New Conversations in Science and Religion: What Difference Might Critical Realist Philosophy Make?

An Interdisciplinary Conference
July 30-31, 2015, University of Notre Dame, IN (USA)

Critical realism is an innovative philosophical framework with the potential to open up space for constructive dialogue between the natural and social sciences, the study of religion, the humanities, and people and communities of faith. Critical realism seems more suited than other competing philosophies of science (positivism, hermeneutics, postmodernism) to take seriously the truth claims and inner worlds of religious believers.  A neo-Aristotelian realism of this kind takes seriously ontology and emergence, which allows for considering ideas like “love,” “forgiveness,” “virtue,” “flourishing,” and “divinity” as real and powerful causal forces, important for a more complete explanation of social phenomena. Religious perspectives may also have much to learn about science through critical realism. The goal of this conference is to further advance dialogues between science, religion, philosophy, and theology by drawing diverse thinkers together to consider the possibilities of better mutual understanding across these different fields of knowledge and inquiry. 

For a list of participating scholars and keynote speakers click here, or the tab labeled "Participating Scholars and Keynote Speakers Bios" on the right side of the page.

This one day-long mini-conference immediately follows the annual meeting of the International Association of Critical Realism (IACR), also to be held at the University of Notre Dame campus, from July 27-30. The joint scheduling of these two conferences is intended to encourage overlap between the two conferences’ participants. Consider attending both conferences, from July 27-31.

More information on booking travel, driving directions, making reservations, and things to do in the Notre Dame area can be found by clicking the links on the right side of the page. 

Thanks to several generous grants, we are able to provide housing and food at a very low cost to participants. The cost of attendance at the one-day conference is $125.00 USD, which includes two nights lodging and full board (three meals daily). For those who do not require overnight accommodations, the fee is $75.00 USD. The deadline for early registration is May 30. After that date, an additional $40.00 USD will be applied. The cost of attendance at the IACR conference is $400.00 USD, which includes five nights lodging and full board (or $235.00 USD without overnight accommodations). These costs are paid in a one-time charge at registration.

Paired accommodations are available to you in residence halls. Blankets, sheets and towels are provided during your stay. Lavatories and showers are shared in common with separate men's and women's facilities on each floor. There is no provision for more than two persons per room. Requests for adjoining rooms cannot be guaranteed. Should you prefer a single room, you will be required to pay an additional fee of $9 per night.

Notre Dame faculty/staff/student registration does not include meals, which will all be taken in the dining halls. If you are ND faculty/staff/student but do not have a meal plan, you can purchase individual meals on entry. The costs are as follows: Breakfast: $9.50; Lunch: $14.50; Dinner: $16.00. Food is also available for purchase at a number of locations around campus. Please see the sidebar to the right for information about dining options on campus and off campus, and in South Bend.    

We are also able to provide a limited number of scholarships to faculty from colleges and universities (1) with a Catholic mission or (2) affiliated with the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). These competitive scholarships cover full conference costs for both of conferences, from July 27-31, as well as a $300 stipend to use towards conference transportation costs. To apply for a scholarship, please submit the following materials by March 31: 1) A short application essay of no more than 2,000 words, detailing your current expertise and interests in science, critical realism, and/or religion/theology, and your vision for how attending the two conferences would enhance your research and teaching; 2) an up-to-date curriculum vitae; and 3) a letter of institutional support for your participation in the conferences from your department head or dean. Applications for scholarships should be emailed to: Nicolette D. Manglos-Weber at Please direct any questions about eligibility to the same address. Funding for these scholarships was secured with help from the Issachar Fund.