CTI Featured in Princeton Magazine!

by Linda Arntzenius

There was a time when the words science and religion rarely appeared in a sentence without the word versus holding them apart. This adversarial attitude can still be found in high-profile sword fencing between media personalities. But at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton you are more likely to find scientists sitting down with theologians, among other scholars in the sciences and humanities. Part of this change in the intellectual landscape is due to the inescapable importance of religion across the globe. Center Director William Storrar (“Will” to friends and colleagues) is fond of quoting the scientist who, when asked if he believed in God, responded: “I believe in humanity and humanity believes in God.” As Storrar puts it: “if you are going to deal with the problems of humanity, you need to deal with the question of God.”

The Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) has done much to bring about such changes in thinking. A sort of mini-Institute for Advanced Study bringing together scholars in religion and other disciplines for substantial dialogue on issues of real world import, it works like this: about a dozen scholars come to live in Princeton each year, a mix of eminent and up-and-coming. In addition to their own research, they collectively tackle a topic of the year. This year it’s international law and religious freedom. Before that, it was evolution and human nature. Next year and the year after, it will be astrobiology and the implications of actually finding some sort of life somewhere out there in the vastness of space.