The CSR (cognitive science of religion) paper is for the European Conference on Science and Theology in Edinburgh in April (see right sidebar). It can only be 8 pages long and should be a "work in progress." My title is "Knowing God without God Knowing." I identify the challenges of CSR to the idea of God as a supernatural agent who "knows" in an anthropomorphic sense. I argue that many proponents and opponents of the view that CSR offers a powerful critique of the idea of a personal God share some common assumptions that are not made explicit, including the very idea of supernatural agency as a relevant category for discussing ultimate reality and the idea that theism or a-theism exhaust the options. I suggest that there are resources in many religious traditions (including Christianity) for affirming a real engagement with "the divine" without attributing finite human attributes like personality. Of course, this will require (re)defining our terms carefully, which I do in five sections:
1. God "Knowing"?
2. "God" Knowing?
4. Knowing "God"?
5. "Knowing" God?
The Atonement paper is a chapter for a book that is being developed as part of a STARS project on ethics and exemplarity in theology and science. My tentative title is "Ethics, Exemplarity and Atonement." After a brief introduction of the issues, the chapter begins with a section on traditional moral example (ME) theories of atonement and their opponents. One of the main objections to ME theories (from those who hold Christus Victor or penal substitutionary views especially) is that they are not objective but "only" or "merely" subjective. This presupposes an early modern dichotomy between objective and subjective, which has driven the separation in most western Christian atonement theory that one first has to understand what Jesus did objectively in the past then later one applies this subjectively to moral issues in the present. The next section traces the growing significance of ethics in atonement theory, especially among feminist and liberation theologians. The next three sections argue that the desire to integrate ethics and atonement can be fostered by developments in the new sciences that deal with exemplarity (hence the order of terms in the title). These developments are: the growing attention to empathy in social neuroscience, to emotions in moral psychology, and then to exemplarity in virtue ethics. I identify two basic tasks in reconstructing a viable ME theory in late modernity: articulating a metaphysics of exemplarity (such that the latter is robustly objective and causally real) and explicating the way in which the dynamics of exemplarity across social relations (in time and space) can truly be "atoning."
I've written drafts of both papers, but won't be able to finish them up until I get back to Norway and have access to all my books, etc.
Comments or suggestions are welcome, but I've turned to working on a book, so I may not have time to respond in detail.