“Theologie als Wissenschaft?!”

The possibility of a scientific and confessional theology is highly contested in current debates. There are at least three kinds of argument against the possibility of a scientific and confessional theology:

(1) The first kind of argument tries to show that there is no universe of discourse that theology could study and investigate as a scientific discipline. These arguments are directed against the existence of supernatural beings. For instance, the argument from evil is directed against the very existence of God. On this type of argument, a confessional and scientific theology is impossible because it has no proper object to investigate.

(2) The second kind of argument is not directed against the existence of theology’s putative universe of discourse. Instead, these arguments try to show that even if there is a universe of discourse theology could investigate, it fails to do so by using the methods any scientific discipline is committed upon. For instance, it is argued that a confessional theology does not rely on scientific methods to justify its basic claims but instead is based on faith in a way that is unscientific. On this type of argument, a confessional and scientific theology is impossible because it fails to deploy scientific methods to deal with its universe of discourse.

(3) The third kind of argument tries to show that even if theology has a universe of discourse and deploys scientific methods, it is still not a scientific discipline because it contradicts the natural sciences that are supposed to be of a more fundamental value than any other putatively scientific discipline. For instance, it is argued that special divine action is impossible because it contradicts the causal closure of the universe and the intelligibility of laws of nature, both of which are argued to be necessary presuppositions for the possibility of the natural sciences. On this type of argument, a confessional and scientific theology is impossible because it contradicts the natural sciences that are argued to be of a higher value than any other scientific discipline.

The Emmy Noether Research Group “Theologie als Wissenschaft?!” deals with the three mentioned kinds of argument against the possibility of a scientific and confessional theology and evaluates their logical structure as well as their validity and soundness.