J. Wentzel van Huyssteen

J. Wentzel van Huyssteen

J. Wentzel van Huyssteen
James I. McCord Professor of Theology and Science, Princeton Theological Seminary

J. Wentzel van Huyssteen will speak on the recent findings in paleontology and anthropology in terms of human symbolic thought and creative imagination, addressing the question of what we have to learn about human uniqueness if we add the evolution of religion and sexuality and morality to the discussion.

Van Huyssteen was born and raised in South Africa. He earned a master of arts in philosophy from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, his Ph.D. in philosophical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands, and was ordained to ministry in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa.

His passion has been in philosophy of science and religious epistemology and, throughout the last couple of decades, he has helped to overturn hundreds of years of previous claims that the two disparate discourses cannot meet.

For 19 years, from 1972 through 1991, van Huyssteen served as head of the department of biblical studies and religion at the University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where he also studied the theories of knowledge or ways of knowing. During this time he published numerous articles and several books. One of these, Theology and the Justification of Faith: Constructing Theories in Systematic Theology (Eerdmans, 1988), was awarded the Andrew Murray Prize and a Bill Venter award for academic excellence. In 1991, van Huyssteen moved to the United States and on January 1, 1992, became Princeton Theological Seminary’s first James I. McCord Professor of Theology and Science.

At Princeton, van Huyssteen quickly became recognized for specializing in the dialogue between theology and science. He received a Templeton award for his published inaugural address, “Theology and Science: The Quest for a New Apologetics,” and Templeton science and religion grants for courses he initiated at Princeton, “Theology and the New Physics” and “Theology and the Challenge of Darwinism.” Since then, he has published numerous papers and lectured widely, not only in the United States, Canada, and South Africa, but also throughout Europe.

In January 1998, he gave the John Albert Hall Lectures at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. This lecture series, titled “Duet or Duel? Theology and Science in a Postmodern World,” was published in book form the following September by Trinity International Press in the United States and SCM Press in London. That book, along with Essays in Postfoundationalist Theology (Eerdmans, 1997) and Rethinking Theology and Science: Six Models for the Current Discussion (edited with Niels H. Gregersen; Eerdmans, 1998), received nominations for Templeton Awards for Outstanding Books in Theology and the Natural Sciences. He was appointed to the worldwide board of advisors of the John Templeton Foundation in September 2000.

A member of several national and international academic societies, van Huyssteen has been a member of the steering committee of the Theology and Science Section of the American Academy of Religion since 1992. In January 1999, the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts and Sciences invited him to chair an international committee assessing theological research in The Netherlands. In November 2000, he accepted an invitation by MacMillan Publishers, New York, to become editor-in-chief for the new Encyclopedia for Religion and Science, which published in 2003.

Van Huyssteen is a member of The European Society for the Study of Science and Theology, The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, and The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, and is an associate of the Chicago [now Zygon] Center for Religion and Science.

He is currently exploring the areas of evolutionary epistemology and the problem of multidisciplinarity.