Puzzle Catalogue

The official catalogue of Theological Puzzles has been published and can be found at: https://www.theo-puzzles.ac.uk 


“The world as God created it is full of contingencies. Therefore we do not merely think about it in our armchairs, trying to infer from first principles how many teeth there are in a horse’s mouth; instead we take a look. The same should go for the question how God acts in the world.”

How can theologians employ science in the service of theology?  

Science-Engaged Theology (SET) proceeds on the assumption that some theological questions cannot be fully comprehended without some degree of knowledge from the natural sciences.  

While some theologians worry that the use of empirical evidence undermines the distinctiveness of theology, SET encourages engagements between theological and scientific subdisciplines. However, modern science should not provide a reductionist lens, but tools for the theologian to use.  

SET encourages research that gives concrete answers to Theological Puzzles.

A Puzzle is a theological question that heads toward concrete answers, deals with possible objections, is transparent about using a methodology appropriate to its success conditions, and in principle unsolvable without the help of, at least, some empirical data. 

The purpose of the Puzzle Catalogue is to gather and publish a range of theological puzzles in order to advance the study of Science-Engaged Theology. These puzzles will be useful discussion points for undergraduate and postgraduate teachers, as well as important research contributions in their own right.  

A good Theological Puzzle entry:

  • Is concrete and doesn’t try to tackle an entire Research Topic
  • Offers a definite conclusion but, as in science, I don’t know yet is always a valid answer
  • Makes it easy for others to disagree with the conclusion by ‘showing your work’ (that is, it’s transparent about the ‘moves’ in reasoning)
  • Explicitly specifies the sub-disciplines used, at least one each from theology and science
  • Follows this format (or something close) and numbering style:
    1. Introduction & Hypothesis
    2. Fields of Study
      2.1 Subfield A (e.g. Liturgical Studies)
      2.2 Subfield B (e.g. Genetics)
    3. Discussion
    4. Conclusion
  • Considers using an In Other Media section to identify novels, films, podcasts, and news stories that could introduce the topic
  • 2000-5000 words (excluding bibliography and footnotes), in author-date Chicago style. See our SET Guide for Authors
  • We encourage all our authors to submit a short video abstract.
  • See our two example puzzles on Natural Law Theory and Organismic Biology and The Holy Spirit and Autism