Deadline: 30 January 2023
Theme of the Conference: Physical Eschatology
Eschatology – theorising about the end of the world – has historically been the purview of theology and philosophy, in the same way that Cosmogony – theorising about the origin of the universe – was thought to be an exclusively speculative study, not an observational one. One of the most profound scientific discoveries of the twentieth century was that the solar system and the universe have histories that have left clear signs and markers that are accessible to observation. The theory of general relativity and further advancements in theoretical and observational cosmology opened the door to a scientific history of the universe. Observational and theoretical advancements about the nature of stars revealed the complex stages of stellar development and a history for our solar system and the Earth in particular. Parallel to those profound historical discoveries are scientific predictions about the future of our planetary home, our solar system, and the universe as a whole, each of which coalesces in a discussion of how they will reach their end, a “Scientific Eschatology.”
In this conference, we will first look back to the first major interaction of astronomy and Catholic theology, by recalling the scientific and theological reception of the theories of Copernicus, as we mark the 550th anniversary of his birth. Then we will consider the most recent developments in Scientific Eschatology, predictions about the future of our solar system and the universe, and Theological Eschatology, with a particular focus on the doctrine of the resurrection of the Body and the “New Heavens and New Earth”. Drawing on the insights of specialists from Europe and North America in astronomy, theology, philosophy, and history, our hope is to inspire interdisciplinary reflection and dialogue on what, if any, interaction there can and should be between scientific predictions about the future of the universe and theological reflection on the “end times” and what Christ promised will come afterwards.
We encourage both specialists and graduate students to contribute to the breakout sessions planned for both days of the conference. Paper proposals (no longer than 300 words) addressing topics discussed at the conference, as well as other issues in the dialogue between science and religion should be submitted by email to TIinfo@pust.it before 30 January 2023.