Scales and Hierarchies:
Implications for Science and Religion

“Science and religion are both still close to their beginnings, with no ends in sight.
Science and religion are both destined to grow and change in the millennia that lie
ahead of us, perhaps solving some old mysteries, certainly discovering new
mysteries of which we yet have no inkling.”

Freeman Dyson, “Science and Religion: No Ends in Sight,” New York Review of Books, Vol. 49, No. 5 (2002)
Project Directors

Volney Gay, Professor & Chair of Religious Studies; Director, Center for the Study of Religion and Culture; Professor of Psychiatry; and Professor of Anthropology

Richard Haglund, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Vanderbilt University

Statement of Purpose

This three-year research seminar includes Vanderbilt scientists, social scientists, humanists, and theologians committed to a sustained dialogue between science and religion. To help traverse disciplinary boundaries and to examine scientific and religious discourses about their proper objects we use the model of the hierarchy of nature. This heuristic device lets us examine the problem of scale, extending from the very smallest to the very largest. We do not presume that any given discipline, scientific or humanistic, is superior to another. On the contrary, our intuition is that intellectual inquiry and the examined life, including its spiritual dimensions, are not subject to a single set of propositions, no matter what their source. We view the dialogue between science and religion as continuous and ongoing. What we begin as a three-year project we hope to grow into a permanent feature of intellectual life at Vanderbilt University.

Project Fellows

Ronald Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Radiology & Radiological Sciences
Lenn Goodman, Professor of Philosophy and Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities
S. Victoria Greene, Associate Professor of Physics
Thomas Gregor, Professor of Anthropology and Religion and Chair of Anthropology
Michael Hodges, Professor and Chair of Philosophy
Gary Jensen, Professor and Chair of Sociology
John McCarthy, Professor of German and Comparative Literature and Co-Director of German Studies
Sohee Park, Associate Professor of Psychology and an affiliate of the Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neuroscience (CICN)
Jeffrey Schall, E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neuroscience and the Vanderbilt Vision Center
Michael Stone, Professor of Chemistry
Michael Vollman, Assistant Professor of Nursing
David Weintraub, Associate Professor of Astronomy

For more information on the Seminar in Religion and Science, click here.