Dramatic Theology as a Research Program

"Research Group Innsbruck"[1]


Theology no longer plays a major role in our modern world. It has lost its privileged position especially in the academic world and often has to be content with its shadowy existence. On the one hand, the deeper reason for this changed position lies in the neutralization of religious questions within the civil public, which is a consequence of the Enlightenment. On the other hand, however, this change goes back to the emancipation of natural sciences from the questions of theology and their fascinating achievements having followed thereafter. The neutralization of the religious within the public, which had become necessary due to the wars of religion, actually was an important step towards the development of modern political and also scientific culture. However, this process going hand in hand with the increasing success of natural sciences has also led to a radical formalization of scientific thinking reaching beyond natural sciences. Therefore occidental scientific reason is no longer able to give a convincing explanation for contents like justice, tolerance, compassion, or love. Due to this development described as the dialectics of Enlightenment one again and again asks for those contents that have been driven out off the area of (political and scientific) public by the neutralization of religion, since it has become evident in the 20th century that social existence is being threatened. Such a change shows that secular sciences have meanwhile come into a crisis and have become questionable in their sociopolitical meaning. Their once unquestionable success can no longer be taken for granted; even more though; we cannot help hearing a current trend which is critical of sciences and blames modern science on the crises of today.

However, such a turn is not likely to bring about an automatic alteration for this kind of theology that has unwavingly been practicing the strategy of academic isolation for centuries and has been living in the academic no man's land. Moreover, this turn is no reason for any malicious joy either. The religious renaissance taking place in our days has not left any considerable traces in the context of the academic public so far. Fundamentalist groups, sects, new religions and above all foreign religions present themselves (first of all) as an important sector of today's public constructed by the media: also to the formalized reason of our time they very easily offer themselves as "fast food" - concerning their content - and as an irrational relief. Does such a renaissance have any significance at all for the scientific culture of our universities? To an increasing extent the religiousness of such groups serves a narrowly formulated religious need of the subjects concerned, but is absolutely no challenge for the scientific public, continues old fronts only and indirectly confirms the ethos of secular science. The numerous alliances between fundamentalists and (certain) (natural) scientists confirm this trend.

However, it is just due to the various challenges of the religious renaissance mediated by the media and above all the dangers hidden in it that the academic public should no longer suppress the question about the rationality of religions (their truth claim) and thus also about the scientific character of theology. The answers given by the Enlightenment have to be reconsidered by secular sciences, too. However, they must not be thrown over board if our (also European) world is not to fall back into the epoch of religious wars. If the university does not want to lose even more of its social relevance, it consistently has to work on a reorientation of academic culture and regain those aspects of reason that make it possible to creatively integrate all areas of life of modern people (and thus also their religiousness). For theology this does not mean at all that it only has to be "picked up" by the other disciplines of human or natural science (especially in view of the crisis) and enthroned into its previous role. The future role of theology actually has not yet been determined at all. The answer to the question how significant its role will be in the academic (and sociopolitical) context also brings up the problem of the adaptability of theological methods and ways of thinking; it depends on the question if theology will be able to express - also under the given standards of rationality - its genuine closeness to the Jewish-Christian revelation and to the tradition of the church, both in a dialogue held with secularized science and the secularized public, and consequently to make a contribution to the determination of these standards, too.

In this context the present text is now following a double aim; it is a self-verification in the light of the philosophy of science and a scientific-political program at the same time. Since 1979 a "loose" research group consisting of representatives of various theological disciplines have been gathering together at the theological faculty of Innsbruck. The discussions, symposia, and publications revolve around the questions about the relevance of religions in the context of modern society as well as the modern recollection of central contents of both the biblical revelation and the tradition of the church. In various ways the works are inspired by the mimetic theory of René Girard; there were and still are differences among the participants as regards the extent of identification with this theory. In continuation of the discussion in the philosophy of science, as it was initiated in theology mainly by W. Pannenberg, the work of this so called "Friday circle" is to be located in the context of the present discussion in the philosophy of science. This self-verification should help to motivate the present participants to summarize and criticize the work done so far and to invite others to cooperate in the future. Last but not least, it should als clarify more precisely and step by step the status of mimetic theory for the "Research Project: Dramatic Theology".

1.) Discussion in the Philosophy of Science

According to recent considerations in the philosophy of science, it is decisive for empirical human and social sciences as well as for natural sciences that they no longer know any last foundations on which they base their buildings of knowledge. They work with hypotheses and probably are so successful for this very reason. There have actually been attempts to secure unquestionable foundations also for empirical sciences (see positivism), but these attempts have generally failed, as has especially shown the discussion around K. Popper[2] and Th. Kuhn[3], whose works have been in the center of consideration from the perspective of the philosophy of science in the last few decades.

Against the expectations of positivism, Popper has demonstrated that theories can never be directly deduced from empirical facts and cannot even be verified by them. Perceived facts are already theory laden and therefore theories can only be drafted in a creative way. According to Popper, it is characteristic of sciences to decide by falsification among possible theories. Thus it is in fact impossible to preserve a rationality which is based on unshakeable fundaments, but it is actually possible to maintain a critical one. Against this position, Kuhn has been able to demonstrate that in the history of sience falsification has never functioned in the way demanded by Popper. Facts contradicting a theory have either been regarded as anomalies and have therefore not been taken into account or have been explained by additional hypotheses and thus integrated into the theory. Nevertheless, some theories have evidently become obsolete since in situations of crisis new drafts have been developed in a revolutionary way and the supporters of the old view have slowly become extinct. The historical view shown by Kuhn can therefore imply the thought that the entire history of sciences has followed a rather irrational course.

In this situation, I. Lakatos has elaborated a proposal that tries to reconcile in the best possible way Popper's demands for a critical rationality and Kuhn's historical view by the idea of a research program[4]: Theories could in fact never be falsified for the short therm, but there would be competing research programs among which one could choose in a way that may be considered to be rational. In Lakatos's opinion, changes in scientific history have not come about in a merely irrational way, but progressive research programs have driven out degenerating ones. According to Lakatos, a research program consists of a body of theories and a collection of data. The body of theories has a hard core (central hypothesis) and a larger number of auxiliary hypotheses, by which the data are related to the hard core. A scientific program is progressive and mature if it firstly does not have to defend itself against bulk facts by many artificially devised hypotheses, secondly contains a positive heuristic to discover new facts, and thirdly receives support by actually found facts.

Many people consider Lakatos's view to be the best that can be said today in the discussion of the philosophy of science.[5] Therefore it is absolutely necessary for theology to deal with his draft. Especially in the American language area one has so far gone into this matter. Above all the works of N. Murphy[6] and Ph. Clayton[7] have to be mentioned in this context. Both take up Lakatos - even though in somewhat different ways - as a discussion partner for theology. For both, however, the central theological discussion partner is W. Pannenberg and his attempt to overcome the gap between natural sciences and humanities (above all history) and to justify theology as a hypothetical science. His work published already two decades ago still deserves great attention also in our context.[8]

1.1 Wolfhart Pannenberg

Pannenberg criticizes the classical distinction by which natural sciences aim at explanations by laws (nomological), while humanities seek hermeneutical understanding. He claims that on the one hand the precondition for any explaining is an understanding, on the other hand, however, understandig can also be regarded as a preform of explaining.[9] Therefore Pannenberg supports a "system-theoretical" (system-theoretisch) concept of explanation instead of a nomological one"[10], which coincides with an extended concept of understanding. It is not the final objective of a "system-theoretical" concept of explanation to subsume the individual matter to general laws (Popper, Hempel etc.), but to incorporate it into a whole, which also applies to the extended concept of understanding.[11] With such an extended concept of explanation also the historical explanation turns out to be "no longer the mere opposite of the explanation based on the law of nature, but also forms a special case of a more general concept of systematic explanation as the incorporation of the matter to be explained into the respective context of system, which is given in the historical explanation by the succession of events and in the explanation of natural sciences by the theoretical context of the 'natural order'"[12]. In this context also the hermeneutical procedure can be regarded as an explaining which aims at "incorporating the single phenomenon into the whole having the character of a structured class in which the single matter is considered to be an important member in all its 'individuality'".[13]

For humanities, which deal with human experiences of meaning in their objectivations, this precisely means that semantic units (meaning of words and their contexts) are to be integrated into ever larger contexts. If one really wants to understand and explain anything, it is therefore necessary to anticipate the final totality of meaning. "As any single meaning is dependent on this totality of meaning, the latter is always implicitly related to in each experience of meaning".[14] Thus Pannenberg also finds an answer to the question about truth, since - according to him - it coincides "in its inner coherence with the totality of meaning comprising all experiences."[15] This also shows why the totality of meaning or truth has - scientifically seen - a hypothetical character. "If each experience of meaning does imply a totality of meaning, which is not given in a completely determined form, however, but just as an instruction for hermeneutical reflection to a progressive penetration into its connections of meaning, then the fact of existing single experiences of meaning does not imply at all that reality as a whole must be based on a positive total meaning. Due to its indeterminacy, the totality of meaning implied in each experience of meaning is rather put in it only in a problematic way and thus also the single meaning being experienced is made problematic. These facts show how the impression of meaninglessness is at all possible."[16]

For Pannenberg, the question whether the entire history makes sense or whether there actually is a comprehensive totality of meaning or truth is identical with the question about God. As regards the formal aspect, he brings up this problematic issue in the context of anthropology, as regards the content he takes it up in connection with history. If there is a god, he must be the reality which determines all the reality (that can be experienced). This concept of god as the "all determining reality" can only be measured by its own implications and has to prove itself by the experience of world and man.[17] A reality determining all and consequently also man can finally only happen to him. The testimonies of such happenings can be found in religious history, to which theology therefore is referred. The testimonies, however, remain indirect. "God's reality is always given in subjective anticipations of the totality of reality only, in sketches of the totality of meaning implied in each individual experience, which in turn are historical, i.e. which remain exposed to the confirmation and disruption by the continuation of experience."[18] Therefore time and history are central for Pannenberg, since they determine the way in which the last mystery can manifest itself in the world. "Each new step, as long as its barrier is still covered, arouses the impression of the manifestation of the all-embracing, infinite mystery. Therefore time is the condition and the measure of the infinite's appearance in the finite, since the difference between future and presence veils the barrier of the present and lets it shine in the full light of the infinite, as long as its time lasts."[19] Therefore a definite manifestation of God is not possible until the end of history.

In the context of this understanding of science and the world, it is important for Christian theology that Jesus acted in an apocalyptic horizon, i.e. that he anticipated the end of the entire history of mankind and the resurrection of all the dead. Only in this context could he talk about God as a reality determining the entire history. However, since Jesus did not appear at the end of the world, but could only foresee the totality, his proclamation remained only a subjective anticipation and consequently problematic and hypothetical. It required a confirmation of God Himself, by the raising of the crucified from the dead, in which the end of the world was not only anticipated by hope, but in which the raising of all dead actually happened in advance.

The historical arguments that speak for Christ's raising from the dead are very important for Pannenberg. He tries to show how the extraordinary reports of the New Testament can be understood and made credible in their context and by today's expectations of hope. However, they remain historical judgements of probability and are therefore controversial in the course of further history. The Christian can bring his belief that Jesus' raising from the dead actually took place only as a hypothesis into the discussion, and the success will depend on the question whether the Christian belief will be able to integrate the ever new experiences in history into its view and thus interpret them more deeply.[20]

1.2 Nancey Murphy

According to Nancey Murphy's opinion, the very reason for the failure of Pannenberg's project of the philosophy of science lies in the anticipation of the future totality of meaning. In her study made in continuation of a work of Jeffrey Stout[21], the American theologian starts from the probability thinking, which was for the first time developed in Port-Royal's Logique (1662) and has over several steps led to the general criticism of the Christian theology in D. Hume's work.[22] By this theory, theology was confronted with a completely new challenge and a new way of thinking.[23] Pannenberg actually has - almost as the only theologian - got involved in Hume's criticism in an open and honest way. They both have in common that they consistently start out from experience and history. However, there is obviously one decisive difference as for Hume all knowledge is based on narratives or past experiences and all concepts are therefore "past-entailing predicates"[24], while Pannenberg claims that all knowledge includes an anticipation of a future totality of meaning. His concepts are therefore "future-entailing predicates"[25]. As the bases for determining all concepts are completely different in Hume's and Pannenberg's theory, both systems cannot be directly compared with each other in Murphy's view: they are incommensurable. According to Pannenberg's methodology, his system would have to be more comprehensive than Hume's system for being accepted after critical verification and would have to be able to integrate the latter. In Murphy's opinion, however, this is in fact not the case, since Hume's system suspends the basis of Pannenberg's thinking[26], as the latter cannot integrate the epistemology of the English philosopher.[27] Starting from Pannenberg's own premises, therefore it could not be explained why his system should be preferred to Hume's theory.[28] - Moreover, Pannenberg's methodology is unworkable since it finally follows an evolutionary view. In this way one could always describe afterwards only how things have actually developed and there are no clear criteria which theory should be chosen and preferred for the future. Moreover, it is hopeless in Murphy's opinion to make the choice between two systems dependent on the total interpretation of the entire history.[29]

In our view, Murphy's criticism of Pannenberg is not convincing in important points. First of all, the anticipation of the end of history is no longer a merely abstract or even abstruse claim in our days. Since mankind has made it possible to destroy itself completely and to cause the end of mankind, each conscious act happens today - whether this is accepted by the people or not - under the respect if it either contributes to the possible end or opens up a further future. This anticipation, which can be empirically shown, is not only a clear sign that the question of totality is irrefutable, but also demonstrates how the conceptual framework by which we assess the presence necessarily includes an anticipation of the future. Thus a further point is given at the empirical level, which is important for the choice between Hume and Pannenberg. In the past three centuries, innumerable researchers have projectively drawn up new ideas and have made new inventions. In all this research, central concepts have never been based on past-entailing experiences only, but have always included future-entailing elements, too. Only in this way has the progress in science, technology, economy, and the society become possible. Consequently, the epistemology of Hume, which is only oriented towards the past, has been empirically disproved without doubt by the history following him. Finally the epistemology of Pannenberg is not incommensurable to Hume's epistemology, but just more comprehensive, since it is not only "past-entailing", but "past"- as well as - "future-entailing".

After her criticism of Pannenberg, Murphy proposes an alternative method for theology and refers to I. Lakatos in this context. She considers his position from the perspective of the philosophy of science to be the best, as firstly it is supported empirically by the history of science[30], secondly it stands up to the criticism brought up so far[31] and thirdly there is no better alternative[32]. Murphy also states precisely what is meant by new facts which - according to Lakatos's methodology - have to be discovered by a research program so that it can be regarded as progressive. For most of the research areas it is not the facts having been totally unknown so far which are meant here. New facts in the sense of Lakatos's methodology are rather those that have not been used for the development of the theory to the support of which they are mentioned afterwards.

Murphy then tries to demonstrate by enlisting empirical examples from the past how Lakatos's methodology can be applied to theology. Thus the Catholic-modernistic theology (A. Loisy, G. Tyrrell, E. Buonaiuti etc.), for example, could be understood as a research program in its tendency, which in Murphy´s view has on the whole corresponded with Lakatos's requirements. According to Murphy, however, it is also possible to find new data for theology with the help of this method. The hard core of a theological research program could, for instance, read as follows: God is acting in history. The criteria of the theologian of the Great Awakening Jonathan Edwards (1703 - 1758), of the founder of the Jesuit order Ignatius of Loyola (1491 - 1556), and of the Anabaptist Pilgram Marpeck (1495? - 1556) could be used as additional hypotheses how ever new spiritual experiences are to be related to this core hypothesis, provided that they are seen in connection with the whole Christian tradition of spiritual distinction.[33]

1.3 Philip Clayton

It is only Philip Clayton who is able to find a constructive mediation between Pannenberg's theory and Lakatos's approach. In his work Explanation from Physics to Theology/An Essay in Rationality and Religion he first of all deals with the problematic issue of explanation in natural sciences. He compares the so-called formalist approach, which proceeds in a deductive-nomological way (Popper, Hempel), with the contextualist approach taking the entire research context into consideration (Toulmin, Hanson, Kuhn, etc.). According to him, both are insufficient for themselves[34], and he sees - just as Murphy does - a constructive mediation in Lakatos.

Unlike Murphy, Clayton also goes into social sciences before he tries an application to theology. In this area he also makes an attempt to mediate between a formalist and hermeneutical perspectiv. First of all, he critically goes into the communicative rationality of J. Habermas. In his view, it does have many positive sides and can also very well describe aspects of the religious language. "The communicative turn", however, turns out to be inadequate, "when one attempts to specify what social scientific explanation actually is and in what sort of discourse it functions"[35]. Formal conditions of theories and regulative ideals could not be derived from pragmatics.

According to Clayton, it is the nature of understanding in the hermeneutical sense to grasp patterns of meaning, since it is not possible to understand any human action without respect to its inherent content of meaning. Any adequate theory of explanation must, however, "maintain a sharp distinction between two separate levels, that is, between the actions that we aim to understand and the explanations that we formulate concerning those actions."[36] In this connection, Clayton considers a social scientific explanation to be a reconstruction of specific human patterns of behavior and attitudes. Such an explanation presupposes the understanding of the content of meaning, without being identical with it.

The step from the social scientific to the religious topic takes place where all experiences are step by step incorporated into a final totality of meaning[37], which is brought into connection with a religious tradition[38]. Due to the universality of the meaning sketch it does become difficult, but not impossible, in the religious area to maintain the difference between (sensitive) understanding and explaining as a reconstruction.[39] Based on this distinction, Clayton attempts to give reasons for the scientific character of theology. He believes that at the level of understanding religious totalities of meaning spontaneously and necessarily tend to avoid dissonancies and to incorporate in some way those experiences that seem to contradict their own view. It is the task of theological explanations to point out such dissonances and to overcome them by intersubjectively comprehensible reconstructions, by which the immediately lived totality of meaning is at the same time differentiated and deepened. With such reconstructions, however, there could also be the case that contradictions can only be removed by such a reinterpretation, which would include a thorough transformation of the entire religious tradition. Like Pannenberg, Clayton therefore claims that the concept of God remains hypothetical in scientific-theological explanations. Clayton does not consider this to be a contradiction to the unconditional commitment to belief. Since every totality of meaning is complex and historically limited, every believer spontaneously makes experiences in which he is - at least for a certain time - facing his own belief as if he would regard it from outside. This is especially true for today's world, since big areas of life are interpreted according to special autonomous systems of meaning (psychology, sociology, economy etc.). Therefore most of the people live in separate worlds which mutually pose problems to each other. This also applies to the majority of believers. Clayton speaks about 'secular believers'[40] who in our days have to live, think, and work in systems of meaning that are foreign to their own belief. Such worlds of life often let their own belief appear questionable. Therefore it is especially urgent for religious communities today to find theological explanations or reconstructions to overcome the dissonance.

Based on these considerations, Clayton maintains that theological explanations can claim a scientific character, even if they cannot be directly verified[41] or falsified. His "fallibalist epistemology" avoids "the alleged necessity of being either a foundationalist or an antifoundationalist."[42] Together with Pannenberg he sticks to the claim that theology does have a scientific nature especially in the context of the concept of God. However, the theological statements therefore have to be constantly revised in the light of further research and discussion.[43] Nevertheless, a statement about truth is possible for Christian theology in spite of the basically hypothetical character: "To apply an insight from Lakatos's work on research programs, if no rival is a live option, one may well remain with a clearly inadequate explanatory system ... But today there are many live options. The theologian ... is committed to engaging the other positions in serious and open dialogue. If a rival view can offer a more satisfactory explanation, it will merit rational consideration and may either be incorporated within or replace an existing explanatory system. Therefore, at this level the questions of meaning and of truth coincide in Christian thought: I cannot feel that the Christian explanation makes sense of my total experience unless I also believe that it is true of the world."[44]

In the epilogue to the German translation, Clayton also explicitly refers to the work of Murphy. He emphasizes numerous points in which he agrees with her and even speaks of a common concern. He sees differences in the fact that Murphy regards "Lakatos's criteria as a direct test for theological truth claims", while he interprets "the approach of the research programs as a model for a theory of rationality"[45]. Moreover, Clayton claims that Murphy directly switches from the problems of natural science to theology, while it is important for him to find a mediation by the question of meaning as it arises in social sciences. He also sticks to the ideal of correspondence theory of truth and believes that this view cannot be given up by theology if it wants to understand itself in the traditional sense.

Above all, it seems to be decisive that Clayton - similar to Pannenberg - considers the concept of the totality of meaning to be inevitable and supposes that only within this framework religious statements could indirectly prove worthwhile, which also includes philosophical considerations, whereas Murphy does not regard the concept of totality as workable[46] and aims at a direct and critical verification of particular experiences with the help of Lakatos's criteria.

2. "Dramatic Theology"[47] as a Theological Research Program

From the explications given so far the conclusion suggests itself that theology - if it wants to participate as a discussion partner in the scientific discourse of today - first of all has to clearly show the distinction between an unconditional commitment to belief and hypothetical-explaining reconstruction as formulated by Clayton. Research programs in Lakatos's sense can serve as hypothetical reconstructions, among which a certain rational choice according to their progressivity is possible.[48]

2.1. Unconditional Commitment to Belief and Hypothetical Theology

As an unconditional commitment is part of a full Christian belief, the question arises if a theology with hypothetical character - even though in a very specific sense - is reconcilable with this fact. Earlier theology did not systematically elaborate such a distinction. However, it can be shown that such a view does correspond very well with the Christian understanding of revelation. The Christian belief can in fact only find to a true and unconditional commitment if it somehow comprehends Israel's way with God and the experiences of the disciples with Jesus. In this process, the earlier concept of God was often questioned and transformed. Only in this way could the belief prove worthwhile in history. Reflection upon deviant meaning sketches did not happen afterwards, but was rather part of the revelation event itself. We can notice in the Old Testament, for instance, that decisive revelatory breakthroughs always took place in situations of crisis. In view of the destroyed Jerusalem and David's exterminated dynasty the prayer in Ps 89 thus remembers the old unconditional promises given to David and he must dicover upon this background: "But now you have spurned and rejected him; you are full of wrath against your anointed. You have renounced the covenant with your servant; ..." (Ps 89:38f, NRSV). The bitter experience showing up here seemed to contradict completely the old promises on which their belief had been based so far and was even bound to imply the questioning thought that the gods of the victorious Babylonians had turned out to be stronger than the God of Israel. This historical disappointment consequently made their own old promise alien to Israel's people. It could only be saved by the fact that Jahwe's followers interpreted their belief in Jahwe's Anointed and the covenant in a completely new way and thus overcame the contradiction to their present situation. - A similar process can be found in the book of Job, in which a just man also radically questions - or even doubts - the old theology of God's blessing and punishment, since he can no longer bring it into line with his own experience.

The New Testament knows the problem of a deep shattering, too. Jesus' disciples absolutely wanted to follow their master due to their first overwhelming experiences. His arrest and crucifixion, however, totally contradicted those expectations which had been wakened in them by the message of the near Kingdom of God. Therefore they ran away in the decisive moment and already at Easter two of them had to say the following on their way to Emmaus when looking back in mourning to the life of Jesus: "He (Jesus of Nazareth) was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, but our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel."(Lk 24:19-21). In view of this disappointed hope not even the message of the resurrection could first dissolve the confusion; First of all it rather aroused confusion (Lk 24:22), big fear (Lk 24:37), even "terror and amazement" (Mk 16:8), and was confronted with unbelief (Mk 16:11; Mt 28:17; Lk 24:25,38; Jn 20:25).

As the Christian belief is entirely based on Israel's way with its God and on the testimony of the disciples and apostles about Jesus' life and fate, it inwardly always has to repeat anew the long way of revelation if it wants to reach an unconditional commitment. Since the way of revelation was dramatic, however, and included experiences by which their previous hopes and convictions became foreign or even problematic to the believers, the way of comprehending belief somehow has to include experiences of crisis and disappointment, too. - Theology consequently has two possibilities: It can either be drafted from the perspective of the overcome crisis, which nevertheless does include the possibility of ever new crises, or it can comprehend more intensely the way through the crisis and the reflection upon alternative drafts. If it does the latter, which is especially demanded in the present situation of big religious pluralism, it explicitly has to take a hypothetical shape. This, however, does not include at all that belief also subjectively is to remain doubtful all the time.[49] No religiuos community could in fact live with permanent doubts. It is not the subjective doubt which is demanded but only the firm willingness to go honestly into all questions being relevant for the respective matter in order to achieve that convictions are regarded as hypotheses at the level of the philosophy of science. This attitude can correspond with a subjectively firm belief.[50]

2.2 Hypotheses and Auxiliary Hypotheses

A research program in Lakatos's sense consists of a hard core and a belt of auxiliary hypotheses, by which the various phenomena are related to the hard core. The distinction between core and belt has been elaborated in view of natural sciences. For theological research programs, which - as we have seen - have to refer to the total reality, a further differentiation in Lakatos's methodology suggests itself. The general religious view has to be differentiated from the view of a concrete religion, and within this a central perspective of belief again has to be distinguished from individual theologies in the sense of auxiliary hypotheses. Therefore the term research program can be interpreted more broadly or more narrowly. Here it is used step by step, in so far as (1) very general hypotheses are formulated, (2) they are specified in view of the Christian religion and concrete human experiences, and (3) they are surrounded by a belt of auxiliary hypotheses. Starting from this distinction, the research program "Dramatic Theology" or "Unity without polarisation" is formulated in three steps with subdivisions (comprehensive framework, hard core of hypotheses, auxiliary hypotheses) by the following hypotheses:

2.2.1 Comprehensive Framework

(1-1) The entire reality is more comprehensive than the material world, the human experiences of meaning and thinking.

(1-2) The entire world that can be experienced has its very basis in a god who generally is to be comprehended as a "mystery"[51], who is perceived by the people in a most contradictory way, but is standing above all changes and conflicts in the world that can be experienced.

(1-3) The fact that the finite thinking is basically unable to comprehend the divine mystery and the desire for meaning, which cannot be stilled, are decisive motives for the constant reflection upon man's cognitive faculty and also the reason for the development of ever new forms of thinking.

The hypotheses formulated in (1-1) and (1-2) are based on the phenomenon of the multitude of religions in the entire history of mankind, on aesthetic, artistic and inner experiences and on basic considerations criticizing materialism - also in its recently developed "system-theoretical" forms. The hypotheses include the prediction that the people will make numerous religious experiences also in the future and that - also in public - religions will continue to play an important role.

The hypotheses (1-2) and (1-3) include that it is part of our thinking to reduce the different experiences in our world (religious and non-religious) consistently to a uniform, but still in itself differentiated denominator (universality of reason). A comprehensive epistemological reflection upon the concept and actual forms of "dramatic thinking" (as a new organon for theology), which still has to be made, obviously suggests itself for the research program described here. Above all, the category of "acting" in relation with God, which is central for the Christian concept of God has to be reconsidered in the context of "dramatics" and made useful (in view of the discussion in the philosophy of science about the "question of truth"). In this connection, also, the issue of the traditional proofs of god would have to be taken up again[52] and the question about the actual meaning of the concept of god posed anew.[53] It will be especially important to show that this concept is not arbitrarily drafted (above all in a contradictory and polarizing reality), but its problematic nature necessarily comes up when the question about human thinking is deepened (God as the being beyond which nothing greater can be thought).

2.2.2 The hard core

The following hypotheses concern the Christian conviction of God's acting in the world. They presuppose the belief (the Christian system of meaning) that the divine source of the entire reality communicates itself to this reality in its acting. In spite of the basic inability of the finite thinking to comprehend the divine mystery, this belief attained by the Jewish-Christian testimonies does dare the conclusion to a personal, communal life in God himself (trinity as the perfect example of interpersonal unity without polarization).

The hypotheses formulated here as the "hard core" of the research program represent central dimensions of the Christian belief in a very specific perspective and exclude at first sight many theological as well as numerous empirical problems. This limitation is not arbitrary and has been made intentionally. The research program is based on a sacio-cultural phenomenon, which is concretely historical and universal at the same time, i.e. leaves its deep mark on all people and all cultures, becomes a precondition to survive for a mankind growing more and more together to only one worldwide community, and seems to eclipse other fundamental experiences (where the Christian question about God could also be taken up). Therefore the argumentative and "empirical" verification of the correctness of this perspective should not happen through a permanent "discussion" of possible alternatives, but rather by the incorporation of all the other theological topics as well as empirical phenomena into this "hard core".

(2-1) A deep, true and lasting peace among people which is not based on sacrificing third persons and can exist without polarization onto enemies is very difficult or even exceeds human strength. If it nevertheless becomes reality, this is a clear sign that God Himself (the Holy Spirit) is acting in the people. This logic of incarnation is shown in the biblical message as well as numerous "signs of the times" in human history.

(2-2) If true reconciliation fails, the problem which people do not cope with is shifted onto third persons - often in the name of God. As Jesus let the evil fall upon Himself in his non-violent love of enemies (unity of action with His father) and as God raised Him from the dead (unity in fate), the failure in our own struggle for true reconciliation can be positively reappraised through the belief in Him (forgiving, conversion) and can always be incorporated anew into the struggle for a lasting peace. Social life made possible again and again in this tension between shifting onto others and reconciliation is the place of all the other human experiences (like finity, sexuality, etc.) and even transforms the experiences of nature.

Both hypotheses first imply a certain interpretation of biblical scriptures and follow the basic characteristics of the logic of incarnation so that it also applies to our time. According to this logic, God proves to be holy in the very moment when he is gathering the people. In a dramatic process the thought of gathering is again and again transformed in the biblical tradition (from a particular collective living at the expense of others or destroying the enemies to a new gathering which is also integrating enemies).[54] This new gathering becomes especially evident in the New Testament, since Jesus' proclamation of the near Kingdom of God was identical with his effort to bring together the internally split Israel.[55] This effort did fail first. Through the formation of a mob against Him, by which all the evil was shifted onto Him (cross), God's acting through Him and with Him - Easter and Pentecost - was nevertheless leading consistently to the actual gathering of a new people (= church). The central core of the research program proposed here consequently understands the new gathering (people Israel, church) as a criterion for God's historical acting. This view factually coincides with the way the church sees itself: "In Christ the church is like the sacrament, that is the sign and instrument for the most intimate union with God and for the union of the entire mankind" (Vaticanum II, Lumen gentium No. 1).

The statements given in (2-2) show how the Christian doctrine of redemption can be incorporated into the understanding of revelation and the church, which is formulated here as a research program. With the help of a dramatically understood doctrine of redemption, other theological topics (ecclesiology, sacraments [above all Eucharist], grace, eschatology, trinity) can be related to each other and to conflicts and processes of reconciliation in human life.

2.2.3 Auxiliary Hypotheses

The belt of auxiliary hypotheses critically refers to the totality of historical experiences being aimed at and to the experiences of nature and tries to relate them to the comprehensive framework and the hard core.

(3-1) Rene Girard's theory offers a set of instruments in order to relate in a critical analysis of human and social sciences the various religious, political, and emotional experiences made by the people in the course of history to the central hypotheses of (2-1) and (2-2).

(3-2) As a theologically turned anthropology and an anthropologically turned theology, the understanding of theology implied in this research program is standing in line with Karl Rahner's thinking. The individual hypotheses are to be understood in this context.

(3-3) The analysis of the results of natural sciences is also part of these hypotheses. Here the view of Teilhard de Chardin, which shows a final convergence of historical and natural processes (Point Omega as the unity of mankind in Christ and in the cosmos), serves as a possible guideline. The development of a new type of science (cybernetics, information theory, game theory, chaos theory and catastrophy theory etc) arouses the conjecture that the contrast between natural and human science may be overcome. The hope standing behind this development to comprehend the unity of reality as a unity of universal structures is an explicit challenge to the research program "unity without polarization".

The most important auxiliary hypotheses formulated with the help of Girard's theory (3-1) read as follows: (1) As mimetic beings the people build cultures in mutual imitation (see language) and they tend, as universal experience proves, to rivalry and aggression due to the acquisitive mimesis. - (2) Communication usually happens through a common polarization onto victims/enemies (scapegoat mechanism). - (3) Sacred projections (archaic religion) arise from the ecstatic-violent polarization, by which the empirical sacrifices are veiled (myths). - (4) Originally, the ritual sacrifices were above all controlled practices of violent polarization to secure peace. - (5) The cultural institutions (central authority, kingdom, barter economy, money etc.) were step by step developing from the religious rites. - (6) All big religions are laborious attempts to differentiate and separate the actual religious from violent projections. - (7) In the Jewish-Christian history of revelation, after a long way of various mixed forms, the projections and violence are completely disclosed and basically overcome in the fate of the suffering servant and Jesus. - (8) With the help of the category 'mixed form' or 'mixed text', the various historical experiences and the phenomena dealt with in human sciences can be examined from the perspective of the two original scenes - the scapegoat mechanism as well as the overcoming of projection and violence in Jesus' fate.

In hypothesis (3-2), the statement about an anthropologically turned theology says that God's acting on anthropological phenomena ( e.g. a "deep, true, and lasting peace"[56]) can be actually experienced. The hypothesis (2-1) is to be understood in the line of K. Rahner's searching Christology,[57] according to which it is possible to show an implicit existential understanding for all people, which is oriented towards brotherly love, hope for the future, and acceptance of the death and can never be completely blotted out, not even by freely intended evil deeds; in an "appeal" to this implicit understandig God's acting of salvation can be discovered as having attained its goal in Jesus Christ. This approach is taken up by the hypothesis (2-1), but is at the same time modified by putting the distinguishing experiences rather in the social area, i.e. in the desire and the ever threatened effort of people to attain an unlimited (i.e. an indefinitely and all people including) peace. - Moreover, the statement about a theologically turned anthropology means that the anthropological criteria for God's acting (here: the continuing peace) cannot be simply presupposed. Their exact meaning must be rather clarified in a process of hearing the divine revelation as a believer.[58] As in this way the exact meaning of the hypotheses and their central concepts can only be gathered from the future history of struggling for truth, which is at the same time a theoretical research program and lived experiment,this is an important starting-point for a dramatic theology as well as for the clarificaton of the relationship to the theses of René Girard (see 3-1).[59]

Concerning (3-3), the hypotheses existing today have not been very thoroughly elaborated so far. It was only Teilhard de Chardin (1881 - 1955) who demonstrated a basic direction - based on the state of knowledge available to him at that time - how a critical relation of natural scientific, historical, and theological statements is possible. The basic principle of his evolutive thinking, according to which a growing unity is at the same time differentiating, can be very well brought into line with all hypotheses having been formulated here. Nevertheless, his view has to be further clarified in the light of the most recent results of natural sciences.[60] Compared with the mechanistic ideas of the 18th and 19th centuries, the newer and newest results (quantum theory, chaos theory etc.) actually are rather comprehensible to a theological view, but there still remain problems which can in fact be better solved if also natural sciences undergo further development.[61]

In (2-1) and (2-2) the central core of the research program is intentionally formulated in a way that it is independent of the specific auxiliary hypotheses. But in the belt of auxiliary hypotheses, which could not be thorougly described here at all, the mimetic theory of René Girard has got an important position for two reasons: On the one hand, every Christian community trying to live its unity without polarization is confronted with questions that factually contain a discussion of central elements of Girard's theory.[62] The numerous theses of this theory on the other hand, aim at relating the entire breadth of human history to the central core of the research program (positive heuristics). Thus, the criterion of the totality of meaning, which plays a central role in the scientific methodology of Pannenberg and Clayton, is taken into account. This by no means disputes the possibility to confirm the auxiliary hypotheses themselves with the help of new facts or to question them. Girard has developed his theory from literary, ethnological, and psychological data and has confronted it with the Bible. Other researchers have used his hypotheses for explaining and clarifying texts and phenomena which Girard himself has never gone into.[63] Moreover, it is especially interesting that entire fields which do not play a role in his writing have received a new light from the perspective of his theory. Thus representatives of political economy have newly depicted important authors of their discipline in his light[64] and have tried to give a more precise interpretation of important epochs in the history of economy from this viewpoint.[65] Moreover, it has been possible to give a coherent interpretation of political events having taken place after the development of Girard's theory.[66] His theory even contains a systematic challenge to all human sciences. Therefore F. Lagarde speaks of a Girardian Christianization of these sciences.[67] By this statement he does not mean a dogmatic advocating of Christian truths, but rather the uncovering of inner problems of the sciences in question, to the deeper interpretation of which the biblical message can decisively contribute.

According to Lakatos's criteria, the auxiliary hypotheses of the mimetic theory therefore contribute to the progressivity of the research program for the time being. Like in every theory, there are certainly also bulk facts which make distinctions necessary. Therefore further work will show if these distinctions will finally make also the mimetic theory that ponderous that it becomes a danger for the progressivity of the research program. It remains a hypothesis (even though an important one) from the belt of the auxiliary hypotheses of the research program, which constantly has to prove worthwhile. Its special privileged position in the belt of auxiliary hypotheses is its stamp of quality and its stumbling block at the same time.

2.3 Commitment to Belief and Research Program

Belief is much more than an academic matter. The central core of hypotheses (2-1 and 2-2) shows that the research program can be understood in a broader sense as it is lived or in a more narrow academic sense. Every Christian community which is consciously and consistently trying over a longer period of time to foster the unity in itself and peace with others has to make experiences that are significant or even central for the proposed academic research program.[68] In the effort to attain a deeper unity, it is necessary to take up anew the traditional criteria for distinguishing the spirits, to which N. Murphy has already pointed as a possible starting point for a theological research program. At the same time, these criteria having been traditionally related rather to the individual area do become clearer in the social context. Personal experiences of inner peace actually remain more ambiguous than commonly perceived peace. As many people have to be in inner agreement with each other in order to make this peace - without polarization onto enemies - possible, a very intense and intersubjective process of clarification, checking and verification is necessary, in which also problems mentioned in depth psychology have to be reappraised. The connection with interpersonal processes having been lived and suffered may be significant for any theology today; however, for the research program proposed here it is actually indispensible.

Also a political task is given with the research program described here. As religious communities easily tend to become enslaved to nationalist and tribalistic forces and to strenghten political communities especially in their polarization onto enemies, the research program unity without polarization explicitly opposes this tendency. In this connection the task is given to draft a political order reckoning, on the one hand, with the weaknesses of the people (basic inability to overcome the scapegoat mechanism) and nevertheless stemming these tendences, e.g. by a world order that knows a central authority and also includes a strong federal structure.[69]

As the tendency to rivalry and the mechanisms of veiling and projection are effective everywhere, the research program Dramatic Theology or unity without polarization is neither in the form as it is lived nor in its academic form tied to any specific culture. Whereever the negative forces can be actually overcome, experiences are made (according to the preconditions of the research program) which reach down to the deepest roots of a culture, clear and renew it and at the same time transcend its frontiers towards God. The research program consequently also takes up the intercultural problem.

In the broader as well as in the more narrow sense, the hypotheses of the research program therefore are to be a challenge for people belonging to non-Christian religions. They are invited to make a deliberate effort also to attain true unity and to record explicitly in this context how they bring their positive and negative experiences in this effort into connection with their religion. This should show more precise criteria for the interreligious dialogue than those used so far.[70] In this way, however, also the hard core of hypotheses (2-1 and 2-2) and consequently the entire Christianity is intentionally exposed to a constant critical verification.[71]

The research program being described here finally advises those people explicitly who feel committed to humanism only to try experiments falsifying the "hard core". Fundamental objections against (1-2) and (2-1) would be self-evident if people should definitely manage to find a growing and deeper peace among themselves by explicitly referring to their own forces only over a long period of time and without any concealing and polarization.


[1] Raymund Schwager, Jozef Niewiadomski, Herwig Büchele, Wilhelm Guggenberger, Silvia Hell, Elmar Koziel, Gerhard Larcher, Otto Muck, Wolfgang Palaver, Dietmar Regensburger, Willibald Sandler, Walter Schmolly, Roman Siebenrock, Peter Tschuggnall. - This article has been elaborated in the framework of the research project "Religion - Violence - Communication - World Order", in which the above mentioned persons participate. On the one hand, this research project continually has a critical look at the research project "New Enlightenment" led by Prof. H. Reinalter at the Faculty of Humanities in Innsbruck. On the other hand, there are constant contacts to the international scientific society "Colloquium on Violence and Religion (at Stanford)".

[2] K.R. Popper, Logik der Forschung (Die Einheit der Gesellschaftswissenschaften 4). Tübingen 51973; ders., Conjectures and Refutations. The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, London 31969.

[3] Th. Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolution, Chicago 21970.

[4] I. Lakatos, Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programms. In: Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Proceedings of the International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science, London 1965. Hg. von I. Lakatos [u.a.]. Cambridge 1970, 91-195; drs., Die Methodologie der wissenschaftlichen Forschungsprogramme. Philosophische Schriften 1. Hg. von J.Worrall [u.a.]. Braunschweig 1982.

[5] "The most elaborate and systematic attempt to formulate a 'sophisticated falsificationisme' to meet these difficulties appears to be that of Imre Lakatos. In what follows I shall explore, and tentatively endorse, the suggestion that religious beliefs are falsifiable in Lakatos' sense." W.H. Austin. Religious Commitment and Logical Status of Doctrines. In: Religious Studies 9 (1973) 39-48, here 43. - "Lakatos's 'sophisticated' falsificationism comes up to the fact emphasized by T.S. Kuhn that each new scientific theory is from the very beginning confronted with a multitude of anomalies which should in fact force us immediately - according to the criteria of a 'naive' falisificationism - to refute the theory in question even before it can prove its success. On the other hand, Lakatos is able to avoid the relativistic consequences of Kuhn's 'psychologism' by putting the applicability of the criterion of falsifaction in concrete terms." A. Kreiner, Ende der Wahrheit? Zum Wahrheitsverständnis in Philosophie und Theologie. Freiburg i.Br. 1992, 560f.

[6] N. Murphy, Theology in the Age of Scientific Reasoning. Ithaca 1990.

[7] Philip Clayton, Explanation from Physics to Theology, An Essay in Rationality and Religion.. (Rationalität und Religion. Erklärung in Naturwissenschaft und Theologie. Aus dem Amerikanischen von M. Laube mit einem Vorwort von W. Pannenberg. Paderborn 1992).

[8] W. Pannenberg, Wissenschaftstheorie und Theologie. Frankfurt a.M. 1973.

[9] "This can mean that the scientific explanation of laws is only a special form of understanding or even a abkünftiger*** modus of understanding in Heidegger's sense. The fact that the understanding precedes the explaining can, however, also be understood in the way that understanding is only a preform of explaining, an incomplete explanation." Pannenberg, Wissenschaftstheorie (see footnote 8) 139.

[10] Ibid. 141.

[11] Ibid. 138.

[12] Ibid. 150.

[13] Ibid. 141.

[14] Ibid. 216.

[15] Ibid. 219. - This statement, however, remains somewhat unclear, in so far as Pannenberg does not distinguish sharply enough between the concept of truth as the correspondence between statement and meant reality and the criteria (coherence and consistence) by which the statements are assessed according to their truth.

[16] Ibid. 217f.

[17] Ibid. 301-305.

[18] Ibid. 312f.

[19] W. Pannenberg, Erwägungen zu einer Theologie der Religionsgeschichte. In: ders., Grundfragen systematischer Theologie, Göttingen 1967, 252-295, here 285.

[20] Cf. Pannenberg, Wissenschaftstheorie (see footnote 8) 336.

[21] J. Stout, Flight from Authority. Notre Dame 1981.

[22] "He (Stout) describes deism as consequence of applying the new probable reasoning to religious belief, distinguishing three stages of development seen most clearly in Britain roughly from 1640 to Hume's death in 1776. In the first stage, the argument from design was reformulated in such a way that the order of the universe, its mechanical design, was taken as evidence for a divine artisan... The concept of revelation was emphasized in a new way, and miracles were taken as the means to relate revelation to probable reasoning... In a second stage of post-Port-Royal development, deists such as John Toland and Matthew Tindal raised the question: if all evidence is to be taken into account, as urged in Port-Royal's Logic, why should not evidence for the content of putative revelation be taken into account as well? In fact, questions of the likelihood of the very idea of historical revelation were raised... Deism, in short, accepted only those tenets of traditional theology that could be established independently as probable hypotheses. In deism reason rendered revelation either improbable or redundant... Hume's critique of deism constituted a final stage of readjustment. First, he sharpened the deistic argument against using miracles to warrant belief in revelation... Having thus intensified the deistic argument against revelation, Hume turned to the remaining core of deism itself - the argument from design." Murphy, Theology (see footnote 6) 10-12.

[23] "Thus Hume represents a great divide separating us from traditional theism, for in his work the consequences of the new probable reasoning were played out in theology. The burden of proof has shifted. Theology from Hume's day to the present seeks to defend itself not in the court of authority, but in the court of internal evidence." ibid. 12.

[24] Ibid. 42; cf. 41.

[25] Ibid. 41.

[26] "The trouble is that the acceptance of Humes understanding of the world - with the historical method it entails and couched in its past-entailing concepts - suspends Pannenberg's fact-constituting principles." ibid. 44. - "For Hume, facts are constituted by the application of concepts that develop through repeated (past) impressions (of sensation and reflection). Knowledge is atomic, built up by conjunction of and reflection upon individual ideas... For Pannenberg, on the other hand, facts are meanings constituted by interpretations of experiences that always depend essentially upon anticipations of the future. Fact-constituting interpretation involves placing the thing to be understood in a context within which its meaning becomes apparent, and these subcontexts depend in turn upon a hypothesis about the meaning of the totality of history." ibid. 46.

[27] "Therefore, although Pannenberg can 'critically reinterpret' and incorporate much of the content of Hume's thought, he cannot incorporate the epistemological theory upon which it is based without either changing Hume's view into something essentially non-Humean or else destroying the epistemological basis of his own system." ibid. 47.

[28] To read the personal reaction of Pannenberg to Murphy and Murphy's statement to this reaction, see ibid. 48, footnote 44.

[29] "Pannenberg claimed that what is needed to settle disputes such as that between Hume and himself is for the historians to get straight about the facts: was Jesus raised from the dead or not? But getting straight about this fact led to disputes about the proper method for historians to use, and the choice of method seemed to depend in the end on abstruse views about the meaning of history and whether or not one could account for it without assuming a transcendent ground of the unity of history - which brings us full circle." ibid. 49.

[30] Ibid. 61-65.

[31] Ibid. 65-74.

[32] Ibid. 74-79.

[33] Ibid. 130-173.

[34] "In a 1981 study, for instance, a group of scientists were interviewed about Popper's requirements; their responses underscore the conflict between Popperian theory and scientific practice... Conversely, conventionalist approaches do not forbid any behavior and allow no (nonrelative) distinction between good and bad science." Clayton, Rationality (see footnote 7) 54.

[35] Clayton, Rationality (see footnote 7) 83. - "His thought lacks the transition from speech-act rationality (as validity-claim redeemability) to the rationality of theories." ibid. 83. "That is, he holds his approach finally to counter the hegemony of the truth claim, supplementing it with the equally fundamental validity claims of rightness and sincerity." ibid. 75f.

[36] Ibid. 106.

[37] "Meaning, understood in the contextual or coherential sense, leads for the religious person in an immanent movement to ever broader contexts of meaning." ibid. 120, see 121f. - "Religious beliefs thematize our world as a whole, the totality of our experience." ibid. 156.

[38] Ibid 126f.

[39] Cf. ibid. 154.

[40] Ibid. 160-167.

[41] "Finally, the verificationism of the logical positivists has received at the hands of Popper and others as complete a refutation as one will ever find in such debates. Rejecting it allows us to dismiss as illicit any demands for a point-by-point verification of theological assertions." ibid. 151.

[42] Ibid. 177.

[43] Ibid. 194.

[44] Ibid. 176 - "For ex hypothesi, the explanation that best approximates the ideal qualities of a scientific explanation is the one which is the most likely to be true." Ibid. 178.

[45] Clayton, Rationalität 227f.

[46] "When detection of the action of God in the world is made to depend upon judgements of vast scope, such as that concerning which of two entire worldviews does a better job of giving meaning to the totality of experience, we must simply throw up our hands in despair." Murphy, Theology (see footnote 6) 49.

[47] Vgl. R. Schwager, Jesus im Heilsdrama. Innsbruck 1990; J. Niewiadomski, W. Palaver (Hg. ), Dramatische Erlösungslehre. Ein Symposion. Innsbruck 1992; J. Niewiadomski, W. Palaver (Hg.), Vom Fluch und Segen der Sündenböcke. Raymund Schwager zum 60. Geburtstag (Beiträge zur mimetischen Theorie 1). Thaur 1995.

[48] Lakatos, however, reckons with the possibility that a research program can degenerate for a certain period of time and does become progressive again later on. Therefore immediate decisions have no longer been possible for a long time. Every program aiming at being regarded as rational is confronted with the task not to deal only with itself but also with all bulk facts.

[49] Cf. W. Austin, Religious Commitment (see footnote 5).

[50] An unconditional and justified certainty of belief exceeding the hypothetical does become possible for the believer if in his comprehending way through the big crises and their overcoming within the history of revelation that God lights him up beyond whom nothing greater can be thought (see Anselm of Canterbury). From this moment of full insight, every alternative to belief is bound to mean the dedication to a smaller picture of God or of the reality and thus to an idol. But even such a belief can openly and honestly go into all relevant questions and thus understand itself as a hypothesis, seen from the perspective of the philosopy of science. It should be able to do this all the better as (1) it does not have to fear anything and (2) it can learn by objections to understand its own conviction more deeply and to contrast it better from possible misunderstandings.

[51] At this fundamental level, the statement about a "mystery" necessarily remains ambiguous and needs to be clarified. The task of a theologically satisfying clarification of the concepts used in the basic preconditions and the core theses is part of the belt of clarifying auxiliary hypotheses. To read more about the understanding of "mystery" proposed here, see footnote 58 stated below.

[52] Cf. O. Muck, Philosophische Gotteslehre. Düsseldorf 1983.

[53] This can happen through a "seinsphilosophisch** integrative way of explanation" (ibid. 140). - "As such an interpretation or explanation (showing the connection between various areas) tries to understand the vielfältig Begegnende*** in an integral whole (lat: integrum), we could also speak of an integrative explanation or interpretation. It is typical of the function of the world view and is also the specifically philosophical way of explanation." Ibid. 84.

[54] Cf. R. Schwager, Must there be Scapegoats? Violence and Redemption in the Bible. Translated by M.L. Assad. San Francisco 1987, 117-120.

[55] Ibid. 166 - 182.

[56] Cf. hypothesis (2-1).

[57] Cf. K. Rahner, Grundkurs des Glaubens. Einführung in den Begriff des Christentums, Freiburg i.Br.-Basel-Wien 1976, 288-291.

[58] The fact that the meaning of "true peace" is unfinished and cannot be finished also guarantees that the experience of peace (according to a basic distinction of the new scholastic theology) is not simply a "gratia creata", but a "gratia increata", i.e. the realsymbolische*** expression of God's selfcommunication, which turns out to be a mystery in the very total selfcommunication. This also gives a necessary clarification of the statement about "mystery" in hypothesis (1-2).

[59] Since a research program presupposes the inner coherence of its hypotheses, the task is given here to prove that it is basically possible to find a mediation between Rahner's theology and the theory of René Girard. In this context see W. Sandler, Befreiung der Begierde, Theologie zwischen René Girard und Karl Rahner, in: Vom Fluch und Segen der Sündenböcke, Hg. J. Niewiadomski u. W. Palaver, Thaur: Kulturverlag 1995, 49-68.

[60] Vgl. L. Galleni. How Does the Teilhardian Vision of Evolution Compare with Contemporary Theories?. In: Zygon 30 (1995) 1, 25-45 ; - Evolution. Eine Kontroverse (Interdisziplinäre Forschungen 2). Hg. von G. Haszprunar u. R. Schwager. Thaur 1994; - R. Schwager, Evolution, Erbsünde und Erlösung. In: ZKTh 117 (1995) 1-24.

[61] The physicist and Nobel prize winner Wolfgang Pauli should be mentioned in this connection. He emphasizes that natural sciences are incomplete as they do not include the world of the entire life (Wolfgang Pauli und C.G. Jung, Ein Briefwechsel 1932-1958, Ed. by C.A. Meier, Berlin et al. 1992, 50,192). Pauli is convinced that all central concepts of natural sciences - as products of the human psyche - have got a meaning at this psychological level, too. He claims that "most modern physics is capable of symbolically depicting psychological processes in even finer details" (ibid. 24). Nevertheless, he reckons with a "further development of all sciences" (ibid. 192), by which the connections can be better clarified. With such a further development also paranormal experiences can be integrated (ibid. 130).

[62] Which imitations take place in such a community? Which complex relationships develop among the members? Where do rivalries and aggressions come from? Where are these rivalries and aggressions actually overcome and not simply covered? Which compromises, relapses, and veilings are there (polarization against others)?

[63] Cf. C. Bandera, The Sacred Game. The Role of the Sacred in the Genesis of Modern Literary Fiction. Pennsylvania 1994; B. Dieckmann, Judas als Sündenbock. Eine verhängnisvolle Geschichte von Angst und Vergeltung. München 1991; R. Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence. Pauls Hermeneutic of the Crosss. Minneapolis 1992; R. Kaptein, Violence in the Family. Coleraine 1994; J. Kufulu Mandunu, Das 'Kindoki' im Licht der Sündenbocktheologie (Studien zur interkulturellen Geschichte des Christentums 85). Frankfurt a.M. u.a. 1992; A. McKenna, Violence and Difference: Girard, Derrida, and Deconstruction. Urbana u.a. 1992; W. Palaver, Politik und Religion bei Thomas Hobbes. Eine Kritik aus der Sicht der Theorie René Girards. Innsbruck 1991; J.-M. Oughourlian, Un mime nommé désir. Hystérie, transe, possession, adorcisme. Paris 1982; S. Simonse, Kings of Disaster. Dualism, Centralisme and the Scapegoat King in the Southeastern Sudan. New York 1992.

[64] Cf. J.P. Dupuy, Le sacrifice et l'envie. Le libéralisme aux prises avec la justice sociale. Paris 1992; drs., La panique. Paris 1991.

[65] Cf. P. Dumouchel, J.P. Dupuy, L'enfer des choses. René Girard et la logique de l'économie. Paris 1979; M. Aglietta, A. Orléan, La violence de la monnaie. Paris 1982.

[66] Cf. G. Bailie, Violence Unveiled. Humanity at the Crossroads. New York 1995.

[67] F.Lagarde, René Girard, ou, La christianisation des sciences humaines. New York 1994.

[68] Therefore a cooperation between academic theology and Christian communities in which an intense form of the succession of Jesus is attempted suggests itself.

[69] H. Büchele, Eine Welt oder keine: Sozialethische Grundfragen angesichts einer ausbleibenden Weltordnungspolitik. Innsbruck/Mainz: 1996. - As a world order is necessarily based on means of violence, too, it always has to be clearly distinguished from the unity aimed at by the church. The political world order can be understood as a Katechon in the sense of 2 Thess 2:6; see W. Palaver, Hobbes and the Katéchon: The Secularization of Sacrificial Christianity. In: Contagion. Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture. (Greenville, USA) 2 (1995) 57-74.

[70] Cf. J. Niewiadomski, R. Schwager, G. Larcher, Dramatisches Konzept für die Begegnung der Religionen. In: Christus allein? Der Streit um die Pluralistische Religionstheologie (QD 160). Freiburg i.Br. 1996, 83-117.

[71] From the viewpoint of the philosophy of science, the entire Christianity can be understood as a research program within world history. The fact that the church has got dogma does not contradict this view since every meaning sketch does have its implicit preconditions and secret dogma. The church is even ahead of other meaning sketches as it explicitly makes its dogma and thus exposes them to a permanent critical assessment.

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