Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Verbum et Ecclesia]]> vol. 42 num. 2 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>A 'transversal' dialogue with Wentzel van Huyssteen's theological approach</b>]]> In this essay, I compared notes with Wentzel van Huyssteen, one of the most prominent theologians in the science-religion discussion. I followed the topics dealt with in a casual interview with Frits Gaum, in which Van Huyssteen responded to set questions: on his academic journey, God, the Bible, creation and evolution, human uniqueness, original sin, eternal life, Jesus and the relation between faith and research. Whilst there was considerable consensus between us in most respects, I would change the focus from an 'apologetic' agenda (science and theology were describing the same world from equally valid vantage points using comparable rationalities) to a 'missionary' agenda (making the Christian faith more accessible to scientists by following the approach of 'experiential realism'). Science confined its operations to different aspects of the reality that was accessible to human observation, explanation and manipulation, whilst theology concentrated on our relation to the transcendent Source and Destiny of all of reality. To make sense to a scientist, theology must shun unsupported postulates and speculations and confront the scientist with the basic alternative of claiming to be the ultimate authority over the immanent world (presuming to be the owner, master and beneficiary of reality) and being derived from, and responsible to, the ultimate Source and Destiny of reality. The confusion between immanent transcendence (aspects of immanent reality that were not accessible to our observation, explanation and manipulation) and transcendent immanence (immanent reality as a whole was open towards a higher Source and Destiny) bedeviled the interface between science and faith. Science challenged theology to provide experiential evidence; theology challenged science to be responsible to ultimate authority. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: Both Wentzel van Huyssteen and I have worked consistently on an interdisciplinary basis. However, whilst Wentzel focused strongly on the natural sciences, I spent most of my time on the relation between the Christian faith and the human sciences (economics, ecology, cultural anthropology, politics, etc.) and concentrated on the natural sciences only after my retirement. In my essay, I highlighted the difference between trying to demonstrate the comparability and compatibility between theology and science on the one hand and highlighting the challenge that science posed to faith and faith posed to science on the other hand. <![CDATA[<b>Human rationality in Vito Mancuso's liberal Catholic theology augmenting the notions of Van Huyssteen's '<i>postfoundational transversality</i>' and McGrath's 'rational consilience'</b>]]> The cue for this article is human rationality being the cornerstone in Wentzel van Huyssteen's thinking, and Alister McGrath's scepsis about the feasibility of a postfoundational transversality in particular. This article does not intend to juxtapose Van Huyssteen's postfoundational rationality to McGrath's enterprise of a 'rational consilience' but contends that a transversal approach to rationality engages social ramifications as well. Subsequently, a liberal Catholic theologian's take on rationality is presented here as such an offering from the social sciences contributes to a bricolage of unintegrated pieces of knowledge and discernments emerging from various disciplinary or social viewpoints on reality. Vito Mancuso continues to focus on human rationality which, in his view, provides humanity with the hope of eternal life or life from the perspective of eternity. Such a conviction is in line with his horizontal understanding of human rationality, in addition to the human being's first challenge to understanding reality. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The reason d'ĂȘtre of this article is to call for a discussion partner to the notion of human rationality from the social sciences (indicated as one of the neglected fields in the theology and science discourse). Vito Mancuso, for one, brings the pragmatic and transformative (even revolutionary) dimension to the table. A transversal approach to rationality must integrate such social practices as well. <![CDATA[<b>Human uniqueness: An unfinished agenda</b>]]> This contribution is structured in the form of a letter to Van Huyssteen focussing on his magnum opus, Alone in the World? (2006). It recognises, with Van Huyssteen, the danger of docetic detachment and scientific reductionism. It suggests that what is at stake in debates on human uniqueness is a defence of human dignity, human rights and human responsibility. It points to a dilemma in this regard, namely that affirming the evolutionary continuity of humans with other species as well as human dignity on the basis of human uniqueness is only possible on the basis of a hierarchy of intrinsic worth and not equal intrinsic worth. However, amongst humans, such a hierarchy cannot be sustained given the need to affirm equal human dignity. The underlying problem here is to address the dangers of anthropocentrism, especially in the so-called Anthropocene where humans have become a 'geological force of nature'. Van Huyssteen is challenged to consider the reverse side of the emergence of human uniqueness, namely the emergence of human sin. Are humans unique in this regard too? INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The theme of human uniqueness is by definition of multi-disciplinary interest as demonstrated in the work of Wentzel van Huyssteen. This contribution highlights an unresolved anthropocentrism, especially in the context of what is termed the 'Anthropocene', that is also of significance within multiple disciplines, including Christian theology and discourse on theology and science. <![CDATA[<b>A celebratory turning alone to Wentzel van Huyssteen: An academic appreciation</b>]]> In appreciative celebration of Van Huyssteen's contribution as international pattern-setter for the theology-science dialogue and especially on the nature of theological reflection and rationality, the article focuses specifically on the South African context and three contributions that Van Huyssteen made in engagement with Johan Heyns over a period of almost four decades. From his critical commentary on the Heyns/Jonker (1977) book publication Op weg met die Teologie through his Teologie as Kritiese Geloofsverantwoording (Van Huyssteen 1986) to his delivering of the Johan Heyns Memorial Lecture (2016), the two key theological-methodological issues that he consistently addressed were truth and progress. Van Huyssteen's basic concern throughout his academic career was on why the theologian would try to speak publicly, and the ever accompanying question on who would care to hear his voice. In critical engagement from a South African context with Van Huyssteen's answer to the question that he poses, it is argued that Van Huyssteen in his very sophisticated post-foundational approach, characterised by contextuality and transversality, ultimately does not methodologically take care of the constitutive interdisciplinary significance of affectivity of embodied persons in our publicly cognitive sensemaking of our respective lifeworlds, deeply characterised by pluriversality. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The article explores and critically discusses the initial Critical-Realistic approach that later developed into a post-foundational approach by Wentzel van Huyssteen. The discussion is consciously restricted to his South African publications and covers the fields of the philosophy of science, systematic theology, philosophy and evolutionary theology within contemporary science-theology discourses. <![CDATA[<b>On thinking</b>]]> The paper engages Wentzel van Huyssteen's lifelong fascination and occupation with thinking, for him particularly thinking as problem-solving. Responding to Van Huyssteen's own invitation, it brings Hannah Arendt's thinking on thinking in conversation with his own thinking by considering five crucial characteristics of the ways in which she both described and practised thinking over decades. These characteristics include: her thinking as responsibility, thinking in dark times, thinking without banister, thinking in public and thinking as thanksgiving. In the process the paper revisits all her well-known books and essays on these themes, whilst also pointing to some of the roots of her thinking in the similarly classic thinking on thinking of her mentor Martin Heidegger. It concludes by pointing to the major conflict between philosophical traditions concerned with rational problem-solving and unravelling puzzles, respectively, exemplified by the reputedly shocking 'poker' encounter between Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and expresses hope for ongoing conversation about this seeming conflict over thinking with Van Huyssteen and his work. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: Thinking about thinking, the essay addresses methodological questions in public theology, in interdisciplinary conversation with philosophy and political theory. Distinguishing faculties of the mind - thinking, willing, judging - it challenges which kinds of questions belong to public theology, with particular implications for doctrinal theology, theological ethics and political theology. <![CDATA[<b>Knowledge, science and rationality: In discussion with Wentzel van Huyssteen's earlier work</b>]]> The background of this research study is the ongoing debate since the late 1980s about the question of the rationality and scientific status of theology. Wentzel van Huyssteen's seminal book Teologie as Kritiese Geloofsverantwoording has, in South Africa and abroad (after he moved to Princeton Theological Seminary), became a standard text of reference in this debate. As the book appeared, the author of this chapter has been in numerous debates with Van Huyssteen about this book. Whilst certain aspects of the book cannot but be applauded, Van Niekerk has serious questions about aspects of Van Huyssteen's work that he raises in this chapter. The method used for writing this text is conceptual analysis; no empirical study needs to be performed for this kind of contribution. The main conclusions are as follows: 1. there are notable similarities between scientific knowledge and systematic theology. 2. It is not self-evident that in case of tension between notions of rationality operative in science and theology, it is theology that necessarily has to make serious adjustments. 3. Science does not have a monopoly over the understanding and utilisation of the idea of rationality. 4. Science is not the only correlate of truly trustworthy and reliable knowledge of reality. 5. All knowledge (including science) correlates with a variety of human interests. 6. The notion of rationality can and often does attain a meaning specifically related to the interest-directed forms of knowledge. 7. The meaning of the notion of rationality must be broadened in a way that makes it more universally applicable in all reliable terrains of knowledge. 8. The significance of philosophical hermeneutics for our understanding of a broadened notion of rationality ought to be better explored. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The contextual perspective of this article is the demonstration that the debate about the rationality of theology is well advanced, although far from conclusively resolved. A quite influential perspective in this debate - that of Wentzel van Huyssteen - is analysed and submitted to stringent critique. An alternative perspective is developed that deserves to be taken seriously in this debate. <![CDATA[<b>Do Christian and secular moralities exclude one another?</b>]]> The objective of the article was to critique two cognitive strategies used by both proponents of Christian and secular moralities to justify an exclusionary relationship between them, thus contributing to the conflict between them. They are the cognitive strategies of foundationalism and incompatibilism. The objective was also to resume a critical discussion of these two strategies in Wentzel van Huyssteen's publications. The method followed was, first, to provide a historical reconstruction of the relationship between Christian faith and the secular and, second, a critical analysis of Richard Dawkins' foundationalist view of secular morality and Stanley Hauerwas' incompatibilist view of Christian morality. Findings were that influential views of a positive relationship between Christian faith and secular morality are found in history, and that the foundationalist view of Dawkins and the incompatibilist view of Hauerwas are both untenable and contextually inappropriate. This led to the conclusion that there is no justification for the view that Christian morality and secular moralities necessarily exclude one another. The remaining challenge to find an alternative approach that would allow for a more positive relationship between these two moralities and provide guidance on adaptations they need to make was also identified. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The Christian ethical research undertaken in the article drew on research findings in the fields of Christian Ethics, Church History, philosophy, evolutionary ethics and psychology. Research results present Christian and philosophical ethics with the challenge to find an acceptable alternative for the problematic foundationalist and incompatibilist approaches.