From Dan’s report on the “symposia on faith and religion” sponsored by The John Templeton Foundation as part of the Darwin bash at Cambridge University:
The second talk was by J. Wentzel van Huyssteen, a Professor ofÂ Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, and it was an instance of Â â€œtheological anthropology,â€ full of earnest gobbledygook about embodied minds and larded with evolutionary tidbits drawn from Frans de Waal, Steven Mithen and others.Â In the discussion period I couldnâ€™t stand it any more and challenged the speakers: â€œIâ€™m Dan Dennett, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and we are forever being told that we should do our homework and consult with the best theologians. Iâ€™ve heard two of you talk now, and you keep saying this is an interdisciplinary effortâ€”evolutionary theologyâ€”but I am still waiting to be told what theology has to contribute to the effort. Youâ€™ve clearly adjusted your theology considerably in the wake of Darwin, which I applaud, but what traffic, if any, goes in the other direction? Is there something Iâ€™m missing? What questions does theology ask or answer that arenâ€™t already being dealt with by science or secular philosophy? What can you clarify for this interdisciplinary project?â€ (Words to that effect)Â Neither speaker had anything to offer, but van HuyssteenÂ blathered on for a bit without, however,Â offering any instances of theological wisdom that every scientist interested in the Big Questions should have in his kit.
But I learned a new word: â€œkenoticâ€ as in kenotic theology. It comes from the Greek word kenosis meaning â€˜self-emptying.â€™ Honest to God. This new kenotic theology is all the rage in some quarters, one gathers, and it is â€œmore deeply Christian for being more adapted to Darwinism.â€ (Iâ€™m not making this up.) I said that I was glad to learn this new word and had to say that I was tempted by the idea that kenotic theology indeed lived up to its name.