If a great Christian university makes any contribution to the world today it should surely be in bringing a Christ-centered perspective to the arts and sciences. A great Christian university must stand shoulder to shoulder with the best universities in its intellectual exploration and teaching.
Our unique contribution must be to bring the critical perspective of faith to the assumptions, processes, and findings of scholarly inquiry. Contrary to the prevailing narrative, learning is enriched when people of genuine, disciplined, irenic Christian faith engage deeply with the truth claims of the sciences.
IWU just recognized a wonderful new scholarly resource in this work. More on that in a moment.
Thursday I had the privilege of attending the annual IWU Celebration of Scholarship Luncheon where we celebrate the vibrant engagement of our IWU faculty and students with the arts and sciences. It was a special treat celebrate with Dr. Joanne Barnes as she won this year’s Outstanding Scholarship awarded by her faculty peers.
At the luncheon IWU’s John Wesley Honors College awarded this year’s Aldersgate Prize for outstanding Christian scholarship, and hosted the award recipient for a stimulating keynote speech.
The 2015 Aldersgate Prize was awarded to Professor Peter Harrison for his book, The Territories of Science and Religion (Univ. Chicago Press, 2015).
Formerly the Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford, Harrison is currently the director of the University of Queensland’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities.
Here is how Dr. David Riggs, Executive Director of the John Wesley Honors College, describes Professor Harrison’s work.
“Selected from over seventy nominations for this year’s prize, The Territories of Science and Religion is a highly learned and penetrating refutation of prevailing notions that the conflict between science and religion is timeless and inevitable. Harrison’s analysis calls into question the very legitimacy of mapping the cultivation of knowledge according to categories known as “science” and “religion.” He demonstrates that this boundary making is a deeply modern invention that is neither self-evident nor coherent. Beginning with antiquity, Harrison systematically traces the historical transitions of the concepts underlying the modern categories of “science” and “religion” from their status as complementary virtues to the polarized domains of knowledge familiar to us today. In the process of exposing the dubious foundations of the modern mythology of the conflict between “science” and “religion,” Harrison offers up a thought-provoking recovery of the alternative ways that the pre-modern western world conceived of the relationship between the study of nature and theological reflection on it.”
“The Aldersgate Prize selection committee believes The Territories of Science and Religion has the potential to alter the course of some of our most important cultural conversations. Harrison’s book is a highly accessible clarion call to think more reflectively and creatively about the “territories of science and religion.” And the text equips its readers to navigate these territories with fresh maps: maps that illuminate more clearly the essential intersections and boundaries and, accordingly, the most constructive paths forward.”