Publication News

Praeger releases Science and the World's Religions

Praeger released three volumes of new essays on Science and the World's Religions in July 2012. Each of these volumes has been in preparation for a couple of years and represents one aspect of the work of the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion. The volumes are edited by Patrick McNamara and Wesley J. Wildman, Founders of the Institute (find out more about the Institute here).

Science and the World’s Religions consists of three volumes of new essays, written by experts recruited specifically for this project, and targeted for the generally educated reader. Each essay addresses a vital existential, moral, or metaphysical issue that many thoughtful people ponder—an issue on which satisfying progress requires integrating scientific and religious insights. Educated people in many parts of the contemporary world, whether religious or not, struggle to unite their spiritual instincts and their scientific knowledge. Most people do not have the time or the opportunity to decide how to weave all of these threads of knowledge and belief together into a tapestry that can help describe and guide their lives. These volumes are aimed directly at this audience. They can function as workbooks for such readers, full of ideas that need to be digested slowly.

The first volume focuses on Origins and Destinies. This theme encompasses issues ranging from the origins of religious beliefs and practices to the questions of meaning and purpose that most people ask about their own lives as well as about human history and the universe as a whole.

Cambridge releases Religious and Spiritual Experiences

This book offers an interpretation of a diverse variety of religious and spiritual experiences, from the mundane to the shocking, from the terrifying to the sublime, and from the common to the exceptionally unusual. It carefully describes these experiences and offers a novel classification based on their neurological features and their internal qualities. The book avoids the reductionistic oversimplifications so common in both religious and scientific literatures, and instead synthesizes perspectives from many disciplines into a compelling account of the meaning and value of religious and spiritual experiences in human life. The resulting interpretation does not assume a supernatural worldview, nor does it reject such experiences as totally delusory. Rather, the book frames religious and spiritual experiences as contributing to a spiritually positive affirmation of this-worldly existence. Along the way, the book directly addresses key intellectual and practical questions in a philosophically sound and scientifically informed way. For example, can we trust the apparent meaning of such experiences? What is the value of religious and spiritual experiences within human life? Are we evolutionarily programmed to have such experiences? How will emerging technologies change such experiences in the future?

SUNY releases Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry

Though delayed for a few months, SUNY Press has finally released Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry. More information about the book is available under "Books Published," lower on this page.

Advance comments from Keith Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity, Emeritus, Oxford University:

"This is an immensely ambitious and wide-ranging book, advocating ‘religious philosophy’ as a multidisciplinary comparative inquiry, with an important part to play in any liberal college education. It expounds a view of rational inquiry as fallibilist, hypothetical and pragmatic. Although it is primarily an inquiry into the methodology of religious philosophy, in fact it provides a mine of information about postmodernity, comparative religion, and trends in modern philosophy of religion, among other things. The book sets a positive agenda for future work in theology, religious studies, and comparative philosophy. It is an agenda that is new, well argued, and which I hope will be very influential in higher education, and it is set to be a formative work in the field.”

Science and Ultimate Reality contracted with Ashgate

The companion volume to Science and Religious Anthropology, Science and Ultimate Reality is to be published by Ashgate. For more information, read about the book here.

Books Published

Science and the World's Religions

Praeger released three volumes of new essays on Science and the World's Religions in July 2012. Each of these volumes has been in preparation for a couple of years and represents one aspect of the work of the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion. The volumes are edited by Patrick McNamara and Wesley J. Wildman, Founders of the Institute (find out more about the Institute here).

Science and the World’s Religions consists of three volumes of new essays, written by experts recruited specifically for this project, and targeted for the generally educated reader. Each essay addresses a vital existential, moral, or metaphysical issue that many thoughtful people ponder—an issue on which satisfying progress requires integrating scientific and religious insights. Educated people in many parts of the contemporary world, whether religious or not, struggle to unite their spiritual instincts and their scientific knowledge. Most people do not have the time or the opportunity to decide how to weave all of these threads of knowledge and belief together into a tapestry that can help describe and guide their lives. These volumes are aimed directly at this audience. They can function as workbooks for such readers, full of ideas that need to be digested slowly.

The first volume focuses on Origins and Destinies. This theme encompasses issues ranging from the origins of religious beliefs and practices to the questions of meaning and purpose that most people ask about their own lives as well as about human history and the universe as a whole.

Religious and Spiritual Experiences

This book offers an interpretation of a diverse variety of religious and spiritual experiences, from the mundane to the shocking, from the terrifying to the sublime, and from the common to the exceptionally unusual. It carefully describes these experiences and offers a novel classification based on their neurological features and their internal qualities. The book avoids the reductionistic oversimplifications so common in both religious and scientific literatures, and instead synthesizes perspectives from many disciplines into a compelling account of the meaning and value of religious and spiritual experiences in human life. The resulting interpretation does not assume a supernatural worldview, nor does it reject such experiences as totally delusory. Rather, the book frames religious and spiritual experiences as contributing to a spiritually positive affirmation of this-worldly existence. Along the way, the book directly addresses key intellectual and practical questions in a philosophically sound and scientifically informed way. For example, can we trust the apparent meaning of such experiences? What is the value of religious and spiritual experiences within human life? Are we evolutionarily programmed to have such experiences? How will emerging technologies change such experiences in the future?

Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry: Envisioning a Future for the Philosophy of Religion

What can philosophy contribute to the study of religion? Contrary to the widespread belief that philosophical reflection and the academic study of religion are independent ventures best pursued separately, Religious Philosophy argues that the study of religion needs philosophy—in the form of multidisciplinary comparative inquiry. The book demonstrates the possibility and importance of religious philosophy so conceived, and traces its tasks and types and traditions as they arc across the world’s religions and philosophies. Framed as multidisciplinary comparative inquiry, religious philosophy is an activity related to but broader than, and without some of the difficulties of, traditional philosophy of religion. By analyzing the relationships among religious philosophy and allied disciplines (philosophy, religious studies, and theology), Religious Philosophy articulates a future for the philosophy of religion that makes good sense in the context of the modern secular university.

Science and Religious Anthropology: A Spiritually Evocative Naturalist Interpretation of Human Life

Science and Religious Anthropology documents an impressive convergence among many disciplines—biological sciences, human sciences, and humanities—about human beings. The disciplinary contributions are at different levels of complexity, from evolution of brains to existential longings, but they are generally compatible and jointly define a modern secular interpretation of humanity. This emerging consensus supports some aspects of traditional theological thinking about human nature in the world’s religious traditions, but seriously challenges other aspects. The book patiently teases out these implications for philosophical and religious anthropology and argues that the modern secular interpretation of humanity is most compatible with a naturalistic religious theory of human life.

The convergence of multiple disciplines on a modern secular interpretation of humanity is an historic achievement of human inquiry and should be taken with the utmost seriousness by religious thinkers. But that scientific accomplishment does not by itself settle all-important questions about the meaning of life, even though it heavily constrains the existentially potent interpretations of human life preserved within the world’s religious traditions. This book resists the reduction of meaning and value questions. It argues for a religious interpretation of human beings as bodily creatures emerging within a natural environment that permits engagement with the valuational depths of reality. This engagement promotes spiritual quests to realize and harmonize values in everything human beings do, from the forging of cultures to the crafting of personal convictions.

Lost in the Middle? Claiming an Inclusive Faith for Christians Who Are Both Liberal and Evangelical

From Amazon.com: There exists a deep and broad population of Christians who feel the labels of "liberal" and "evangelical" both describe their faith and limit their expression of it. By working to reclaim the traditional, historical meanings of these terms, and showing how they complement rather than oppose each other, Wesley Wildman and Stephen Chapin Garner stake a claim for the moderate Christian voice in today's polarized society.

Lost in the Middle? guides readers through a process of diagnosis and articulation, offering complementary perspectives on the phenomenon, problem, and promise of Christians with both liberal and evangelical instincts. The authors show how individuals and institutions alike can reclaim and celebrate the highest virtues of both liberal and evangelical Christianity, and how doing so can lead to the creation of authentic and vibrant communities of faith. Pastors, congregational leaders, seminarians, and all thoughtful Christians will learn how truly moderate Christianity can unite the compassionate openness and social activism of liberal Christianity with the magnetism and spiritual fervor of evangelical Christianity. You may feel lost in the middle, but you are not alone there. The middle may be the place where you find yourself living most authentically.

Found in the Middle! Theology and Ethics for Christians Who Are Both Liberal and Evangelical

From Amazon.com: Found in the Middle! offers a foundational approach to the theology and ethics that undergird a congregation where moderate Christians can thrive. Wildman and Garner serve as helpful guides on a quest for a humble theology, an intelligible gospel message, a compelling view of church unity, and a radical ethics deeply satisfying to most Christians with both liberal and evangelical instincts.

Found in the Middle! will help pastors, congregational leaders, seminarians, and all thoughtful Christians will learn how truly moderate Christianity can unite the compassionate openness and social activism of liberal Christianity with the magnetism and spiritual fervor of evangelical Christianity. You may feel lost in the middle, but you are not alone there. The middle may be the place where you find yourself living most authentically.

Encyclopedia of Science and Religion

From Booklist (© American Library Association): This encyclopedia, intended for "a wide readership from high-school students to independent researchers and academics," deals with all aspects of the conflict and dialogue between science and religion. The list of scholars who have contributed is impressive, and the project had as a consultant and contributor Ian Barbour, physicist, theologian, and well-known author on the interplay of science and religion. The editorial point of view is that the formal consideration of the relationship between science and religion has become a new academic field of study. The troublesome potential of new technologies has brought questions into the public arena as well.

The 400-plus alphabetically arranged entries range from broad essays on topics such as Biotechnology, Causation, and Sociobiology to shorter pieces on terms such as Cybernetics, Eco-feminism, and entropy. There are also 20 biographies of important figures in the dialogue between science and religion, from Aristotle to Stephen Jay Gould.

Fidelity with Plausibility: Modest Christologies in the Twentieth Century

From Amazon.com: The task of interpreting the religious significance of Jesus Christ takes shape in this book with the tension determined by two goals: fidelity to the classical Christological tradition, which draws our attention to Jesus in the first place, and plausibility with respect to all forms of contemporary knowledge. To ignore the classical tradition is to assume uncritically that contemporary plausibility structures are beyond question, while to forsake plausibility is to embrace the irrationalism of the theological ghetto-dweller.

Fidelity with Plausibility argues that maintaining this tension in our time can be achieved only with a modest interpretation of Jesus Christ, one that repudiates the hermeneutical absolutism associated with affirming that Jesus Christ is uniquely, exhaustively, unsurpassably significant for revelation and salvation.

Religion and Science: History, Method, Dialogue

From Amazon.com: Emphasizing its historical, methodological and constructive dimensions, Religion and Science takes the pulse of pertinent current research as the interdisciplinary study of science and religion gains momentum. This collection of original essays is well suited for an advanced introductory course to religion and science.

Religion and Science has three sections, corresponding to the three words in the subtitle. The first covers the history of science-religion relations, particularly in the west. The second section analyzes key methodological debates in the field. The third contains a set of case studies on science-religion topics. Each case study consists of two or three essays presenting perspectives on the topic from the sciences and from religious thought.

Book: Study Guide for Lost in the Middle

Written with Dr. Brandon Daniel-Hughes, this study guide is intended to help readers of Lost in the Middle? understand the book and make most use of it. The guide is particularly well suited for use in groups of people reading Lost together over a five-week period. The book is published on LiberalEvangelical.org.

Work in Progress

Book: Science and Ultimate Reality

The companion volume to Science and Religious Anthropology, Science and Ultimate Reality is to be published by Ashgate, probably in 2011. Science and Ultimate Reality focuses on the theme of ultimate reality in connection with the natural sciences, especially fundamental physics and fundamental biology. The book shows how the sciences can constrain such theological debates without determining their outcome; the effect of the sciences is to shift plausibility conditions.

Book: Effing the Ineffable: Unconventional Essays in Religious Philosophy

This collection of unusual essays demonstrates the various styles of religious philosophy (thought of as multidisciplinary inquiry, as articulated in the book by that name). It also explores the irony of apophaticism, as each essay attempts to say something about ultimacy, while also deconstructing the basis for the adequacy of such talk.

Book: God Is: Meditations on the Mystery of Life, the Purity of Grace, the Bliss of Surrender, and the God Beyond God

This book presents sermons and reflections on God. Each one attempts to speak the unspeakable, and in so ding to indicate how the irony of theological speech can be navigated in the practical context of the pulpit. The book will appeal particularly to Christians and other religiously interested theists who tend toward mystical beliefs about ultimate reality.

Book: Fragments: Readings and Reflections for Lent or Any Time

Rev. Samuel Johnson Lindamood, Jr. (died 1997) compiled this volume of excerpts from his favorite books, along with fifty original meditations. Each meditation is grouped with a selection of readings and bible passages into fifty themed days. He originally titled the creation "Germs" (in the sense of germinal ideas) and intended it as a Lenten manual of discipline. I have edited the book, working with Benjamin Wildman and with the support of Gay Lane, an old friend of Sam's. Now re-titled to make it more accessible, the book has achieved publishable form and is in search of a publishing house willing to put it into print. Each day is beautifully illustrated with photographs that match Sam's serious yet whimsical personal style, including some original photographs by Benjamin Wildman.

Articles

2010 Onwards

Wesley J. Wildman, “Cognitive Error and Contemplative Practices,” Journal of Nanjing University of Science and Technology (Social Sciences Edition), forthcoming, 2011 (in Chinese). PDF of English Translation

Wesley J. Wildman, “Human Beings in the Microbial Ocean,” Journal of Nanjing University of Science and Technology (Social Sciences Edition), forthcoming, 2011 (in Chinese).

Wesley J. Wildman, “Mark Johnston’s Naturalistic Account of God and Reality, Life and Death,” American Journal of Theology and Philosophy (forthcoming, 2011).

Wesley J. Wildman, “Comparative Natural Theology,” in Russell Re Manning, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2011). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, “Science and Religion,” in Dawn DeVries and Brian A. Gerrish, eds., The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology (forthcoming, 2010). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, “Evolution,” in Dawn DeVries and Brian A. Gerrish, eds., The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology (forthcoming, 2010). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, “Determinism,” in Dawn DeVries and Brian A. Gerrish, eds., The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology (forthcoming, 2010). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, “A Review and Critique of ‘The Divine Action Project’—A Dialogue among Scientists and Theologians,” in Fr. Val. A. McInnes, O.P., Philosophy and Theology in the New Millennium (Tulane University Press, forthcoming, 2010).

Wesley J. Wildman, “The Ambiguous Heritage and Perpetual Promise of Liberal Theology,” American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 32/1 (forthcoming, 2011).

Wesley J. Wildman, “An Introduction to Relational Ontology,” in John Polkinghorne and John Zizioulas, eds. The Trinity and an Entangled World: Relationality in Physical Science and Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010): 55-73. PDF

Wesley J. Wildman and Patrick McNamara, “Evaluating Reliance on Narratives in the Scientific Study of Religious Experiences,” International Journal of Psychology of Religion (20/4, 2010): 223-254. PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, “Distributed Identity: Human Beings as Walking, Thinking Ecologies in a Microbial World,” in Nancey Murphy, Martinez Hewlett, Christopher Knight, and J. Wentzel van Huyssteen, eds., Human Identity at the Intersection of Science, Technology, and Religion (forthcoming, 2010): 165-178. PDF

Reviews

“On The Re-Emergence of Emergence,” in the Companion to the International Society for Science and Religion Library Project (forthcoming , 2011).

“On Keith Ward, The Big Questions in Science and Religion,” in the Companion to the International Society for Science and Religion Library Project (forthcoming , 2011).

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Patrick Masterson, The Sense of Creation: Experience and God Beyond (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008), in Theological Studies (December, 2009): 979. PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Gordon D. Kaufman, Jesus and Creativity (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006), in Interpretation 61/2 (April, 2007): 231-232. PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, “The Soulful Soul,” a review article of Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary, The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul, and B. Allan Wallace, Hidden Dimensions: The Unification of Physics and Consciousness, in Science & Spirit (2007). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Laurence Tancredi, Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality (Cambridge University Press, 2005), in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75/1 (March 2007): 233-36. PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Nicholas Saunders, Divine Action and Modern Science, in Research News and Opportunities (2003). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Robert S. Corrington, A Semiotic Theory of Theology and Philosophy, in Journal of Religion 82/4 (Oct 2002): 657-8. PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Nancey Murphy, Anglo-American Postmodernity: Philosophical Perspectives on Science, Religion, and Ethics, and Wentzel van Huyssteen, Essays in Postfoundationalist Theology, in Journal of the American Academy of Religion (Fall, 1999). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Charley Hardwick, Events of Grace: Naturalism, Existentialism, and Theology, in American Journal of Theology and Philosophy (September, 1998). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Denham Grierson, Uluru Journey: An Exploration into Narrative Theology, in Uniting Church Studies 2/2 (August, 1996). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith, Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, in Journal of the American Academy of Religion LXIV/1 (1996); reprinted in the Templeton Foundation Religion and Science Newsletter. PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Stephen Toulmin, Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity, in CTNS Bulletin 16.2 (Summer, 1996). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Adina Davidovich, Religion as a Province of Meaning: The Kantian Foundations of Modern Theology, in Lutheran Quarterly (Fall, 1994). PDF

Wesley J. Wildman, Review of Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, Magic, Science, Religion, and the Scope of Rationality, in CTNS Bulletin 12.2 (Summer, 1992).

Lectures & Presentations

2010 Onwards

“Slipping,” presentation to Boston Theological Society, Newton, MA, November 11, 2010.

“Religious and Spiritual Experiences,” presentation to Boston University School of Theology Faculty, September 25, 2010.

“Modeling Religiously Inspired and Rationalized Violence,” presentation to the Boston University Religion Fellows Program, Boston University, September 20, 2010.

Wesley J. Wildman, “Describing Religious and Spiritual Experiences,” keynote address to Wisdom of the Ages IV Conference, Baltimore, Maryland, July 23, 2010

Wesley J. Wildman, “The State of Research on Religious and Spiritual Experiences,” keynote address to Wisdom of the Ages IV Conference, Baltimore, Maryland, July 23, 2010

Wesley J. Wildman, “The Development of the Scientific Study of Religion,” to Conference on Religion and Science for Visiting Chinese Scholars, Walker Center, Newton, Massachusetts, July 9, 2010

Wesley J. Wildman, “The Ambiguous Heritage and Perpetual Promise of Liberal Theology,” keynote lecture to annual conference of the Highlands Institute for North American Religion, Philosophy, and Theology, Boulder, Colorado, June 17, 2010.

Wesley J. Wildman, “The Future of Philosophy of Religion,” Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday April 22, 2010.

Wesley J. Wildman, “Multidisciplinarity in Philosophy of Religion,” Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday April 22, 2010.

Wesley J. Wildman, “The Life and Work of Claude Welch,” to the American Theological Society, Princeton Theological Seminary, March 26, 2010.