Olli-Pekka Vainio
University of Helsinki


C.S. Lewis, Medieval Cosmology, Strange New Worlds

Of recent theological thinkers, one of the most widely read and ecumenically respected is C.S. Lewis. Mostly known for his works targeted to popular audiences, he was also a leading medievalist. He used his deep knowledge of medieval and Christian worldview constructively in his science fiction and fantasy novels. Taking my cue from Lewis’ way of engaging the grand questions about intelligibility of worldviews, I will chart the different ways humanity has constructed cosmological models throughout history. I will pay special attention to how the existential, philosophical or religious parts are coupled with the factual knowledge about the universe, from Enûma Eliš to contemporary theories about the multiverse. This will form a more historical section of my study, which will pave the way for a constructive part. How should we understand the boundaries of scientific and religious worldviews in our own context and what the history of philosophy can teach us about worldview construction? Is there a specifically Christian way of thinking about cosmology? In the light of modern astrobiology, how should we approach the classical doctrines like incarnation and theological anthropology?

Olli-Pekka Vainio is a University Lecturer of Systematic Theology at the Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, Finland. His research interests include history of philosophy and theology, and contemporary philosophy of religion. Previously, he was a visiting scholar at the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford, UK. His most recent publications include Religious Disagreement. An interdisciplinary approach (2016), Virtues. An introduction to theory and practice (2016) and Beyond Fideism: Negotiable Religious Identities (2011).