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First Debates about God and the World31.03.2014 - (idw) Exzellenzcluster Religion und Politik an der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster
New format by the Cluster of Excellence brings the theologies, the humanities and natural sciences into conversation with one another 100 years of Protestant theology in Münster No single subject can answer complex issues concerning the future
The University of Münsters Cluster of Excellence Religion and Politics intends to stimulate the exchange between Protestant and Catholic theologies, the humanities, and natural sciences. To this end, together with the Department of Protestant Theology, the Cluster will for the first time present the public series Debates about God and the World. Prof. Dr. Reinhard Achenbach, Protestant theologian, dean, and member of the Cluster of Excellences board of directors, explains, Our societies are facing fundamental political, social, and ethical challenges such as the discussion about medicide for children or the consequences of the financial crisis. No single subject can answer such complex issues anymore. The disciplines should wrestle with these matters together.
At each of the debates, taking place on Tuesday evenings between 8 April and 8 July, a theologian and a non-theologian will discuss pressing issues concerning the future in a format open to public contributions. The first step towards interdisciplinary exchange is dispute, according to the scholar. There is no science without dispute. It is just as important as doubt. The new series is a key event in the Department of Protestant Theologys anniversary year: it celebrates its centennial beginning with a ceremony at the Residence on 24 April. It will be followed by numerous lectures, concerts, and symposia.
Brain research, cosmology, business ethics
The topics of the debates will range from the origins of the universe, brain research, business ethics, and the policy of peace, to the cooperation of religions and their relationship with atheism. Renowned researchers from the University of Münster and other German, French, and Swiss universities were invited: Protestant, Catholic, and Islamic theologians will debate with representatives from philosophy, physics, medicine, sociology of religion, and religious studies, Jewish studies, law, political science, and economics. Among them are the Freiburg neurobiologist Robert-Benjamin Illing, the President of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (GEKE), and regional bishop Friedrich Weber, the Münster medical ethicist Prof. Dr. Bettina Schöne-Seifert, the Münster physicist Prof. Dr. Markus Donath, the Green politician and policy of peace expert Winfried Nachtwei, and Dr. Michael Schmidt-Salomon from the board of the Giordano Bruno Stiftung.
The relationship of theology and non-theology of denominational and non-denominational research is not free of tension; their exchange, however, is all the more exciting, according to Old Testament scholar Reinhard Achenbach. Some look at religion from the outside, others from the inside. In doing so, theologians do not intend to dictate to other scholars their view of the world. Rather, there is the opportunity for the disciplines to learn from each other. Biblical exegetes could not work without methods of historical science; pastoral theologians could not do without the insights of psychology. Economists, conversely, increasingly request the expertise of theologians, for example, where international justice is threatened, which is also a consequence of the economic crisis.
Medicine, on the other hand, has made tremendous progress as regards the prolonging of life, according to the theologian. But when it comes to decisions at the close of life, it reaches its limits and seeks dialogue with ethics. In brain research, too, the disciplines can complement one another. Natural scientists do not generally describe the transcendental, says Prof. Achenbach. But for some years now, neurologists have been interested in the origins of religion, investigating physiological reactions to religious experience. Here, the dialogue with theologians could also provide new perspectives. Man is not only a biological being. He also has social, psychological, and religious attributes. There is much to talk about here.
The debates will be held on Tuesdays from 6.15 to 7.45 p.m. in lecture hall F1 in Münsters Fürstenberghaus, Domplatz 20-22, in place of the regular lecture series of the Cluster of Excellence Religion and Politics. The new format was given the subtitle Disputations between theology and natural and social sciences. (vvm/ska)
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