Lecture Precis

Pope Francis’s recent encyclical on the environment “Laudato Si’”is respectful of the scientific evidence for global climate change, and it is scientifically informed in many other ways, including its taking into account our organic connection to the rest of nature. Unlike secular treatises on nature and environmental responsibility, however, the encyclical expresses hope for a redemptive communion of all of creation with an Infinite Beauty. Apart from such a wide cosmic hope, our moral aspirations will remain too narrow and anthropocentric. By and large, however, the scientific and academic worlds today reject the prospect that the universe has any final meaning or purpose. This presentation asks, therefore, whether Pope Francis’s hope for the cosmic future is intellectually compatible with current scientific understanding of nature.

John Haught Biography

Jack F. Haught is Landegger Distinguished Professor of Theology at Georgetown University. His area of specialization is systematic theology, with a particular interest in issues pertaining to science, cosmology, ecology, and religion.

He is the author of Science and Faith: A New Introduction (2013); Deeper Than Darwin: Evolution and the Question of God (Westview, 2003); Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution (Paulist Press, 2001); God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (Westview Press, 2000); Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation (Paulist Press, 1995); The Promise of Nature: Ecology and Cosmic Purpose (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1993); Mystery and Promise: A Theology of Revelation (Liturgical Press, 1993); What Is Religion? (Paulist Press, 1990); The Revelation of God in History (Michael Glazier Press, 1988); What Is God? (Paulist Press, 1986); The Cosmic Adventure (Paulist Press, 1984); Nature and Purpose (University Press of America, 1980); Religion and Self-Acceptance (Paulist Press, 1976); and editor of Science and Religion in Search of Cosmic Purpose (Georgetown University Press, 2000) as well as numerous articles and reviews. He lectures often on topics related to science, theology and ecology. He has recently established the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Center for Process Studies, The Metanexus Institute, and other professional organizations. He lectures internationally on many issues related to science and religion. In 2002 he was the winner of the Owen Garrigan Award in Science and Religion and in 2004 the Sophia Award for Theological Excellence. Additionally, Dr. Haught was the only theologian to testify as an expert witness in the landmark 2005 Dover trial that ruled against teaching intelligent design in public schools (Kitzmiller et al. vs. Dover Board of Education). He is married, has two sons, and lives in Arlington, Va.