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Touch, skin, and surfaces- what role does touch play in religious practice? How might a scientific understanding of touch inform religious perspectives that emphasize embodiment? What has the lack of touch in the pandemic revealed about the tactile dimension of religious life?

Conspiracy theories, science, and religion. How best to understand popular religious skepticism of scientific authority (e.g., religious skepticism of masks/vaccines)? How does social mistrust impact the work of science and religion scholars? How does one responsibly ‘critique' scientific discourse in an age of conspiracy theories?

Popular physics and spirituality- how might popular physics books be seen as a form of spirituality? How well do these books track developments in physics? Is it ever epistemically appropriate to use physics in this way?

Big data (co-sponsored with Ethics Unit)- The accumulation and analysis of big data is touted as harboring immense new economic, political, and medical power. We invite papers exploring the potential use and ethical significance of big data for religious traditions. We are particularly interested in proposals that examine whether religious ethical traditions have sufficient resources to assess the collection, interpretation, and use of big or require fundamental conceptual and theological innovation to do so.

Science and Religion in a time of Pandemic- how do scientific and religious explanations (e.g., providence, chance, natural causation) of the COVID-10 Pandemic complement or exist in tension with each other? What has the pandemic changed/revealed about beliefs toward science and religion in society? How has the pandemic accelerated changes in work/relationships and what will be the long term-consequences of the shift?

Racism and Science and Religion- How has the authority of science been used to further racism (e.g., eugenics, technological disparities, genetic engineering)? In what ways does this legacy carry over in science and scholarship today? What assumptions should be challenged? How has the cultural category of ‘race’ circulated (or been ignored) in writings on science, technology, and religion?

Religions and the sciences: how might a truly multi-religious (as opposed to “Christian” and “non-Christian religions”) approach to science change the questions that scholars normally address? As scholars engage with particular sciences and particular religious traditions, are there ways to engage multiple religious traditions in defensible ways?

Finally, STR is always open to paper proposals or panels that do not fit any of these particular parameters.

Mission Statement:

This Unit supports scholarship that explores the relationship of religion, theology, technology, and the natural sciences. We support research that attempts to bridge the gap between religious and scientific approaches to reality and encourage the development of constructive proposals that encourage engagement and dialogue with the sciences, along with a critical assessment of the meaning and impact of technologies for the human condition and the natural world.

Method of Submission:




Greg Cootsona, gcootsona@csuchico.edu

Josh Reeves, jareeves@samford.edu


Steering Committee:

Peter Jordan, peter.n.jordan@gmail.com

Heather Mellquist Lehto, heather.mellquist@gmail.com

Sarah Lane Ritchie, sarahlaneritchie@gmail.com

Yunus Dogan Telliel, ydtelliel@wpi.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 3 – One 2-hour session and three 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2023