Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Upcoming Seminar

I will be giving a lecture at one of the seminars of the University of Oxford's Ian Ramsey Centre.
Below is the abstract. Look forward to seeing you if you're in the UK, perhaps if you're stuck here for lack of air transport...

In this paper, I take up the issue that was debated so famously in the early fifth century between Augustine and Julian of Eclanum on whether or not the fact of sin implies a negative or evil character to the natural world. This paper retains a focus on the perennial question of the nature of sin. It begins with a reconsideration of the terms of theological debate that were inaugurated by Karl Barth’s “no” to Emil Brunner’s natural theology in the 1930’s. I argue that a contemporary notion of sin that is informed by several disciplines could overturn this argument by accepting that both a natural theology and a theology of salvation are mutually interactive, because of recent scientific developments in evolutionary psychology and moral philosophy. Sin is foreshadowed in a natural law account of the vices and the passions, which today are increasingly understood as a function of heritable traits in human evolutionary history, and which are therefore biologically prompted. A few studies in evolutionary psychology are cited to support this claim. Therefore, sin itself can be identified independently of theological sources, but its meaning is not fully grasped unless there is the sort of full blown theological account that Barth was trying to stress. Textual evidence from Paul, Augustine, Aquinas and Pannenberg is introduced to support this claim. The conclusion is that a focus on sin in the science-theology dialogue would bring together otherwise disparate theological accounts of God and creation. Natural theology and a theology of salvation are not so far apart as twentieth century theologians imagined