Today, July 27th, I started writing on a new project. Well, actually it’s not really new. I’m revising the manuscript of my dissertation, hoping to have it ready by the end of this summer. You can see the outline of my book in the picture below.
Originally, my research was about evolutionary explanations of religion and how to respond to these explanations from a theological perspective. In short, my conclusion was that a dialogue between scientific research of religion and theology should not be about whether an evolutionary explanation of religious beliefs makes them ‘less true’ or not, but, rather, should be about a better understanding of religion and the role it plays in human life. In short, I think Robert Bellah’s approach is more interesting than Daniel Dennett‘s.
What I will try to develop in the book, is how a dialogue between theology and evolutionary studies of religion can contribute to a theological understanding of education. Seeing education as part of the human niche, as one of the ways in which a cultural tradition both continues and reinvents itself, can offer new theological metaphors to help us see education as one of the ways revelation can happen. Revelation and education are intimately connected activities. And in the same way our understanding of education can be enriched by putting it in then theological context of revelation, I believe our theological understanding of revelation can be enriched by putting it in an evolutionary context.
I plan to write three sections. The first section will introduce evolutionary studies of culture and religion, and present my reasons for prefering one approach in particular, niche construction theory. In the second section, I will discuss two different theological responses to the notion that human culture is part of human evolution. The first response is Gerd Theissen‘s, the second one is by Philip Hefner. Although I consider both approaches to represent important contributions to the science-and-religion- dialogue in general and to theology in particular, I will clarify why I think especially Philip Hefner’s proposal shows how theology can move forward. The third section will develop this further. By bringing together Philip Hefner’s view on the development of religious traditions with insights from niche construction theory, I hope to offer a fresh theological perspective on education.
So the outline is there, I have the manuscript of my dissertation to work with, and three more weeks of summer holidays. I’ll probably won’t have the book finished, but I hope I’ll have a decent draft in my Scrivener app by August 31th. Your moral support is welcome 😉