International Paul Tillich Society Meeting, New Harmony, IN, 19 June 1999


Presiding: Prof. Paul H. Carr, Philosophy Department, Univ. Massachusetts Lowell
Air Force Research Laborator Emeritus, Hanscom AFB, MA 01731-3010

These papers have been published in ZYGON: Journal of Religion and Science, June 2001, pgs. 255-349



Donald E. Arther

Webster University and Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO

The breadth of Tillich’s theology encompasses Ian Barbour’s four ways of relating science and religion: conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration. Whether religion is in conflict with or independent from science depends on the definition of religion. When religion is reduced to the narrow sense as "a social group with symbols of thought and actions, such as myths, liturgical words, theological formulation, and even metaphysical conceptualizations," conflicts can occur. When religion is defined in the broader sense, "an encounter with the holy, which is expressed as ultimate concern," religion becomes independent of science, defined as "the study of finite relation." "Dialogue" is the strongest and clearest type of Tillich’s thought. His method of correlation itself is certainly a form of dialogue between philosophy and religion—science being included as a part of philosophy. One could even make a case for correlation as a kind of consonance, where the philosophical (science) questions are related to the theological answers. Tillich’s theology of nature ("Life & Spirit", Part IV) includes the element of "integration." Tillich’s view of the relationship between science and religion is complex. There are different types of relations depending on the level of analysis and the definition of religion and science.

Arther concluded by playing a tape of Tillich’s 1963 address at the University of California, Berkeley entitled "Religion, Science & Philosophy," in which Tillich said:

"The period of conflict is in principle over between science and religion. The period of tolerance is present, but it is not altogether satisfactory because it easily leads to split consciousness. The period of cooperation has now become a possibility…My hope is that it will become a reality ever increasingly in the following decades."

During the discussion, John Douley, Carleton College, Ottawa, asked the following question:

"How would Tillich respond to Teilhard de Chardin’s claim that the

energy driving evolution is inherently Christian?"

Arther responded by referring to pg 5 of Vol. III of Tillich’s Systematic Theology

in which Tillich was "encouraged greatly to know that an acknowledged scientist had developed ideas about the dimensions and processes of life so similar to my own."

Arther also said the Tillich would have tried to express Teilhard’s statement in more general terms and was not as optimistic as Teilhard.

The Relevance of Tillich for the "Theology & Science" Dialogue

Robert John Russell

Founder and Director, Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley, CA, 94708

This paper explores the relevance of the theology of Paul Tillich for the contemporary dialogue with the natural sciences. First I will discuss the general relevance of Tillich’s methodology (namely the method of correlation) for that dialogue, stressing that a genuine dialogue (or what I call "mutual creative interaction") requires cognitive input from both sides and that both sides find ‘value added’ according to their own criteria. In doing so, I will argue against some of his neo-Orthodox critics that Tillich’s method of correlation does indeed involve a ‘two-way’ interaction with culture. Then I will move specifically to a ‘Tillichian’ theological analysis of science, or more particularly, of both twentieth century theoretical science and its empirical discoveries. First I will propose that such an analysis is possible if, in light of Tillich’s two formal theological criteria, we view science as revealing some aspects of that which concerns us ultimately and determines our being or nonbeing. Then I will undertake such an analysis by focusing on specific topics in science drawn from Big Bang, inflationary and quantum cosmologies, quantum physics, thermodynamics, chaos and complexity, and molecular and evolutionary biology, in correlation with specific sections in the structure of Tillich’s theological system. I will conclude by suggesting how this analysis can contribute strikingly to the current state of the ‘theology & science’ dialogue.



Anne Foerst

Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,Cambridge , MA 02139

Paul Tillich (1886 - 1965) has been one of the most influential Christian theologians of this century and the number of books and articles describing, analyzing, and criticizing his work is legion. One of the main tasks of Tillich was an attempt to talk with other academic disciplines. His theology was concerned with walking the boundary (one of the most important expressions of his theology) between two different worldviews, and not coming down on one side or another.

Mostly, Tillich is known for his attempt to dialogue theology with psychology and philosophy. He is also known for his `theology of culture' and his attempts to find theological depth in culture: in arts, in music, and in architecture. In addition, Tillich tried to talk to scientists and to understand them and their worldview. My research done in the Tillich-Archives of Harvard Divinity School and the archives of

Massachusetts Institute of Technology brought to light that during his time at Harvard (1955 - 1962) he gave well received lectures at MIT relating theology and the cognitive sciences. These attempts are unknown to many Tillich-researchers; this might be due to the fact that of five of those lectures, three are unpublished. In the MIT community, Tillich was very well accepted as a dialogue partner because his thoughts and his language were obviously communicable for these non-theologians. The main scope of this lectures and other lectures given for a scientific audience was to deal with descendants of Positivism and Functionalism for whom he tried to integrate existential questions into their worldviews.

I will first present the data from findings in both the Tillich-and the MIT-Archives. I will then place Tillich's thoughts on Cognitive science and Cybernetics in the context of his systematic theology and will finally outline to what extent his thoughts can be used to meet the technological developments in

the beginning 21st century.


Presiding: John Carey, Wallace M. Alston Professor of Religious Studies,

Emeritus, Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Ga.

Eschatology: ‘Eternal Now’ or Cosmic Future

Ted Peters

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, CTNS, GTU Berkeley, CA

This paper reviews Tillich's notion of eschatology, which essentially stresses the ETERNAL NOW as past and future meeting in the present. For Tillich our "Now" comes to an end with our death. Our anticipation of the future, with its threat of non-being, fills the present with meaning. Tillich seems to agree with Feuerbach, Marx, and Engels that belief in a life after death is a delusion that functions to deny our own finitude. Tillich argues that unending finite life is not taught in the New Testament, and that Christian  expectations of life after death exceed " the limits of essentially justified hope".

Peters rejects Tillich's position on two grounds: one Biblical and one theological. Biblically Peters argues that the concepts of " Eternal life" and the affirmation of the "resurrection of the dead" do indeed affirm personal resurrection and new life. Tillich seems to ignore fundamental Johannine and Pauline texts. Theologically Peters feels that Tillich does not do justice to the Biblical concept of eternity. He cites Wolfhart Pannenberg to claim that eternity should be considered as the whole of time, and it includes the fullness of being rather than the cessation of being.

Peters argues that we are more faithful to our theological heritage if we develop " an ontology of the future". We experience the power of being as a " pull to the future". God bestows upon us the possibility of becoming. This is the Christian promise; it is an "audacious promise, a fantastic promise", our cosmic future and fulfillment.

Ambiguity in Technical Society

J. Mark Thomas

Au Sabl e Institute of Environmental Studies, Mancelona, Michigan

Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wisconsin

Thomas begins by asking, "What is the spiritual situation at the turn of the Millennium? And what would this new situation demand of us?" He turns to a lecture that Tillich gave at the Wesley Foundation at the University of Mississippi in 1954, which exists today only in fragmentary notes in the Tillich Archive at Harvard. This was entitled " The Spiritual Situation in Our Technical Society". In this lecture Tillich noted that our spiritual situation is not static; political and cultural changes are always changing our cultural contexts. We can still, however, discern "determining structures and decisive trends." And what are these? They are the results of living in an industrially determined society. That means that our society and social reality are shaped by industry, with its emphases on production, efficiency, and profits. The elements which make for humanity, individuality, dignity, and the rootedness of place are lost. People around the globe are being pressed into the patterns of robots or automatons. Tillich sometimes called this trend the "bourgeois principle"-i.e., "the radical dissolution of all conditions, bonds, and forms related to the origin into elements that are to be rationally mastered, and the rational assemblage of these elements into structures serving the aims of thought and action." Spiritually this mode of existence produces meaninglessness; we lose sight of our ultimate ends; we are not encouraged to reflect on our ultimate concerns.

It is not surprising, Tillich noted, that in the United States people have reacted to this process of industrialization and loss of personhood morally, aesthetically, and religiously. He feared that, even in the religious realm, calls for authoritianism could be a negative factor in society.

When Tillich subsequently assessed the world situation in his famous essay in 1954, he saw the global struggle going on in the great ideological systems of liberalism, communism, and fascism. Each, in his judgment, offered " an ambiguous response to an ambiguous reality." In assessing our situation in 1999, Thomas feels that Tillich's critique of industrialized society is still valid, and that the quasi-religions are still present , but both of these cultural and political realities have been joined by the new ideology of postmodernism. This ideology, of course, emphasizes race, ethnicity, and gender. It finds its power in identity politics, but this movement also is ambiguous. Thomas ends with two questions: Can a new form of Communitarianism (he does not define this term) help to mediate individual moral responsibility? Can ANY movement creatively address the ambiguities of our technological civilization?




Ronald B. MacLennan

Bethany College, Lindsborg, KS

This paper addresses Tillich's interest in religion, science and technology, and begins by noting that Tillich saw all three of these arenas as critical for the understanding of modern life and culture. Early in his career, Tillich sought to describe authentic faith as " belief-ful realism." This would be a realistic faith that is open to the dimension of ultimacy. It goes beyond the piety of folk religion, and incorporates historical realism and scientific realism to give one a " passionate understanding and transformation of the historical situation". In Tillich's view only this type of faith will be adequate for the modern period.

Much of Tillich's early concern about the natural sciences was based on an inadequate epistemology. It was too heavily shaped by positivism and maintained that by " technical reason" it could give us objective truth. This mentality created the claims for a "scientific method", which created such a wall between the sciences and humanistic inquiry generally, yet alone with religion and the spiritual dimension of life. The theological question arising out of this conflict was how" belief-ful realism" amid scientific realism relate to each other.

MacLennan argues, however, that even in Tillich's lifetime things began to change in the natural sciences. Physics was the first discipline to depart from determinism with its uncertainty principle, wave-particle duality, and predictability limits in chaotic systems. These open up new possibilities for a constructive relationship between Tillich's belief-ful realism and scientific realism. Both in fact can now be seen as recognizing that the world is structured so that knowledge in general and scientific knowledge are possible. Scientific realism can agree with Tillich's critique of positivism and relativism, and the language of faith as well as science can reject reductionism. New possibilities of cooperation are before us.

In the modern context it is now possible to speak of a "Theonomous Science". Both modes of thought can help us address the human existential question. Science and technology have both demonstrated and multiplied the power of the demonic in the modern world. They include within themselves both threat and promise. The excursions into space have given us a fresh vision of spaceship earth, and our ecological discoveries have given us a new sense of the interlocking web of life.

This paper can be seen as defending this thesis: "Religion as ultimate concern is the meaning-giving substance of scientific and technological culture, and scientific and technological culture is among the totality of forms in which the basic concern of religion expresses itself." Scientists and people of faith need to join hands at the beginning of the next millennium to work for a universe that is truly God's sanctuary.



Paul Henry Carr

Philosophy Department, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA &

Air Force Research Laboratory, Emeritus, Hanscom AFB, MA 01731

Paul Tillich* observed the original unity of science and religion in antiquity. There was no conflict, as science had not emerged from "natural philosophy." For the ancients, the divine was not supernatural and the physical world was not natural. They were one and the same and, according to ancient mythology, nature was explained by the action of the gods. Tillich* noted that science arose as a separate discipline by the process of "demythologization." Conflicts arose, however, as scientific laws replaced ancient mythology and philosophy. Galileo’s belief in the new Copernican heliocentric universe conflicted with the Aristotelian system supported by the church. This, as well as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, was opposed by churchmen who sensed the dehumanizing and amoral implications of this new science.

Galileo’s scientific creativity resulted in new ideas, which conflicted with accepted paradigms. He had the Courage to Create, the title of a book by Tillich’s student and friend, Rollo May. The source of the "Courage to Create" in Tillich’s Courage to Be was the "God above God." By this he meant the God who transcends that of theism or of organized religion. Religion is a source of the "Courage to Create," which is essential for progress in scientific knowledge. Galileo, although deeply hurt by this conviction at age 69, never lost his faith and courage. He continued his research while under "house arrest" until age 78, when he "rendered up his soul to its Creator." Tillich’s insight of the "God above God" as the ground of courage and creativity will hopefully in the next Millennium enable religion to be reunited with science. Reconciliation and reunion characterize the New Being and Creation.

* Paul Tillich, "The Relationship Today between Science and Religion," In The Student Seeks and Answer, 296-306, Edited by John A. Clark, Waterville, ME: Colby College Press, 1960.


Re-conceiving God and Humanity in light of

Today’s Evolutionary-Ecological Consciousness

Gordon D. Kaufman

Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Professor of Divinity, Emeritus

Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02139

       I begin this lecture by acknowledging my deep indebtedness to Paul Tillich, under whom I studied

as a graduate student and who was a central figure in my doctoral dissertation. Over the years I

have often assigned one or another of Tillich’s writings in my teaching. But Tillich’s theological work

is, in certain respects, dated. The Christian tradition out of which Tillich worked had a strongly

anthropocentric slant to it, as ecologically-minded critics have repeatedly pointed out in recent years;

and Tillich's theology does not adequately overcome that deep Christian bias. Our most fundamental

human problems today have to do with what we might call the objective conditions that make human

life possible on planet Earth – a very different focus than the existentialist concern with human

subjectivity evinced in traditional Christian concepts like sin, guilt, anxiety, meaninglessness, etc.,

concepts that were central in Tillich’s anthropological thinking.

          We now have to reconceive human reality as deeply immersed in the highly complex ecological

order of life that developed on Earth over hundreds of millions of years, an order that we humans

have been increasingly disturbing and destroying in the past few centuries. Taking responsibility for

this destructive behavior will require us to change drastically our deepest attitudes, our ways of living

and thinking, many of our institutions and sociocultural practices. If we fail to do this, human life (as

well as much other life on our planet) will not continue much longer.

Following an introductory discussion of these matters, the main body of this lecture is devoted to

presenting and explaining three concepts of my own which, I argue, enable us to shift the inherited

anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism of Christian thinking in ways that will assist us significantly

in identifying clearly and addressing more effectively the issues to which we are now called to


     A.  we humans should understand ourselves as basically biohistorical beings;

     B.. God should be understood as neither a kind of "cosmic person" nor the "ground of being" but as the serendipitous creativity manifest (throughout the universe from the "big bang" on)

     C. In the trajectories (or directional movements) that emerge in the evolutionary development of the cosmos and of life (including human life) on planet Earth..

I show why and how these concepts fit appropriately with both modern scientific understandings of these matters and with a radical form of Christian faith; and how – if adopted – they will transform in significant ways Christian thinking about (and ultimately, we can hope, Christian attitudes, activities, and institutions bearing upon) our human place in Earth’s ecological order. This lecture thus suggests that, in light of today’s evolutionary-ecological consciousness, a rather drastic theological reconception of God and humanity is required..


Michael F. Drummy, Fordham University

Without coming off as an uncritical apologist for Tillich, I nevertheless hope to throw a bit of a different light on him. I would suggest we pause to look back momentarily at the significant contribution made by Paul Tillich to the formation of what Dr. Kaufman himself describes as "today’s evolutionary-ecological consciousness." In this way I hope that we can see not only some continuity between Tillich and our own age, but also come to appreciate Tillich’s vision of respect for the non-human world as well as his prophetic voice in calling for a responsible ethic of environmental stewardship.

As to the charge made by Professor Kaufman that Tillich’s understanding of both the Christian God and the Christian faith is one carved largely out of an anthropocentric framework, I am in basic agreement. Tillich’s Protestant existentialism does present us with limitations when looking to his theological project as a resource for a contemporary ecological theology. But they are just that -- limitations. As Langdon Gilkey has commented, however, Tillich should not be taken to task too hard for not developing a full-fledged theology of nature since such issues were not generally being addressed during his lifetime. Moreover, according to Tillich himself, his decidedly "theocentric" view of reality specifically and "sharply transcends a merely anthropocentric . . . theology." What is so amazing about Tillich is that, given the time in which he lived, we are able to discern so much in his work that is favorable concerning the relationship among God, human beings, and the non-human world. It is somewhat difficult to dismiss for reasons of anthropocentrism someone who so forcefully maintained that "the interdependence of everything with everything else in the totality of being includes a participation of nature in history and demands a participation of the universe in salvation."

I would argue, however, that, using a Tillichean ecology of being, one can go beyond mere "kinship" or "fellowfeeling" among all living things as a basis for an environmental ethic to that of true mutuality. By this I mean that, instead of using the term "biophilia" to define the relationship between humanity and the rest of the universe, one should use the term "bio-agape." This distinctively Christian notion of unconditional love, when wedded to the prefix "bio-", implies that there exists -- or at the very least there should exist -- a mutuality among all creatures that is reflective of God’s love for God’s creation.