Context and Catholicity in the Science and Religion Debate

Intercultural contributions from French-speaking Africa


For years the fact that the debate on science and religion was not related to cultural diversity was considered only a minor issue. However, lately, there is a growing concern that the dominance of ‘Western’ perspectives in this field do not allow for new understandings. This book testifies to the growing interest in the different cultural embeddings of the science and religion interface and proposes a framework that makes an intercultural debate possible. This proposal is based on a thorough study of the ‘lived theology’ of Christian students and university professors in Abidjan, Kinshasa and Yaoundé. The outcomes of the field research are related to a worldwide perspective of doing theology and a broader scope of scholarly discussions.
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Klaas Bom, Ph.D., is assistant professor of Systematic Theology at the Protestant Theological University in Groningen (NL). He has published on Intercultural theology, theological anthropology, and Blaise Pascal. Benno van den Toren, Ph.D., is chair for Intercultural Theology at the Proestant Theological University in Groningen (NL).
This important work breaks new ground in the dialogue between science and religion by highlighting the neglect of cultural diversity within western discussions of this theme. Bom and Toren make excellent use of Donald Davidson’s critical tool of ‘triangulation’ in exploring the forms that science and religion take in Francophone Africa, and how these inform our understanding of how different culturally located communities perceive this dialogue. This is a vitally important corrective to the ethnocentric approaches that have dominated western thinking, and opens the way to a deeper and richer understanding of this important intellectual and cultural dialogue. — Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, University of Oxford

Bom and van den Toren have written a truly remarkable book; through their examination of how three French-speaking African societies understand the relationship between religion and science they add new insight to the age old debate between these two entities. In addition these scholars bring the best tools of social science to theology. In doing so they chart the way forward for a new field of intercultural theology. This is a book that should be read by theologians, social scientists, and anyone who cares about getting beyond tired westernized understandings of the relationship between religion and science. — Elaine Howard Ecklund, Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, Rice University

Through this book the Authors have explored many questions that keep arising in African Academia, pertaining to the conceptual, pedagogical and practical interaction between Religion and Science. The history of schooling in Tropical Africa (both Francophone and Anglophone) has been intertwined with the history of Christian missions colonial rule and struggles for national sovereignty. These processes coincided with " secularization" as process, and "secularism" as ideology. The book invites readers to reflect critically on the porous borders between "Religion" and "Science". Although the book focuses on research based in French-speaking African countries, the theme of the book remains relevant for the whole continent. Readers will find in the book many questions that need more answers, and many issues that require follow up. — Jesse N.K. Mugambi, Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya
All interested in the current debate on science and religion and its cultural and historical background and anyone interested in African Christianity, African Modernities and Intercultural Theology.
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