Is it a Thing? Scientific Knowledge as Ectypal Theology

Darren Hsiung

Session 1B, 10:40am, Room 112


In today’s mainstream, science is commended as a privileged form of knowledge. Closer inspections of science, however, suggest that its claims to objectivity are no less historically-contingent than social or religious or other forms of knowledge. As science is a human practice, trying to force a separation between “true” scientific knowledge from “erroneous” socio-politico-religious knowledge is artificial and problematic. These considerations are particularly significant to the faith when science is put forth as an authoritative means in determining the doctrine, piety, and practice of the church. I propose that recent historiographical critiques of scientific knowledge may be viewed as an application of “pilgrim theology” developed by late medieval and reformation theologians, and help orient contemporary discussions of science and religion.


Darren is a PhD student in the History of Science at the University of California Berkeley. His research interests relate to how the concepts and boundaries of science, religion and magic were historically understood, focussed on the late medieval and early modern European eras.

In a previous life, he studied electrical engineering and physics, doing graduate work in quantum optics at MIT and UC Berkeley. He left the laboratory to study historical theology at Westminster Seminary California, but ended up with an MDiv instead, working mainly with children and youth before returning to grad school.

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