Professional interests

An important part of my research is historically oriented. It deals with modern philosophy, its origin, character, rational aspirations and spiritual motives. Intrigued by the concept of historical becoming that came up in the nineteenth and twentieth century, I have especially been involved in the philosophy of history by focusing initially on the historicism of Ernst Troeltsch, later also on the critical theory of the Frankfurt School (Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Habermas), and the hermeneutic philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer.

A systematic target of my studies is the widely discussed relationship between reason and religion, and the delicate concept of Christian philosophy. I’m interested in the great variety of models of Christian thinking and in particular in the fundamental contrast between the medieval-scholastic and Augustinian-reformed tradition. A part of my investigations in this area is focused on the neo-Calvinist revival of Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd, and Dirk Vollenhoven, and the development of reformational philosophy.

Confronted with the status of religion and reason in the synthesizing views of scholasticism and in the more antithetic approaches characteristic for the reformed tradition, I have developed a type of Christian philosophy that transcends synthesis and antithesis in the concept of transformation. This concept has its spiritual roots in Saint Augustine’s notion of fides quaerens intellectum. At the same time it implies an open mind and leads to a program of critical transforming the valuable insights that belong to the philosophy of the day.

In recent years I have tried to make the idea of transformational philosophy fruitful for the creation-evolution debate, another systematic target of mine. Is the creation belief compatible with the modern theory of evolution? Not content with the dogmatic positions of Creationism, Intelligent Design theory, and Theistic Evolution, I raise the question whether it is possible to reformulate the Darwinian view of life in such a manner that evolution is not just a blind process of mutation and natural selection but also testifies to the notions of directionality and purpose in the living world.

These questions have resulted in a General Theory of Emergent Evolution (GTEE). The theory makes clear that biological evolution is a part of a much wider process that includes spontaneous self-organization, idionomic innovation and a hierarchy of organizational levels in nature as well as in human culture and society. GTEE has to be considered as a rational theory based on empirical evidence and logical arguments. Yet from a spiritual point of view, Christian believers may detect in the basic notions of emergence, directionality, and organizational levels fingerprints of a divine creator who has a plan and a purpose for this world.

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