Abstracts and Suggested Readings for Each Session

Lecture 1, October, 4

Is Scientific Knowledge Relevant to Theology? The Influence of Contemporary Scientific World-View on the Work of Theologians

G. Tanzella-Nitti

Summary: 1. Is the Scientific Knowledge of Nature Relevant to Theology? A Short Status Quaestionis- 2. Paths from Science to Theology and from Theology to Science - 3. The Scientific  Image of the World and its Main Implications in Understanding Christian Revelation - 4. The Challenge of the Natural Sciences to the Work of Theologians: Source of Troubles or Origin of Positive Insights? 

Suggested readings:

K. Rahner, Natural Science and Reasonable Faith. “Theological Investigations,” n. 21 (Darton: Longman & Todd, 1988), 16-55 

G. Tanzella-Nitti, Natural Sciences in the Work of Theologians (2008), INTERS, https://inters.org/natural-sciences.

G. Tanzella-Nitti, “Is Scientific Knowledge Relevant to Theology?,” in Idem, Faith, Reason and the Natural Sciences. The Challenge  of the Natural Sciences in the Work of Theologians (Aurora: The Davies Group, 2009), 1-25

G. Tanzella-Nitti, "Speaking of God in Contemporary Scientific World," ch. 1, in Idem, Scientific Perspectives in Fundamental Theology  (Claremont CA: Claremont Press, 2022), 13-37


Lecture 2, October, 11

Is the notion of God meaningful to Scientific Culture? The Openness of Science to the Quest for Truth and Meaning

G. Tanzella-Nitti

Summary: 1. Some Epistemological Clarifications. - 2. The meaning of a reference to the Absolute beyond the formal language of science. - 3. The ontological incompleteness of physical, contingent reality, and the opening to a metaphysical necessary foundation. - 4. The acknowledgment of a Logos, as an objective rational order in nature (logosut ratio). - 5. The acknowledgment of a Logos, as dialogical “otherness” speaking through nature (logos ut verbum).

Suggested readings:

J.F. Haught, “God in Modern Science,” in The New Catholic Encyclopedia (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1989), vol. 18, 178-183

G. Tanzella-Nitti, GodNotion of (2010), INTERS, https://inters.org/god

G. Tanzella-Nitti, “Religion and Science as Inclinations towards the Search for Global Meaning,” in Theology and Science 10 (2012) 167-178.


Lecture 3, October, 18

Physical Cosmology and Christian Theology of Creation

G. Tanzella-Nitti

Summary: 1. Introduction. - 2. Scientific cosmology and theology of creation: separation of fields or fruitful interaction? - 3. Cosmological models and the debate on the possible role of a God Creator. - 4. The notion of creation between philosophy of nature and theology. - 5. Conclusions: cosmology, theology and the human wondering on ultimate questions.

Suggested readings:

G. Tanzella-Nitti, Creation (2002), INTERS, https://inters.org/creation.

G. Tanzella-Nitti, “Nature as Creation. Science and Theology on the Ultimate Questions,” in Idem, Faith, Reason and the Natural Sciences. The Challenge of the Natural Sciences in the Work of Theologians (Aurora: The Davies Group, 2009), 27-54.


Lecture 4, October, 25

The Christological Dimension of the Cosmos

G. Tanzella-Nitti

Summary: 1. Scientific questions and philosophical answers in understanding physical reality. - 2. Philosophical ways of speaking of the Logosand of the originality of Christian Logos. - 3. A world created through the Word-Logos and in the sight of the Incarnate Logos: which consequences for the work of science? - 4. Concluding Remarks

Suggested readings:

M. Heller, “Scientific Rationality and Christian Logos,” in Physics, Philosophy and Theology. A Common Quest for Understanding, ed. by R.J. Russell, W.R. Stoeger  and G.V. Coyne (Vatican City State: LEV and University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 141-149

G. Tanzella-Nitti, "History of the cosmos and history of salvation: the uniqueness of Christian event and the universality of the scientific approach," ch. 9, in Idem, Scientific Perspectives in Fundamental Theology  (Claremont CA: Claremont Press, 2022), 239-272

G. Tanzella-Nitti, Jesus Christ. Incarnation and Doctrine of Logos (2008), INTERS, https://inters.org/jesus-christ-logos.


Lecture 5, November 11

The Debate on the Laws of Nature: Science, Philosophy and Theology

G. Tanzella-Nitti

Summary: 1. The problematic nature of the Laws of Nature: a short status quaestionis. - 2. The Natural Laws and the metaphysical notion of natureas formal cause. - 3. Some historical-philosophical issues and their revival in contemporary age. - 4. The Holy Scripture and the Natural Laws: is God Creator the “God of the Laws of Nature”? - 5. The Universe (U), the Laws of Nature (L) and God (G): an intriguing cosmic topology. - 6. Concluding Remarks

Suggested readings:

G. Tanzella-Nitti, “The Aristotelian-thomistic Concept of Nature and the Contemporary Scientific Debate on the Meaning of Natural Laws,” in  Acta Philosophica 6 (1997) 237-264

G. Tanzella-Nitti, Laws of nature (2008), INTERS, https://inters.org/laws-of-nature


Lecture 6, November, 15

Life in the Universe: Scientific and Theological Perspectives

G. Tanzella-Nitti

Summary: 1. The Debate on Extraterrestrial Life, between Scientific Thought and Humanistic Culture. - 2. Christian Theology in the Cosmic Context of Extraterrestrial Life: in Search of a Consistent Epistemology. - 3. Theology and Science on Extraterrestrial Life: A Common Quest for Understanding

Suggested readings:

G. Tanzella-Nitti, Extraterrestrial Life (2008), INTERS, https://inters.org/extraterrestrial-life

G. Tanzella-Nitti, Plurality of Worlds and Christian Faith, in Are we alone in the universe?, III° Italy-Ukraine Scientific Meeting, Karazin, ed. by V. Bakirov, M. Capaccioli, and V. Kaydash, Kharkiv 2022, 115-124

S. Dick, “The Societal Impact of Extraterrestrial Life. The Relevance of History and the Social Sciences,” in D. Vakoch (ed.), Astrobiology, History, and Society. Life beyond Earth and the Impact of Discovery (Berlin - Heidelberg: Springer, 2013), 227-257.


Lecture 7, November, 22

The Place of the Human Being in the Cosmos: Unexpected insights from the Anthropic Principle

G. Tanzella-Nitti

Summary: I. The position of the human being in the cosmos: center or periphery? - II. The rise of the Anthropic Principle in the context of modern science. - III. The main cosmic "coincidences" underlying the Anthropic Principle. - IV. Philosophical implications and final theological reflections

Suggested readings:

G. Tanzella-Nitti, Anthropic Principle  (2005), INTERS, https://inters.org/anthropic-principle


Lecture 8, November, 29

The Metaphor of the Book of Nature: general foundations

O. Juurikkala

Summary: I. The book of nature in the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. II. Metaphors and theology. III. Prehistory: reading the starry sky. IV. The theological prerequisites of a strong metaphor of the book of nature. V. Highlights from the history of the metaphor from patristic to modern authors.

Suggested readings:

O. Juurikkala, The Patristic and Medieval metaphor of the Book of nature: implications for Fundamental theology  (Rome; Edusc, 2019)

G. Tanzella-Nitti, Book of Nature, Origin and Development of a Metaphor (2019), INTERS, https://inters.org/book-of-nature


Lecture 9, December, 6

The Book of Nature between natural knowledge of God and God's Revelation

O. Juurikkala

Summary: I. The book of nature and knowledge of God. II. The notion of natural theology and its many meanings. III. Darwinism, evolution, and the crisis of natural theology: a reconsideration. IV. Natural theology between intuition, experience, and argument. V. The place of natural theology in the Christian faith.

Suggested readings:

G. Tanzella-Nitti, "God's Revelation through creation, between Covenant and Promise," ch. 8 in in Idem, Scientific Perspectives in Fundamental Theology  (Claremont CA: Claremont Press, 2022), 199-235

 A. Freddoso, "The Necessity for Revelation - A Primer on Summa Contra Gentiles I, 1-9," https://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/revelat.htm

A. Griffioen, "Signs for a People Who Reason: Religious Experience and Natural Theology," European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9(2) (2017), 139-163.

A. McGrath, "Natural Theology", St Andrews Encyclopaedia of Theology (2022), Edited by Brendan N. Wolfe et al. https://www.saet.ac.uk/Christianity/NaturalTheology

A. McGrath, Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell 2011) 

A. McGrath, The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008) 

M. Wahlberg, Reshaping Natural Theology: Seeing Nature as Creation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

Lecture 10, December, 13

Beauty and Wonder in Nature and Science

O. Juurikkala

Summary:I. The experience of beauty and the book of nature. II. The problem of disenchantment. III. The sense of wonder between emotion, neuroscience, and spirituality. IV. Wonder, beauty, and contemplation in nature and science. V. The value and limits of beauty and wonder.

Suggested readings:

W. Derkse, Beauty  (2002), INTERS, https://inters.org/beauty

P. Ball, The Beauty of Chemistry: Art, Wonder, and Science (Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 2021)

R. Battino, "Chemistry and the Sense of Wonder,"  Journal of Chemical Education 46(1) (1969), 38-39, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/244470730_Chemistry_and_the_sense_of_wonder

R. Carson, The Sense of Wonder (HarperCollins, 1965)

R.C. Fuller, Wonder: From Emotion to Spirituality (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006)

A. McGrath, The Reenchantment of Nature (New York: Doubleday, 2002)

P. Sherry, "Einstein, Dawkins, and Wonder at the Intelligibility of the World," Heythrop Journal 60 (2019), 5-15

E. Stump, "Beauty as Road to God," Sacred Music 134(4) (2007), 13-26, https://appearedtoblogly.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/stump-elenore-22beauty-as-a-road-to-god22.pdf

H. Washington, A Sense of Wonder towards Nature (London and New York: Routledge, 2019)

Lecture 11, January, 10

Purpose in Nature? The moral dimension of the Book of Nature

O. Juurikkala

Summary:I. Is nature normative? The perennial intuition and its pitfalls. II. Laws of nature and the natural moral law: their relationship and difference. III. Rediscovering the notions of nature and natural: a philosophical and theological reevaluation. IV. Can the natural law be read in the book of nature? A proposal.

Suggested readings

Benedict XVI, "Address to the Bundestag" (Berlin, September 22, 2011), https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2011/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20110922_reichstag-berlin.html

A. McGrath, "Natural Theology and Goodness", chap. 12 in Idem, The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008)

N. Murphy and G. Ellis, On the Moral Nature of the Universe: Theology, Cosmology, and Ethics (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996) 

Lecture 12, January, 17

Science and Religion in the media: material for a general discussion

(cooperative seminar inckuding studnets contributions)