Dr Daniel Pedersen
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the department of Theology and Religion here at the University of Exeter where I am examining Christian accounts of the origins of sin in light of our evolutionary history, especially using paleoanthropology and primatology to do so. My aim is to give an account of the origins of sin that is coherent with, and even supported by, these findings while attempting to sacrifice as little of the problem-solving power of traditional accounts of the origins of sin as possible—including in the very tricky areas of deficiency and value.
My background is as a historian of doctrine (in early modern and modern Protestant theology) combined with training in the history and philosophy of science. My theological work is anchored in the thought of Friedrich Schleiermacher and extends to his sources, influences, and legacy. My work in natural science is largely focused on issues in evolution (both Darwinian and pre-Darwinian), especially ‘big picture’ issues such as the role of value, beauty, final causes, natural kinds, and other things along these lines.
I bring these interests together in my recent book, The Eternal Covenant: Schleiermacher on God and Natural Science (De Gruyter, 2017), where I champion Schleiermacher’s account of God, divine action, and the natural world as a deeply needed alternative to the most dominant accounts of these respective topics today.
In addition to my research on sin and human origins (though related to it), I am working on a monograph offering an interpretation and defense of Schleiermacher’s account of sin and its connection to related topics like evil, freedom, and God’s justice and mercy.
I have taught undergraduate, masters, and doctoral-level classes on a range of topics from Christian systematic theology, to philosophy of science.
My research orbits both the history of theology, especially the thought of Friedrich Schleiermacher, and issues in natural science, especially evolution. My interests extend out from the former to the history of doctrine and philosophy more broadly including protestant Reformers and early modern philosophers, to Schleiermacher’s contemporaries and successors like G. W. F. Hegel, Charles Hodge, and Paul Tillich. My research in the latter area extends back from Darwin to pre-Darwinian theorists of evolution and extinction to recent issues such as the role of female choice in sexual selection.
External impact and engagement
I have spoken to local congregations about issues in theology and science from Darwinian evolution and ethics, to the environment and global warming, as well as about Schleiermacher’s life and work and some of his most important ideas. I have also preached and led services at the Princeton University Chapel where I gave well-received sermons on issues related to natural science.