Original Research - Special Collection: SASRF The resurgence of metaphysics in science and philosophy and theology

The place of metaphysics in the science-religion debate

Daniël P. Veldsman
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 3 | a4655 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i3.4655 | © 2017 Daniël P. Veldsman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 May 2017 | Published: 15 November 2017

About the author(s)

Daniël P. Veldsman, Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Metaphysics has no place in the science-religion discourses (or dialogues) if understood as an a priori universal content of the nature and causes of all things. From an overview of the positive and negative dimensions and challenges of the contemporary science-religion discourses within each conversation partner itself and between the two, it is argued that metaphysical reflection represents a contextual-linguistic event that ‘takes place’ only after the contextual giveness is taken up within a very concrete historical-linguistic frame of reference for sense making. In a metaphoric sense, it is conclusively compared with the movements of atoms of which we can only state afterwards where the atoms have been. In this sense, McGrath’s remark that ‘(m)etaphysics is not the precondition of any engagement with the world, but its inferred consequence’ is supported. The ‘was’ of metaphysical thinking represents the emergent product of the concrete and specific lifeworlds in which they have ‘taken place’, that is, ‘eventuated’. The ‘was’ of metaphysical reflection is the most powerful (a posteriori) event of credofication (i.e. understanding life in terms of convictions of faith) for human beings in living, making sense of and participating empathically in the question ‘why there is something rather than nothing?’.


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