and Religion in Education

The main purpose of this investigation is to find out what kind(s) of relationship exist between the ways in which secondary-school students with faith backgrounds think about the interaction on science and religion and their motivation in pursuing scientific careers. Science education is now a major international concern for its potential to enhance quality of life, society and the economy. Research in science education, especially in UK, has point out the relevance in taking into account elements such as diversity, culture and the cross-disciplinary dimension in the science education system. The interaction between science and religion beliefs in secondary school plays an important part in this new way to encourage a culture of science. The Learning about Science and Religion (LASAR) Project in collaboration with institutions such as the Faraday Institute, St Edmunds’s College, has sought to understand this interaction from two complementary directions: research to find out more about exactly what secondary age students do think about science and religion, with the factors which they feel influence their views; and how their ideas shift over time. I expect to joint some of the LASAR researchers in a new Faraday Institute project about the interactions between science and religious belief in the secondary school context in England, and find out how this interaction could promote or undermine science education.

This research is relevant in Latin America due to the highly religious context and the low interest among school students in pursuing scientific careers. Hopefully this investigation might give insights into how to undertake similar social science research in Latin America and how to use the results to encourage new science education curricula that allow the flourishing of science from a pluralistic point of view.

Host University
St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge, UK

Academic Sponsor
Prof Keith S. Taber

Term
Autumn 2016 and Winter 2017

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Felipe Miguel

Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul / Brazil

Cognitive Science of Religion and the Rationality of Theistic and Atheistic Beliefs What can the nascent cognitive science of religion (CSR) tell us about the rationality of theistic and atheistic beliefs? Can it provide defeaters for such beliefs? The goal of my research is to explore how recent developments in both cognitive science of religion…

Felipe Miguel

Cognitive Science of Religion and the Rationality of Theistic and Atheistic Beliefs

What can the nascent cognitive science of religion (CSR) tell us about the rationality of theistic and atheistic beliefs? Can it provide defeaters for such beliefs? The goal of my research is to explore how recent developments in both cognitive science of religion and of our understanding of epistemic defeasibility can help us understand the (ultima facie) rationality of theistic and atheistic beliefs.

Why are humans so prone to form religious beliefs? This question has captured the attention of thinkers for millennia. Recently, however, researchers from different academic disciplines have been using findings from areas of study such as cognitive science and evolutionary biology to formulate theories about the origins of religious beliefs. One of the central findings of this research programme is that human beings are hypersensitive detectors of agents. This means that we have the tendency, given the presence of certain environmental stimuli, to form beliefs in unseen intentional agents. Barrett has defended that this detection ability would have adaptive value by increasing the probability that humans will be able to escape predators. Some (such as Dawkins and Dennett) have taken the findings about the evolutionary origins of theistic beliefs to support the conclusion that these beliefs are false. Others (such as Murray) have claimed that the existence of such mechanism is compatible with religious claims. And Clark has defended that this model of religious belief formation is actually supportive of the process of production of knowledge of God defended by proponents of reformed epistemology.

Most research in CSR and rationality produced so far has been concerned with the role CSR can play in prima facie rationality of religious beliefs. My research, however, will be concerned with the role CSR can play in ultima facie rationality (i.e. in the absence of defeaters) of both theistic and atheistic beliefs.

Host University
Department of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, US

Academic Sponsor
Prof Robert Audi

Term
Autumn 2016 and Winter 2017

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Martín Grassi

Universidad Católica Argentina-CONICET / Argentina

Concerning the conceptual foundations of Life in Philosophy, Theology and Sciences: The circulation principle of Pneuma This project aims at the conceptual foundation of Life in Western Civilization in order to open a new perspective based in the relational essence of the living over its independence or operational reflexivity. We have already stressed the importance…

Martín Grassi

Concerning the conceptual foundations of Life in Philosophy, Theology and Sciences: The circulation principle of Pneuma

This project aims at the conceptual foundation of Life in Western Civilization in order to open a new perspective based in the relational essence of the living over its independence or operational reflexivity. We have already stressed the importance of the concept of Soul (Psyché) in determining Life as autarchy, but now we should study the other key notion of Spiritus (Pneuma), which moves around metaphysical, medical, biological, anthropological and theological discourses. Pneuma is a central biological concept in Aristotle, Hippocrates and Galen, in order to explain how the different parts of the organism are motioned by the soul; theologically, the Third Person of Trinity identifies with Pneuma, and it is the responsible of revitalizing both the World (as a Cosmic Organism) and the Church (as a living Body). We should study how this semantical displacements have place, but mainly we should underline how this concept accompany the concept of Psyché in its “economical-political” meaning: the regent principle of Psyché governs the living organism by this pneumatic agency, closing living beings to themselves and making difficult to think on the relational or communal essence of Life. Our last goal is to show the primacy of the prefix syn- over the prefix autos- in order to understand Life, and open a possible new biological, anthropological, ecological and theological paradigm based in communion over autonomy. Due to its interdisciplinary character, the project will be divided into two stages: a Term in the University of Bonn studying Jürgen Moltmann’s Pneumatological Theology, and a Term in the University of Oxford studying philosophical and biological implications of the notion of Pneuma.

Host Universities
Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät der Universität Bonn, Germany
Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford, UK

Academic Sponsors
Prof Cornelia Richter and Dr Ignacio Silva

Terms
Summer and Spring 2016

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Pedro Lucas Dulci Pereira

Universidade Federal de Goiás / Brazil

More than a Brain: The Anti-Reductionist Anthropology of Reformational Philosophy My research is about an anthropological approach that unifies the identity of the person with own body structures and the relationship with the natural world. The investigation goals of this research involve asking how I should think of ‘me’; if I should be identified as…

Pedro Lucas Dulci Pereira

More than a Brain: The Anti-Reductionist Anthropology of Reformational Philosophy

My research is about an anthropological approach that unifies the identity of the person with own body structures and the relationship with the natural world. The investigation goals of this research involve asking how I should think of ‘me’; if I should be identified as part of my physical being and, if so, which part; if mental states are reducible to brain states; how advances in neuroscience are related to categories of philosophy and theology. My hypothesis is that the philosophical systematic framework of Herman Dooyeweerd is a philosophical axis invaluable to promote a better understanding of who the human being is – in dialogue with contemporary science and theology. In this philosophical tradition, the spirit is not “ghost in machine”, i.e. something extra or above the body. On the other hand, it is not less than the totality of physicochemical processes in the brain and all over the body. It is a unity manifested through a dynamism proper of human development as a being of nature and consciousness. Through this reasoning, many thinkers of reformational philosophy can (1) honor the Christian tradition finding the heart as the spiritual center of the human, (2) develop a philosophical argument that goes beyond the human image of the “rational animal” and (3) maintain dialogue with the scientific community – specially the theistic evolution thought. Several thinkers today use the Dooyeweerd insights to build a bridge between religion and science without falling into reductionism such as scientism, naturalism or idealism. Researches like this are rare in Brazil. The project is to study at VU University at Abraham Kuyper Centre, and following the activities of Prof. Gerrit Glas. This is an opportunity for me to amplify this debate in my country and learn how to deal better with the interdisciplinary questions of science and religion.

Host University
Abraham Kuyper Center, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands

Academic Sponsor
Prof Gerrit Glas

Term
Autumn 2016 and Winter 2017

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María Ayelén Sánchez

Universidad Nacional del Sur / Argentina

Determinism and Agent Causation The general topic of this research is the philosophical explanations of human action. My goal is to analyse contemporary contrasting theories, the agent and the event causal account of action, against the background of recent empirical evidence. According to agent causal account, agents can start new causal chains that are not…

María Ayelén Sánchez

Determinism and Agent Causation

The general topic of this research is the philosophical explanations of human action. My goal is to analyse contemporary contrasting theories, the agent and the event causal account of action, against the background of recent empirical evidence. According to agent causal account, agents can start new causal chains that are not pre-determined by the events of the immediate or distant past and the physical laws of nature. On the other hand, on event causal accounts the events within the agent (desires, motives or brain process) cause bodily motion to happen, which can be described as an action. Nevertheless, the main focus of my research will not be the analysis of philosophical arguments in favour for and against agent causation, but an analysis of the interpretations of empirical research in this area. The philosophical work, instead, shall provide the framework for tackling this research adequately and for determining underlying philosophical assumptions.
Philosophers who defend a reductive event causal approach usually appeal to empirical evidence from the fields of cognitive psychology and neurosciences (for example, Libet’s experiments and John-Dylan Haynes’s variants) in order to support the claims of event causal theory. My hypothesis is that the empirical evidence available at the moment does not necessarily support a reductive account, rather its significance is over-estimated. I also suggest that these experiments can be interpreted in alternative ways. In addition, I will search for other available results from empirical sciences that support an agent-causal understanding of human action.

Host University
Department of Christian Philosophy, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Academic Sponsors
Prof Josef Quitterer and Dr Georg Gasser

Terms
Fall 2015 – Winter 2016

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Leandro Martín Gaitán

Universidad Católica de Santa Fe / Argentina

Neuroscientific Naturalism as the New Expression of Modern Gnosticism The problem I want to investigate is the relationship between the neuroscientific naturalism and Gnosticism. This proposal is based on the faith and expectations placed on neuroscience in the last decades, and the corresponding increase in believing that the brain is the only organ in the…

Leandro Martín Gaitán

Neuroscientific Naturalism as the New Expression of Modern Gnosticism

The problem I want to investigate is the relationship between the neuroscientific naturalism and Gnosticism. This proposal is based on the faith and expectations placed on neuroscience in the last decades, and the corresponding increase in believing that the brain is the only organ in the body that we need to be ourselves. This phenomenon is both detected in the scientific community and in public opinion. In fact, for some high-profiled contemporary intellectuals, neuroscience could provide the keys to a radical and ultimate transformation of our world.
This conception, which could be defined as neuroscientific naturalism and it is offered as the best substitute of religion, might be studied under the category of Gnosis. This category could be classified as transhistorical because of two main reasons: 1) it refers to the complex historical tension between transcendence and immanence; 2) it has a particular relevance for a more complete explanation of the modern secularization process, at the top of which neurocientific naturalism lies. I will develop this research considering the ideas of Aldous Huxley, Karl Löwith, but mainly of Eric Voegelin. Thus, I intend to investigate the hypothesis that postulates the existence of a clear correlation between political ideologies and neuroscientific naturalism regarding their Gnostic dimension. This means that neuroscientific naturalism has the same structure as political ideologies with respect to their expectations and purposes.

Host University
Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham, UK

Academic Sponsor
Prof John Milbank

Term
Winter and Spring 2016

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Francisco O’Reilly

Universidad de Montevideo / Uruguay

Creation as Action of a Personal God The concept of causation is taken from the experience of the natural world and of ourselves, whereas the notion of creation is not rooted in observation. The various interpretations of the concept of creation result in many dilemmas when dealing with the comprehension of God’s nature as well…

Francisco O’Reilly

Creation as Action of a Personal God

The concept of causation is taken from the experience of the natural world and of ourselves, whereas the notion of creation is not rooted in observation. The various interpretations of the concept of creation result in many dilemmas when dealing with the comprehension of God’s nature as well as with the existing relationship between God and His creation. Historically, the notion of creation is interpreted from an analogy with physical causation, leaving an open door, in some of these theories, to a pantheistic conception. On the other hand, the emphasis of the uniqueness of creation as causation in being, made room for the interpretation according to which creation would be the sole true form of causation.
My proposal is to see creation not as the highest form of causation, and causation not as an imperfect kind of creation. Instead, I suggest that causation adequately describes what happens at the physical level, whereas creation does not interfere with the causative power of anything, but rather explains that something can cause and be caused. The former is the object of the different sciences and the latter falls within the range of metaphysics or theology.
In this sense, approaching the idea of creation from God considered as a personal being, would make possible to understand it free from the bonds of a physical notion. The emphasis would be placed in creation as the action of a free agent. This consideration of the agent would make analogies with physical causation look inappropriate and would bring us closer to a conception of creation in which created being is seen as a gift, given in a free manner. Physics, on the contrary, leans toward an understanding of cause and effect as something determined and carries with it a number of undesired theological consequences when associated with the concept of creation. Presenting creation from a personal God allows thinking of the relation between Creator and creature as something gratuitous and free.

Host University
Center for Philosophy of Religion, University of Notre Dame, US

Academic Sponsor
Prof Michael Rea

Term
Winter 2016

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Tiago Garros

Escola Superior de Teologia / Brazil

The Theory of Evolution and Evangelicalism in Brazil Brazil, the 5th biggest country in the world and still the number one catholic nation (65% of the population), has seen an impressive growth of Pentecostal and the so-called Neo-Pentecostal movement, with evangelicals from fundamentalist backgrounds reaching political positions of notoriety. Thus, the debates of areas of…

Tiago Garros

The Theory of Evolution and Evangelicalism in Brazil

Brazil, the 5th biggest country in the world and still the number one catholic nation (65% of the population), has seen an impressive growth of Pentecostal and the so-called Neo-Pentecostal movement, with evangelicals from fundamentalist backgrounds reaching political positions of notoriety. Thus, the debates of areas of concern for this growing number of evangelicals have gained momentum, and the question of origins, a historical stumbling block for this group, has been making the news often. There is actually a bill under way right now in the National Congress to promote the teaching of creationism as an alternative to evolution in the public school system, much like the well-known stories that every now and then spring up in the US, and it counts with strong support of the population, according to research. Scholarship in the Science-Religion area is slim in Brazil, tendentiously superficial and highly influenced by either American fundamentalism on the evangelical side, or a strong liberalism from the Catholic and Lutheran side, where evolution is far from being a problem or even an issue for discussion. The idea of going to Oxford came from the simple fact that British Christianity seems to be far more successful in dealing with evolution and Christian faith than any other country in the world. British evangelical theology has articulated, especially in the person of Prof. Alister McGrath, a coherent evangelical theology in harmony with scientific thinking. Hence, I would like to study in loco not only how this theology is articulated today, but the historical processes on how British Christianity and evangelicalism have answered to the challenges of Darwin, fundamentalism, and of new atheism.

Host University
Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford, UK

Academic Sponsors
Prof Alister McGrath and Dr Ignacio Silva

Terms
Winter and Spring 2016

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Javier González Camargo

Universidad Sergio Arboleda / Colombia

Ontology of Matter: Trails of Creation It seems imperative today, when physicists and the broader public discuss the “God particle”, to reconsider the theological and religious implications of the comprehension of matter. Thus, the first aim of this project is to delve into the ontological assumptions of the physicist’s conception of matter, and into some of…

Javier González Camargo

Ontology of Matter: Trails of Creation

It seems imperative today, when physicists and the broader public discuss the “God particle”, to reconsider the theological and religious implications of the comprehension of matter. Thus, the first aim of this project is to delve into the ontological assumptions of the physicist’s conception of matter, and into some of the most relevant ideas conceived by philosophers on the subject of matter. Both enquiries would generate a framework to accost the current philosophical literature around the theological concept of Creation, from the point of view of matter. At the end of the project, I hope to suggest my own conception about the trails  that matter could offer us concerning Creation.

Host University
Internationale Akademie für Philosophie, Liechtenstein

Academic Sponsor
Prof Daniel von Wachter

Terms
Summer and Fall 2016

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Gustavo Rodrigues Rocha

Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana / Brazil

Quantum Worldviews and Henry Stapp’s Model of Consciousness My project takes as its starting point the categories of ‘meaning’ and ‘unity of reason’, which are structural to human cognition, and assumes that they are at odds with the trend toward specialization and objectivation in scientific-academic enterprises. A central question is how these urges for transdisciplinarity…

Gustavo Rodrigues Rocha

Quantum Worldviews and Henry Stapp’s Model of Consciousness

My project takes as its starting point the categories of ‘meaning’ and ‘unity of reason’, which are structural to human cognition, and assumes that they are at odds with the trend toward specialization and objectivation in scientific-academic enterprises. A central question is how these urges for transdisciplinarity and “ultimate meaning”, once inhibited by scientific reasoning, reappear as forms of rejected knowledge, often labelled as scientific speculation, in alternative programs and institutions.

I will carry out both empirical and theoretical research. The James/Heisenberg model of consciousness – developed by the Berkeley physicist Henry Stapp – will be the focus of my theoretical analysis. Stapp is part of a multidisciplinary effort between philosophy of mind, neurosciences and quantum mechanics that aims to understand the mind-brain connection. Stapp’s model has many philosophical consequences to our conception of personhood and the place of human beings in the cosmos. Stapp’s work flourished amid the context of the reassessment of the foundations of quantum mechanics in California during the 1970’s. My empirical research will explore this historical context via interviews, research in archives and historical databases, and secondary sources. The objects of my empirical scrutiny will be two multidisciplinary research groups in which Stapp was a pivotal figure, “Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality” (1976-1988) and “Empirical Evidence for the Survival of Death” (1998-2011), both hosted by the Center for Theory and Research of the Esalen Insitute.

A historical epistemology capable of embracing both the content as well as the context of scientific theories has the advantage of critically comprehending scientific worldviews as wholes. As an approach in the historiography of science it aims to overcome the defects of both traditional history and philosophy of science.

Host University
Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society, University of California, Berkeley, US

Academic Sponsor
Prof Cathryn Carson

Terms
Fall 2016 – Winter 2017

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