Catholicity as a Conceptual Tool for Interculturality in Science and Religion

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Historical and anthropological studies show that science and religion debates are significantly shaped by historical, cultural, and social factors. However, there is limited interaction between contextual studies and the dominant science and religion debate which, although generally conducted in a quasi-decontextualized manner, is in fact largely shaped by Western post-Enlightenment contexts. This article proposes the Christian theological notion of ‘catholicity’ as a tool that can be used to develop a constructive relationship between these two research traditions. Based on an overview of the relevant dimensions of the theological notion of catholicity, and on a comparison between catholicity in theology and in the natural sciences, we propose five ways in which the idea of catholicity contributes to the science and religion debate: (1) it creates awareness of cultural blinders and (2) of power dynamics, (3) it invites different cultural contributions to a critical conversation about the nature of the world we share, (4) it is a commitment to learn from a global research community while paying attention to marginal voices, and (5) it asks whether particular contexts require particular approaches for the issues at hand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217 - 238
Number of pages21
JournalPhilosophy, Theology and the Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Science and religion; catholicity; contextuality; universality; interculturality; globalization

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