What does nature tell us about God, and what are the limits to what nature can say?
There is a long-standing Christian tradition that the study of nature can yield knowledge of God. Our interest here is to learn more about the conditions under which the study of nature yields knowledge of the divine. What sorts of divine knowledge can such study reveal, and what sorts of knowledge are beyond the scope of the study of nature? How do the various religious traditions perceive the relationship between the study of nature and knowledge of the divine?
What can we learn about what is true and real from religious sources of knowledge?
The great religious traditions all presuppose that truth and reality exist within a divinely-ordered system. Our interest here is to learn more about God’s character and purposes for humanity in order to develop holistic understandings of what is true and real. What are God’s nature and purposes? What is the relationship between creator and creation? What is the significance of humanity, and what is humanity's relationship to the rest of the created world?
What is the nature of the human person?
Many of the most contentious and difficult problems we face hinge on the question of human nature. Our interest here is to forefront how social challenges reflect, and influence, our understanding of human nature. What is it to be a person? What are the essential, and distinguishing, characteristics of personhood? What is the relationship of the individual person to groups of persons? How do different academic disciplines understand the nature of personhood? What moral norms and rights are universal to all persons in all times and all places, and what norms and rights are properly variable from culture to culture? How does the question of personhood bear upon our most intractable social problems?
How do cultural, social, biological, and psychological factors influence what we believe is true?
Human beings are individuals with a sense of self, but we are also members of social groups and larger cultures. Human beings are uniquely rational, but we are more than thinking beings. Our interest here is to explore and understand how cultural, social, biological, and psychological factors influence our perceptions of reality. How do we form our beliefs? What processes work to sustain our beliefs, and what process lead us to change them? How can those holding different beliefs live in harmony and work together for the common good?