Original Research - Special Collection: Wentzel van Huyssteen

Alone in the world? Indeed, and liberatingly so

Barend J. du Toit
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 2 | a2393 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i2.2393 | © 2021 Barend J. du Toit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 October 2021 | Published: 10 December 2021

About the author(s)

Barend J. du Toit, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

How do we know that we can trust our viewpoints, our dogmatic principles and our religious convictions to constitute veracity, if not truth? Where can an arbiter be found for our deliberations to establish the trustworthiness of our viewpoints or belief systems, when we differ one from the other on religious matters, and in the context of religious conviction also differ in political and social endeavours? Van Huyssteen deserves commendation for his contribution to this discourse in developing the concept of a postfoundationalist epistemology in an attempt to justify theology’s integrity, and endorse theology’s public voice within our highly complex and challenging world. He suggests that the concept of human uniqueness might be the common denominator in the contributions of theology (in its specific understanding of the unique status of humans in God’s creation) and science (in its understanding of the unique stature of Homo sapiens in terms of biological evolution). However, the author, in this article, argues that given the radically diverse disciplines of science in our highly developed technological – and indeed within our current Covid-dominated context (on the one hand) and the pre-scientific context of religion (on the other hand), it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine how it can remain possible to find something like a common issue, a shared problem, a kind of mutual concern or even a shared overlapping research trajectory that might benefit precisely from this envisaged interdisciplinary dialogue. Is it possible that ‘alone in this world’ could mean something different than what Van Huyssteen suggests?

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: How do we know that we can trust our viewpoints, and our religious convictions to constitute truth? Van Huyssteen develops the concept of a postfoundationalist epistemology in an attempt to justify theology’s integrity within the discourse with science. However, the author in this article argues that it has become increasingly difficult for systematic theology to find a shared overlapping research trajectory that might benefit this interdisciplinary dialogue.


Keywords

Wentzel van Huyssteen; theological anthropology; paleoanthropology; human uniqueness; COVID-19; integrity of Christian theology; biological evolution; neurological research

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