Conference: The Quest for Consonance: Theology and the Natural Sciences

Location: McKenna Hall Conference Center

What is the relationship between faith and reason, theology and philosophy, religion and science? Since the rise of contemporary philosophies of science in the 1960s, there has been a growing desire to contextualize standard discussions of theology and science through newly understood historical and philosophical methodologies. This desire has shown itself primarily in historical studies on Galileo, Augustine, Aquinas, and contemporary studies on cosmology, evolutionary biology, and particle physics. Such studies have led scholars to interact in novel ways and explore previously unknown horizons of discussion, leading to an unexpected level of interdisciplinarity. In this vein, the international interdisciplinary conference, “The Quest for Consonance: Theology and the Natural Sciences,” represents a step forward in this movement towards more interactions between theology, philosophy, history, and science. Leading scholars from all four disciplines from around the world will come together to “seek consonance” among the fields and among each other, using as a common touchpoint the idea that there is more that holds us together than breaks us apart. 


Sunday, April 2, 2017
16:00 Registration
17:15 Public Lecture – Bas van Fraassen, 'Ernan McMullin's Epistemology and Nuanced Realism'
                Chair – Don Howard
                Reception following

Monday, April 3, 2017
8:40  Welcome by the Vice President for Research, Robert J. Bernhard & Celia Deane-Drummond
8:45  Seminar 1 – Cosmology and Creation (Chair – Andrew Pinsent)
                8:45 – 9:15    David Bentley Hart, 'Creation, Causation, Contingency'
                9:15 – 9:45    Stephen Barr, 'Current Cosmology and the Theology of Creation'
                9:45 – 10:15  Discussion
10:15 Break
10:30 Seminar 2 – The Future of Galileo (Chair – Terry Ehrman, C.S.C.)
               10:30 – 11:00 John Heilbron, 'Galileo: The Man and the Emblem'
               11:00 – 11:30 Michael Shank, 'The Long Reach of the Galileo Affair: From Hypatia to Recent Times'
               11:30 – 12:00 Discussion
12:00 Lunch for Registered Guests
13:00 Seminar 3 – Evolution and Theology (Chair – Celia Deane-Drummond)
              13:00 – 13:30 Francisco Ayala, 'Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion'
              13:30 – 14:00 Iris Fry, 'Consonance: The Case for the Origins of Life'
              14:00 – 14:30 Discussion
14:30 Break
14:45 Emerging Scholars Panel (Chair – Matthew Ashley)
              14:45 – 15:10 John Slattery, 'The French Revolution and the Vatican's Anti-Evolutionary Stance' (Notre Dame)
              15:10 – 15:35 Chris Oldfield, 'The Book of Nature and the Language of Mathematics' (King's College London)
              15:35 – 16:00 Joanna Leidenhag, 'Evolution and Theology beyond Emergence Theory' (University of Edinburgh)
              16:00 – 16:25 Dylan Belton, 'The Philosophy of the Organic and Its Contemporary Significance’ (Notre Dame)
16:30 Break
17:15 Public Lecture – Jennifer Wiseman, 'New Discoveries in an Ancient Universe'
              Chair – Chris Kolda
              Reception following

Tuesday, April 4, 2017
8:45   Seminar 4 – Realism in Science & Theology (Chair – Brad Gregory)
               8:45 – 9:15   Nancey Murphy, ‘The Un-Realistic Realism Debates in Science and Theology’
               9:15 – 9:45   Menachem Fisch, ‘Rationality and Paradigm Change in Science – Lessons from Religion’
               9:45 – 10:15 Discussion
10:15 Break
10:30 Seminar 5 – Challenging Theological Doctrines (Chair – M. Catherine Hilkert)
             10:30 – 11:00 Louis Caruana, ‘How Critical? How Realistic? Scope & Limits of the Scientific Engagement with Theology’
             11:00 – 11:30 Jame Schaefer, ‘The Power of God, the Empowered World, and Responsible Humans’
             11:30 – 12:00 Discussion
12:00 Lunch for Registered Guests
13:00 Seminar 6 – Possibilities of Consonance (Chair – Tom Stapleford)
             13:00 – 13:30 Michael Ruse, ‘The Paradox of War: Darwinians and Christians in Conflict’
             13:30 – 14:00 Peter Harrison, ‘Is Consonance Always Preferable to Conflict?’
             14:00 – 14:30 Discussion
14:30 Break
14:45 Emerging Scholars Panel (Chair – John O'Callaghan)
             14:45 – 15:10 Amerigo Barzaghi, ‘An Augustinian Natural Theology for Science & Religion’ (Intl. University of Catalonia)
             15:10 – 15:35 Ross McCullough, ‘Supernatural Acts, Unnatural Acts, and Naturalistic Explanations’ (Yale University)
             15:35 – 16:00 Michelle Marvin, ‘Responsible Resonance: Consonance of Content without Constraint of Mode’ (Notre Dame)
             16:00 – 16:25 Mark Graves, ‘Using Science to Study Theology’ (Fuller Theological Seminary)
16:30 Break
17:15 Public Lecture – Paul Allen, 'How to Renew Natural Theology'
              Respondent: Tom McLeish
              Chair – Celia Deane-Drummond
              Closing Comments – Don Howard
              Reception following

The conference will be held at the Notre Dame Conference Center


The Full Registration package includes conference sessions, materials, meals, and evening receptions.

External graduate students may purchase the "Full Registration" package at a reduced rate of $40.

Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and Holy Cross faculty, staff, and students may register without meals at no charge. In the interest of sustainability, please email if you would like to attend meals. For those members of ND/SMC/HC only wishing to attend discrete sessions, registration is not necessary.

The public lectures each evening are free and open to the public.

Full Registration will close after the maximum number of participants is reached. The deadline for registration is Friday, March 17.

  • Full Registration – $125
  • External Graduate Student Registration – $40
  • ND, SMC, HC Faculty, Staff, Student Registration (no meals) – Gratis

All registered participants are responsible for their own travel, lodging, and transportation arrangements.


A block of rooms is being held at the Morris Inn (located on campus, directly across from the conference venue) for the nights of April 2, 3, and 4. The single or double rate is $169/night (breakfast not included). Please click here to reserve rooms online or contact the hotel directly at 800-280-7256 to make a reservation. Please indicate you are attending the Quest for Consonance conference. To receive the group rate, rooms must be reserved by March 25.


Please email with any questions.

The Center for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing is grateful for the support of the Templeton Religion Trust, the John. J. Reilly Center, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Department of Theology, the Department of Physics, and the Department of Philosophy.